APPLETON — “Jody Lueck lives the corporal works of mercy,” says Julie Lopas, who nominated the St. Bernadette Parish business administrator for a Faith That Works award.
While numbers may be her game, Lueck’s Catholic faith plays an even bigger role in her personal and professional lives.
One of St. Bernadette’s charter members said of Lueck, who has been in her position since 2017, “We have had several administrators, but never one who is so spiritual in her daily communications while undertaking all of her leadership responsibilities.”
Her nominator added, “Jody includes daily prayer with her staff as well as adoration. She ensures all policies and procedures … are conducted in a manner based on Christian values.”
“Jody is a CPA and lives the Catholic faith. We see it daily at St. Bernadette Parish and we are so happy she is a part of the parish. We have seen her stop in mid-step and pray for people who are experiencing the challenges of life,” Lopas wrote.
As business manager, Lueck is responsible for overseeing the staff, volunteers and finances.
“I do a little of everything,” she said, adding that she remains flexible because she never knows what will come her way on any given day.
Lueck is involved with the physical grounds around the St. Bernadette campus, works with tenants for several of the buildings and answers questions about any area of parish life.
“Basically, I am helping Father run the parish so he can concentrate on sacramental (ministries),” she said.
Lueck is quick to compliment her “phenomenal staff and volunteers who so willingly share their time, talent and treasure, and don’t expect anything in return.”
One of her efforts that stands out to parishioners and community members is her work to get the Thompson Center on Lourdes established as a separate nonprofit that leases the second floor of the St. Bernadette Center. The Thompson Center, a place for people over 50 to gather for socializing and entertainment, was initially housed in a building in downtown Appleton. When it was forced to move, St. Bernadette Parish invited them to move into unused space in one of the four buildings on its campus.
Part of her work was leading fundraising efforts so air conditioning could be installed. Lopas said, “This effort involved meeting with Appleton businesses and resulted in raising $250,000 over several months. Jody and the team prayed the St. Joseph Novena daily and this prayer resulted in this success.”
Lueck stresses that this was very much a team effort and shares credit with Fr. Don Zuleger, pastor; the Lopases and all the volunteers who lent a hand to bring the seniors to the Lourdes campus.
Other tenants include a respite center for NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) in the former convent and the Spiritus male missionaries, who live at the rectory.
Lueck is a native of Green Bay, having graduated from St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Norbert College, De Pere, where she met her husband, Scott. They have been married for 31 years and have five children: Allison (married to AJ with daughters Avery and Arlette), Mitch, Zach, Nick and Jennifer.
She worked at Relevant Radio for a short time and remembers two retreats that stand out from that time. One was given by Msgr. Roy Klister, who talked about a line in the Confiteor – “what people felt they failed to do” and what God had planned and people weren’t open to in their lives. The other was given by Jeff Cavins, who addressed how Jesus talks to us.
“I asked myself what does that mean?” she said. One quiet night, she sat with her Bible in her lap. It was open to the Good Shepherd passage. “I thought about why Jesus went after that one lost sheep. Why would he do that when there were so many others? I thought about being a lost sheep and thought that no matter what Jesus would come after us. I thought about being a sinner and how Jesus died for each of us.”
Lueck credits her parents, Mary and the late Warren Todd, for providing a strong foundation in her faith. Her father was a convert, her mother a lifelong Catholic.
Her mother, who will turn 95 in May, has always promoted the importance of family. Lueck is the youngest of eight. There are 38 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren in her extended family.
“I believe that God places you in places where you can work for him,” Lueck said.
One of those times, she said, was when she and Jeannie Hannemann co-founded the Feminine Genius Women’s Conference in the diocese. That met from 2011 through 2015. In early 2017, a group from Chilton asked her for help to bring it back. It was renamed In Mary’s Footsteps. This year’s theme was “Receive Mercy and Find Grace” based on Hebrews 4:16 and was to be held on March 14 before it was unfortunately canceled. The three women with whom she has worked are Vonda Heiberger, Jean Kasper and Jenny Pitzin to keep the organization going.
“These women and the Women’s Conference have been a gift for me,” she said.
Lueck offers a special thank you to the priests she has worked with and all the priests who have been a part of her life in some way, especially the late Fr. Tony Dolski for all of her sacraments.
“I also give a deep thank you to my husband and family, whose support allows me to do so many things that I couldn’t otherwise do,” she said.