WRIGHTSTOWN — Kyle Rohan knows St. Mary Church like the back of his hand.
“I’ve been in there so many times since I was a little kid that I feel like I truly know the church from top to bottom,” he said. “As a family we did a lot of church cleaning, so we were in there a lot. And I always remember when I was little my mom used to serve as a sacristan, so I remember going early and helping her.
“Because I’ve been there so much, that church has become like a family — I essentially know everyone there. We all have similar backgrounds and come from a rural community and share a Catholic faith.”
Kyle, 19, appreciates his roots at St. Clare Parish (prior to the merger he was with St. Mary Parish). He also attended St. Mary Catholic School until the merger to St. Clare Catholic School.
“All of us classmates, when we were going to graduate we joked about wanting to make a St. Clare High School because we didn’t want to leave the school,” he said.
Kyle’s great-uncle, Fr. Ralph Gross, a recently retired priest who served in the Milwaukee area, baptized him at St. Paul Church in Wrightstown. Kyle went on to receive first Communion and confirmation at St. Mary Church in Greenleaf.
“Our family has always gone regularly to church — usually Saturday evening Mass but sometimes also Friday morning Mass,” Kyle said.
Kyle is especially proud of helping form the St. Clare Youth Group.
After graduating from St. Clare Catholic School with six other classmates in 2015, they all participated in a Steubenville Youth Conference. The following summer, after his freshman year at Wrightstown High School, he and several friends embarked on another Steubenville trip.
“Coming back from those and seeing thousands of other young people was inspiring — and that inspiration sticks around,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of options back here to continue what we were doing through that whole trip. So five or six of us came together, talked with Fr. Brian (Wideman) and got the St. Clare Youth Group started.”
He said the two most productive and successful time periods for the youth group were after 11th and 12th grades. The group met twice per month, holding adoration and scheduling games, movies, snacks and discussions about the Catholic faith.
“I think it’s easier to develop your faith in a group, especially in a group of similarly aged people,” Kyle said. “As a young person in a non-religious school (Wrightstown High School) with friends who may not have the same values, it can be hard to maintain faith standards. So having that group of like-minded students and being able to talk about our struggles and how we see our faith in our own lives — it really helps to develop and maintain faith.”
Kyle is a sophomore at UW-La Crosse this fall, majoring in finance. While at college he attends the campus’ Roncalli Newman Catholic Parish, which he describes as “a great, great community of young adults.”
Kyle’s parents are Jim and Julie Rohan. He has one younger sibling, Kaitlyn, two older siblings, Sean and McKenna Runde, a brother-in-law, Nate Runde, and nephew, Joseph Runde.
During his free time, Kyle enjoys playing sports, exercising, reading, going outdoors and being with friends. He also likes to get out of his comfort zone and go on adventures, so he rides a motorcycle and has gone skydiving. “I jokingly said I went to confession before that one, just in case,” Kyle said.