The Central Minnesota Catholic is occasionally featuring stories about modern-day “Good Samaritans” from the diocese, people who exhibit the work of the Gospel through their life and service. This initiative reflects the teachings of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti.” This month’s Good Samaritan is Katherine Kosel of Foreston.
When Father Derek Wiechmann arrives at St. Louis Bertrand Church in Foreston for the Wednesday morning Mass, he doesn’t have to worry about getting things ready. It’s already done.
As pastor of the Four Pillars in Faith Area Catholic Community — comprised of St. Louis Bertrand; St. Mary, Milaca; St. Kathryn, Ogilvie; and St. Mary, Mora — Father Derek has a lot on his plate. He appreciates not having to worry about unlocking the church, Mass preparations and many other tasks. Katherine Kosel has it covered.
At 94, Katherine has been involved in the parish for most of her life. For the past 20 years, she has lived across the parking lot from the church.
“She really takes a lot of pressure off me,” Father Derek said. “I can just go there and celebrate Mass. Everything is ready.”
In many ways, the work she does at the parish embodies the ACC’s mission statement: “The Four Pillars in Faith Area Catholic Community, grounded and united in our love of Jesus Christ, seeks to know, love and serve God through sacraments, prayer, education, hospitality, stewardship, and evangelization of our communities.”
Katherine doesn’t think she’s doing anything extraordinary. The Church has always been a part of her life, and hard work and volunteering come naturally to her.
“Katherine’s service to St. Louis Parish has always been a gift with no strings attached,” Father Derek said. “Her steadiness and generosity are a model for all of us to follow. Often when we commit to Christ, we begin to count the cost and then we take steps back. Katherine always moves forward in her gift of time and availability to the parish. She moves toward Christ.”
One of seven children, Katherine was raised in Foreston, just across the street from her current home.
Her father died when she was 7 years old and her mother raised the kids alone. She made sure they went to church every morning on the way to school, and Katherine remembers the priest always keeping an eye on them when they played outside.
Katherine moved to Milaca with her husband and moved back to the Foreston area when he died in 1968. When her second husband passed away in 1997, she moved back to town.
Her work for the church began gradually, starting in 2001 when she helped Crosier Father James Cashman with his garden. Soon she was asked to help count the collection money. When security issues arose and the church building needed to be locked, she started walking over every night to check the doors. As time went on, she did more and more.
“I saw something that needed to be done, and I did it,” Katherine said. “[Being involved in the parish] is important to me because it gives me something to do.”
She started serving as sacristan in 2005 for Crosier Father James Remmerswaal, the pastor at the time, and has taken on more duties since Father Derek became pastor in 2019.
Living next door to the church is convenient. “Sometimes too convenient,” she jokes.
When a substitute is needed in the adoration chapel, Katherine often takes the extra time. She has five hours a week of her own and is there for any that aren’t covered.
“I spend a lot of hours in the adoration chapel,” she said. “I just like to sit over there and pray. I’m over there with the Lord, not that he isn’t here with me when I pray at home too.”
“Katherine [is an] example of loving all and helping all through her faith, just like in the parable of the Good Samaritan,” said Nancy Frerich, a trustee of the parish who has known Katherine all her life. “Katherine is a passionate person about her faith and the Church.”
She always makes sure the priests have enough to eat, Nancy said. She loves to make them homecooked meals with a side of homemade wine that she makes herself from grapes she grows on her property.
Katherine will be stepping back from some of her duties in the coming months as her health is becoming more of a concern. But she will continue her hours of adoration, she said, and she won’t be giving up that any time soon.
“I don’t like [stepping back], but it’s getting to where I can’t do it, so I’d better quit,” she said. “They’ll have to get six people to do everything I do.”