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Who We Are

MINISTRY IN REAL LIFE - S. Susan Marie Pleiss
For many students, spring break is a vacation, a chance to step away from the stresses of daily life.  But last year, sophomores Mary Carper and Kaylee Bluethmann embarked on Marian University's (Indianapolis) alternative spring break to Campton, Kentucky, and their experience wasn't exactly a walk on the beach.  Perhaps for the first time in their lives, the young women witnessed abject poverty--hungry people, living in a food desert, their lives oftentimes made even more complicated by a lack of education, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse.

Enter S. Susan Pleiss, OSF, pastoral associate at Good Shepherd Parish, the only Catholic Church in Campton, and all of Wolfe County.  S. Susan Marie's outreach makes a difference.  "Good Shepherd is known for its outreach," explains Carper.  "When a member of a Baptist Church needs a loan to pay an electricity bill or does not have transportation to get food, the Baptist pastor will tell them to 'go to the Catholic church'...(S. Susan) provides services like visiting the sick, running the food pantry, putting on various dinners and community events, delivering groceries, providing loans, and much more.  Part of her job is to shine a positive light on the Catholic Church by reaching out to those in need."

That positive light is apparent in all of S. Susan Marie's ministry at Good Shepherd parish.  With the aid of many volunteers, S. Susan Marie and her helpers spend their days ministering to the people living in this area of Kentucky making the gospel a reality in their lives.


I grew up on a small family farm in Evansville, Indiana, with a house full of brothers and sisters.  I learned the joy of relating to my family, the animals and the earth's bounty.  I returned to Evansville in 1987 and have taught at St. Joseph's School since then.  I teach second grade at St. Joe's and try to impart to my students a respect for and joy in caring for living things: from catepillers turning into butterflies to a garden abundant with vegetables.  Every spring my second graders plant a garden close to school.  Over the summer I tend that garden keeping it ready for the incoming second grade.  Since school has started the second grade class has been very busy with the harvest. They picked some of the final veggies and prepared a delicious soup. It is important to me to guide the students in caring for the earth by recycling, composting and gardening which they share with others.

God has blessed me from humble beginnings to the place I am today still beginning humbly every day...grateful for God's graces in me and my students and those in need.  We garden for us and to share our connection with the earth with others.  We are blessed indeed.



Working for St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care allows me to continue nursing in an area that is most needed at this time. Many times those who are in need of assistance for a family member who is challenged find Adult Day Care just what many doctors recommend. Adult Day Care assists the participant and the family to continue living in a familiar environment, and allows the care giver respite or the ability to continue work.

As a nurse I have the privilege of being part of an organization whose mission is "to provide a safe, comfortable, wholesome and stimulating environment." I have the privilege of being with individuals who are 18 to 90+ offering support and care in an atmosphere that promotes enrichment of mind, body and spirit through compassionate care and the celebration of life daily.

A LIFE CHANGER- S. Elaine Merkel

S. Elaine Merkel, a native of Cincinnati, has been a member of the Oldenburg Franciscans for 50 years.  The oldest of five children, S. Elaine is a graduate of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Grade School, Immaculate Conception Academy in Oldenburg, Marian University in Indianapolis and Loyola in Chicago. 
Beginning her ministry as a classroom teacher, S. Elaine taught intermediate/junior high math for 16 years.  During that time she volunteered as a religion teacher in the parish program which led her to choose to change ministries and become a Pastoral Associate/DRE.  She says that the best thing about her 19 years in this field was being able to relate to many people of various ages and see them continue the mission of Jesus.
The last eleven years have found S. Elaine ministering as a hospital chaplain, including her present position as chaplain in Mother Margaret Hall for the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, OH.  "Chaplaincy ministry opened my eyes to the beauty of various faith traditions as I journeyed with people in times of crisis.  It has been life-giving and life-changing for me." 
When asked about the contribution of Sisters to the Church, S. Elaine responded, "We are the challengers.  By working with many people, we have had much influence in their lives."


WHAT WE DO FOR LOVE  -  S. Janet Linz

S. Janet Linz, osf, and Julie Wilke are co-directors of the Lavatus Powell Program in conjunction with Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati, OH. LPP is an outstanding comprehensive program developed by S. Janet to aid students in growing into well-grounded, enthusiastic young men and women. The students are exposed to a huge array of mentors, tutors and supporters who help with academic courses, social, psychological and physical growth. The program is solidly built around the students partnering with parents/guardians, teachers, mentors, tutors and supporters. The students not only engage in their classes, but also put in quality time participating in service to the community and beyond. S. Janet is dedicated to get them out of their own realm and open their eyes to the problems of the world, and the people who are doing something about them. It helps them to see themselves as part of the solution.

The program and its staff of volunteers help the students establish strong work habits and organizational skills in preparation for post high school pursuits whether it is college, trade school, full time employment or military service. With S. Janet's and Julie Wilke's leadership and infectious drive to go above and beyond what is expected the students thrive and move into the future having received the support they need and the encouragement to become focused, successful adults. The program provides a large number of adult volunteers dedicated to walk with the students during their high school years and beyond. The program serves approximately 43 students a year with a 99% graduation rate.


After teaching Kindergarten and first grades for 25 years, I decided to change my ministry, but to continue working with children in another way.  I currently minister as a Professional Counselor at Mercy Professional Services (MPS) in Cincinnati, OH.  MPS was created to minister to those who are experiencing a need for emotional healing.  MPS serves all in need, including the uninsured and underserved.

In my practice, I work with children, adolescents and adults.  My counseling degree is in Pastoral Counseling, which assists me in addressing the psycho-spiritual concerns of my clients.
I have also had additional training in play therapy which I use with my young clients.  Stuart Brown, MD in his book, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, notes, "The act of play itself may be outside of 'normal' activities.  The result is that we stumble upon new behaviors, thoughts, strategies, movements, or ways of being.  We see things in a different way and have fresh insights" (p. 18).  Helping clients of all ages to "see things in a different way and have fresh insights" is essential in counseling, doing it through play is pleasurable as well!  Recently, after having a session with a couple of preschool age clients, two of our office staff personnel were waiting at my door and stated, "We want play time with Patti too!", since they had heard the giggles coming from my office.
It is a blessing to be on the healing journey with each of my clients.
(Children pictured are friends of S. Patti)

PLC?  S. Shirley Gerth

PLC stands for Parish Life Coordinator. The simplest way to describe the role of a Parish Life Coordinator is to say that they are basically the pastor of a parish assuming all the responsibilities and duties of a pastor except celebrating Mass and the sacraments. Of course, the title of pastor is not used. A priest moderator is named as the canonical pastor. My moderator lives in Indianapolis. My parish, St. Maurice, is in Napoleon, Indiana. As PLC I plan the sacramental portion and participate in the celebration of the sacraments in some way. I work closely with the Sacramental Minister keeping him informed of all parish happenings. One image I have of a PLC is as a bridge-builder, being the person who connects the sacramental minister with the people. It's my responsibility to know the names and something about my parishioners and see that the Sacramental Minister knows those things also. I'm presently in my "brick and mortar" stage. Recently we had a mortgage burning service and we built a new parish center. It is a great responsibility to participate, encourage and minister to the people of St. Maurice. It is one I do not take lightly, but enjoy immensely.


10+ OUT OF 10 - S. Marilyn Chall
I do a lot of coordinating and enabling so that parishioners can eventually take on more responsibility for their parish.  I am the pastoral minister at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Washington, Missouri.  I coordinate the PSR (Parish School Religion Program), Sunday Pre-School, Children's Liturgy of the Word, the Parish Visiting Team, which visits our parishioners in Health Care Facilities, and our RCIA Process.  I visit any or our parishioners who are in the hospital and I schedule and help take communion to our homebound.  I help families who have lost a loved one prepare the funeral Mass and I help my wonderful pastor, Fr. Mike Boehm, with wake services. 
I try to work side by side with the parishioners whether it is helping to paint or just join in the fun.  I am, like Fr. Mike, sort of on call for a lot of things or ideas.  I am blessed to have a pastor who does the same and is a real co-minister with me.  Our teamwork gets a 10+ our of 10.  I do all of this because I love it and I have many volunteers to help me.  I just have everything ready for them to do what needs to be done and I lead or dig in.  Our parish has had some hard times but they, with good leadership, know how to rise above it all.  Fr. Mike gives that and I am right along with him.  Amen...Alleluia.