What does courage look like today? Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kelly Cheramy, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, May. 10, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

st dennis speakers
Fr. Randy Timmerman, left, pastor of St. Dennis Parish in Madison, welcomed everyone  to the parish’s recent  “Courage through Faith” event before turning it over to Wisconsin State Journal Editor John Smalley, next to Father Timmerman, who was the facilitator. He introduced each of the speakers, from left: Sheryl Krause, emergency nurse; Sarah Hurley, mother/wife/daughter, and her nine-year-old son Jay; Mike Koval, Madison police chief; and Roberta Felker, jail ministry advocate. At right is event coordinator Kelly Cheramy. (Contributed photo)

MADISON -- Faces of courage and stories of faith took the spotlight during the St. Dennis Parish “Courage Through Faith” event that was held on the fourth Sunday of Easter.

Pastor Fr. Randy Timmerman welcomed about 400 believers from congregations throughout the city with the challenge to be bold and courageous in work and everyday life, much like the apostles were courageous in building the early Church after Christ rose from the dead.

Father Timmerman’s plea was to be a living example of Christian values and voices in a society that is often hostile toward faith.

John Smalley, editor of the Wisconsin State Journal, introduced each of the evening’s stories, including his own.

As an elder at Blackhawk Church on Madison’s west side while also working in the public eye, he relayed his daily challenge to “bless those who persecute you” (Romans 12).

“I get a lot of feedback at the paper, and it takes courage to love people who are unlovable, angry, unkind and harsh to you.”

Sheryl Krause, an emergency room nurse and administrator, told how she embraced God’s plan for her life, even though it unfolded very differently from her own plan.

She learned not to fear the adrenaline-filled unpredictability of emergencies and, beyond the technical skills required, she learned to see people’s needs as God sees them.

In the case of a difficult family member, for example, “I see them as trying to communicate an unmet need,” she said. “God put me here for this purpose and this time.”

Sarah Hurley, a mom, wife and daughter, recounted her journey that included teenage resentment of faith followed by a tragic and emotional road that brought her full circle to embracing faith and sharing it with her children.

If she were to die unexpectedly, “I didn’t ever want to leave my kids with a sense of nothing and feel alone.”

Her final advice: “It’s never too late to come back to your faith. The beautiful thing about our faith is that it forgives. You just have to have the courage to take that first step.”

Additional reflections by her nine-year-old son, Jay, displayed the power of both a mother’s love and the love of Jesus Christ.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval compared his bullet-resistant vest -- not bulletproof vest -- with the armor of faith. Even as we protect ourselves, tough things happen. To that end, he gives all recruits a coin featuring St. Michael, patron saint of police officers. “All it’s meant to say is: Whether you like it or not, officer, I’m praying for you every day.”

He does this because “prayer will transcend all the rules and regulations of a secular world.” As officers, they are encouraged to see themselves as guardians and good shepherds who will selflessly and willingly die to keep the flock safe. “That’s the analogy I love to savor when I think about our officers. That’s the essence of faith in action.”

Jail ministry advocate Roberta Felker gave a voice to prisoners -- all children of God -- and highlighted the value of their lives behind bars. She reminded that the thief on the cross next to Jesus was a “death row convict” who helped lead the way to paradise.

Through personal stories of five incarcerated men, she revealed passions, purpose, and potential that left her “constantly surprised by where the Son of God hangs out.” Further, she referenced Paul’s letter to Timothy, written from prison, saying her friends are living proof that there is “no security tight enough to chain God’s word or to chain God’s love.”

The evening ended with the crowd singing “We Were Made to be Courageous” by Casting Crowns.

The full 90-minute program (starting just after the uplifting prelude music) is available on the St. Dennis home page (, under the heading of Faith and Learning.

Kelly Cheramy was the event coordinator for the “Courage through Faith” event at St. Dennis Parish, Madison.

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