'Regular' family answers call to 'Come, follow Me'
DENVER — Ask any member of the Kauth family and they'll tell you that they were a typical family during the years when the children were being born and raised. Dad worked, mom stayed at home, and the three children grew to adulthood without much fanfare.
What's remarkable is how God has called them, over the course of time, to "Come, follow Me."
The Kauths have responded to His call in deeply personal yet different ways, and they have been blessed with four vocations in the Church: a permanent deacon, a diocesan priest, a Dominican sister and a secular Carmelite.
Pictured: The Kauth family is pictured on a visit to Rome in 2002. From left are: Brandi (Sister Catherine Marie), Sharon, Deacon Richard Kauth (now deceased), Sara and Father Matthew Kauth. (Provided by Sharon Kauth)
Deacon Richard Kauth, the head of the family who is now deceased, was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1990 in the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. He served at St. Edward Church in Chillicothe, Ill., until moving to the Diocese of Charlotte in 1997. He served as deacon at Holy Spirit Church in Denver until his death in 2005.
His son, Father Matthew Kauth, now 37, is a diocesan priest for the Diocese of Charlotte who was ordained in 2000. Father Kauth recalls their early family life: "We were just 'regular' Catholics, to tell the truth. We were faithful to Mass, monthly confession, etc. Our family was strong. We always ate meals together. My father was not only at every game, but every practice. We engaged in all sports together, which taught me how to be a man."
Father Kauth recalls how his vocation unfolded: "The first inklings were an attraction to the Mass as a boy which matured after a hiatus, when I was a senior in high school and spent much time before the Blessed Sacrament."
He attributes the witness of good priests, coupled with the nagging question about the purpose of life and the desire to do something worthy with his life as catalysts in his vocation and his decision to pursue the priesthood.
Sister Catherine Marie, 39, and the elder Kauth daughter, is now a fully professed Dominican sister living in Hawthorne, N.Y. She works with the terminally ill. She had a "glimmer" of a call to religious life in her teens, but it wasn't until her 20s that she came to realize her vocation. She entered the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne when she was 32.
She echoes Father Kauth's memory of their childhood.
"I would say it was quite typical. We had our good times and our squabbles. Most of our childhood, Mom was a stay-at-home mom, which I am so grateful for. When there was a bad day at school, I knew she would be there. Dad worked hard for us, and one of the favorite memories I have of him is when we were little he would throw us up into the air and catch us. He did this just before he left for work. This gave us a sense of security that we had a strong father."
They also both recall the changes that came about in their family when their dad became a deacon.
Pictured: Sister Catherine Marie (far right) enters the chapel for her solemn profession of vows as a Dominican Sister of Hawthorne in Hawthorne, N.Y., Sept. 14. (Provided by Sharon Kauth)
"Actually I was bitter about his becoming a deacon because he had less time for me and did not engage in the things I loved with the same relish," said Father Kauth. "However, I could not but be impressed that the man I thought was so strong was serving God. It ceased to be a 'feminine' thing when I saw my father doing it."
"I think it did tilt the focus of our family life. Before, Dad was the provider, the fisherman – and now he was involved in the Church. This was when our family began to change its focus, although slowly at first," added Sister Catherine Marie.
For Sharon Kauth, wife and mother, the years have brought with them a shift in her own vocation.
"When I had children and my husband was still with me, my vocation was very clear. Now that I am widowed and my children are grown, the way is not as clear. So it takes more prayer and discernment to know what my purpose is at this time of my life."
She recently made her first promise as a Discalced Carmelite. The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites is a community of lay persons who, in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, follow the Rule of St. Albert, dedicating themselves to contemplative prayer, praying the Divine Office daily and expressing a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.
"I had felt a drawing of my heart to this order for some time. Their spirituality seems to be a fit for me," she said.
The youngest member of the Kauth clan, Sara, 30, who lives in Charlotte and is single, shares her perspective on growing up in a family replete with religious vocations.
"Living in a family with so many vocations is hard to explain.
"It's like asking someone what it is like to live in another country, when they have lived there for the majority of their life. My father was ordained when I was in elementary school and my brother entered the seminary when I was in seventh grade," Sara recalls.
"For me, growing up with priests and nuns being over for holidays and family gatherings was very normal. It wasn't out of the ordinary growing up having several priests over for dinner, and that hasn't really changed. Looking at it now and knowing that this isn't what most families grow up with, all I can say is that I feel very blessed."
She adds, "We are like every other close family, but with maybe a few more religious pictures and relics hanging on the wall. The extra vocations are just something that ties us closer together and keeps our family strong."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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