When Steven and Karen Kling stood in front of the altar and pledged their marriage vows to one another, promising to love one another in sickness and in health, they could not have known just what those vows would mean for them through the years. Forty-seven years later, as they continue to live their vows, Steven and Karen have been through suffering the likes of which many of us will never know. Yet, they continue to love and serve one another with joyful surrender.
In 2002, at the age of 51, Steven was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. With this difficult diagnosis, life changed in a big way for the Klings. Steven retired early, and the following year he underwent a complicated surgery to help alleviate some of his Parkinson’s symptoms.
“I remember the months leading up to that surgery,” Karen says. “Both of us were very nervous. We prayed, asking God for His love, support, and strength, and on the day of the surgery, we both felt an incredible calmness and peace which could only have come from God.”
And as the years have drawn on, the Klings have experienced more suffering. Steven was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer in 2022 and then thyroid cancer in 2023. It has not been easy. Yet, when asked how they are coping, both Steven and Karen declare, “To us, God is very good!”
The Klings have felt God’s love and goodness through their parish family over the years, and they both say they are forever grateful.
“Through people’s prayers for us, through our parish meal train, and through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, we have felt the parish’s support through all of these years!” Karen says.
One particular memory that Karen recounts is of a time when Steven was experiencing unbearable back pain. The Klings could not figure out what was causing it, and they were having no luck getting in touch with doctors to get the problem assessed. It continued for six weeks, and the pain was incapacitating.
“Fr. Paul came to our home and administered the Anointing of the Sick and prayed healing prayers over Steven,” Karen says. “The very next day we were able to see our primary doctor, and by the end of that week we were at Mayo with many doctors trying to help us discover what was wrong.”
It was discovered that Steven had an infection and abscess in his spine, and after six weeks of antibiotics, Steven was back on his feet and learning to walk again! God provided, and He used the loving support of the parish to do so!
Today, as Steven and Karen continue to walk through such tremendous suffering, their faith in God and their gratitude to their parish family and their own children and grandchildren radiates from them. You can hear it as they talk about the many obstacles they’ve faced.
“Parish support and the support of our family has helped us get through many trying times over the past 21 years since Steven’s first diagnosis,” Karen says.
And with that, she encourages all of us to reach out when we are experiencing hard times.
“Do not be afraid to reach out for those things our parish offers,” Karen says. “The Prayer Network, Meal Train, and Anointing of the Sick — they are there to support you and let you feel the love that can strengthen you.”
What’s more, Karen says that they both feel very close to Christ in the sacraments, and she encourages all of us to seek their solace in them.
“Through prayer and receiving Communion, we feel that closeness to Jesus,” she says. “The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has become very important to us, especially since Steven’s cancer diagnosis.”
Today, as Steven and Karen continue to fight Steven’s cancer and live life with Parkinson’s Disease, our prayers remain with them! They are such a witness to all of us of what it means to live out marriage in a way that honors God and one another, and it is our privilege to offer whatever support we can. In all things, may God be glorified!