Dan and Joanna Lindstrom moved to the area over two years ago with Dan’s second assignment in the Air Force as a Public Affairs Officer. Christ the King was the only parish within a 50-minute radius that had a Saturday morning Mass, and the availability of the sacraments stood out to them.
“Originally we had assumed we would go to a big downtown parish, but Christ the King felt like home to us, and we decided that this is the place we want to be,” Joanna says. “We were the only young couple for a while, but the parishioner demographics change quickly in a military town, and now there are several young couples.”
High school sweethearts, Dan and Joanna met in art class when Dan was a senior and Joanna a junior. Dan also served on the Student Council with Joanna’s brother. They attended high school prom together and then studied at Notre Dame.
“We went to an archdiocesan high school and were active in ministry circles, but we weren’t personally invested in the faith,” Dan says. “It was something we valued, but not something that would influence real-life decisions. Throughout college, however, we continued to grow in our faith together and still are growing today.”
Over the years, Dan and Joanna have lived in several places together, and Joanna and Pia were even able to join Dan during part of his deployment overseas in Germany. When looking for a new parish, they check the availability of the sacraments and look for other young families.
“Personally, I look to see if the parish is a place where I feel like my baby can make noises and where there are other moms my age,” Joanna says. “I wear a veil at Mass, so I look to see if other women are veiling. We also look for a daily Mass schedule.”
Dan and Joanna have experienced several challenges and blessings with moving frequently. Sometimes they are just starting to feel settled, and then they realize they only have about another year in a place before they move.
“We’ve also had so many experiences with different cultures and languages,” Joanna says. “When you immerse yourself in new places, you get to laugh at yourself a little too. You see yourself clearer when you put yourself in different environments.”
Dan remembers when he and Joanna were married, and he was speaking to the priest who presided at their wedding and receiving some advice.
“He said not to underestimate the impact you have on the parish by reaching out to someone and having a holy friend,” Dan says. “Military families might be hesitant to invest, but you add value to a parish just by fostering personal relationships and doing your best to live a steadfast life and love the Lord.”
Dan’s advice should hit close to home for many military families who move regularly and who might hesitate to become active in the life of the parish through stewardship.
“Similarly, don’t underestimate the power of simply talking to your neighbor for a small connection even if you won’t be best friends,” Joanna says. “That connection can go a long way. Invest in the community you’re in even if you’re only there temporarily.”