For the members of the Steinbrecher family, serving the parish has allowed them to grow closer to other members of the parish community, as well as grow in their personal relationships with God. By participating in a wide variety of ministries both as individuals and as a family, they have been able to develop their unique gifts and talents and find ways to use them in service to God and to the community.
“God gave us passions for a reason,” says Diane Steinbrecher. “If you have children, find out what they are passionate about and help grow their spiritual gifts with plenty of opportunities to serve. They will be filled with joy, and you will be filled with wonder at their uniqueness. As parents, we also grow from our children modeling stewardship. I firmly believe, especially after raising six kids, that God places different longings within each of us, on how to serve as Christ. We are each drawn to different things to fulfill different needs.”
Diane and Chad Steinbrecher are originally from Wisconsin and first met as fellow accounting majors in college.
“As Chad was joining the business fraternity I was in, I made him do push-ups in front of everyone — he never forgot me after that!” Diane says. “We were married one and a half years later — 35 years ago at my home parish in Kenosha, Wisc., with our college Newman Center priest officiating. We have six kids — one boy and five girls, ages 31 to 16. Three are now married and we have one granddaughter.”
The family first came across the parish when vacationing in Washington — they attended a Life Teen Mass with relatives and never forgot that special encounter with the Holy Spirit. When they moved to Washington in 2006, they were excited both to worship and get involved here at Saint Michael Parish.
Both Chad and Diane love to participate in the liturgy and are both Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMs), as well as members of the After-Mass Prayer Ministry. Three of their daughters have been altar servers and also became musicians at Mass when they got older. One of their daughters, Moriah, is also an EM for her high school’s Masses and leads the school’s campus ministry.
The family also values community outreach. Chad and his son Luke have participated in the Helping Hands Ministry, building ramps and doing home repairs for those in need. The oldest daughter Sierra is a member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry and sells her patterns online to sponsor a man in need in Kenya. The entire family also volunteers in a variety of ways at the local Sacred Heart Men’s Shelter.
“Chad was always an overnight host at the Men’s Shelter,” Diane says. “When COVID hit, his employer no longer wanted him involved so closely — it was a fearful time for them — so we switched to serving the food. Our whole family joins in to prepare and serve the meals. Our daughter, Kira, became an overnight host. During COVID, she recruited many friends to help — including her future husband — and they really helped keep the shelter open when many of the older volunteers felt safer staying close to home.”
Faith formation is another important way for the Steinbrechers to participate in parish life.
“Our kids were in all the faith formation classes, and Chad and I served food and helped on retreats — I was also a catechist,” Diane says. “Eventually, three of our daughters were on faith formation core teams while their younger siblings attended. This past year, we both were catechists for the high school Confirmation group.
“Vacation Bible School is also a family favorite for the females!” she adds. “Our family runs the outdoor adventure station we call ‘Trek.’ It started with just me and one daughter, Tori. As each daughter got old enough, they joined the team, and their teen friends joined in to help. Each year it grows because it is so fun with crazy characters and awesome skits while playing games and teaching the kids that their faith is fun. Sierra now runs the music station, and her own daughter was our baby cheetah mascot.”
Lastly, Diane and Chad have been able to grow immensely in faith through parish retreats, such as Exodus 90 and Magnify 90, as well as through the parish’s small groups. Diane has facilitated a small group and has been involved with the leadership since the inception of the program over 10 years ago. Their children have also been in small groups of their own, and some have also facilitated the groups.
“Having supportive men on the journey has helped me to grow in my faith,” Chad says. “The Men’s group, Exodus 90, and small groups help me understand my faith better and have a better prayer life.”
“To be fed ourselves, our small group is amazing,” Diane adds. “Involvement in the sacramental life of the church helps me grow closest to God, and I feel very supported and encouraged by my small group members. The small group becomes a family, where you are known and loved as you are. It gives me the life and energy for other ministries.”
Serving as a family has been beneficial as much for the parents as it has been for their children.
“Serving is the essence of who we are as Catholics, as children of God,” Diane says. “We grow close to God and we take care of each other — both those in the Church and those far from the Church. We want our kids to know that this is the life of a Christian. I see they have carried on in many ministries that they grew up with. In some things they watched us, and often we served in tandem. Now, our grown children meet us at the church and we play music and joke with each other as we prepare the Men’s Shelter food. It is so joyful and feels just so right!
“Recently my youngest, Tani, and I were running errands and saw a homeless young adult,” she adds. “I wanted to hand a granola bar out the window, but we were not positioned well on the busy street. But my daughter led us to park, walk a few blocks back to the man with a large bag of healthy snacks, talk to him for a while, and then pray over him, right there at the intersection. A granola bar versus a powerful holy encounter — I am learning even now from my 16-year-old about deep stewardship in the Christian life.”