The Catholic faith is incorporated into the workday for Carl Weiland and other members of his family at Weiland Doors in Norfolk. From left are Rob Haake, Carl Weiland, business founders Jean and Leon Weiland, and Jason Ash. COURTESY PHOTO

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God accompanies, enlightens and leads people as they labor

True disciples don’t compartmentalize Christ, limiting him to a couple of hours on Sundays.

No, they seek and follow him every day, in all aspects of their lives – including work.

To help honor the gift of work this Labor Day, three Catholics in the archdiocese agreed to share how they find God in their work, and how they share him with others.

DUSTY KORTH

Dusty Korth, an insurance agent in Norfolk, brings God to work with him.

He said he prays to the Lord throughout his day, and he’s happy to talk about him with others if a conversation leads that way.

Sometimes that happens when people see the crucifix or the quote from St. Teresa of Kolkata in his office at American Family Insurance. Or when they notice a couple religious books in the office. Or when they learn that he used to be a sixth-grade teacher at Norfolk Catholic School.

Korth became an insurance agent a little more than a year ago, and because he’s relatively new to that line of work, people often ask what he did before he changed careers.

“I always say I was a Catholic school teacher for 16 years,” said Korth, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk. “And I say Catholic on purpose. … I think that’s very important. Because I think if you’re clear with that – what I’ve noticed –  is that when I’ve said that, they feel like they can let their guard down and be more comfortable with me.

“It’s been pretty amazing, some of the conversations about faith that we’ve had in my office. We’re having a review of their insurance, and the conversation goes to other places. Obviously there’s always natural conversation, but it’s been amazing to me how many people will just kind of gravitate towards the faith side.

“I think it’s because I’ve just let them know I’m Catholic,” he said. “Obviously I talked about it a lot for 16 years, so I’m comfortable with that conversation. And when people know that you’re comfortable with that conversation, I think it allows them to be comfortable sharing what their faith is like, too.”

“I want people to know what I’m about,” Korth said. “I’m proud to be Catholic, and I’m proud to be faithful – not perfect, but faithful.”

He said he and his co-workers have talked about faith, too.

“They know my background, so we’ve had a lot of faith conversations in the office, just at random times, when issues come up and we share our thoughts and feelings,” he said. He and his co-workers feel comfortable having those conversations, Korth said.

People have to be respectful when talking about faith, he said. “People are going to have different opinions, and you can disagree. A lot of times the Catholic Church’s teachings are scrutinized,” he says with a laugh, “and people have a lot of questions on them. So you want to engage in those conversations to hopefully at least share some of the Catholic faith.”

Saying grace before meals is important for Korth and his wife, Angela. No matter where they are, they’ll pray, often with their children: Kennedy, 12; Korben, 6; and Kaysen, 5 months.

Korth also prays before eating lunch in his office.

“So if I’m in the office and I’m eating lunch, I’m still making the Sign of the Cross and praying before I eat. That visual sign, I think, is a big deal.”

Korth said he keeps a running conversation with God throughout his workday.

“I’m definitely not perfect at it,” he said, “but it’s something that is at the forefront of my mind. I think that’s because I’ve been blessed with people around me who have shown me how to do that.”

“I’m super thankful for all the people who have been that person to me, and I hope I can be that voice, that light, that example to others – just trying to multiply that discipleship.”

SARAH BOWMAN

Sarah Bowman sees the powerful presence of God at the nursing home where she works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Bowman says he’s busy saving souls through the prayers and sufferings of the residents she serves at Hillcrest Country Estates Cottages in Papillion. She calls the residents “God’s little saintly mystics.”

“One of the biggest joys of working at the nursing home as a CNA is having the opportunity to witness the authenticity of the residents’ Catholic faith,” Bowman said. “We are all called as Catholic Christians to live our faith all throughout our lives, all the way to the end.

“It’s so inspiring that the Catholic residents know that living their faith isn’t over when their kids leave the house or when they retire from work, but until their last dying breath.”

Bowman said that she’s witnessed people who are dying, even “when their awareness was lacking,” talk about their deep desire for Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours and how they reach for their rosaries.

“I also loved how they had a keen awareness of the angels and saints and that Jesus and Mary were always with them in their suffering.

“Although at times, nursing homes can be a place of sadness and discouragement for residents,” they’re also places where “God can powerfully show up and pour his abundant grace out on souls during their dying days, until they reach their heavenly homeland.”

Bowman said she’s heard two archdiocese priests – Father Michael Voithofer and Father Tom Greisen – talk about nursing homes as “powerhouses of prayer.” The priests conveyed in homilies that “prayerful sufferings offered up to our Lord on the cross are so powerful to the Church as a whole.”

Bowman said she finds joy in the people she cares for.

“I look at my residents, especially when they are in isolation or silently suffering, as God’s little saintly mystics who are cooperating with God’s grace to bring about the salvation of souls!”

Bowman laughs with and encourages the residents as she cares for them.

“It’s known that St. Therese of Lisieux, while on her deathbed, had one of her fellow sisters in the convent cut her fingernails,” the nursing assistant said. “Once done, St. Therese told the sister to save the fingernails because they will be used one day as relics.

“Creepy and cool, right?” Bowman said.

“Well, at the nursing home I enjoy incorporating the stories of the lives of the saints into my work while caring for the residents’ personal needs. At times, the residents may be hesitant at allowing someone else to cut their toenails, out of embarrassment. But I gently remind them that a Doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux, encouraged others to keep her fingernails, so cutting your toenails is a privilege!”

CARL WEILAND

Carl Weiland, co-owner of a specialty door manufacturer in Norfolk, tries to imitate Jesus – not always perfectly, he admits – but as a Christian trying to be a disciple.

“My goal is to live like Jesus, in the sense that I want to slow down and be present to the people who need my attention,” said Weiland, of Weiland Doors. “Jesus is never in a hurry, right?”

He said he and two brothers-in-law – Rob Haake and Jason Ash, also co-owners in the family business and all members of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk – strive to be approachable and trustworthy.

“I think the three of us work really well together because of our Catholic faith,” Weiland said. “The three of us recognize each other’s strengths and how we’re different from one another.”

They extend that philosophy companywide, “finding what gifts God has given each one of our people and helping them fit into the best role possible for them. That’s a really important thing.”

Part of Weiland’s job is graphic design.

“I think that when I am creating, whether it be for business or anything, I’m using that gift – even though I’m doing it quietly to myself – I know that it’s pleasing to God, because I’m using one of my strengths to create beauty in the world.”

Prayer is also important in his work, Weiland said.

“I think that it’s important to just keep Christ in your heart all the time, as best you can. And you do that by the way you live,” he said.

For Weiland and the brothers-in-law who lead with him, part of that means making themselves available.

“I want employees to see me as just a person, just like them,” Weiland said.

“I’ll have employees who will come to me, and they’ll actually tell me about things going on in their personal lives,” Weiland said. “I’ve prayed for them, and I’ve cried with them.”

When he prays about business decisions, God answers, he said.

“Sometimes things just pop out at you, and it’s like, aha! You know you’re getting the answer given to you. … Sometimes it’s apparent right away. Just by taking it to God, you already know, it’s pretty clear what God would will.”