In retirement, Conzett still serves

When Valerie Conzett retired at the end of December as director of the archdiocese’s Center for Family Life Formation, she didn’t need to figure out how to spend her time – she knew she would continue serving others.

Now working part-time for the office she led, Conzett coordinates the Courage/EnCourage program that provides pastoral care and support for people with same-sex attraction and their families and friends.

"My role with the program is the same as it was before, but now I have more time for it," she said. "When I talked with the archbishop (Archbishop George J. Lucas) about transitioning out of the director role, we looked at all the different ministries, and since this one was growing, I said I would be happy to continue with it."

Conzett serves as a leader of the Courage support group and consults with individuals and families who contact the office through the confidential email or phone number.

"I love running groups, and I think there’s a lot that happens in a group where people can support each other and know they’re not alone," Conzett said. Additional support and prayer groups are likely in the future, she said.

"With Courage/EnCourage, we want to provide a safe place where people can come, and people even come from outside the archdiocese who may not have this kind of support in their own communities, so we’ve found there is a real need," she said.

Conzett also is the liaison with the national Courage office, and is working to arrange for training by the national team for archdiocesan priests and deacons.

A native of Hanover, Ind., Conzett and her husband, Deacon Michael Conzett, moved to Omaha in 1984 and are members of St. Margaret Mary Parish. She became director of the center, then called the Family Life Office, in November 2006.

As director, Conzett said she was proud of her team’s efforts to let people know all the ways the church wants to be with them during all stages of family life.

Conzett also serves on the board of directors of Catholic Charities of Omaha and the national board of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association. She also will be a counselor this summer at the Institute for Priestly Formation.

In her retirement, she also plans to spend more time traveling, gardening and quilting, and looks forward to the birth of her first grandchild in September.

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