February 21, 2020 // Diocese
Caty Burke: youthful enthusiasm in marriage ministry
Ironically, it was a presentation about annulment that launched Caty Burke’s passion for marriage and family ministry.
Now associate director for Marriage, Family and Pro-Life Ministry in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Caty Long was a senior at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, when Cardinal Raymond Burke came to give a talk on annulment. She had already switched her major from English to theology and catechetics, because she felt called to work for the Church.
When she realized that most people in the Church were married, she began to understand how essential it was to foster strong marriages through preparation, support and enrichment. She enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies program at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.
In the meantime, Ryan Burke, whom she had met at Franciscan University, was working on his master’s degree in education at Providence College, Rhode Island. The college has a program similar to the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education, which provides support to various aspects of Catholic education nationwide.
Ryan and Caty entered into the marriage covenant on Aug. 11, 2018. During their first year of marriage, Ryan taught high school theology while Caty served as events coordinator for National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Caty’s job didn’t utilize all her training and passion for helping people encounter Christ in family life, and both spouses wanted to be closer to their family and friends. Ryan had grown up in St. Louis, Missouri, and Caty in Mishawaka, where her parents moved so she could attend St. Bavo School and Marian High School. In the Antioch youth group, she had found friends and role models who were formative in her own faith journey.
Ryan and Caty joke that a fire in their Massachusetts apartment last Easter morning lit the fire under them to move back to the Midwest, to wherever either of them first found a job. Caty interviewed for her current position in the Secretariat for Evangelization and Discipleship with Lisa Everett, who had accompanied her Marian group to the National March for Life years earlier.
Caty is grateful to have Everett as a mentor, since she has 30 years of experience in ministry. In her new full-time position, which Caty began at the end of July, she oversees Office of Marriage and Pro-Life Ministry events and programs on the Fort Wayne side of the diocese. Ryan is a long-term substitute teacher, currently teaching theology at Bishop Dwenger High School. The couple attend St. John the Baptist Parish, Fort Wayne.
Having a young adult in the position signals the ministry’s intention to reach out to young people who are dating, engaged and married.
Caty’s ministry is pro-life, pro-woman and pro-family, helping equip parishes to be more lovingly involved with women, men and children in difficult situations. She is excited and prepared for the challenge: It was actually awareness of contemporary challenges that first kindled her passion for pro-life, marriage and family ministry.
Although Caty has many ideas and hopes to inaugurate in Fort Wayne several programs that have been piloted in the South Bend area, she also is eager to listen and learn. She has a goal of fostering community, not just presenting programs. She also hopes to empower spouses to minister to each other and would like to collaborate with priests and parishes, not just in marriage preparation but for ongoing enrichment and help for struggling marriages.
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