Kathy Riley went ‘the extra mile’ for St. Louise parishioners

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
More than 200 parishioners, family and friends gathered Oct. 15 to thank Kathy Riley for her nearly four decades of service to St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Bellevue. Riley, third from right in the front row, stands next to her husband, Dan. Photo: Courtesy Dawn McIntosh More than 200 parishioners, family and friends gathered Oct. 15 to thank Kathy Riley for her nearly four decades of service to St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Bellevue. Riley, third from right in the front row, stands next to her husband, Dan. Photo: Courtesy Dawn McIntosh

BELLEVUE – In nearly four decades working at St. Louise de Marillac Parish, Kathy Riley helped adults rekindle their faith, families mourn the death of loved ones, and the recently divorced maintain their connection to the church.

“It’s really been an honor and a privilege working with the people at St. Louise,” said Riley, pastoral assistant for pastoral care, who retired Oct. 13. “I just love working with people.”

And people like Dawn McIntosh often found they couldn’t say no to Riley.

“I was just a parishioner kind of floundering in the pew” in 2002, McIntosh said, when Riley got her interested in adult faith formation classes with a Lenten series on the Gospels. First, Riley asked her to show up early to help set up. Soon, McIntosh was a member of the adult faith formation committee, later becoming chairman.

“Kathy has a way of pulling you in and keeping you engaged,” McIntosh said. “That’s an amazing gift.”

Kathy Riley retirementKathy Riley of St. Louise de Marillac Parish and Cantor David Serkin-Poole of Temple B’nai Torah worked together for many years on the Bellevue parish’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission. Photo: Courtesy Dawn McIntosh

Riley, a teacher, started working for St. Louise in 1979 after her children, Kristi and Karin, were older. Riley and her husband, Dan, had been volunteering with the parish’s adult faith formation program and were members of the adult education committee.

In the 1980s, Riley established ministries to help recently divorced parishioners, who often were going through grief and losing their connection with the church at the same time. She took over St. Louise’s pastoral care ministry in 2008, which included work with Cabrini Ministry and the parish’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission.

Riley became a “magnet” for newly single people, either through divorce or death of a spouse, said Father Gary Zender, who became pastor at St. Louise in 2014. Riley also was the parish’s advocate for parishioners going through the annulment process, and helped families plan funerals.

Kathy Riley retirementHelping Kathy Riley celebrate her retirement from St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Bellevue are St. Louise’s pastor, Father Gary Zender, left, and parochial vicar, Father Fabian MacDonald. Photo: Courtesy Dawn McIntosh

“She goes the extra mile and she has the gift to listen carefully to people,” Father Zender said. “If you’re laughing, she laughs with you. If you’re crying, she cries with you.”

More than 200 parishioners, family and friends turned out for an Oct. 15 celebration to thank Riley for her 38 years of service to the parish. “It’s always been a joy to know Kathy personally and it’s been a privilege to work with her,” Father Zender said.