by Katie Hyde
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. –– After interviewing for the position of consultant for the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life in 1995, Jacki Corrigan decided the job was not for her.
Then a conversation with her eight-year-old granddaughter changed everything.
When Corrigan said that she was not going to take the job, her granddaughter replied, “But, Grandma, isn’t it about God?”
Those words changed everything.
“I didn’t want to deprive her of knowing I trusted in God,” said Corrigan. “It’s one thing to teach about God, but a completely different thing to choose God.”
And so Corrigan, who is married with four grown children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild, left her job at Enesco, where she got to travel the world, and began working in the archdiocesan offices.
“I went from a totally incredible job as the world would see it to a totally incredible job as those of faith would see it,” Corrigan said.
After working as the consultant for office of marriage and family life for nearly 16 years, Corrigan announced her retirement early last month.
Among her many accomplishments as Consultant is the initiation of many programs in the archdiocese.
She began the women’s Day of Boundless Joy, Marriage Day of Enrichment, Mass of the Innocents, the 50th wedding anniversary Mass, Project Genesis, That Man Is You, She Shall Be Called Woman, ENDOW (Educating on Nature and Dignity of Women), Ministry of Spiritual Care, Impactos (a marriage and family weekend for Hispanic Catholics), As For Me and My House, and participation in World Marriage Day.
She also served on city, regional and national boards for the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM).
She traveled to the NACFLM conference annually, where she developed a friendship with Frank Hannigan, director of the family life office in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“Corrigan is a wonderfully faith-filled woman,” Hannigan said. “She loves the church, and she loves marriage. She sees the good in people. I just enjoy being around her.”
Susan Carroll, a close friend of Corrigan’s and previous director of administrative services and human resources for the archdiocese, feels the same way about Corrigan, who she worked closely with to begin As For Me and My House, the Day of Boundless Joy, and implementation of the Virtus program.
“Jacki is pure gift — not only to the people of the archdiocese, but also to those she worked with on the national level through the National Association of [Catholic] Family Life [Ministers],” said Carroll.
“I believe that Jacki has been so successful in this ministry because she has the heart of a wife, mother and grandmother — and a caring which she so beautifully communicated to all whose lives she touched,” Carroll continued. “She communicated her gentle, insightful look into family life in her many columns in The Leaven.”
Her work included anything to do with families and marriage, said Corrigan. This specifically involved strengthening families and conducting marriage preparation classes for young couples seeking to marry.
“I love touching their excitement and lives, knowing they’ll have a few rocks and pebbles, but it’s not just them and it’s not forever,” Corrigan said.
And the rewards don’t stop when the marriage preparation classes are over.
“Once my husband and I gave a class to six young married couples in our home,” Corrigan said. “A year later, we were driving home and saw a note on our door. It was from one of the couples on their one-year anniversary, saying how much marriage prep meant to them. It’s amazing the connection you have with these couples.”
Despite the benefits of working with young couples, Corrigan said the facet of her work that has touched her heart the most is working with the elderly.
“They have so much wisdom,” Corrigan said. “It is very much a ‘give’ situation, where you give and you also grow at the same time.”
After her many years as the consultant for the office of marriage and family life, Corrigan says she can see God everywhere in her work.
“You [see God] the most when something is complete, and you know that people have embraced God,” she said. “You see joy in their hearts and in their experience.”