Couple takes advantage of archbishop’s baptismal ministry
by Monte Mace
MARYSVILLE — When Michelle and Matthew Schmelzle heard that Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann — as a sign of personal support for couples having “as many children as God desired for them” — was offering a special opportunity to parents of larger families, they jumped at the chance.
“As a small gesture to encourage Catholic married couples to be generous in their openness to life, I am offering to baptize any child who is at least a couple’s third child, which, of course, includes both biological and adoptive children,” Archbishop Naumann wrote in his Leaven column on Jan. 10.
At the time they learned of the archbishop’s offer, Michelle was pregnant with their third child, Kellon.
“We saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Matthew. “It’s not every day you get the chance to have the archbishop baptize your child.”
The baptism took place Sept. 7 in the chapel of Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas, when Kellon was five weeks old. Four other couples in the archdiocese took part, but the Schmelzles were the only ones from distant Marysville, 150 miles away. It took several vehicles to transport all the family members who wanted to witness the event, including a great-grandparent, grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins.
Clearly, the couple has a special love for children, said Father Jim Shaughnessy, pastor of St. Gregory in Marysville. And Kellon’s baptism by the archbishop was a first for a St. Gregory Parish child.
Matthew praised his wife’s love of children as well as her sacrifice.
“Michelle has a special place in her heart for kids,” said Matthew. “She gave up a good receptionist job in order to spend more time at home with our children. She was working until 6 p.m. and, by the time she got home and we ate, there wasn’t much time left for the children.”
Michelle quit her job after their first son Jackson, now 5, became a toddler. She started up a day care business in their home and looks after as many as 10 children on any given day. After starting the day care, she had their second son, Landon, now 3.
“I love being able to stay at home and watch our kids grow up,” she said. “It is also a blessing to watch the day care kids grow and learn.”
Matthew also has given up time from his busy life as a parent and salesman for forklift parts to help children. Until recently, he taught at St. Gregory School.
Both Michelle and Matthew have two siblings, but their parents came from much larger Catholic families. Michelle’s father was one of 15 kids.
Have the Schmelzles encountered the cultural bias for couples having only two children, which Archbishop Naumann referred to in his column?
“We have never encountered criticism for having a large family,” said Michelle. “Many people have been supportive of our choice. Marysville does have a lot of large families.”
So how many children might the Schmelzles end up with?
“I think we are good with three, but we will see,” Michelle said. “I don’t think we will have 15!”