Making a Difference
S. Peg Gabik joined the Racine Dominicans at a young age during a tumultuous time in history. “The world was changing a lot then,” she remembers. “The US was in the midst of the Vietnam War, Catholics were just learning about Vatican II, women were asking for equal rights and most young adults were questioning the authority of every institution. I wanted my life to stand for something and I wanted to make a difference in the world. I thought that by being in a group I had a better possibility of making a difference.” She also remembers that “I wanted to pray without apology. Many of my college friends were ridiculing most of what the church stood for.” A sister for nearly 40 years, S. Peg has been involved with a variety of ministries throughout the community.
For 26 years, S. Peg worked in parish ministries in the Green Bay Diocese. Before this she was an instrumental music teacher. She kept up her music talent throughout her parish ministry as a musician, liturgist and adult faith formation leader. After years of parish ministry S. Peg decided to retrain to become a mental health counselor. She was concerned about her job security in the church and also wanted a career that could sustain her into old age. As a counselor at the Wheaton Franciscan Counseling Center in Burlington, WI, in recent years she worked with many people dealing with issues about family, marriage, sexuality, unemployment, financial stress, depression, and anxiety. “I pray for each of my clients,” said S. Peg at the time. “I pray that I am able to listen and respond and that they can find healing.” That is how S. Peg described her work at the counseling center: a ministry of healing. “I try to offer hope, especially when the clients can’t find it for themselves.”
S. Peg also began studying young adult ministry while she was involved with parish work. She wanted to learn how to better engage young people and help them feel more connected to the church by finding out what issues and topics are important to them. “Young adult ministry is a huge unmet need within the church,” she said. “I believe young adults are looking for a way to respond to the Gospel and be disciples. They are searching for community and spirituality.” For a number of years, S. Peg offered a connection through her volunteering with Theology on Tap, a program that reaches out to young adults.
This program offers lectures on a variety of different theological and faith topics relevant to people in their 20s and 30s. What makes Theology on Tap special is that the discussions are usually held in restaurants, coffeehouses, and bars. “These are places where young adults already gather and feel comfortable and welcome,” said S. Peg. Along with the lectures, there are also opportunities for retreats, service projects, and other social justice activities that interest young adults. When S. Peg worked in the Green Bay Diocese, “Young adults planned many service trips. There were groups going to Appalachia, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua along with trips to Chicago and the shelters in Green Bay.”