Mad for…Jill

Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by kindly words; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love. (St. Therese of Lisieux)

At about 4pm on the first day of our chaperoning adventure in the nation’s capital back in 2012, I looked up at my assigned partner for the journey, Jill Folstrom, from a prone position on a bench at the FDR Memorial. Lacking all decorum and politeness, I said something like, “Jill, if I don’t get a diet coke soon, I may have to live right here in this spot for the rest of my life!” In my defense, we’d woken that day at about 3am and headed to the airport with a plane load full of 8th graders. I loved those kids then and still now, but the McDonalds at the Indy Airport wasn’t even open yet when we had to move through security, and that disappointment had remained with my nervous system for over 12 hours, painfully unattended.

She could see that I’d hit a brick wall, and my whining was so convincing that she actually volunteered to sneak away from the group in search of caffeine for yours truly. Mostly owing to shame and humiliation in the face of her graciousness, I waived off that incredible kindness and forced myself to cease with the bad behavior and move on. Though we had both been parents at SLDM for many years by this time, this trip was my first real opportunity to witness the almost absurd kindness and grace that is Jill Folstrom.

A loving mother of two children, Rachel and Jacob, and wife to a truly lovely man named Jim, she’s unimaginably thoughtful, sunny, and altruistic. She’s filled to the brim with the love of Christ and treats all around her with compassion and charity. She’s gifted in a special way with friendliness and courtesy. In short, she’s the face of Jesus to all with whom she comes into contact.

Just last night, I received the most considerate text message from Jill. Let’s keep in mind she chose to take the time to reach out despite having been on duty at GC from early morning through very late in the evening yesterday. She noted that she had seen my youngest son at GC a couple of times throughout her day and she shared a very charitable compliment about his behavior, noting that she was excited to have a Thieme boy back in the building after our family’s one year high school pause. As my love language is clearly “words of affirmation”, the generosity of her comments struck me as a great gift from the Lord. It’s a familiar pattern I’ve noticed with Jill.

Today, I wanted to take a moment to do something I should have done many, many years ago! I’ve known Jill for something like 16 years and in all that time I don’t think I have previously expressed to her my respect and admiration for the quality of her character and the intentionality with which she shares her kind heart to all in her wake. Jill Folstrom, YOU ARE THE BOMB! Thank you, friend, for reminding me how important it is to smile and treat others with respect– all the time– by your example! I am incredibly grateful to you for your witness of how important it is to be kind.

Mad for…Fr. Christian DeCarlo

Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words. -St. Francis of Assisi

A year ago this week, Fr. Christian DeCarlo, who is a Zionsville native and grew up as a parishioner at nearby St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church, was ordained to the priesthood. Since then, he has been both learning the ropes, so to speak, and also serving the people at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Carmel, Indiana. It’s a task, I’ll add, he’s been doing admirably.

That first year of priesthood, I’m told, is a bit of a doozy. Therefore, I felt his significant milestone should be both celebrated and acknowledged! While I don’t know Fr. DeCarlo personally, we have met briefly a few times and I’ve been to MANY masses at which he was the celebrant. In such a big parish as OLMC, with over 4,000 families, I’d argue his age is a huge asset for the youth of the parish, for whom he naturally feels relevant. He’s also a very genuine person with a cheerful countenance.

Fr. DeCarlo is soft-spoken, and with his words he utters truth. He is an authentic man who wears a kind smile. That’s why I chose the words of St. Francis for his little tribute today. The day to day life of a priest often involves walking alongside folks for whom life is currently messy or mangled. However, Fr. DeCarlo points people to the Lord, where I’m certain he knows that our Awesome God can be counted on to turn even our most stunning sorrows into something useful and good to Him. He is the face of Jesus to folks of all ages every single week!

If you haven’t been to one of Fr. DeCarlo’s masses, I’d encourage you to give it a whirl. He is musically gifted and has a beautiful singing voice, which always makes the experience feel reverent and altogether lovely. THANK YOU, Fr. DeCarlo, for all you do each day for so many! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!

Mad for…Fr. Josh Janko

Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ. (Col. 3: 23-24)

Fr. Josh Janko is Chaplain at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Before that, he served at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan. However, he’s a Carmel, Indiana native and a priest of the diocese here. I met him when he was serving as the Director of Catholic Mission at Guerin Catholic High School, when my oldest son, Nick, was there. He later served a short time at St. Louis de Montfort in Fishers before making the move to serve our great nation!

This weekend as many terrific young people graduate from GCHS and the priestly ordinations took place yesterday, I heard from a few folks that our world traveling friend was in the area. On Facebook, I was able to find confirmation of this, as you can see from the great photo above!

Fr. Janko has a heart that loves the Lord, and he glorifies God by the way he lives his life– filled with zest and positivity. His smile is glorious and he has an infectious laugh too! I saw a quote this week that reminded me of him, and then his name kept popping up in my week, so I decided that the Holy Spirit was nudging me to share with you about this truly terrific priest.

To truly have a zest for life, you must squeeze all the juice out of it…especially the lemons. Believe it or not, they make life even more delicious. The lessons you get out of them make you strong, resilient, and amazing.” (JG Perry)

Strong, resilient and amazing are adjectives which describe this man very aptly. He’s gifted with young people, because he is full of life himself. Without a doubt, Fr. Josh has done the tough work of the priesthood, walking alongside folks at their most vulnerable times, administering the sacraments at crazy hours of the day or night, but even on the most mundane of days, his mood energizes others around him and he is the face of Christ to many.

I am grateful for his witness of what it means to be an authentic and enthusiastic man who loves the Lord with zeal! Thanks, Fr. Janko, for all you do each day…no matter where you live!!

Mad for…Josh

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. — St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

I’m guilty of using this photo once before in this column during 2019, but today, I’m writing about the handsome high school SENIOR on the right! Meet Josh Osborn. He’s graduating from Guerin Catholic High School this weekend as part of the class of 2019. He’s the middle child of Chris and Jen (pictured above, left) Osborn. He has an older sister named Emma who attends Kent State, and a younger brother, Sam, who is also a Golden Eagle.

This afternoon and evening, Tom, Drew, and I will be attending 3 graduation parties honoring 6 terrific kiddos– including the one celebrating Josh! As a result, my mind is on the futures of all the class of 2019, which are all undoubtedly going to be filled with sunshine!

This fall, the utterly prepared and academically gifted Josh Osborn will attend Indiana University. I am certain he will flourish there and be a very successful student. I know this because his super proud mama has shared with me about his natural academic abilities and very smarty-pants test scores. Also, I’ve watched him hoop it up quite a bit, and I’ve listened to what his team members and friends have to say about him, so I know he has an incredible work ethic and he’s fiercely competitive. Intelligent, hard-working young men who are character filled, like Josh, are going to shine. That’s a fact. During his senior year at GC, Josh took on a new sport– football! It was such a joy to watch him catch passes and deepen friendships too. I love the courage he displayed tackling this new challenge. That cements for me that he has all the tools necessary to move to the next phase of his young life and crush it!

That said, my son Drew is a former basketball teammate to Josh and also a Boilermaker like yours truly. So, as I honor Josh today I also want to share with him some important words from one of my favorite Boilermakers of all-time, Tyler Trent.

“I want to leave a legacy of what the Lord can do when you allow him to work. There’s always enough time in the day to bring glory to God. If you don’t have the time, start making the time. We don’t know how many days we have.”

Josh, you are a good and integrity-filled soul. Keep being you. Also, consider the words of Tyler and be like him too. It will fill your life with meaning and joy beyond all measure. Our lives here in the Thieme house are all better for having made the acquaintance of the Osborn clan, and we have Josh and Drew to thank for that! CONGRATULATIONS AND GOOD LUCK, JOSH!!

Mad for…Mary

What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people! (St. Teresa of Avila)

Self-sacrificing, friendly, and full of life is how I would describe Mary Bohn in (slightly more than) three words! She’s the wife of Chris, and mother of three who lives in Westfield, Indiana. She is also the grandmother of this handsome little bundle she’s pictured with, above.

Mary is quick with a hug and she has a gorgeous and very genuine smile that lights up a room. Her oldest son, Nathan, is a long-time friend and college roommate to my Nick. It’s hard to believe they will be SENIORS at Xavier University this fall. Gosh that happened too quickly! They played baseball together in high school, which helped to create a common bond of survival among those of us with Guerin Catholic seniors back in 2016…ha?! I respect Mary for the way she puts others before herself and how she seems to genuinely want the best for others. Because of these traits, she’s often the face of Christ to those around her!

Over time, Mary and I have prayed for one another and for each other’s children, and we check in with each other every once in a while. While we aren’t “everyday friends”, I know her to be filled with kindness and faithfulness. She likes to laugh and she has a tremendously welcoming spirit. Her children and husband are incredibly blessed to have such a character and integrity filled woman in their lives!

The last time I spoke to her, she was driving to Ohio to babysit for her precious grandbaby a couple of days a week. What a stunningly selfless and loving sacrifice, I thought! No beauty shines quite as brightly as a good heart. Mary certainly owns one of those! Since today is Mary’s birthday, I felt I was overdue to honor her with a few affirming words. Thank you, Mary, for being a wonderful witness of love to all around you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARY BOHN!!

Mad for…Colleen

Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid…” (Luke 12:7)

As my youngest son exited St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School this week and the “SLDM” era comes to a close for our family, I find myself thinking of all the folks that made our experience so positive. I’ve already written about many terrific educators, but teachers are phenomenally special. Therefore, I present you with another great one today. Meet Colleen Bill!

Colleen is pictured above with her very good looking family. She’s just as beautiful in person as she is in the striped dress above at her daughter’s college graduation! Mrs. Bill was Zach’s 4th grade teacher. His year in her classroom was indisputably positive, because Colleen is a consummate professional. Probably it helped Zach bond with her a little that she had a son the same age as Z’s oldest brother, Nick. Jude Bill is pictured at left, above, with his fairly tall mom Colleen beside him. I am not sure how tall he is, but I recall the Cardinals playing against him in CYO ball and he was irrefutably the tallest person in the gym at that time and Z thought he was WAY COOL. It’s funny the things that kids key on with teachers sometimes.

I know that Colleen attended St. Mary’s College and that she’s run the mini-marathon at least once. Other than that, I admit I don’t know a lot about her personally. The Lord, of course, knows every tiny facet of her personality and even the number of hairs on her head! That doesn’t help me today as I look to honor her, but I will share with you a couple of my observations. Zach thrived in Colleen’s classroom because she isn’t dramatic. She’s not a yelling, banging, or overtly spirited person. For him, her stability, compassion and quiet smile made him feel safe and loved in her care.

She’s faith-filled and with terrific strength of spirit. She honors children and their parents too with dignity. Colleen is graceful and she’s a beautiful witness of Christ to others. She’s got a good sense of humor but she doesn’t need to be the center of attention. Like Jesus, she sees the underdog, the easy-to-miss, and the unnoticed in her daily work. That fact is what I always appreciated most about Colleen Bill and never mentioned. So, thank you, Colleen for all the little things you do each day for ALL the children! Yours is a tough job, but you make it look so incredibly easy. You’re a fantastic teacher and a role model I am so pleased my son had the opportunity to spend some time with during his grade school years. More than that, though, you are a thoughtful woman who puts others ahead of herself. We noticed, and we should have said THANK YOU quite a bit sooner!

We know that the Lord loves the way you live like Jesus, and we are grateful for you, Colleen!

Mad for…Dr. Eva Freeman

Given one well-trained physician of the highest type and he will do better work for a thousand people than ten specialists. (William James Mayo)

Just over 21 years ago, I was a brand new mom with a newborn laying in my hospital room at the Women’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Like a conscientious new parent will often do, I had interviewed and chosen a pediatrician ahead of time for my new baby. Now that little Nicholas had arrived, the hospital called her office. The woman who showed up to examine him was not that doctor. That doc was on maternity leave. Instead, I was greeted with the very young and super friendly, Dr. Eva Freeman. None of the nurses had ever seen her before, and I am fairly certain he was the first baby she saw at that hospital. We liked her immediately and the match was made.

Since then, she has been the pediatrician for all three of my boys. At the tender age of about 2 months old, and fresh out of the NICU, I presented my second son, Drew, at her office with a very high fever. Fearing meningitis, Dr. Freeman did a spinal tap in her office. I am pretty sure there were 3 adults in that room who were pretty rattled that day– including Dr. Freeman and her nurse. Thankfully, he didn’t end up having meningitis, but from his other symptoms she suspected he might have kidney reflux and she referred us to Riley Hospital for Children. I clearly remember the specialist there saying to me after his tests and exam that he had never seen a child this young correctly diagnosed with the condition. He said, “You have a sharp pediatrician.” Indeed we do. I later learned that when she did her training there at Riley Hospital, she had encountered a young man who had lost his life to the VERY TREATABLE condition, because it was simply caught too late. A few years later, the same Riley doc surgically repaired Drew’s kidney issue. Because he was diagnosed at such an early age (and we were able to intervene with meds to stave off infections while we waited for him to grow big enough to have the surgery), his kidneys were not damaged. That early intervention was all thanks to the talented Dr. Freeman!

We have had very little medical drama since then, but Dr. Freeman has continued to treat my 3 guys over many years with her signature smile and common sense approach to medicine. We’ve always felt her generosity of spirit, courtesy and understanding as a blessing. This morning as she was jokingly “searching his ears for Superman” just like she used to do when Zach was very small, I couldn’t help remembering all her compassionate care and kindness to our family over time. This made me realize that we truly have taken for granted the good will and decency of a terrific woman who has been our family’s pediatrician since Nick was born back in August of 1997. THANK YOU, DR. FREEMAN for your professionalism, humanity, and goodness! We are grateful for you!