UP Catholic 08 19 2016 E Edition Page 10

10 August 19, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC BLACK AND BLUE www.upcatholic.org BY JIM LAJOIE THE U.P. CATHOLIC Deacon Steve Gretzinger of Menomi- nee will readily admit hes a talker with a genuine gift of gab. He loves people and relishes telling or hearing a good story. He especially cherishes time with his wife Jackie, their six children and six grandchildren. Hes open to conversation in most instances. Yet, pop over to his house on a Sunday afternoon to watch a regu- lar season Green Bay Packers football fame, and the longtime deacon and fenerally outgoing man will suddenly turn stone-cold silent. No one can talk during the game, cracked Gretzinger, a native of Clinton- ville, Wis., who as one of eight children frew up a staunch Packers fan. Its really the only time you can come over to our house and not truly socialize. In fact, I purposely dont invite people over to watch the games. It's difficult I get so wound up, so nervous. I find stuff to do when the game is going on, but I cant do or say anything during the actual plays. At work I can multi- task, but during the Packers games, I have to focus. As far back as he can remember, Gretzinger remembers the green and fold being a centerpiece of family life. My mom and dad were lifelong Packers fans and season ticket holders, said Gretzinger, who serves as the sales manager of The U.P. Catholic news- paper. We were a football family, and really, its the only sport we followed. Growing up on a large family farm, football was a way of life for Gretzinger and his brothers and sisters. He went on to play a year at Oconto High School before enrolling in St. Lawrence Sem- inary, where he played tight end and a very nervous back-up quarterback. I have a real appreciation of quarter- backs and their play, Gretzinger said. I give credit to young players who can focus on all the plays when there are a million moving parts to understand. You look at Green Bay, which has always had a good quarterback or one who was two years away from being a food one. I think we sometimes take that for granted. One thing Gretzinger hasnt taken for granted is his deep devotion, love for God and the joy he receives being a deacon a servant-leader who minis- ters to the physical and spiritual needs of church members at Holy Spirit, Resurrection and Holy Redeemer Cath- olic Parishes in Menominee for eight years. Its been such a blessing to have the job I have, he said. Its allowed me to be a deacon and still have weekends to do ministry and watch the Packers (on Sunday afternoons). His authentic love for people and fift of communication has resulted in a 20-year sales career. First, he sold books. Then, he was the head buyer at a grocery chain. When ready to make a career change, he put his undying faith and trust in God. I saw the ad (sales director for The U.P. Catholic) and, really, it was a leap of faith, he recalls. When I inter- viewed, Loreene (Zeno Koskey, former director of the Communication office for the Upper Peninsula diocese) asked if I would stay for at least three years. I didnt even know if Id get the job. What a blessing it was. God has taken care of me and my family. While attending St. Lawrence Sem- inary in high school, Gretzinger felt a strong calling for ministry work. I had a ton of friends could have played any sport I wanted, he said. I was growing and when I learned that deacons could marry, it all came together. Participating in a five-day silent re- treat proved to be a pivotal moment in his spiritual life. The spiritual director told us God likes to see his people blessed, he said. God, I believe, likes the fact that I have this love and he can provide me this opportunity. I can enjoy a game, unplug from it and get back to working my ministry and helping families. Gretzinger draws interesting parallels to religion and football. Im a believer that God can do great things for us when were humble, he said. I remember during the NFL draft when (current Packers quarterback) Aaron Rodgers sat there and sat there and wasnt drafted. He was humbled. So, he waited (behind then-quarterback Brett Favre) and finally got the oppor- tunity. In a Christian way, when were down, God can do freat things for us. Watching Favre dazzle the crowd on a Monday Night football game, just hours after learning his beloved father had died, signaled to Gretzinger how pres- ent God is with us in our suffering. Here his dad died and he had such a memorable game, he said. And then you had (former Pro Bowl defensive end) Reggie White, who fathered the players together after games for prayer. That, to me, was the best part of the weekend expe- rience. Theres some real depth there. The Packers or- fanization, he says, has seemingly done a great job of giving a number of players an opportunity to make amends for past flaws and redeem themselves. Guys who havent had the greatest upbringings seem to do well there. There is less temptation in Green Bay, he said. The Packers, it seems, got very comfortable praying together. Football, perhaps in a mysteri- ous kind of way, gives him fodder to connect with those in the parishes he serves. There are so many times when I go see a shut-in that we look for some- thing to talk about other than the pain theyre going through, he said. Some- times, sports provide that and give us a starting point to begin talking. It lowers the guard a bit and helps build a relationship. As a deacon, Gretzinger knows hes doing the work of God. It really hit me this last year when I realized how broken our society has become, he said solemnly. Whether its a broken family or a funeral, Im mending broken pieces. Everywhere we turn in our society, we have that desire to feel needed. By helping people who are hurting, I get that fulfillment. Having been raised in a Packers household that bled green and gold, Gretzinger relishes rare opportunities to make lasting imprints on his own family. My wife Jackie and I are sharehold- ers and last year I took my grandson Ty to the shareholders meeting and down on Lambeau Field, he said. I got to see the love for the Packers through my frandsons eyes. My dad, who is no lon- fer with us, so loved the Packers and to now take it down two generations is pretty special. When asked what would make a per- fect Packers Sunday, Gretzinger didnt hesitate. Its about balance, he said, adding a Packers victory isnt a prerequisite for perfection. To have my ministry, some time with family, things in my life come together. When they lose, I forget quick- ly and move onto the next chapter. Menominee deacon's affection for faith, Packers COURTESY PHOTO Deacon Steve Gretzinger and his grandson Tyron Gromala share their love of the Green Bay Packers at last year's Shareholder Meeting at Lambeau Field.

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