Cathy Kirschling: Joy In Spite of Tragedy


Mattea Vecera, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Mrs. Cathy Kirschling, NDA receptionist, greets students every morning as they come  into school and every afternoon while leaving. Always with a smile on her face, Kirschling seems to be the perfect person for this job.

However, few know anything about her life outside of school or the series of tragic events that have shaped her into the woman we know today. She was kind enough to answer some questions about this and allow the story to be published.

Cathy Kirschling was born and raised in Green Bay, where she attended NWTC to get an associate degree in Retail Management and Marketing. Kirschling has worked at Notre Dame Academy since 2000, and this is her 18th year here.

“The favorite part of my job is my interaction with the students. I love meeting all the students whenever I get the chance, and I also love being able to help out their wonderful parents,” said Kirschling. She also comments that one of the best parts of her job as a receptionist is that it is service-oriented.

Five of her six children (three sons and three step-children) are alumni of Notre Dame Academy. Her oldest son, Michael, is married with one daughter and lives in Bismarck, North Dakota. Her middle son, Garrett, lives in Green Bay and has one son. Her youngest son, Austin, graduated college in May and works in Milwaukee.

The other two alumni are very successful as well. Kirschling’s step-daughter Leah is a nurse practitioner in Madison and has one daughter, and her other step-daughter is an accountant in Minneapolis and also has one daughter.

For a woman who seems to always be so positive and lead a happy life, the popular receptionist has had multiple tragedies occur over the years. In June of 1992, she married Randy Welhouse, and after four years her first son was born. They had two more boys together, but when all three were still very young, Randy was diagnosed with lung cancer.

After 14 months of seeing nine different Doctors and visiting five different hospitals, Randy lost his battle with cancer at the age of 39. At the time, their sons were 3, 6 and 9.

“The hardest thing I ever had to do was to say goodby to a wonderful man, father and husband,” said Kirschling.

Approximately six months later, Kirschling lost a sister-in-law to colon cancer–again at the age of 39. Two years later, her deceased husband’s brother passed away at the age of 39 from brain cancer. Two years after that, Kirschling’s own brother was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 39 and lost his battle at the age of 40.

A month before she lost her brother, one of her close cousins was killed in a car accident, also at the age of 40.

“Within five years, I attended five family funerals. To top it off, my sister lost her husband five years later, leaving my parents with all their grandchildren who lived in the Green Bay area without fathers,” she explained.

Through all of this, Kirschling stayed strong and stable for her boys, who were now without a father. She had to take on the responsibility of two parents for three boys.

“They (her sons), along with my faith, kept me strong, and I lived each day through the ‘Serenity Prayer,’ said Kirschling. “As a result, I have been blessed with many wonderful people in my life, including a wonderful husband of 15 years, Mike Kirschling.”

She is still being blessed today, she said, with the many new faces she meets.

Fifteen years from now, Kirschling sees herself retired and traveling with her husband, as well as spending time with her grandchildren and family.

For now, she will continue to work as the receptionist at Notre Dame Academy, where there always seems to be a smile on her face.