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  • Getting to Know Kathleen

    Our ministry team does a great job getting to know the congregation, but how well do we know our ministers? The Personnel Team will be interviewing a different member of the staff in each edition of The Spire so we can learn more about what inspires them to serve and how they recharge their batteries. First up, Minister of Congregational Health and Wellness, Kathleen Zagata!

    What’s a typical day like in your ministry?

    They aren’t typical! I could be spending hours developing materials for a Health Ministry Sunday or a contemplative retreat, attending meetings all day, or I could be spending time with individuals who have a health issue or life transition they’d like to talk about. I might get a call from someone needing an agency referral, serve as an interpreter on a medical issue, or teach meditation techniques to someone preparing for a procedure to help them feel they are an active part of the healing process. 

    What about a typical day off? 

    I love the gym. I just joined a new gym and have been trying out all the classes; I especially like water classes. My husband and I downsized two years ago and decided to put together our last house. We spend a lot of time personalizing the space so it feels like home. Or I might be up in Maine at our little cottage, visiting with my sons. I love winter and take every opportunity to ski (downhill and cross-country) and snowshoe. 

    How did you first hear the call to ministry?

    Prior to FCC, I worked at a pediatric nursing home, with kids who had complex special needs. The home employed a chaplain, and that’s where I was first introduced to the idea of parish nursing. One day I was on the phone with my son, who asked me if I could check out newspaper ads to help him find a job when he was home from college. I saw an ad for a part-time parish nurse, and it just felt like I should answer it. I didn’t know I was looking, but I guess I was. It was a 3-year grant funded by the Jenks Fund, but after two years, they made me a permanent part of the team. I joined the church in 2001. We implemented the Service of Light after 9/11 to help people heal, based on a service I experienced at Andover Newton. It’s been gratifying to see it become a tradition that means a lot to many people.

    What’s your favorite thing about serving at FCC Winchester?

    There are so many role models here of how to be a person of faith. It’s been really great to see people’s commitment to serving others and developing themselves, especially those I’ve had a chance to work with for years.

    Any advice for someone looking to pursue your line of work?

    I just spoke with a nurse last week who was considering this career change. My background is nursing, and what I do now is nursing. It’s an advanced practice to serve an entire community, and the more experience you have, the better you can bring it to bear and see the role faith plays in wholeness and health and healing and how it can help people with life transitions. It’s not a role you can necessarily plan for; there’s a certain amount of unfolding each year with the Health Ministry, it’s very organic and I love that.

    What’s a book you have read again and again?

    Coming Home to the Self: Reflections on Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul by Marion Woodman, a book of small quotes that are very meaningful. I often give it to other women who are in mid-life because it addresses those transitions beautifully and is a real touchstone for me. “A life truly lived constantly burns away veils of illusion, burns away what is no longer relevant, gradually reveals our essence, until, at last we are strong enough to stand in our naked truth.”

    What is one thing most parishioners would not know about you?

    My friends are like family, and I love to have a great time with them and plan fun events and outings. I just threw a party to celebrate a trip we took 40 years ago to Europe. We served food from all of the countries we visited, and I converted my tub into the Trevi Fountain.  I forgot the plumbing inspector was coming the next day. He could not figure out why my bathtub was filled with coins and the bathroom walls were covered in snapshots of my friends!

    What is one thing you’d like the congregation to know about you?

    I sometimes feel like members are self-conscious about eating around me, but I never want to introduce shame around food. Even though sourcing and cooking healthy food for my family is an important part of my life, I love a good piece of birthday or wedding cake! Food should be a celebration. If you have a treat, really enjoy it, preferably in good company!

    Want to learn more about Kathleen’s work or take advantage of her services? Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays are the best days to catch her at church.