Meet Lori Kohorst: New diocesan pastoral council chair

Categories: Around the Diocese

February 14, 2014, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Lori Kohorst had already served as a representative for regional long range planning in the southeastern part of the St. Cloud Diocese when she was recommended to the diocesan pastoral council, one of the major consultative bodies to the bishop.

“I was recommended by someone, I think, because I had been on that planning committee and am fairly vocal, so I fit that box of ‘here’s a parishioner that isn’t afraid to speak up,’ ” Kohorst said.

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Lori Kohorst

Kohorst agreed to serve on the council, beginning in September 2011, representing the Foley-Princeton Deanery. Last month Jane Salzl, lay representative from the Melrose/Sauk Centre Deanery, nominated Kohorst to chair the council, and her fellow council members elected her to serve in that capacity.

As chair, Kohorst will be responsible for making sure the meetings flow smoothly and stay on task, a sometimes difficult task with a council of nearly 20 members.

The council, which focuses on pastoral issues throughout the diocese in an advisory capacity to the bishop, consists of lay representatives from each of the seven deaneries in the diocese, a women’s religious representative, a men’s religious representative, a presbyteral council representative, a deacon representative and five at-large representatives.

“She’s positive, optimistic and energetic,” Salzl said. “Lori will fit the bill.”

Busy parishioner

In her parish, Mary of the Visitation in Becker and Big Lake, Kohorst is a parish council member, choir member and cantor, a member of the liturgical committee, marriage mentor, sacristan, eucharistic minister and helps with outreach programs, like the Hot Dish Hotline and a homeless ministry.

“She is very faith-filled,” said Eric Dahlberg, director of music ministry at Mary of the Visitation in Becker. “She is passionate about her faith and truly lives it.”

Father Eugene Doyle, pastor of Mary of the Visitation in Becker and Big Lake, said Kohorst not only is good at speaking but also listening.

“She is able to summarize the discussion well,” Father Doyle said. “She’s respectful of other’s opinions.”

During her term as chair, Kohorst hopes the diocesan pastoral council will be an effective vehicle for facilitating communication between the parishes and Bishop Donald Kettler.

“[I hope] we can keep those communication streams open, move information back and forth, come to good resolutions and resolve hurts and pains,” she said. “I think it is important that communication flows both ways and our communities are open to share their triumphs and what they need help with.”

As the sexual abuse crisis continues to be in the spotlight, Kohorst thinks it is important to continue the conversation.

“It’s a really great thing that we’re finally talking about it,” she said.

“There are a lot of hurt feelings that have never been acknowledged. This gives the church a chance to ask for forgiveness and our community to be able to forgive. It also opens the door for many who were afraid to say anything to be in a healing process.”

One of her concerns is the high percentage of inactive Catholics. She would like to know of a way to reach out to them to encourage them to be more involved in the church.

She would also like to see less resistance from her fellow Catholics when it comes to volunteering. She finds hope in Pope Francis’ message that it is everyone’s responsibility to use their time and talents to care for those in need.

She is also encouraged by youth involvement in her parish. Their involvement is leading their parents to become more involved, she said.

A broadening experience

As part of the diocesan pastoral council, Kohorst has learned about many positive happenings in the diocese, such as the mission-related activities.

She was impressed when she found out this past year $26,500, which is 25 percent of the total raised from Operation Rice Bowl in the diocese, stayed here for local food assistance. Overall, her understanding of the diocese and the world has been broadened through the diocesan pastoral council.

“Every day we look at our own little household or own little community, and we don’t look outside of that,” she said. “This exposure to our diocese is wonderful, but it also opens our eyes to our nation and our world. It opens our eyes to the big picture.”

She is married to Brad Kohorst, operations manager at FocalPoint in Otsego, and she works as an accountant for Telin Transportation Group of Becker. They have two sons, Evan, 22, and Eli, 20. Both are in the Air Force and live in Utah and Washington, respectively.

Kohorst is a native of the Silver Creek/ Hasty area and grew up attending St. Luke Parish in Clearwater. She felt especially motivated to be more involved in the church after participating in a Cursillo retreat in the late 1990s.

“It really opened up my faith formation life,” she said. “From that point onward I decided I needed to be an active part of our community — to be involved. It was my responsibility to become knowledgeable about what our parishes were involved in and to help those that were in need of help.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a concern or comment you would like brought to the diocesan pastoral council, speak with your parish liaison. Contact your parish for his or her name and number.