Catholic Studies alumna and freelance writer Susanna (Bolle) Parent ’13 features three fellow alumni who are bringing their God-given gifts and fine-tuned talents to the marketplace in a very Catholic Studies sort of way. And speaking of using their gifts, you can find Susanna’s other published work at fiatandalily.blogspot.com.
ALUMNI DUO CREATES ONLINE GATHERING SPACE
Meet Blair ’17 CSMA and Jordan Saiz ’15, a Catholic studies couple that shared a desire to furnish their new home in a more humane way but felt limited to the big-box stores.
In order to find what they were looking for, they created a new option in the online marketplace: The Village Green.
This creative couple chose the name to capture the idea of the common open space which sits at the heart of many English villages. “We see our online version as a way to get to know our neighbors and create a community around the values of home, family, and human-centered goods,” they said.
Their website (shopthevillagegreen.com) features individual artisans, tells their stories and lists them by name along with their goods. Many are mothers who wish to stay home with their families while pursuing creative work.
Their shop shifts away from the minimalist aesthetic and instead offers goods with intricate details and ornamentation to show that even ordinary, everyday goods can be exceptional.
Their business model is based on Catholic social teaching by taking the deposit of the faith and putting it into action in the marketplace.
“Because of the interdisciplinary approach of Catholic Studies, we have come to the profound realization of how the Incarnational reality impacts all areas of life,” they shared, “from the goods that fill our home to how we conduct our business and raise our children.”
BLESSED MOTHER INSPIRES NAME OF ALUMNA’S NEW BUSINESS
Mary (Burns) Mueller ’13, ’15 CSMA was a double major in Catholic studies and theology before adding a master’s degree in Catholic studies.
While working for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as the director of marriage and family life, she felt a tug to make her deep love for hospitality a more concrete reality in her life.
So, she started Loreto Kitchen.
This is where Mueller lives out her passion. While someone hosts the gathering, she is there as “co-host” for all things food and wine, providing desserts and wine pairings. The name of her business was inspired during her Catholic Studies semester abroad in Rome.
Loreto is a little town in Italy near the Adriatic coast, best known as the site of the “Holy House” where it is believed the angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Mother.
“Sitting within the walls that received Mary’s ‘Yes’ to God’s will for her life is a memory that will stay with me for all of my life,” Mueller said. “I knew how I desired to live my own life ... to live a life that is always for others.”
Because Mueller is on a gluten-free diet, she set out to make baked goods that were undetectably free of this allergen. With the goal of creating the best cookies that anyone has ever had, she got serious and started researching the actual chemistry of baking. Then came the testing, sometimes taking over a dozen alterations to the recipe. She knows her perseverance finally paid off when clients tell her they can hardly believe that her goods don’t include gluten.
“My formation through Catholic Studies taught me that my faith can, and should, animate everything that I do,” she said. I am able to use my business as a way to serve those around me ... with every ball of dough I shape, I pray for the person who will eat that cookie.”
This story is featured in the fall-winter 2022 issue of Lumen.