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ABOUT JOAN KIJEK
DIRECTOR OF FAMILY AND CHILDREN FAITH FORMATION
The oldest of four children, I was born and raised in Detroit. I was baptized at St. Francis D’Assisi Church, in a neighborhood where we lived close to all of our relatives. When I was three, we moved to west Detroit, also a Polish neighborhood, and we joined SS. Peter and Paul Parish. I attended grade school there, then went on to Rosary High (now closed).
Even as a young child, I always dreamed of being a teacher. My strong Catholic Polish heritage, given to me by my parents, relatives and community, led me to Mercy College of Detroit, where I received my BA degree in Elementary Education. After student teaching in both the public and Catholic school systems, I soon realized that I would only teach in the Catholic schools so I could share my faith and values with my students and not fear mentioning the name of God.
I began my teaching career at St. Anselm in Dearborn Heights, and the following year, in 1970, I married my husband, Gene. That summer we both registered at the University of Detroit to begin work on our Masters Degrees. Our first son, Paul, was born the following year. I still managed to continue teaching, receive my MA degree from the University of Detroit in curriculum and instructional methods, and also received my secondary teaching certificate in 1974.
We moved to Canton in 1974, when OLGC was the closest Catholic Church. After a year, Fr. MacKinnon was able to lease Miller School for the “Cantonites” on Sundays for the 10:00 AM Mass. He appointed ten couples to begin the founding of the new Parish ~ and Gene and I were fortunate to become one of them. We helped shop for and choose the parish house - right across the street from Miller School. The best part was writing a job description for a pastor who would shepherd this small community of young Canton families, which continued to grow. We were fortunate and blessed when Cardinal Dearden appointed Fr. Ed Baldwin (now Monsignor), as our Pastor. On June 19, 1977, we were part of a charter group who traveled to Rome for the canonization of St. John Neumann - on the very same day, the very first Masses were celebrated at Field School (the beginning of St. Thomas a’Becket Parish)!
Our own wonderful family continued to grow. In 1979, Maria was born. Anne was born in 1980 and John in 1983. With the loving help of our parents, who did the babysitting on school days, I continued teaching at St. Anselm until 1990.
This is where my career as Director of Religious Education began – at St. Michael’s in Livonia. I worked closely with Sr. Carolyn, the new principal, and we brought the two programs – the school religion classes and the religious education classes for the public school students – to work together.
In July of ’93, I joined the staff here, along with Debbie Miller, under the leadership of Fr. Kelly. We watched our parish family continue to grow and develop with Fr. Pat, Fr. Mathew and Fr. Murphy. We have many new and exciting programs, with more to come.
Our own family is growing too. Our three oldest have married over the past seven years, and we have wonderful, beautiful grandchildren who are our sunshine!
I have a deep love of family - my own family and my parish family here at St. Thomas a’Becket. I love the ministry I am involved in - families and children. We are all God’s children, sharing faith, sacraments and the love of God. And this is where I belong!
I can be reached at (734) 981-6680 – please leave a message if I’m not there to answer – or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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