Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - With the World Meeting of Families scheduled in Philadelphia this autumn, Matt and Tracy Kleinschmit of St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln are finally realizing a long-held dream: hosting a family-friendly festival on their property where people can come to enjoy games, good food, and great music while raising money for youth ministry.
Their first “Lincoln Family Fest” will be held Saturday, Aug. 8 from 4 to 9:30 p.m. on the Kleinschmit property at 11401 Van Dorn St., just east of Lincoln.
The event is an initiative of local families. It is not organized or sponsored by the Diocese of Lincoln.
“The Church calls all Catholics to evangelize and build a Catholic culture throughout their communities,” said JD Flynn, diocesan director of communications. “It is good to see Catholics undertake a faith-filled event like this, especially when they will donate their financial proceeds to youth ministry.”
On the schedule: Mass celebrated by Emeritus Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, a human foosball tournament (picture kids lined up with their arms locked on each others' shoulders, kicking a soccer ball), and pulled pork and other food catered by Hy-Vee at 50th and O streets.
The evening will end with live music by three local bands: Scarlet Streets and The Wildwoods – both featuring Pius X High School alumni or students – and the Christian rock group VOTA, headlined by former Newsboys member Bryan Olesen.
“We have a passion for family, and have eight children of our own,” Mr. Kleinschmit said. “We believe very strongly that the strength of society is built on the strength of the families that make up the community.”
Five years ago, the Kleinschmits moved onto a large piece of property, knowing their family would have to work as a team to care for all the responsibilities of the land. They modeled a good Christian ethic for their children, working on the property Monday through Saturday but leaving Sunday as a day of rest and family time.
Through the years, Mr. Kleinschmit said, “our dream developed... to share these amazing and rewarding family moments in the large meadow space on our property with as many people that would want to come join in the fun!”
To get this first Lincoln Family Fest off the ground, the Kleinschmits enlisted the help of three other couples: Kris and Laura Anderson of North American Martyrs Parish, Dan and Shannon Cullen of St. Michael Parish, and Paul and Trish Petersen of St. Joseph Parish, all of whom have been instrumental in developing this event.
“We share a similar passion of supporting all members of the family growing in their particular roles by putting their faith into action with relationship,” Mr. Kleinschmit said. “We call ourselves ‘Friends in Faith’ and our official mission is ‘to be a Christ loving community, challenged to foster family life by offering a venue of family, fun, and fellowship so to strengthen the presence of God within the family.’”
One of the goals these couples have is to generate funds for youth ministry within the diocese.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds will be divided up between Lincoln parishes that have youth [who are] passionate to attend activities that further their faith and relationship with God,” Mr. Kleinschmit said.
He and the other adults want the pastors to use the funds where they are needed most. They hope the money will be used for Walk for Life trips, guest speakers, and even scholarships to Campin’ with the Marians, SKY Camp and other diocesan youth events.
“We like that our event will continue to develop relationships between youth and God throughout the year by supporting the wonderful events the diocese already has in place,” Mr. Kleinschmit said.
A great deal of preparation has already gone into staging the festival. For example, Mr. Kleinschmit built a large cross between two cottonwood trees in the meadow. It will provide a focal point during Mass and the concert.
Many volunteers are also needed. Pius X High School students are invited to sign up, because they will be able to earn service hours by helping out.
“We have decided to let the kids who volunteer come for free instead of just a discounted ticket,” Mr. Kleinschmit noted. “This is a change from our website.”
All four couples who are organizing this event hope that anybody who loves to have a good time will come out for Lincoln Family Fest.
“The family fun will be fantastic, the food delicious and the concert that ends the night is world-class entertainment,” assured Mr. Kleinschmit. “It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved.... great family time...increased faith formation...diocese activities supported...bam!”
He said he and his wife are particularly excited to see their godly inspiration become a reality, especially in these days when the family unit is being compromised in secular culture.
“Our greatest satisfaction will come by seeing many families sharing this wholesome event while creating memories that will last a lifetime,” he added.
Tickets are $15 per person or $65 per family and include the meal. The human foosball entry fee is $50 per team. Free parking will be available in the horse pasture adjacent to the meadow where the event will be staged.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to LincolnFamilyFest.com.