Kristen Rainey’s passion for the Theology of the Body teaching by St. John Paul II will fit in well, she said, as she fulfills her role as the new Assistant Director of Marriage and Family for the Diocese of Nashville’s Office of Faith Formation.
“I feel like topics revolving around marriage and family life are very important in this time, and I think God gives us what we need when we need it,” Rainey said. “John Paul II’s writings, particularly Theology of the Body, are an antidote to what our world is experiencing right now.
“Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries of Fatima, said that the decisive battle between the Kingdom of God and Satan will be over marriage and family,” Rainey said. “That’s pretty indicative that the topics surrounding this vocation and the various difficulties our society is currently experiencing are of great significance. We have the tools as a Church to be able to provide the truth and the antidote to what our world is facing in so many of these areas.
“I have that as a passion, to be able to bring these teachings of the Church and the writings of John Paul II to the faithful, to be able to strengthen marriage and family life,” Rainey continued. “John Paul II said the future passes by way of the family and as the family goes, so goes the nation and the world in which we live. This is an area where we can be a light in our nation right now and really throughout the world as a Church.”
Rainey joins the Diocese of Nashville from Kennett, Missouri, where she grew up Catholic from birth.
“The Church made me who I am. I think who I am as a person is because of the beauty of the teachings of the Church inviting us all to become saints and the universal call to holiness. Through life’s challenges, we are all made for union with God, and I find that truth so beautiful and attractive,” Rainey said. “My Catholic faith is so important to me because it brings me into communion with Jesus.
“The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith,” she said. “To not only have a personal relationship with Jesus but to be one with him in Holy Communion, that’s something the Catholic Church offers that no one else can offer.”
Upon her graduation from Kennett High School in 2001, she received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, in 2004. She subsequently received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts with a concentration in Radio and Television from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, in 2007. She has also completed online courses with the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C., and the Theology of the Body Institute.
Upon completion of her second degree, she worked in many capacities including a year with Iowa Catholic Radio as a program manager, producer and co-host of one of the afternoon shows; and seven years as a lay campus minister for Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, before she entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Illinois, in 2014.
After making her first profession three years later, she worked within the convent as well as spent two years teaching theology at Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, Illinois, and one year as director of Mission Services for OSF Healthcare in Rockford, Illinois.
After several years of discerning a religious vocation, though she said she loved her religious community, Rainey discerned out of religious life in March 2022. Her passion for Theology of the Body, however, remained strongly in her heart and she soon found the job with the Diocese of Nashville.
“Now, working in the marriage and family office, I’m looking forward to sharing John Paul II’s catechesis with the faithful of this diocese,” Rainey said.
In her role as assistant director of Marriage and Family, Rainey will be in charge of the eight yearly diocesan engaged couple retreats; assist pastors and parish leaders to strengthen and develop Post-Cana formation, family-based ministries and resources for those who are separated or bereaved; and any other areas regarding family life.
“We are very excited to have Kristen join our formation team given her theological focus and prior teaching experience in this area,” said Dr. Brad Peper, diocesan director of the Office of Faith Formation. “Kristen will be a great asset in helping our parishes to continue furthering the domestic church in our diocese.”
Rainey said she has high hopes for her contributions to her new role.
“With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I hope to create opportunities for people to grow in their understanding of the necessity and importance of growing in holiness, in marriage and family life particularly,” Rainey said. “What it means to be human, what it means to be male and female made in the image of God and how we’re called to live out the divine plan for who we are as men and women is so vital in our world today, so building up family life and helping couples who are preparing for marriage to seek holiness in that vocation and provide a support for couples who are already married to thrive is essential.
“We as a marriage and family life office can help build up families and marriages within this diocese. John Paul II called the family the fundamental cell of society, and we have a great opportunity to help families flourish in their vocational calling,” she said. “The more that we can strengthen family life, particularly in the Church, then the more we will understand what it means to be human, to be sons and daughters of God, and become who God made us to be.
“We can see the health of a nation based on the health of families in the nation, and so I think a lot of the things our country is experiencing right now is because there has been a breakdown in family life over the last several decades,” Rainey said. “We have an opportunity to provide an antidote for that in things like Theology of the Body.
“The more that we can inform and propose these truths – the truth, beauty and goodness of the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life – then the healthier our whole country can become really, but particularly here in this diocese,” she concluded.
And through it all, Rainey said, she also hopes to remind others what a treasure the Catholic faith truly is in our lives.
“The Church is so beautiful. I always describe the faith as a treasure box that I was given as a child in baptism and in the sacraments of initiation,” she said. “For a while, I just let it sit on the shelf and collect dust and then, one day, I opened it up and was in awe of the beauty that was in there, the treasure that was already there that I didn’t realize was there for so long.
“But once we open that treasure box, we can see how much God has really given us, that he’s given us himself particularly in the Blessed Sacrament and in the guidance of Our Lady,” Rainey said. “There is so much treasure within our faith that if we fully understood it, we would die of joy. It’s this little glimpse of heaven on earth that we find in the tabernacle that someday we’ll have the fullness of in heaven.
“It’s a pilgrimage of life that we’re continually walking on to heaven,” she said, “and the sure path to do that is in the Church and the sacraments with the Eucharist and Our Lady at our side.”