September 9, 2022

Catechesis Supplement

A love of a lifetime and a thank you to God

For 30 years, Tom and Cindy Flaten of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis had the marriage of their dreams before her death on Christmas Day in 2021. (Submitted photo)

For 30 years, Tom and Cindy Flaten of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis had the marriage of their dreams before her death on Christmas Day in 2021. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

The question that Tom Flaten asked himself is one that all people in a serious romantic relationship eventually have to consider:

Is this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with?

Flaten thought of the woman he was dating at the time, Cindy Ward, and kept coming back to this answer, “When I’m with her, life is great, it’s fun, I love it. When I’m not with her, my heart aches. I chose life with her.”

Following that conversation with himself, Flaten had another one with God.

“I prayed to God, ‘She’s your gift to me. We’re our gift to each other. So, if she’s ever taken from me, I know it’s your will. And if she falls into illness or anything like that, I promise I’ll stay by her, God. I’ll be there for her.’ ”

Recalling that conversation with God from more than 30 years ago, Flaten says, “That’s ultimately what happened.”

For 30 years, Tom and Cindy Flaten had the marriage of their dreams, one filled with joy, love and faith. Cindy served as the director of faith formation at Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis for 25 years, and Tom helped with the parish’s music ministry. They supported each other in their efforts to bring others closer to God, and Tom was also there for Cindy when she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

He also kept his promise to God, caring for her until she died on Christmas Day in 2021.

“She was in hospice at home,” he says, choking up with emotion. “I took care of her.”

While the heartbreak continues in many ways for Tom, he’s also tried to find ways to honor her life, her love and her faith.

One of the ways he’s done so was to hold a golf outing in her memory this summer, with the proceeds of more than $4,500 going to the archdiocese’s Catechesis for Discipleship Endowment Fund, which helps parish catechetical leaders develop professionally and spiritually, which always was a goal of Cindy.

“Her faith was so important to her that she embraced it and made it her career,” Tom says. “She had a great joy and fulfillment when she brought people to God. She would see this as something that was an offer to God, and she’d be very happy.”

As the archdiocese’s director of catechesis, Ken Ogorek knew Cindy well and admired her efforts to grow her own faith as much as the faith of others.

“Cindy was always conscientious about her own ongoing formation,” Ogorek says. “I was blessed to participate in several professional and spiritual development experiences with her over the years. In fact, Cindy was poised to attend a conference—with the help of this endowment fund—when her illness made that no longer feasible. So, helping us grow this fund to honor the memory of such a catechetical leader as Cindy is a very fitting tribute.”

The endowment benefits parishes in all 11 deaneries in the archdiocese, Ogorek says.

“Catechesis is so important, and parish catechetical leaders play a pivotal role in making good catechesis—womb to tomb—available in all 126 of our parishes,” he says. “Our parish catechetical leaders need effective, ongoing formation and training; that’s how the Catechesis for Discipleship Endowment Fund helps.”

Ogorek notes that one of the ways the endowment makes a difference is that it helps pay for parish leaders to attend the St. John Bosco Conference for Evangelization and Catechesis at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio. In July, 19 people from the archdiocese attended the conference.

“Ours was one of the largest groups there,” Ogorek says.

Paul and Clara Kachinski have attended the St. John Bosco Conference and have seen the difference it has made in their own faith lives.

“Paul and I have continued learning and growing in our faith,” Clara says. “It’s the most important thing in our lives, the most precious thing.”

So, the members of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood have been contributing to the Catechesis for Discipleship Endowment Fund for about five years, knowing the impact the conference will have on parish catechetical leaders from across the archdiocese.

“It’s going to make them even more enthusiastic to teach the faith,” Paul says. “It makes you enthusiastic to go to eucharistic adoration, to receive Communion, to learn the faith, to share the faith.”

Beyond the conference, the endowment helps to support the overall goal of the archdiocese’s Office of Catechesis.

“What I see coming out of this is stronger Catholic teaching, that people coming out of this will have the courage to say this is the truth and to share the truth,” Clara says. “It does a lot of good in getting God’s word out there. We need that.”

Married for 37 years, the couple view the endowment as a way to help people reach the ultimate goal that God has for everyone.

“Our goal is heaven,” Clara says. “We do a lot of praying for ourselves and others. Hopefully, we’re leading a life where we’re not only growing in holiness, we’re helping others to do that. The most important thing in my life is to do reparation for my sins and to help other people get to heaven.”

It’s a goal that Cindy Flaten worked toward, too, for others and for herself, says her husband Tom. He believes she’s already there.

“I know she’s my angel in heaven now.”
 

(To contribute to the Catechesis for Discipleship Endowment Fund, send a check made payable to Catholic Community Foundation (CCF), noting in the memo line, Catechesis for Discipleship Endowment Fund #285-0287. Mail to CCF, 1400 N. Meridian Street, Suite 105, Indianapolis, IN 46202. Or give securely online at: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=z7vWoz)


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