In March of last year, Ruth Kolpack was fired from her job as pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Beloit, triggering protests.
Diocesan officials never said explicitly why she was fired but strongly suggested she opposed church doctrine in her role as a Catholic teacher. Kolpack said that while some of her personal views conflict with church policy — she supports gay marriage and female priests — she did not express those views while teaching.
This February, Kolpack became social service resource coordinator for Beloit Regional Hospice, a position in which she ensures that all components of the organization work together to provide holistic care. "It's a wonderful opportunity," she said.
She is still a member of St. Thomas the Apostle and sings in the choir. Still, her firing remains "very painful" she said.
"I continue to go to Mass, but it feels quite empty. My presence is my prayer, because I don't seem to be able to connect to the Scriptures as well."
Her church position was filled briefly from July to December but is now vacant awaiting a new hire.