Their paths converged more than 20 years ago in the bucolic hills of Hamden, Connecticut.
It was there, at Quinnipiac College, that Keith Kline, a sophomore from New Jersey, met his bride-to-be Lisa, a freshman from Rhode Island, as both studied to become occupational therapists.
Even in those early years, Keith and Lisa already had a passion to serve God. It was Father Lou Evangelista, the campus minister and college chaplain, who brought them together as they started out in campus ministry working with local high school and college students.
Their long road of service to the church was just beginning.
In 2000, after graduating, Keith and Lisa married, one week after starting a high school youth group at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Johnston.
“God just called us into a gap where there was nothing,” Lisa Kline says, recalling how she and Keith asked God how they could serve him best at their new parish as a couple. “He opens your eyes to see where the need is.”
Keith said at the time kids were leaving the Church after getting confirmed so he and Lisa felt the need to start a high school youth group to keep them engaged.
After a few years, as they began to have children of their own, they started a family pre-K through grade 5 family ministry and served as family youth ministers until 2011. It was then, with all three of their children enrolled at St. Philip School, they decided to move to St. Philip Parish.
“We were able to do everything,” Keith Kline says. “I started a men’s ministry, and together we started a teen ministry, youth ministry and a family ministry. You’re also working with families because you’re not only ministering to the children, you’re ministering to their families.”
The couple also runs weekend retreats for married couples and serve as part of the baptismal preparation team.
When the parish hired Melissa Roberts as youth minister, the Klines continued to volunteer to assist her in her work as pastoral ministers at St. Philip. Keith, who is the coordinator of the Men of St. Joseph chapter at the parish, also serves as co-leader of the vacation Bible camp.
The Klines also serve as core team leaders for the Life Teen Youth Ministry, and chaperones to the annual Steubenville East conference.
Lisa also serves as prayer ministry coordinator for Rhode Island Chapter of Magnificat, a group which encourages women to come together to learn more about their faith in a women to women personal relationship ministry.
With demanding careers — both serve as occupational therapists in the Coventry Public School system, while Lisa also works at Zambarano Hospital in Burrillville — and children growing into their high school years, Hannah, 17, a junior at Bishop Feehan High School; Olivia, 16, a sophomore at Bishop Feehan; and Joshua, 11, a sixth-grader at St. Philip School, how do they find the time to be so involved in parish service?
“When you’re open to doing God’s work then the Holy Spirit is going to move you,” Lisa Kline says. “He’s going to open up doors where they would normally be closed. And he’s going to open up time in your schedule that you wouldn’t normally have, and he’ll bless you with it in return.”
According to Keith, the bond that he shares with Lisa is what energizes and focuses them in their service.
“It’s having a partnership that allows us to do all the things that we do,” he says.
In 2015, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin called upon that partnership to help all the parishes in the diocese by leading a pilgrimage of local faithful to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, at which Pope Francis spoke. The result of the effort was an eight-bus caravan of 450 pilgrims to take part in the historic occasion.
“That really connected us with people throughout the diocese that we didn’t know. It opened us up to the inner workings of a large diocesan event,” Keith Kline said. “It was a pretty powerful thing and a good time in the life of the diocese.”
“The Scripture hanging in the Klines’ home, ‘As for me and my house we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15), could not be more fitting,” said Sheri Lough, who nominated the Klines for the Lumen Award.
— AWARDS BANQUET —
The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 15.
Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will support Diocesan Youth Ministry — are asked to register online at dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards.
For more information, please call 401-277-2121.