Theology teacher’s faith extends beyond school

Klee instructs Confirmation classes at Pendleton facility


Susannah Buhner

Theology teacher Ms. Katie Klee interacts with students in her E period class. She also teaches Confirmation classes at Pendleton.

Annika Garwood , Reporter

For the first time at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, Confirmation classes have been offered since September and will continue through April until a group of about 15 boys, all of whom are teenagers, become confirmed in the Catholic Church.

And a Cathedral theology teacher has a direct role in the process and their faith.

Ms. Katie Klee said she never imagined a few years ago that she and Danny, her brother, would be teaching there when they began volunteering at the facility. “We were part of former Indianapolis Archbishop (Joseph William) Tobin’s prison ministry task force of about 20 people who met monthly for about year to discuss what the Archdiocese could do for or offer all people in our area affected by crime,” Klee said.

She said that through invitation, she started attending the Bible study offered to the boys at the prison. Mr. Ron Greulich, a member of the task force, invited her every Wednesday evening. Over this past summer, Mr. Mark Braun, a volunteer at the correctional facility, told the Klees that around 20 boys from that same Bible class were interested in becoming Catholic. (Since the class has started a few of the boys have been released from the facility which is why there are now about 15).

“For the first time ever at that facility, Mark got approval to offer a Confirmation class so these boys could become fully initiated into the Catholic Church, and he asked us if we would consider teaching it,” she said, and added that she has instructed the class every third Wednesday of the month since September.

To start each instructional session, Klee said she and her brother and all the boys recite a decade of the rosary. “They are extremely reverent and prayerful during this,” the theology teacher said. Then, the group of boys does a get-to-know-you activity where they share some personal likes, dislikes, favorites or memories.

Klee said that the class then reviews what they learned last session, read Scripture surrounding Confirmation in the Book of Acts and then draw or write reflections about what they have learned.

She said the boys are really truthful and do not “hide themselves from each other worry about impressing anyone.” Klee said her class members speak from the heart and hold a deep desire to know God.

Then, the Wednesday session ends in prayer, which is led by the boys. Klee said the closing moves her to tears because it’s such powerful moment hearing them talk to God.

The boys in the facility do not go on a retreat but do have adult mentors who meet with them one on one or in a group setting. “The prison does offer a Kairos retreat throughout the year, but it is not a requirement for their Confirmation,” Klee said.

Confirmation will take place at the prison at a date to be determined. Klee said that it is unlikely that Archbishop Charles Thompson will be able to confirm them. Fr. Sean Pogue, who celebrates Mass with them regularly, will most likely be the priest to confirm the Church’s new members.

Klee said that each session with the boys is so moving and provides proof that God loves, forgives, and guides anyone asking for His help. She said she is impacted by the vulnerability of the boys’ words and cherishes the Wednesday nights she spends with them to grow stronger in their faith.