Alumna's Life Comes Full Circle
The oldest of seven children, Christine Weidner '68 was born and raised on Milwaukee's north side. Her father owned and operated Emery's bike shop, which is successfully in operation to this day. However, with seven children at home, money was always tight. In order to attend St. Joan Antida High School (SJA), Weidner had to work in order to pay for her own tuition, book fees and uniforms. She started off working at her father's bike shop and later moved on to work at SEARS.
Weidner has been married to Jack for over thirty-five years. They combined their families and raised five wonderful children who have now blessed them with nine grandchildren. She currently resides in Waukesha County in order to be closer to her elderly father. Her mother passed away in 2014 after 67 great years of marriage. They truly the exemplified the essence of enduring love.
When asked about her fondest memories of SJA, Weidner immediately recalls the delicious homemade food. "I know I probably shouldn't say the home-cooked lunches by Sister Lucia and her crew, with those cheesy inch-thick pizza slices, but they were oh so good," she exclaimed. "The Spaghetti dinners that we attended and worked at as students, and continue to attend now post-graduation, are also some of my favorite moments at SJA."
"The teachers at SJA were tough on us," stated Weidner. "With high expectations that paid-off, a lot of life lessons were learned by their examples."
"I had so many favorite teachers," said Weidner. In particular, Weidner spoke very highly of Mrs. Anne Goyette who taught Biology and Miss Priscilla Batts who taught Business. Mrs. Goyette had a family and was a working woman. "She was a great example to us girls." She was a fantastic teacher and really knew how to read her students. Lifelong lessons and great friendships were made and to this day, Weidner and other Alumnae still continue to get together with Mrs. Goyette for lunches.
"Another great teacher was Miss Batts," stated Weidner. "If you can picture a four-foot five-inch tall Barbie doll with short grey hair wearing Coco Chanel suits, that was Miss Batts," stated Weidner. "If any us ever showed up to class with chipped nail polish, she was certain to inform us of how a 'well-put together' woman should appear."
Weidner reminisced with such fondness about her years at SJA. The class of 1968 really bonded despite the variety of backgrounds the girls came from. Ranging widely in socio-economic status and diverse ethnicities (Polish, German, Italian, Irish, African-American and Hispanic), at SJA the class of 1968 looked passed those differences. During a time in Milwaukee history when race riots and protests were taking place, it was heartwarming to see how the girls at SJA bonded despite the changing times.
"Many of stayed in contact and have maintained lifelong friendships," stated Weidner. "The life-lessons of maintained connections, friendship and support were and are key to many of our successes."
There were many advantages to attending SJA. Before graduation, the senior class was required to take the Federal and State Civil Service exams at school. To their delight, many girls had job offers waiting for them upon graduation. "I remember being amazed that there were clerical jobs in Washington DC that I qualified for," Weidner recalled. "Simply having SJA on my resume was an immediate door opener for us!"
Weidner recommends that our SJA students think bigger than their family and city. "Believe you can achieve if you're willing to develop the skills and personal habits to do so," stated Weidner. "In fact, often the best way to learn is to experience failure or challenges. But, don't stop thinking about tomorrow!"
Weidner encourages SJA students to remember that the choices they make today will absolutely affect where and how far they will go in life."
Her advice is to "learn how to network." Networking is key in developing both personal and professional relationships and advancing professionally. "I worked in predominantly male-dominated fields all my adult life and learned quite a lot by watching my peers network."
Weidner's professional career has spanned a wide variety of professions. Working many years in manufacturing in accounting and human resources, she then transitioned to managing large real estate projects.
In 1995, Weidner deliberately changed her career from the corporate business world to local community based organizations specifically serving populations with important humanitarian and charitable missions. For several years, she proudly served as the Director of Operations at the AIDS Resource Center (ARCW).
Her next career move led her to serve almost nine years as the Administrator and Corporate Operating Officer of a well-respected Catholic church, finally retiring in 2007. Soon afterwards, one of her friends encouraged Weidner to go through the process of becoming a non-denominational minister.
After some soul-searching, the right opportunity presented itself, and Weidner obtained her credentials as an ordained
Weidner proudly refers to herself a Private Pastor. "Being with people 'in love' is a gift... a wonderful gift, and I am blessed and made better with each couple I meet and each family I serve. Helping families through life's other moments that are part of our cycle of life is also a very special privilege."
When looking back at her life, Weidner is most proud of her family and raising her wonderful children. On a professional level, she is most proud of her work in rewriting the formula for School Choice which impacted tens of thousands of children including many students that have attended and attend SJA.
"It's wonderful when your life comes full-circle," proudly stated Weidner. And for her, it truly has.