Buddy and Anne and their 4 sons visited SoSV in September of 1999. In spite of the severe drought in North East Arkansas at that time, they liked what they saw: an active, orthodox parish, devout Catholic neighbors, and many happy children.
Renting an available house in the neighborhood, the Kootzes designed their new home. Neighbors in the construction business built the new house. Move in was September 2001. The Kootz family has lived in SoSV for seven years now. Two sons have grown and begun their adult lives - eldest is a commercial diver in Washington, and the second is a cadet at the Air Force Academy. Buddy and Anne have recently welcomed the arrival of their first granddaughter!
Buddy works in the airline industry. He finds his weekly commute to Memphisquite tolerable, even relaxing.Anne continues to home school their younger sons, as she has for12 years now. In addition, she is an instructor for science classes via an online high school.
There is never a dull moment. The Kootzes attend the Latin Mass, and occasionally the vernacular Mass, at St. Michaels. The family is very active in altar boys, schola, Knights of Columbus, Eucharistic Adoration, Readers Club and of course, the home school support group. Buddy is the scoutmaster for the neighborhood troop of Boy Scouts. In the larger community, they participate in soccer, orchestra, and shooting sports, among others.
Referring to the community life at SoSV and St. Michael's, Anne remarked, "Some people have wondered if a move to Star of the Sea Village is an attempt to escape the world. In reality, this is an ongoing experiment in Catholic living. A small community in a rural environment is a microcosm of the world. We deal with our neighbors constantly, in almost everything we do - just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph in their little village of Nazareth. Charity, patient forbearance, humility and all the other virtues must be practiced continuously. When I want to 'escape,' I visit my mother in sprawling Colorado Springs, where I can be anonymous!" Buddy has a different point of view: "What I enjoy most about SoSV is the rural quietude that stands in stark contrast to the metropolitan bustle of my professional life."
Joyfully anticipating the full-time FSSP apostolate here, the Kootzes are especially optimisitic about the future. Buddy and Anne will be happy to converse with SoSV visitors and potential neighbors about the ups and downs of life in this experiment in applied Catholicism.
Meet the Gregorys!
Gilbert & Michelle Gregory moved to Star of the Sea 11 years ago. When they arrived here, the Gregoryís were a family of six with one on the way. Now they are a family of 9. Three of their seven children were home births here at Star of the Sea. Their last child (so they think) was born on Gilís 50th birthday. It was a blessed gift.
The Gregoryís have been attending the Latin Mass since itís inception here nine years ago at St. Michaelís. Home schooling is the education choice for this family. Michelle has home schooled her children over 18 years now.Gil is self employed as a designated representative for the AR Department of Health, (soil analysis for septic systems) and also works in Memphis on another business venture with his brother-in-law.
The Gregoryís 2 oldest daughters, Jaclyn & Courtney, are now married. Gil & Michelle are expecting their 3rd grandchild in mid January 2009. Jaclyn graduated from college with her teaching degree and is a stay at home mom/teacher for the K-12 program in GA. Courtney graduated from college with her BSN and is working as a labor & delivery nurse. Both daughters married Catholic men, one from St. Michaelís and one from St. John the Baptist Latin Mass community in North Little Rock, AR. Their 3rd oldest daughter, Ashley, is a sophomore attending Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville, GA seeking a degree in journalism.
This leaves four remaining children at home. Kevin, 15, their first son, is an enormous help to his Dad with all the outside chores and a help to his mom when dad works out-of-town. That leaves Rachael, 10, Stephanie, 6, and the baby - Isaac, now 3 (God gave us another son). Rachael and Stephanie, besides being active little girls, were a big help to mom in the kitchen this summer with the canning of jellies, sauces, and vegetables. Oh yes, letís not forget the apple pies for the freezer. The Gregoryís have 27 fruit trees.
The Gregoryís maintain a large garden and are currently making an attempt to raise turkeys. After they first arrived at Star of the Sea, the Gregoryís raised goats, rabbits and chickens. When the schedule permits, Gil & Kevin enjoy competition shooting. Michelle and the other children enjoy their special activities and visiting with the neighbors. The children are fortunate in having their grandparents live next door. The Gregoryís are happy living here at Star of the Sea in close proximity to a spiritually enriching parish. ďItís a wonderful place to raise a family. I believe every boy here has been an altar serverĒ.Many families participate in local soccer and letís not forget Boy Scouts run by a Catholic dad in the community. Yes, it is often a challenge at times but the Gregoryís cannot imagine living anywhere else.
Marty Barrack was raised in the Bronx, New York City, by Jewish parents. His dad had a wealth of practical wisdom that fed Marty's sharp mind and wit. Marty served in the Army, then finished his college education and spent many years in government service in the field of information technology management. He started and ran the telecommuting (work-at-home) program for the entire United States Government.
Irene, one of three children in a Polish Catholic family, received her sharp mind, strong Catholic faith, and hard-work ethic from her parents, especially her mother. Irene worked thirteen years in the life and health insurance industry as an agent, claims examiner, and education specialist, and also twenty-three years in the U.S. Government. Her career in the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Treasury Department was spent developing international policy, negotiating international agreements, and representing the United States Government at international meetings. During her last ten years she made 40 overseas trips to 20 countries in Europe, South America, Asia, Australia. Along the way she earned the Treasury Department's third highest award for representing the United States in a successful negotiation of the United Nations treaty against illicit drug trafficking and money laundering, signed by more than one hundred countries.
Marty and Irene have been happily married for about 40 years. Irene's holy Catholic example of life helped prepare Marty to accept God's call into the Catholic Church. After Marty entered the Church, God led him, always with Irene, to be mentored first by Deacon Frank Earley, who had long been Father Hardon's special assistant, then by Father William Most, and finally by Father Hardon himself for many years. All three of their great mentors have now passed into eternity.
Marty and Irene retired early from their government careers to live at Star of the Sea, working full time for Christ. Soon after they arrived, Father Hardon told Marty that his Second Exodus Apostolate has a role in salvation history, and told him to make every decision for the rest of his life based on whatever would be best for it. Marty's first book, completed before he was baptized, was a secular one called How We Communicate: The Most Vital Skill. His second book, Second Exodus, the centerpiece of his apostolate, illuminates the Jewish heritage of the Catholic Church. He's currently writing his third book, Eternal Israel, which will penetrate much more deeply into the Jewish heritage of the Church and become the new centerpiece of his apostolate when it's published. A senior member of the Association of Hebrew Catholics, Marty has also written about fifteen major articles and half a dozen book reviews for major Catholic magazines. His Second Exodus web site (www.secondexodus.com) has about 400 pages of solid Catholic teaching. He also answers e-mailed questions on the Catholic faith, particularly on its Jewish heritage, from web site visitors all over the world.
Irene has written articles for The Catholic Faith magazine. She has participated in the anti-euthanasia movement by writing, speaking, and holding seminars. Irene is also a regular adorer at our local parish Perpetual Adoration Chapel. She also provides warm, loving support for Marty and for her mother, now in her late 80s, who moved to the area in 2002.
To individuals and families considering a visit to Star of the Sea, Marty has this to say: "Star of the Sea, nestled in the beautiful northeast Arkansas scenery, is a place where devout Catholics strengthen one another and reach out to others on our pilgrim journey to the Cross. Come, See, Live."
When Jim and Julie Hill read an article in Sorsum Corda called "Common Ground" about Star of the Sea Village (SOSV), they felt a strong desire to see it for themselves. The article portrayed a place where the neighborhood was all Catholic, shared common beliefs and devotions, etc. It looked like just the place to embolden their children to live their Catholic faith and for Jim and Julie to be encouraged as well. The Hills moved to SOSV in June,1997 from southern Minnesota with four of their six children, the two oldest being adults by this time.
The Hills have a charming, country-style acreage dominated by Jim's vegetable garden and a barn and pasture for their horses. The long sloping incline behind their home has served their children and others in the neighborhood as a prime sledding spot during our infrequent, but welcome, snowfalls. Jim brought his "Vader" truck-washing equipment (web site is http://www.truckwasher.net) and service business to Arkansas with him, and successfully operates from an office across from St. Michael's Catholic Church. His office building also houses an 'internet cafe' where the Hills host coffee, pastries and conversation after daily Mass, as well as meetings for other groups, such as the Reader's and Writer's Circle, of which they are founding members.
The Hills now have two children remaining at home. David, 17, is a junior at the local public high school, after attending private Catholic schools for 5 years and home schooling for 6 more. Carolyn, 13, is continuing her home education in 7th grade. A large number of the families at SOSV do home school. There is a strong and active support group here, which meets regularly in the Community Library in Ave Maria Hall.
Many things have changed since 1997, but the Hills are thankful for what they have received here. One of the most important blessings they have enjoyed is wonderful "St. Michael the Archangel" parish. The Hills are leaders in the Charismatic prayer group at St. Michael's. They continue to be grateful for our solidly orthodox bishop and the reverent, Marian, Spirit-filled priests who constantly exhort and encourage us in our faith and the true spirit of Vatican II.
Jim and Julie agree: "We are thankful for this parish and the many faith-filled people here. We all need encouragement and there is much of that to be found here at Star of the Village."