By Thandiwe Konguavi 
Staff Writer 

To his parishioners at St. Joseph’s Basilica, Rev. Kris Schmidt is affectionately known as Father Kris. But to his mother, Marie, he will always be Kristopher. 

“For me, he’s my son first. So every day he’s still Kristopher, not Father Kristopher, to me,” Marie said.

Over the past three years, Marie has learned that being the mother of a priest can be humbling.  

“I know he has made some changes in some peoples’ lives, which is really rewarding as a mother to know. People say flowery things about Kristopher and thank me for doing this and that, but I didn’t do it,” said Marie. 

“I raised him the same as the other three kids and he found that way himself. And that’s humbling when other people say you’re the reason why. Well, He’s the reason why,” she said, pointing to heaven. 

Marie Schmidt was shocked when her eldest son approached her and her husband at their bedroom door one early summer evening, with an application to St. Joseph Seminary in his hand. 

Kris had just completed a bachelor’s degree in science, and had recently gone through a relationship breakup. 

Marie knows a priest who struggled with depression, so she worried about what it would be like for Kris to be alone. 

Father Kris said it’s his parents’ love and faithfulness to each other over 32 years of marriage that made celibacy plausible for him. 

“It’s easy to think about how celibacy is a good thing in terms of the spiritual life and the ideal of the priesthood but actually living it, for me, comes from that witness and example.”

The Schmidt family also had to let go of the thought of seeing Kristopher with his own children one day. 

“You can see how he takes care of the parish so you know the wife would’ve been very well taken care of and the kids, if there had been any,” Marie said. 

“So yes, it was something that we lost, but then we gained so much more in some ways because we didn’t get one, two, three, four or — if you had gotten really busy — five kids…We have a whole parish where if you go, they know him, they know us and it’s just family.”

Father Kris credits his mother, a nurse, for playing a critical role in his vocation style. She’s always willing to serve, most often behind the scenes.

As a mother, Marie has no complaints about Father Kris.

“He treats his mother well, his father well, his siblings well, his niece well, he thinks of others, he’s not selfish — what else can you ask?” 

Father Kris said this Mother’s Day will be celebrated with a good meal, good wine, and good company.  

“We just spend our whole evening being with each other.” 

Watch for a video of Father Kris and his mother Marie, as well as of Father Paul Kavanagh and his mother Kay, on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14.