Strengthening a relationship with God  

Marquette soccer player Kate Gibson details confirmation journey

A picture of Kate Gibson in the Church of the Gesu.
Kate Gibson, right, stands with her sponsor and athletic trainer, Kenny Wilka.

When Kate Gibson was a high school sophomore in Kansas City, Missouri, she went through the motions of receiving the sacrament of confirmation with the rest of her friends and classmates.  

At the same time, her soccer team was making a serious run at the state title, and her confirmation fell on the same day as the team’s sectional game. After attending all the classes and even the dress rehearsal, Gibson decided to skip her confirmation and instead play in the game.  

“At that point in my life, getting confirmed was just something you did,” Gibson says. “I didn’t put much thought into the process to begin with, so skipping it was pretty easy.” 

Four years later, still in love with soccer at Marquette, Gibson realized she had taken her faith for granted.  

“I enrolled here, and I realized that I didn’t have my family around me and I had to form this new relationship with God without riding on my mother’s coattails,” Gibson recalls. “She had brought me with her on her faith journey when I was a kid and that was sort of the basis of my faith.” 

What started as an offhand joke to a friend at an Athletes, Faith, Academics meeting snowballed into Gibson taking a leap of faith, once again moving toward confirmation.  

“I mentioned in one of our Bible study meetings that I sort of regretted going to my soccer game instead of being confirmed since we end up losing anyway,” Gibson says. “But then Devan Cowan — who is on the lacrosse team — put me in touch with Campus Ministry and subsequently Steve Blaha. 

“I am super grateful to Devan for kickstarting that meeting for me.” 

A group of students talking in a circle
An Athletics, Faith, Academics meeting. The AFA meeting is where Gibson reignited her faith journey.

Blaha, the interim director of campus ministry, has long been a guide for students during their faith journeys. He says when he first met Gibson, it was clear her relationship with God was important to her and that she desired to grow into her best self.  

“When we first started meeting, Kate wanted to be more generous in her service to others and wanted to share her relationship with God more,” Blaha says. “She took some really solid steps in doing that and what that means is Kate is desiring to live an authentic life as a whole person alongside others while loving and serving God in the world.” 

Meeting every Monday prior to her Confirmation in October, Gibson says those meetings with Blaha were the highlight of her week. 

“I was blown away by what he was able to lead me through and what he coaxed out of me because before I met with him, I was so bad at talking about my faith,” Gibson says. “The way he could get me to talk was so inspiring that I led one our team bible study sessions with the stuff he told because I loved what he said and wanted to share it with as many people as I could.” 

Gibson says completing her Confirmation journey at Marquette is special to her because she put the work in on her own, rather than having it laid at her feet. Further, it helped her realize that two of her passions — soccer and faith — could coexist.   

“It clicked for me here that I’m playing for something bigger and the talents I’ve been given by God aren’t without reason,” Gibson says. “I realized I have a purpose here and that I could use the passion I have for soccer with my passion for faith in conjunction with one another after I graduate.” 

In October, Gibson was confirmed at the Church of the Gesu in front of family, friends and teammates, parish members, and her sponsor, Kenny Wilka, senior associate athletic trainer for Marquette Athletics.  

She says she will always cherish the handwritten card given to her by a parish member and God’s grace bringing her Confirmation journey full circle.  

“My original sponsor from high school is a Marquette alumna,” Gibson says. “Her birthday is Oct. 22, which was the day I was confirmed. It was unplanned but it was a little gift from God that brought my journey to a close.” 

For anyone considering beginning their own faith journey — whether through baptism, confirmation or receiving their first Communion — Gibson says the biggest challenge for her was reaching out. But once she did, she didn’t regret the decision for one second.  

“I think a big gift you get that you get out of this is not only are you getting confirmed with a great ceremony and a blessing from God as you enter this new phase of your life, but the people you meet and the connections you’re able to make along the way,” Gibson says.  

“In a month and a half, I was able to meet new people and grow my relationship with so many others. For those who are thinking about starting this journey, be vulnerable and let God take the burden from you.” 

For more information on receiving the Catholic sacraments of initiation — baptism, confirmation or first Communion — contact Steve Blaha in Campus Ministry.