The Tennies: Called to Help, Share & Belong

Originally published by Decided Excellence Catholic Media in Green Bay Parish Neighbors

Article by Joan Koehne | Photo by Timothy Mayer Artworks

Sixteen months is a long time to be unemployed, especially if you have a baby on the way. That’s the scary predicament that John and Lynne Tennie faced 35 years ago. Lynne, a teacher, resigned to stay at home with the baby at the same time that John quit his job, thinking the next job was just around the corner. Little did they know that a recession was going to hit at the same time. The experience taught them an important life lesson.

“Pray, pray, pray and trust, trust, trust in God and his mercy and graces,” Lynne said. John finally found work managing Walgreens stores, a career that took the family to several different cities in Wisconsin. 

“This experience taught us that a house is not a home, money does not sustain you, and miracles are everywhere,” Lynne said.

In every city where they lived, John and Lynne Tennie sought out a Catholic church to worship in. 

“The parishes offered us community as well as ways to deepen our faith,” Lynne said. The Tennies have been parishioners at Catholic churches in Combined Locks, Fond du lac, Medford, and Waupaca. 

“Whether hosting a RENEW group, teaching a preschool religious education class, or exploring God’s word through scripture studies, we would feel a calling to help, share and belong,” Lynne said.

The last four years, the Tennies have been members of Nativity of Our Lord Parish where they team-teach a Confirmation class of 14 spirit-filled youth.

“Nativity Parish is a vibrant parish with many activities and outreach opportunities to be a part of.  John and I really like the openness of the parish and the way they emulate Jesus’ mission of loving others,” Lynne said.

Married for 42 years, the Tennies met at UW-Oshkosh. They were both in the same Speech class, and even though they commuted to college from different communities, they kept bumping into each other.

“We both loved to dance, which drew us to each other. We kept showing up at the same dance clubs,” Lynne said.  

Lynne, a Menasha native, graduated with bachelor degrees in Art Education and Spanish Education. John, who attended Greenville and Hortonville schools, earned a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in marketing.

Lynne taught high school Spanish and Art in Wild Rose, elementary and middle school Spanish at Holy Family School, and recently retired after 11 years teaching Spanish at Chappell Elementary School. John worked for K Mart, Hartford Insurance, and Walgreens, retiring after 35 years with the company.

The Tennies have four grown children and five grandchildren. They enjoy traveling, biking, and spending time with their family. Lynne loves to paint, draw and do crafts, while John loves professional sports (especially the Packers) fishing, camping and yard work.

John and Lynne volunteer at the Hope Center Pantry, NEW Community Shelter, and Chappell Elementary School, where they help first-grade and second-grade students with reading and math. They serve on the Cystic Fibrosis Walk committee in Green Bay and volunteer for events like the Feed My Starving Children Mobile Pack and Make a Difference Day.

The saint they try to emulate is Mother Teresa because they are inspired by her love for others and these simple words: “Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God.”

In the Tennie household, mealtime always begins with prayer.

“We pray a mealtime prayer together at every meal to remind ourselves of the wonderful gifts God has given us. It seems like a simple thing to do, but it helps us sit down together as a family and treasure this time together,” Lynne said.

Gratefulness flows through their lives, and they encourage others to recognize God’s many blessings.

“Life is a journey,” Lynne said. “Do not spend it with a monetary goal in mind or cultural riches. Accumulate graces that will build you up and help you be the person God wants you to be. We were made for heaven – not for this earth”