Awake began to take shape in March 2019, when a small group of Milwaukee-area Catholics gathered in a living room to talk about the Church’s sexual abuse crisis.   

United in grief and anger about the abuse suffered by victims and the leadership failures that protected abusers, we began considering actions we could take to push for change and help work toward healing in the Church we love. 

We quickly realized how much we have to learn, especially about the experiences of abuse victims and their families. We now recognize that many survivors have struggled alone for years without support or acknowledgement from Catholics in the pews, and we hope to help change that.

We are an independent group, not affiliated with any particular parish or with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, but we aim to work in collaboration with the entire Church to serve the people of God. A few of us work or have worked in ministry, but most come from other fields, including nonprofit management, IT, law, business, journalism, and education. 

Although we represent a variety of experiences and perspectives, we share a deep conviction that we are the Church, the body of Christ. We believe the health of this body depends on lay and ordained Catholics working together in partnership toward healing.

The Awake Leadership Team

  • Sara Larson
  • Sara Knutson
  • Brenda Andrews
  • Jerri von den Bosch
  • Jim Cauley
  • Erin O’Donnell
  • Elizabeth Brick
  • Mike Larson
  • Patty Ingrilli
  • Mary Gentile
  • Lynn Charnitz