Faith on the Move: Kelly Wahlquist

Kelly Wahlquist

Kelly Wahlquist

One of the awesome things about being an active Catholic traveler is the opportunity to meet “virtual” friends in “real life”. This happened to me recently when I had the chance to meet and spend time with today’s “Faith on the Move” interview subject, Kelly Wahlquist. Along with being an amazing writer and speaker, Kelly is a bundle of creative energy and a blast to spend time with. I hope you enjoy getting to know this frequent Catholic traveler who spends time on the road spreading the Good News.


Kelly Wahlquist


Wife, Mother, Catholic Evangelist, Speaker and Writer


Plymouth, MN


Social Media Links:

Twitter: @KellyWahlquist
Google+: Kelly Wahlquist
Pinterest: Kelly Wahlquist

Tell us a bit about yourself:


I am a happily “stressed-out” wife, mom, perpetual chauffeur of kids, and passionate Catholic woman who loves to live the joy of the New Evangelization amid the chaos of life. The wife and mom were part of my plan, the “stressed-out” part, not so much, and becoming a passionate Catholic was part of God’s plan that I didn’t see coming.

Ten years ago I was a Nursing Supervisor when a friend signed me up for The Great Adventure Bible Study and the Lord grabbed my heart through Scripture. My life changed and I knew I wanted others to experience what I had experienced. For the next 5 years, I worked for Jeff Cavins as the Director of Community Relations for The Great Adventure and traveled the country teaching leaders how to lead fruitful Bible studies. During that time I also worked with Jeff to implement the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute, an institute of solid Catholic formation for the laity in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In the past year I helped to create and currently oversee the Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization, an apostolate of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. In my down time, I write for, The Integrated Catholic Life, and The New Evangelizers.

I have been blessed to travel the world helping to lead pilgrimages to places where Jesus, Mary, the Apostles and many of the great saints walked, and I am blessed to be able to travel the country and speak at many diocesan conferences and parish events about my passion, living the New Evangelization. My heart is drawn to speaking to women and sharing with them the beauty of being a “stressed-out wife, mom, kid chauffeur and Catholic woman striving to live her faith” — because that’s the beauty of womanhood —that’s the beauty that comes from placing oneself at the service of others in everyday life.

How often do you travel?

I travel two to three times a month to various cities and states giving talks on the New Evangelization. Once a year, we pack up the family and leave snowy Minnesota for the desert. I also have helped to lead pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Turkey, Greece, Rome, and a Scripture Cruise through Alaska, and will be traveling to the Philippines and Assisi in 2014.

Is the majority of your travel for business, pleasure, spiritual enrichment, or “all of the above”?

All the above. My life seems to be a tapestry woven by the Lord. My business is building His kingdom. My pleasure is sharing His message. And my spiritual enrichment comes from doing both.

Where are some of your favorite destinations?

Jerusalem, Galilee, Rome, Ephesus, Istanbul, Alaska, Hawaii, Denver, Houston, Palm Desert, CA, and just up north to “the lake”.


How is travel a spiritual experience for you? How do you turn any travel opportunity into a pilgrimage?

Every trip is a spiritual experience for me from the get-go. I always pray for the person I will sit next to on the plane, and the Lord somehow always puts the perfect person in that seat. The conversations are guided by the Holy Spirit, Who I beg to assist me as I listen to where the person next to me is on his/her spiritual journey, and I share my journey, my faith with them. A pilgrimage is a journey undertaken for a specific purpose, and that type of journey can be trying. If your purpose is alway to share Jesus, then each step of a trip can be a pilgrimage, meaning you are making a conscious effort to be the hands, heart, and words of Jesus in all you do, even when your flight is delayed on the tarmac for 3 hours, when your hotel is over-booked, when the waitress is rude, or when you’re lost and your GPS keeps saying, “recalculating route.”

Have you ever had a “travel nightmare”? How did your faith help you through the experience?

Looking back, I have probably had hundreds of travel nightmares, but I believe it has been my faith and my belief that God has a plan of sheer goodness that has kept those nightmares in the realm of “really bad dream” or sometimes “fabulous encounter.” One of my greatest “nightmares” occurred when I was stuck in the Atlanta airport at a gate with 600 of my closest friends (no, not really) and no morning coffee (yes, really!) This experience has become a pivotal time in my life and a much engaging story I tell when I speak of our role in the New Evangelization. In the midst of what I thought my worst traveling experience, God showed me mercy through the actions of a  young mother traveling with a toddler—He showed me that acts done in great joy are received in great joy, and He changed the hearts of hundreds that day.

What advice would you give to a fellow Catholic tourist?

“Rejoice in the Lord always!” Sounds like crazy advice for traveling, but it is actually quite sound advice. Traveling can be exhausting, frustrating, exhilarating, and relaxing and each of these experiences can be enhanced for the greatest good by being in constant contact with the Lord and thanking Him always; for, in each situation, He is offering us a chance to be the light of Christ to the world. Sometimes viewing obstacles as opportunities can be the first step to bringing someone to Christ.


What destination is on your “must see” list for the future?

Assisi, Italy. I want to spend a long, quiet, reflective time in Assisi. I need to get in touch with my inner “Francis” and “Clare”.

What are some of your favorite tourism related websites, apps and books?

Anything recommended by Thomas Smith. He’s my go-to travel guru!

Visit Kelly Wahlquist at

Copyright 2013 Lisa M. Hendey

About Lisa M. Hendey

As a Catholic who loves her faith and a frequent adventurer who’s always up for a new journey, Lisa is a wife and mom, a writer, a speaker and an impassioned traveler. Visit her at to keep up with her comings and goings.