20 Questions with Kelly Kornacki

Favorite color? What makes you happy? What are you good at? What is your greatest fear… “Twenty Questions” is a regular feature in which SCJs and those with whom they minister and collaborate share a bit about themselves in an informal Q&A. Participants are given the same list of questions and are invited to answer as many as they would like.

Kelly Kornacki is the Vice President of Intercultural Preparation for Ministry (IPM) at the Dehonians’ Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, WI. She has directed and taught in the ESL program there, and now the ECS program (English and Cultural Studies).


Q: Where were you born and raised? Describe your family.

KELLY KORNACKI: I am the second of six daughters, the only one not born in Milwaukee as my dad worked in Menomonee, MI, for a year. I was raised in Waukesha and West Allis, WI, in a happy, carefree, Catholic family. Money was very tight, but as a child I never realized that.

Q: What is your favorite book or movie?

KELLY KORNACKI: Lately, my favorite book is American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins, although my favorites change often depending on what I’m reading at the time.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world post-pandemic – without concern about the expense – where would you go and why?

KELLY KORNACKI: My bucket list of places to travel continually grows due to students I meet, but presently consists of Brazil, Poland, Portugal, Madagascar, and Colombia due to the personalities of students I’ve had from those countries.

Q: What are you good at?

KELLY KORNACKI: I’m good at making new students feel comfortable and at home at Sacred Heart!

Q: What is your favorite color?

KELLY KORNACKI: My favorite colors are teal and purple, or others depending on my mood.

Q: Do you have any hobbies or pastimes? If so, what are they and how did you get interested in them?

KELLY KORNACKI: My favorite hobbies are just about anything active, as long as they don’t include balls as I have absolutely no eye/hand coordination! So, I love hiking, swimming, biking, yoga, etc., and got interested in them because they make me feel good long after the activity is over.

Q: What is your favorite food?

KELLY KORNACKI: If chocolate is considered a food, I’d prefer a small piece of really good quality dark chocolate over a huge piece of any dessert.

Q: What is your least favorite chore?

KELLY KORNACKI: Anyone who has seen my office knows what my least favorite chore is!

Q: Who — living or deceased — do you most admire and why?

KELLY KORNACKI: I don’t have a specific person whom I most admire, but as a group it is those who have the courage to stand up for the poor and marginalized, or as my pastor puts it, “The lost, the last, the least, and the lonely.”

Q: What would surprise people to learn about you?

KELLY KORNACKI: I think people would be surprised to know that I am often not nearly as happy as I appear to be, but it truly makes me feel better to smile and act happy – eventually my mood changes.

Q: What skill or talent would you like to have that you do not? Why?

KELLY KORNACKI: I wish I could play a musical instrument or have some other kind of artistic talent – or maybe I should change that to a sense of direction as I get lost very easily.

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

KELLY KORNACKI: I have always wanted to be a teacher; there was never another possibility in my mind, so I am lucky that teaching makes me as happy as it does.

Q: What makes you happy?

KELLY KORNACKI: I am lucky that teaching makes me as happy as it does.

Q: What is your greatest fear?

KELLY KORNACKI: I fear losing people I love, and this is more true now than ever.

Q: What trait or habit do you dislike in yourself?

KELLY KORNACKI: I need to learn to go directly to a person that I am having an issue with rather than discussing it with someone else.

Q: What trait or habit do you dislike in others?

KELLY KORNACKI: In reverse of what I said above, I’d like people to do that to me when there’s a problem.

Q: List three words that describe you.

KELLY KORNACKI: I would describe myself as curious, driven, and outgoing.

Q: How did you come to know of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) and what interested you about them?

KELLY KORNACKI: I had no idea what the Dehonians were despite driving past Sacred Heart twice a day for 16 years! It wasn’t until after I began my job that I learned of their charism and all the amazing work they do.

Q: Do you consider yourself a Dehonian? If so, what does that mean to you?

KELLY KORNACKI: I consider myself a Dehonian through my work with international students, helping them to improve their English in order to strengthen their missions. Also, the interculturality of the Dehonians has become a part of my daily life.

Q: What changes, adaptations or insights do you expect to stay with you from the pandemic? In other words, how do you expect to be changed by COVID-19?

KELLY KORNACKI: COVID-19 will never let me forget that I am, first and foremost, a people person. I need daily, human interaction in order to best do my job, learn from my students, and share experiences. While I often felt frustrated throughout these months, I never felt fear. It is all in God’s hands, and with faith all things are possible.