The Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, 72, former executive director of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, died of cancer on Sept. 10, 2020. She served as executive director of Women of the ELCA from 1997-2002.
“[Cathi’s] guidance and support of the churchwide executive board through an 18-month process [of organizational assessment] were essential and appreciated,” said Linda Chinnia, Women of the ELCA’s churchwide president from 1999-2002. “We created a mission statement and launched a focus of ‘bold women of action.’ I will always be thankful for Cathi’s faithful service and commitment to Women of the ELCA.”
Linda Post Bushkofsky, Women of the ELCA’s current executive director, succeeded Braasch in 2002.
“Cathi served at a pivotal time in the growth of Women of the ELCA when we committed to becoming an anti-racist organization, and we claimed our mission as mobilizing women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ. Her leadership will long be remembered.”
pastor, spiritual director, sheep rancher, author
Braasch, of rural Smithfield, Neb., and most recently serving as a chaplain in Fort Wayne, Ind., was ordained after her service with Women of the ELCA. She left the ELCA and affiliated with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), where she served in several congregations across the midwest. She attended St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lake Township in Fort Wayne.
Most recently, Braasch, STS (Society of the Holy Trinity), was chaplain to the Lutheran Military Veterans & Family Ministries board of directors in Fort Wayne. In an online biography, she described herself as pastor, spiritual director, sheep rancher, author.
She and her husband, the late Leroy “Red” Braasch, raised registered Suffolk sheep. On her LinkedIn profile, she wrote, “You know the saying: Pastors never really retire. They just keep going out to pastor.”
Braasch served the ELCA as a deployed mission director and director for rural ministry in the late ’80s and early ’90s, according to a 1997 ELCA News article. She also served as director of leadership for outreach ministries in the ELCA’s then Division for Outreach.
She was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (1974), held a master’s degree from Gonzaga University, Spokane, Wash. (1993), a master of divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (2003), and a doctor of ministry degree from Graduate Theological Foundation, South Bend, Ind.(2012).
Cathi and Red’s daughter, Sara Braasch Schmidt, died of cancer in 2016. She preceded her father in death by only a few months.
Services on Sept. 22
Celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and the life of Braasch will be Sept. 22, at 2 p.m. CDT at Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church in rural Smithfield, Neb. The Rev. Jeff Cottingham, STS, and the Rev. Daniel Landin will officiate. The service will be live-streamed via the Hope Evangelical Church Facebook page. Read her full obituary here.
Photo by Lori Potter of the Kearney (Neb.) Hub. Potter wrote about Braasch in 2014.