Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Cookie Walk 2017 in the News

The story below appeared in today’s edition of the La Crosse Tribune.

Story by Emily Pyrek
Photos by Peter Thomson
Copyright 2017 La Crosse Tribune

Mary, Mother of the Church Parish cookie walk offers treats by the thousands

It wasn’t even quarter to seven before shoppers began flooding the Mary, Mother of the Church Parish cookie walk Saturday morning, 45 minutes ahead of the scheduled opening time.


Casey Horman, 7, of Holmen, makes his way through the cookie buffet with his mother Lisa Doering Saturday at the Mary Mother of the Church Cookie Walk at the Moose Lodge. “This is the best day of my life,” Horman said and he picked from dozens of cookie varieties.

Sweet-toothed community members were eager to get first crack at the assortment of traditional favorites and trendy treats, but they needn’t have worried, as there were over 410 dozen cookies to go around.

From brownies to brittle, thumbprints to fudge, the selection rivaled that of any bakery, with every cookie and candy prepared from scratch by some 100 church members. On Thursday alone, parishioners frosted 1,632 cookies for the 12th annual event, rolling dough out in bulk the day prior at the festively decorated Moose Lodge, the sale’s location for the past six years.

Surrounded by holiday decor, with Mrs. Claus milling about, attendees piled plates high with cookies and candies. Church member Dick Weisbecker loaded up six pounds worth, and one woman was on her fourth trip down the line.

“It’s been little ones, people with canes, men — we love to see the men because that means they’re buying for their wives,” said cookie walk organizer Lu Miller. “Young moms say, ‘This is nice, we don’t have to bake.’ Now they can spend time with their family.”


A plate of cookies weighs in at about a pound and a half Saturday at the Mary Mother of the Church Cookie Walk at the Moose Lodge. An estimated 4000 to 5000 cookies, sold by the pound, are baked for the fundraising event benefiting the catholic parish.

Along with the time savings, many are inclined to buy extra knowing every cent goes back to the church. Sold for $7 per pound, cookie sales bring in thousands, with $9,000 earned last year between treats, crafts and gift basket raffles.

Funds will help finance the construction of Mary, Mother of the Church’s new parish hall, expected to open in late winter, where the cookie walk will be held next year.

“These cookie walks are helping us to create a new home, yet we’re going to miss the Moose Lodge — their hospitality has been incredible,” the Rev. Brian Konopa said.

“Our hospitality is so important for the people who visit the cookie walk,” Konopa added. “Our parish always has a nice family spirit to it, and it’s amazing the preparation that goes into this.”

Helen Heiser churned out 12 dozen gingersnaps, chocolate kringles and cream wafers, plus three pounds of cashew crunch, for the sale, eager to help out her church.

“Mary, Mother of the Church is a very giving parish,” Heiser said. “We do everything we can to help out.”


Dressed as Mrs. Claus for the third year in a row, Joan Weissenberger greets patrons Saturday at the entrance to the Mary Mother of the Church Cookie Walk at the Moose Lodge.

Parishioners with sewing, woodworking or crafting skills donated their wares, including an elaborate American Girl doll wardrobe — one of the coveted raffle items —and cloth dolls, purses, ornaments and wooden crosses crafted using boards from the old St. Thomas Moore School. Church members of four decades and craft table organizers Judy Weunsch and Vickie Kloss counted quilted table runners among the most popular sellers, with one customer buying $100 worth.

Also in high demand were rosettes, which Sue Pretasky prepared onsite with a crockpot of oil and an assortment of irons. She anticipated making 100 of delicate cookies.

“I have trouble keeping up — they’re selling as quick as I can make them,” Pretasky said. “(Rosettes) are very tedious and time consuming. I think that’s why people love buying them.”

Rosette fan Rosa Wittenburg, who bought “just enough for myself,” made sure to observe the demo, noting, “I always admire people who can make stuff.”

Wittenburg, who also hit up the crafts, showed off the green crocheted gloves she acquired to match her scarf, while friend Jan Zenker admired the cake pops she bought for her great grandsons.

“I just came to eat and buy,” Zenker said, happy to find enticingly decorated cake pops after past attempts to make them herself yielded less than presentable results.

The sweets proved impressive all around, with the cutout cookies down to their last tray and quick breads clearing out as the cookie walk neared its final hour. Many sat to sample their bounty and enjoy coffee and company, catching up with church friends and smiling at the youngsters noshing on cookies and cider.

“It’s a family event,” Father Konopa said. “Beyond getting the best cookies in town.”

Copyright 2017 La Crosse Tribune


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Happy new year

Advent_Blessing_and_Lighting_the_Wreath - CopyThis weekend we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical year. Fr. Konopa blesses the Advent wreath and Dn. Sage lights the first candle.

Deacon_Sage_Gospel_of_Mark - CopyAfter Masses this weekend, Dn. Sage presents a lesson after each Mass (our tradition of “15-Minute Scripture”) with a review of the Gospel of Mark. We’ll be hearing more from Mark in the year ahead.

The year ahead holds a lot of important moments in the life of our parish family. There will be a lot of first-times as we move into our new parish hall and kitchen. We’ll sort out new ways of operating, new opportunities, new ways to employ our parish home to serve our community. I look forward to making meals, to conversations, to imagining what is possible in a new way.

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Lift High the Cross

Msgr KunzThis last weekend (Nov. 18-19) we celebrated our patronal feast. We do this around this time each year because it was on November 21, 1964 that Pope Paul VI declared Mary the “Mother of the Church.”

It was a joy to see Msgr. David Kunz once again give the Homily (video). He spoke kindly of our parish and our pastor, and of our mission in three parts: To help our people love the Lord, love each other as ourselves, and spread that love.

The Ladies StarkeyAfter Masses, we got our first look inside the new parish hall. There were smiles everywhere, family and friends rejoicing that we will soon have such a beautiful place in which to be parish family.

I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do, they’re really saying I love you

After the 4:00 Mass the only light was electric, but by Sunday morning the hall was full of sunlight through windows facing south. After a prayer, Fr. Konopa invited everyone to come forward and touch the cross that would soon grace the west entrance to the hall.

Mike Wintheiser and daughter

Philomena Larson and her daughter

Patty Marco and her granddaughter

This morning, workers hoisted the spire and cross into place on the west tower and bolted them together. So this is how we all lift high the cross, now facing both east and west.

Twins - Copy

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STOLL-Wally-BettyThis morning Wally and Betty Stoll were named Man and Woman of the Year for 2017.

DSC_0257 - CopyTheir service story reaches back 4 decades: Smelt fries, parish secretary, a parish directory rescued, chicken ques, ministers of Holy Communion, the Warming Center, Meals on Wheels, Sacristans… Okay, the list is long. Congratulations to you both!


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Preview of our parish hall

We’re heading into a weekend that might be a watershed for our parish family. I really believe it.
Nov. 18-19 our guest Homilist will be Msgr. David Kunz, our pastor from 2002-2008. After Mass we’ll proceed into our new parish hall to bless and touch the cross that will grace the west entrance.

Faith builds in a cycle: We are given confirmation, so we venture more trust. We began this BOFT adventure asking each other if something new could really happen. Turns out, it is happening, and in ways that were once beyond our hopes, faster, more fully than we dared to hope.

People who see our new parish hall this weekend will be amazed. It is grand.


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Joy of Family

DSC_0023 - CopyWhen you can clap at your own baptism, you’re doing it right. Congratulations to Stellan Kai, child of Larry and Kathleen Wopat, and to all the family. Stellan was born over a year ago in circumstances that were scary, but this weekend, the family gathered as we completed welcoming Stellan into our faith. Stellan perked up when Fr. Konopa said his name, and then Father had a little fun about eye contact.

Hadassa1We’ve had a lot of memorable moments of joy around our children. I think back to the exuberant, irrepressible joy of Hadassa, daughter of Erin and Steve Klar, as she stepped up to the font, exuberant, ready, excited. Here she has a moment with Fr. Konopa.

EliciaAnd then I’m reminded of the joy of Elicia as she was baptized by Fr. Robertson. She danced with unrestrained happiness.

White DressesWhether it’s the celebration of Baptism, the anticipation of first Holy Communion, weddings, funerals, or other passages, we are at our best when we are present for the important moments, and the daily struggles, in each other’s lives. We are a parish family.

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Goodness, what a week it has been for MMOC.

McGarty - CopyThis weekend we welcome Msgr. Bernard McGarty, who gives a guest homily that both remembers the original St. Mary’s parish in La Crosse, and also reviews the Catholic experience in a broad way. You have to be impressed by the breadth of intellect, and the strong voice of a lion in winter.

So this weekend we look back. But most of the week was about pushing forward, hard, into our future. So, juxtaposition.

RoeslerAround our new parish hall, from all around our campus, we put together 1800 Chicken Que meals. Every one of those meals was grilled, baked, roasted, shredded, assembled, served, many delivered, and cleaned-after with love, joy, and a lot of laughter. To work the Chicken Que truly is to know that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. It is fun to be around people who are excited about serving.

DSC_0039 - CopyOur parish hall is galloping ahead. This week we mostly wrapped up the core masonry phase, and attention shifted to steel, roof and walls, which seemed to come together at tremendous speed. I hope you can see from this picture that the west entrance will be very grand, and the kitchen windows large.

A great thing is happening in our midst. Let us be grateful, and purposeful.

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