Powerful moments that we experienced as parish family. That’s what I take away from the last few days at MMOC.

Father_and_Allie - CopyOn Holy Thursday, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we heard the story of Jesus washing the apostles’ feet. Allie Dunkley was the penultimate of 12 people whose feet Fr. Konopa washed. It was a powerful witness of servant leadership.

Then we recalled when our Lord said “This is my body” and “this is the cup of my blood”. We Catholics take him at his word. That night he made the Eucharist a sacrament we treasure as seal of our covenant. We remember how you loved us…

After the Mass we adored his Eucharistic presence for the first time in our parish hall. For the first time in several years we didn’t have to squeeze into and out of the mother’s room; we could all be together.


LIUM-Ryan-Mary-Jo-MichaelOn Good Friday the mood was somber. We heard Fr. Konopa and Dn. Sage proclaim the Passion story with pauses for musical reflection that were beautiful. We thank our Director of Sacred Music, and our sister in faith, Mary Jo Lium, for all her work these last few weeks. Sadly,  her father recently sustained injuries in a fall that claimed his life on Saturday. Our musicians, who love Mary Jo, honored her by rallying at the Easter Masses. Their music was inspiring and beautiful.

DSC_0005_CopyAfter the traditional Good Friday prayers of petition, Fr. Konopa carried in the cross and we all came forward to venerate the sacrifice that happened on that wood. I think about Mary, his mother, our mother, standing there, looking up at her son dying, not fully understanding yet trusting, pierced by the sword of grief. I imagine the resurrected Lord appearing to his mother. Of course, he would have done so, and what a moment that must have been!

Easter_FireOn a cold, breezy Holy Saturday evening we gathered for the Vigil Mass. The Easter fire, the antiphon (sung so wonderfully by Dn. Sage), and the several readings trace the arc of our relationship with God, our light in darkness. It all culminates with the empty tomb. Our faith rests on knowing that he rose.

I confess a child-like fascination with the Easter Fire and the candles we all hold during the Mass. It’s easy to imagine early Christians huddling around a fire in the desert chill after the Lord was put to death. Yet watching people light each other’s candle speaks of spreading the Holy Spirit.

The feeling I take away from the last few days at MMOC is gratitude. Grateful for the God who loves us, the Son who saves us, the Spirit who sustains us. Grateful for my brothers and sisters in faith. Grateful for the warm blanket of love that is our parish family.


DSC_0006 - CopyWe had a grand morning today at MMOC. Truly we did.

DSC_0032 - CopyOur Men’s Club, though it has been 6 years, were a right full crew back in stride with flipping pancakes and sausages, and attending to everything in the wonderful kitchen we now have. And they looked very keen in the new aprons. The most serious glitch I heard this morning was about coffee thermoses. Yeah, we’re gonna work this out, as a family.


In two waves after Masses, there was so much happiness to have this space in which to just enjoy catching up with each other.

And it was a true joy to sit down and talk with people I otherwise just see in passing. Jennifer and Lance Miller with their toddlers. Cindy Klar managing her circle of grandchildren while Bob was in the kitchen. Don Stoeckly and Amanda Manock and their grand/sons. With so many friends, it was an opportunity to just sit and chat and catch up.

EastAs the years go by, I feel the passage of time most keenly in the lives of my friends’ children. Soon that will be in the lives of my friends’ grandchildren.

The best part is that we have this chance to update. To connect. Members of the Men’s Club should sit one out, once in a while, of the kitchen duties, so they can enjoy the dining room. Andy Foley sat down and had great fun telling about his children.

This morning was a moment in time and space to reconnect with the brothers and sisters who are our parish family. Our Christian instinct it to pull together and serve each other. Let us find ways to extend this experience wider, to reach out, to include, to draw more people in. Sr. Kathy introduced me to a new one of her Franciscan sisters. Let’s draw people in.

Parish Breakfast


Bob Mahr serves Peggy Baumler.

Next Sunday, March 18, our Men’s Club will serve a pancake breakfast after the 8:00 and 10:00 Masses. Parish breakfast is one of our favorites, a chance to chat and catch up with friends, to greet and enjoy our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Unless I’m mistaken, the last parish breakfast served on our campus was a mother-daughter breakfast, hosted by the PCCW and served by the Men’s Club, on 22 April 2012.


That was almost 6 years ago! It is extraordinary to reflect on all that has happened since that morning. Things we never imagined would happen, happened. A building came down. A fund and a new hall rose up.

And now we have this wonderful space, this blessing, in which to embrace and enjoy our parish family. Over pancakes and sausage. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

A Day in the Life

Thanks to Allie Dunkley for capturing moments at MMOC yesterday.

20180308_082321Early in the morning, crew from the company that has been installing our new sound system brought down the old loudspeakers. Our thanks to those who have supported our new sound system.  We hear your love.

20180308_115407Later in the morning, our Silver Circle met for the first time in our new parish hall. There was a lot of excitement in the air, and folks seemed anxious to try out the new space.

20180308_115415Sooner or later, we’re going to experience this excitement fading. The day will come when we’ll come to regard events in our hall as routine. When bulletin announcements will simply say “in the hall” rather than “in Our New Parish Hall.”

20180308_115428I hope we don’t get there too soon. I hope we savor the feeling of, “wow, this really happened” a little while. I hope that when it’s lost its new-parish-hall smell, when it feels lived-in, we will still feel how remarkable it is that this hall really has happened, debt-free.

We have been given a gift. We have been given each other as a gift, and also a challenge. I hope that in our moments of gratitude, we shoulder our challenge, to believe, and to serve. And I hope that in our times of challenge, all of us, we remember to be grateful.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I love you more than I can say. We truly are family.

Our Future, Together

Our hall is open! After Masses this weekend, we enjoyed each other’s company, refreshments, and elevator rides, all in our new parish hall.


In the background was this time-lapse video of the hall’s construction. It is amazing that all of this happened in just 250 days.

In a recent letter to our parish family members, Fr. Konopa wrote: “We have been blessed to have so many generous and gifted people who give of themselves to make our parish a vibrant community of faith. Thank you! It is this generosity and self-sacrifice—born by the Spirit of God—that has us Building Our Future Together.”

In My Name

In_My_Name - CopyToday at the diocesan center, Catholic Charities hosted a luncheon to present two awards:

  • Patty and Jim Kirchner of MMOC were honored for their tireless support of, well, all things Catholic, including education and service. Patty spoke with wit about raising their children in Catholic schools.
  • Patty - CopyDeacon Tom Skemp was honored for his years of service in the La Crosse Jail Ministry. He retires next week. He spoke movingly about people he has worked with.

It was a lovely couple of hours, and many of our MMOC brothers and sisters were there to show support for Jim and Patty. To feel their friendship is one of the sweetest parts of our parish family life.

SCHAUB-Steve-Mary-Stephanie-MichelMany of us have been praying for Michelle Schaub, daughter of Steve and Mary Schaub. Michelle recently underwent open-heart surgery to correct a constriction in her aorta. Today her story appeared on WKBT 8 (click to see it).

Michelle and her fiance Robert are to be married at MMOC in July. Congratulations!