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!


Go for Launch!

This weekend we learned that we are go for launch! Because of the generosity of our parish family, we are pressing ahead with the completion of the education and music facilities in the lower level of our parish hall. Gifts and pledges came in about double what was needed. Wow, just amazing, and thank you all!

Our new parish kitchen shines! This is the west end of the kitchen.


Judging from the east end of the kitchen, we will be washing a lot of dishes.


I can’t wait for the parish breakfasts, the Chicken Ques, and other times to enjoy each other’s company in our new home!


Hall_FlooringI look at our new parish hall and think: What work is the Lord calling us to do with this resource?

It’s easy to see that we will serve each other, our parish members, employing this building. For example:

  • We’ll support our families by hosting funeral luncheons again.
  • We’ll enjoy parish breakfasts together, the aroma of pancakes and sausage on Sunday mornings.
  • We’ll probably resurrect the tradition that was called Praise ‘n’ Graze, a late afternoon Mass on a weekday, followed by a simple meal together.

CookingAnd it will be great to use the space for our fundraisers:

  • The kitchen is designed with our Chicken Ques as a priority.
  • It will be great to host our PCCW’s Cookie Walk and rummage sales on our own campus.
  • The kitchen includes a triple fryer. Can you say “fish fry”?

Yet, if the parish hall serves mainly our own members and aims, that might be too narrow. I hope we can make a point of using the hall to serve our community:


  • Our Men’s Club makes dinner for Place of Grace. For some years, that’s meant making dinner in homes. Can we make the dinner together in our hall?
  • We serve an evening meal on Thursdays at the Catholic Charities Warming Center. Can we use our hall to make that meal?
  • What other opportunities might there be to work together in our hall and then take something good to our neighbors?

It’s easy to walk around this lovely, spacious hall and be grateful that it is happening. This hall is a blessing, and also our labor; it’s both, like the Eucharist, the fruit of the earth and work of human hands.

It’s a large hall. I hope our vision for using it in our mission is just as large.

We can see many signs that crews are nearing completion of our parish hall. Click or tap any of the pictures below to see it full size.

MMOCThe first thing that will catch the eye when entering from the church is the hospitality area, where “MMOC” is spelled boldly with letters taken from St. Thomas More School.

DSC_0026 - CopyAnother relic of the school are grills what once adorned windows on the 1947 wing. They’ve been cleaned and now contrast nicely with dark paneling on columns along the south side of the hall.

DSC_0027 - CopyOne more connection with our past is an area featuring cornerstones and other memorabilia. Together, all these treasures seem very fitting ties to our past, yet in a very modern context.

Ladies_Room - CopyEverywhere there are finishing touches. The bathrooms appear to be complete except for ceiling tiles. On the ramp and stairs, new railings gleam. Flooring installation is to begin about a week from now.

West_stair_railingThis weekend’s bulletin includes news that we’ll have an open house in the new hall after Masses on the weekend of Feb. 24-25. Also, there will soon be a meeting to plan for hosting funeral luncheons in the hall.

Meanwhile, work continues on a final design for the Religious Education and Music Center in the lower level. It seems likely we will get to see a floor plan some time in February. Please pray for the success of the additional fundraising needed to move forward with the lower level. It will be a great day when crews and tools can simply head downstairs and continue their tremendous work.

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

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.