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


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!


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.


Three Things I Pray

Young members of our parish family recently were cast members in the Aquinas High School production of the musical Godspell. Pictured here with Fr. Konopa are:

  • Liam Conzemius (Jesus)
  • Bryant Meyer (Disciple)
  • Jake Kaiser (Apostle)
  • Ryan Conzemius (Disciple)
Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day by day.

Meet Super Sam

Super_SamSam Jaekel is the Site Superintendent looking after all things in the building of our new parish hall. Let’s meet Sam.

Sam’s job is to keep things coordinated and humming along in the construction process. That means thinking ahead, mapping out a detailed schedule, contacting subcontractors, keeping people in the loop.

DSC_0004 - CopySam is an outgoing, cheerful guy. His job is about relationships: Working closely with the client, subcontractors, and Chris Huston, project manager. I asked about taking a photo of the roofing crew, and Sam knew how to handle that.

I asked if working with a church is different from working with a commercial client. Sam said that working with Fr. Konopa, Dn. Sage, and Andy Foley, he gets a lot of appreciation that isn’t part of a commercial relationship. I’ve seen Andy and Sam kidding each other, and Dn. Sage has told me he is grateful for Sam’s cooperation and patience through the process. Part of Sam’s job is to educate, and he is happy to do that.

JAEKEL-Bill-Marilyndscf5774aSweet news is that there is a family connection:  Sam is the nephew of Bill and Marilyn Jaekel, once of MMOC, now at St. EAS in Holmen. Their family are still deeply part of MMOC in Dan and Kathy Skiles and their family, Alicia Skiles and John Richards.

I’ve seen Super Sam sweeping floors and zipping around to clean up the job site. It’s not his job, but he prefers to keep active and do what he can to keep the site orderly. Sam is a servant leader to be sure, striving to make things go as well as possible for others.

Lord, we pray for all who work in our behalf, that they may be safe and prosper. May they feel something of all the years of joy that will come, to people they don’t know.

Update Feb. 2018: Super Sam has confirmed that he will continue to serve as site superintendent as we move into phase 3, the finishing of our education center and music space in the lower level of the parish hall.

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.


Yesterday, workers built the ramp (left side of the photo) that will, for the first time, give access to our sanctuary to people who don’t do stairs. Imagine the possibilities! Grandparents more included in wedding, first communion, and other celebrations and photos. Our liturgical ministries made more inclusive. In this and so many other ways, our parish hall reflects our values.26 Ramp