Brother Michael Mandernach had knee replacement surgery on Monday, April 20. The surgeon was very pleased with the way everything went. Brother Michael will remain hospitalized for several days. Upon his release he will be returning to his apartment in Spring Valley where his siblings will be taking turns assisting him with follow-up appointments and physical therapy. Please keep Brother Michael in your prayers that God may grant him a complete and rapid recovery!
Prayerful congratulations to the children of our parishes who receive the Eucharistic Lord for the first time this Easter Season! The Eucharist is “the source and summit of all Christian life. In the Eucharist, the sanctifying action of God in our regard and our worship of Him reach their high point. It contains the whole spiritual good of the Church, Christ Himself, our Pasch. Communion with divine life and the unity of the People of God are both expressed and effected by the Eucharist. Through the Eucharistic celebration we are united already with the liturgy of Heaven and we have a foretaste of eternal life” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 274). May God richly bless them and their families on the occasion of this their First Holy Communion. May our appreciation of this wondrous sacramental presence of Jesus Christ increase and may our participation in this Holy Banquet deepen!
First Holy Communion for the children of our parishes is celebrated this Easter Season:
10:30 AM Mass on Sunday, April 12, at Elmwood
10:30 AM Mass on Sunday, April 26, at Spring Valley.
The Altar and Rosary Society of Elmwood is hosting the Spring gathering of the Durand Deanery Council of Catholic Women at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, April 28. Women of our Durand Deanery gather for a time to listen to listen to a presentation by Lorraine Riedl of the Office of Social Concerns for the Diocese of La Crosse, to share ideas, to network, to pray, and to enjoy a light lunch. All women of our parishes are welcome!
Congratulations to Levi Schmitt, son of Joe and Laurie Schmitt of Sacred Heart Parish in Elmwood. This May Levi completes college-level formation at Saint John Vianney Seminary on the campus of the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Bishop Callahan has accepted Levi for the study of Theology and has assigned him to Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. Pray for Levi and all the seminarians of our Diocese of La Crosse that they may discern well God's will and do it with joy!
On Sunday, April 19, our parishes had an additional 10:30 AM Mass at Elmwood for First Holy Communion celebrated by Father Louis assisted by Deacon Ray. Months ago our parishes had secured the services of Monsignor Dave Kunz, Vicar for Clergy for our Diocese of La Crosse, to celebrate the 10:30 AM Mass at Spring Valley so that Father Louis and Deacon Ray would be free for the Elmwood First Communion Mass. This past week the Administrative Assistant for our parishes, Becky Schmitt, confirmed with Monsignor Kunz his Sunday appointment at Spring Valley. However, Monsignor Kunz did not show up. He has since called to apologize for the inconvenience he caused our parishioners. Monsignor said it was indeed on his calendar but that he simply forgot the appointment. After waiting an appropriate amount of time to see if the priest was going to arrive, Bob Richardson lead a Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion of hosts consecrated at a previous Mass. He is a well-trained and commissioned Leader of Prayer for our Diocese. Bob did what he was trained to do and what the Bishop commissioned him for - to lead the Sunday Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion in the extraordinary circumstance when a priest is not present although people have already gathered for a previously-scheduled Mass. Thanks to Bob for his generous service always and in this unusual circumstance!
This is another reminder about the importance for us to pray for our priests and for vocations to the Priesthood. Bishop Callahan made the decision to not close any parishes in our Diocese. While people appreciate that their local church remains open, it also entails significant expense to the parishes to maintain their underused facilities as well as places an increasingly heavy burden on the priests to shepherd multiple communities often many miles apart. The situation in our Diocese is very difficult and fragile. As of July 1, 2015, our Diocese will be losing nine Pastors: six of our international priests are being recalled to their home Dioceses, two of our native-born priests are retiring, and one priest is being "loaned" to teach in the seminary in Chicago. In the first weekend of May there will be announced many significant and substantial changes to configurations of parishes and assignments of priests. Our parishioners must be grateful to God (and the Bishop!) that the configuration of our three parishes under one Pastor is expected to remain stable for the forseeable future. Saint John Vianney, patron of parish priests, pray for our priests! Saint Joseph, patron of families and of our Diocese, pray for us!
Our joyful observance of our Lord Jesus Christ’s victory over sin, death, and hopelessness continues with the celebration of the Second Sunday of Easter. This Sunday is also designated as the Divine Mercy Sunday. What are the historical roots and meaning of this day of Divine Mercy? Helen Kowalska was born in 1905 in Poland. Her family was materially poor and lived deeply their Catholic faith. Already as a youngster, Helen was known for her genuine piety, depth of prayer, and concern for the poor. At 20 she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament. In her community, she worked as a cook, gardener, and doorkeeper.
Her inner life was very rich as the Lord blessed her with many extraordinary spiritual gifts. Jesus communicated to Sister Maria Faustina that she was to be the apostle of His Divine Mercy in our modern world. The mission entrusted to her was to (1) remind the world and the Church of the truth of God’s mercy for every human being, (2) entreat Divine Mercy for the whole world, especially sinners, through the new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy, and (3) initiate the apostolic movement of Divine Mercy, the followers of which proclaim and beg Divine Mercy for the world and practice the works of mercy. Sister Faustina Kowalska died of tuberculosis at 33.
On April 30, 2000, Saint John Paul II canonized her as the first saint of the New Millennium. During his homily on that occasion, the Holy Father also announced that the Second Sunday of Easter would now be celebrated throughout the entire Church as Divine Mercy Sunday. In her Diary – a modern spiritual classic – Saint Faustina reported this message of the Savior: “My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for the poor sinners. On that day the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be as scarlet” (699).
For more information on Saint Faustina and this devotion you can visit the official website of our National Shrine of the Divine Mercy (Stockbridge, MA) at http://thedivinemercy.org Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world! Jesus, I trust in you!
What are the conditions for obtaining the special indulgence of Divine Mercy Sunday. To gain any indulgence one must be in the state of grace (that is, not having committed a mortal sin or having been sacramentally forgiven for any mortal sin committed). In addition, in order to obtain the plenary indulgence, one must (1) have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin; (2) have sacramentally confessed one’s sins; (3) receive Holy Communion; and (4) pray for the intentions of the Pope. The question always arises regarding the timing of the completion of these actions. Must I do all this on Divine Mercy Sunday itself or is it possible to complete some of them before or after that Sunday? How many days before or after are acceptable? Well, the Vatican office that deals with such questions – the Apostolic Penitentiary – clarified matters with its document The Gift of the Indulgence of January 29, 2000. Paragraph 5 of that document says that “it is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an ‘Our Father’ and a ‘Hail Mary’ are suggested.”
"Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed” (John 20:3-8). A happy and blessed Easter to you and your loved ones! May the Crucified and Risen Lord abundantly bless all of you!
Thank you to everyone who made our Holy Week celebrations so prayerful and beautiful at our parishes – decorators including those who work with candles and flowers and altar coverings, sacristans, custodians, musicians, cantors, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, altar servers, ushers, Deacons Kevin Ray and Billy Dodge, Master of Ceremonies Levi Schmitt, and each of you through your participation! A special thanks to the parishioners of Boyceville who with their usual gusto and “can do” attitude hosted the Sacred Triduum for our parishes this year. May the special graces of these liturgies bring continued spiritual renewal to our parish families!
Thank you for your kindness and generosity to Deacons Kevin Ray and Billy Dodge and Father Louis during this Easter season. We are most grateful for the numerous cards, notes, and gifts that have been delivered to the rectory. We appreciate, too, your words of encouragement written in so many cards and the assurances of your prayers. Know that you and your loved ones are daily in our prayer.
Reader workshops originally scheduled in our parishes for March 26 and 28 have been postponed due to our Pastor's illness. These workshops will be rescheduled in the near future. Please check back often for updates.
Saint Luke Parish, Boyceville, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding by Bishop John Patrick Treacy. Festivities begin with a solemn Mass at 10:30 AM on Sunday, June 14. Following Mass is a catered lunch. Please check back frequently for more details.