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Congratulations to our Pastor, Father Kevin Louis, as he celebrates 25 years of priestly ministry! Kaye Bird recently interviewed Father Louis. The following article and picture appeared in the July 5, 2014, edition of the Sun Argus.
ELMWOOD, WI – It was on July 22, 1989 when Bishop John Paul ordained Father Kevin C. Louis a priest for the Diocese of La Crosse. Father Louis’ first priestly assignment was to the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman as Associate Rector.
Now 25 years later after serving not only as a priest but also as a faculty member at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, Father Louis has reached a milestone in his service to the church, and on July 20, 2014, his parishioners from Sacred Heart Parishes in both Elmwood and Spring Valley will mark this very special occasion.
It was in 2011 that Father Louis first arrived in this area. In the summer of 2012, Father Louis was also given the pastoral care of Saint Luke, Boyceville. Those first years, however, were not without challenges.
Problems with his health plagued him, but he is proud to announce that as of April, 2014, “I have been given a clean bill of health.” He is also grateful for the support he received. “The people here were so patient with my health issues,” he said.
Looking back over these past 25 years, Father remembers that in 1988, not one single priest was ordained from the Diocese of La Crosse. In 1989, he was the only one, and in 1990 no priest was ordained.
“There were changes in the church, changes in society. I was ordained when things had bottomed out, but I had such a strong sense of what God wanted me to do, so I trusted in Him and didn’t think about being the only priest to be ordained in 1989. Since then the number of priests being ordained has steadily gone up,” he said.
Father attributed the rise in those entering the priesthood to the ministry of Pope John Paul II. “He introduced a vibrancy, a sense of confidence and he was an inspiration to many. His faith, his joy, and his energy really connected with the people and things turned around.”
Father describes Pope Francis as being a true pastor. “He has an ordinary touch, and he brings a lot of the same things that Pope John Paul brought—they both were and are very blunt,” he said with a smile.
As for his own life, Father feels that being a priest is “Such a blessing. As a priest, people invite me into their lives during the joy-filled and wonderful moments as well as the bitter and difficult ones.”
“I am privileged to walk with people; they are a window into how God is working in their lives through their joys and their sorrows. I accompany people in their journey of faith.”
Father admits that the Catholic Church is facing some serious challenges. “Our culture has changed so much and so quickly. We are now ministering to those who have little or no background in the church. It’s really astounding, and it’s across all denominations. There has been a downturn in practice and knowledge of faith—knowledge of the Lord.” How does Father react to this “new normal?”
“I start by being the gentle and kind face of Jesus to them, so they know the door of faith is open,” he said.
So Sunday, July 20, 2014 is a special day not only for the members of Sacred Heart Church in Elmwood as they celebrate their centennial, but also for Father Louis. A reception will be held in his honor at 2:00 at the Elmwood Auditorium.
On July 13, Father Louis will also be honored at a reception in Marshfield, Wisconsin where he was born and raised. On July 27, St. Luke in Boyceville will also be helping Father Louis celebrate his 25 years of ministry.
2013-2014 finds Sacred Heart Parish Elmwood observing the 100th anniversary of its founding and the dedication of its church building. A feature article by Kaye Bird appeared in the June 28, 2014 edition of the Sun-Argus. At right are members of the Centennial Committee.
ELMWOOD, WI – It’s a church event, and yet it’s so much more. When Sunday July 20, 2014 rolls around, members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Elmwood will be celebrating a joyful Centennial Celebration, and they are inviting everyone to attend.
It may be 100 years since the church was built, but the history of the church’s congregation can be traced all the way back to 1883.
It was in that year that 34 Catholic householders in the eastern part of the Township of Rock Elm, tired of traveling to worship, discussed the need for a Catholic church in their area. In 1884, St. Nicholas Parish was built on five acres at nearby Farm Hill. Still, to get there, families had to trek on a dirt trail over hills and through the woods. When Elmwood was incorporated in 1901, its residents began planning for a church to be built in their town.
Through much dedication, prayers and plenty of fundraising, they finally got their wish. In the spring of 1913, Father Joseph Steinhauser of Eau Galle laid and blessed the cornerstone of the church; the first Mass was held on December 12 of that year, and in 1914, Bishop Schwebach formally dedicated the church on Wilson Street in the town of Elmwood.
Over the years, the church has had many priests. Most recently Father Kevin Louis has been serving the church since 2011, and in February of 2013, Deacon Kevin Ray was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish.Along the way capital improvements have been made to the church while carefully preserving its history. The church’s beautiful stained glass windows were built in Europe, arrived in New Orleans, shipped to St. Paul and then were taken by horse drawn wagons to Elmwood. Another beautiful and certainly impressive part of the Sanctuary are the Stations of the Cross. During a recent renovation, the Stations were sent out to be painted in colorful detail.
But of course, a parish is much more than a building. In addition to providing for the spiritual life and spiritual needs of its members, the church has always been a vibrant part of the Elmwood community and beyond. Now, 100 years later, there is much to celebrate. And so that’s what they are going to do.
Mass will be celebrated at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 20 followed by a congregational picture in front of the church. The day’s activities will continue from 11:00 to 3:00 at the Elmwood Auditorium. Some of those activities include a Silent Auction, Chinese Raffle, Cake Walk and games for the kids.
At 2:00 the congregation and the community together will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Ordination of Father Louis. This will be followed by cake and coffee, drawings and the awarding of prizes at 3:00. (To read the interview that the Sun-Argus had with Father Louis, please see next week’s paper.)
And what is a celebration without food? A delicious meal of ham and turkey, potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, dinner rolls, and dessert catered by Ruth Hurtgen will be served from 11:30 until 1:30. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-11; under 5 is free. Ticket sales end July 1.
The Centennial Committee that has been planning this day for months invites members and the community to attend the day’s activities. Everyone interested in the meal may purchase their tickets by calling Bob Geraets at 639-4372. Advanced sales only; no tickets will be sold at the door.
One hundred years is an impressive milestone; come celebrate with the members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Elmwood.
The contract was signed this week with Kulp's of Stratford (www.kulproof.com) to replace the leaking roof of Sacred Heart Church in Spring Valley. Work is anticipated to begin in September.
Our Knights of Columbus Council spearheaded the erection of a monument of the Ten Commandments outside Sacred Heart church in Elmwood. Kaye Bird filed the following story in the June 12, 2014, edition of the Sun-Argus.
ELMWOOD, WI – The Knights of Columbus announces the dedication of the new 10 Commandment Monument set for June 14, 2014, at the 8:00 pm Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Elmwood.
Three years ago at the District Knights of Columbus meeting, which included input from all local Councils including Sacred Heart in Spring Valley and St. Luke’s in Boyceville, considered adding a 10 Commandment Monument someplace on the Parish or Council grounds. They agreed that it would be a worthy project to consider.
Discussions at the Elmwood Knights of Columbus #6599 meetings resulted in the start of such a project. With society’s active attempts to remove such monuments in local government and public places, the group felt it was necessary to place the monument in a prominent area on the eastside grounds of Sacred Heart Parish in Elmwood.
Many hours of planning, preparation, and effort along with donations have gone into the completion of this worthy effort. According to past Grand Knight, Tony Baier, the monument was made possible through the donations of two families as well as a Pancake Breakfast and Council funds.
Members of the Knights of Columbus are proud of the beautiful new site. Many people entering the church from the east parking lot may view and reflect on its lasting meaning.
The congregation will gather for Mass and the Dedication on June 14 at 8:00 p.m. In conjunction with the Dedication, a celebration complete with a Pie and Ice Cream Social/Sale sponsored by the Altar and Rosary Society will take place. This celebration will also honor fathers on Father’s Day after Mass in the church basement. Your presence will honor this great event. The congregation of Sacred Heart/Elmwood looks forward to seeing everyone.
Congratulations to Brother Michael Mandernach, CSPX, whose 60th anniversary of profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Brother of Saint Pius X was June 6! He is the last remaining member of this diocesan order of religious brothers founded by Bishop John Patrick Treacy in 1951. May God continue to bless him with abundant graces and good health in his retirement!
Adding to his already impressive and varied resume of service in our Diocese of La Crosse Brother Michael is now also a published author. Congratulations to him on the recent publication of his book "Together as Brothers: A History of the Brothers of Saint Pius X." Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican writes: "It remains only to express my heartfelt esteem and gratitude to Brother Michael Mandernach for a work well done. Together as Brothers is a worthy record of the action of the Holy Spirit in the community of the Brothers of Saint Pius X. It is an account told with the truth and love of one who, from his youth and now for some 60 years, has cooperated faithfully and generously with the Holy Spirit in response to the call to the apostolic religious life as a Brother. As a native son of the Diocese of La Crosse, who was deeply honored to be a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse and to be its Bishop, I offer heartfelt gratitude to Brother Michael for the steadfastness with which he worked on the history of the Brothers of Saint Pius X, since that day in 1996 when I first asked him to provide for the Diocese and for the Church a written record of this important chapter of her history."
For more information regarding purchasing a copy of the history of the Brothers of Saint Pius X please contact the Central Office (715.778.5519 or email@example.com). May Brother Michael enjoy his retirement now that this labor of love is completed!