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Teaching the Way of Love Newsletter
During the festivities surrounding the dedication of the Brother Michael Catholic Center, it was made public that the Brothers of Saint Pius X donated a hand-carved statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Sacred Heart Parish, Spring Valley. In the 1950s the wooden statue had been given to the Brothers by an older man from Germany who had sought to enter their community. Even though his application was rejected, this man was grateful that the Brothers for considering him. As an expression of his thanks, he sent them this magnificent statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from his native land. The statue graced the chapel of the Brothers for many years. The Brothers of Saint Pius X now give the statue to Sacred Heart Parish as a token of their gratitude for honoring Brother Michael Mandernach and their religious community. The magnificent statue is currently on display in the church but will eventually be moved to a prominent place in the Brother Michael Catholic Center.
Elmwood's Levi Schmitt, son of Joe and Laurie Schmitt, continues his formation for the Priesthood for our Diocese of La Crosse. Bishop Callahan assigned Levi to study Theology at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, Milwaukee. The St. Francis de Sales Seminary took a trip to the Holy Land during their January semester break. The seminarians were in the Holy Land for 10 days visiting the holy sites and literally following in the footsteps of Christ.
Below is a photo of Levi on the shore of the Sea of Galilee--the location of the original "Call of Levi" in the Gospel of Mark Chapter 2.
Levi commented on this photo saying: "At this very shore Jesus called Peter, James, John, Andrew and the tax collector Levi to follow him. As you might expect, the "Call of Levi" (Mark 2) makes this place very significant to me. Also, pious seminarians make a good background."
Please keep Levi and his fellow seminarians in your prayers as they actively and willingly answer God's call!
Daniel Sedlacek who was assigned to our parishes for the Summer of 2015, will be ordained a Transitional Deacon on October 1 at the Basilica of Saint Peter, Vatican City State, by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. Daniel will then remain in Rome to finish his formation for the Priesthood at the Pontifical North American College. God willing, he will be ordained a Priest for our Diocese of La Crosse on Saturday, June 25, at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman. Please keep Daniel and all our seminarians in your prayers. The following is a portion of Daniel's farewell message to our parishioners.
"I look back at the past two months with a spirit of gratitude. What a great summer it has been! I would like to thank all of you for welcoming me to your parishes here in Spring Valley, Elmwood, and Boyceville. It has been a joy to be with you this summer. I especially thank Fr. Louis, who has been so generous to me throughout my time here. It is a singular blessing to have a good shepherd to guide and lead us. Please pray that I become a good pastor someday!
This past weekend I was in La Crosse with almost all of the seminarians of the Diocese of La Crosse for our annual summer gathering. Our own Levi Schmitt was able to join us for a few days before he headed off for St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee to begin his theological studies. It was wonderful to spend five days with most of our 32 seminarians and Bishop Callahan and Fr. Alan Wierzba, the Director of Vocations (my boss). It was good to meet 8 NEW seminarians who will be beginning seminary studies for our diocese this Fall. As we gathered in our newly renovated chapel at the House of Formation on Friday night, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude, because God always provides for His people. God has been extremely generous to our diocese. He is answering YOUR prayers for more priests. When I started seminary seven years ago, we had a total of twenty-two seminarians. Now we have thirty-two. Thank you for your prayers and support. We all pray for you every day. And praise to our God, who always provides for us and He answers our prayers!
There is still so much to learn before my ordination as a deacon on October 1st and, God willing, my ordination as a priest in June 2016! It is an enormous task to prepare well for the life and work of a priest. Please continue to pray and support our priests, seminarians, and young people who are discerning God’s will
We do not only urgently need priests in our diocese and our world, but we also need people who respond to God’s call to be a religious priest, brother, or sister. Above all, we need good and holy marriages! Pray for our young people. They need so much support and encouragement. They are growing up in a culture and a world which does not recognize or give them the basic tools to discover, accept, and live out the way of life for which God created them. And yet we know and believe that it is only by responding generously to God’s call that we are able to live the most fulfilling and joy-filled life possible in this world. The tools for living out ANY vocation are: Daily prayer, the virtue of self-sacrifice, a living and personal relationship with the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), an understanding and love for God’s commandments, an unquenchable desire to know the truth (and the belief that there is objective truth which can be known!), involvement in the life and worship of the Catholic Church (especially the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confession), and the capacity to love others more than ourselves. No one in our public schools, on the television or other media sources, in government offices, or in the general public is going to help our young people (and all people!) obtain these indispensable tools of Christian living. How is the next generation going to build for themselves a fulfilling Christian life when they don’t have the tools? How are they to learn HOW to be a Christian if WE do not give them our example and our support? We, their families and their fellow parishioners, are the only ones who can transmit a Christian (and thus, a civilized and humane) world-view to the next generation. Any alternative paths have grim outcomes.
Again, thank you all for your support and generosity in welcoming me to your parishes! I only wish that summer could be a little bit longer. But, even in this short time with you, I am encouraged and reinvigorated for this coming school year. Keep on being the good people that you are and may you always find your strength in Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart, which burns with love and mercy for us, and for the whole world. God bless!"
Elmwood's Levi Schmitt, son of Joe and Laurie Schmitt, continues his formation for the Priesthood for our Diocese of La Crosse. Bishop Callahan assigned Levi to study Theology at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, Milwaukee. Please pray for Levi and all the young men studying to be priests for our Diocese. At the beginning of this new academic year Levi wrote the following note to our local Knights of Columbus:
"August was a very busy month. In the first week, Kyle and I spent our very full days saying good bye to the various people we had met while in Bolivia. Though we had only been in the country for a short period of time, we had formed strong friendships. This was particularly true with the patients we regularly visited at their clinic. Out of all the things that went into the Bolivian experience, the best and most important thing were people we met.
After returning to the States, I had about ten days of free time. I spent a few days with family, a few days with friends, and a few days with my brother seminarians at our August gathering. It was a special grace praying in the House of Formation's new chapel with my brothers, knowing that the place was made possible in part by our council's innovation. The ten days went fast though, and before I knew it, I was driving my sleek, black Pontiac across three-hundred miles of Wisconsin to get to my new base of operations: St. Francis de Sales.
The seminary is a very unique place. To date, it is the oldest seminary in the nation still on its original site. Archbishop Henni finished the construction of the place in 1856. It is a strange experience walking the halls and through the rooms with the knowledge that hundreds of seminarians and priests have gone on ahead of me. It raises both pride and humility: pride that I have entered into a long and venerable tradition, and humility in knowing that, like those priests, I am a part of something bigger than myself.
When I arrived here two and a half weeks ago, we opened with a week-long set of orientation conferences to acquaint me and my new brothers with the seminary's system. The week after, all of the seminarians entered into a week-long silent retreat in Illinois. This, above all, was the greatest blessing of the month. After dodging from country to country, city to city, conference to conference, I needed time to slow down and refocus on the Lord. So, after rebooting my relationship with Jesus, I came back to the seminary to officially start the new year of formation.
I will keep you posted on how things develop, but at this point I am very excited for what St. Francis has to offer. I take the opportunity, then, to thank you brothers for all the support you have shown me over these last four years of seminary and the support you continue to show me now. May the Lord bless you for your generosity. Know of my prayer!"
Seminarians for the Diocese of La Crosse
United with our fellow Catholics in the Diocese of La Crosse we have begun the 2015-2016 Diocesan Annual Appeal. The Appeal is the major source of funding for the ministries, programs, and services of our Diocese. Thanks to the generosity of people in our own parishes and parishes throughout the La Crosse Diocese, the Appeal has proven successful in meeting the financial needs of the Diocese, in raising additional funds for parishes, and in fulfilling our Christian responsibility to assist those in need.
Why should we take part in this Appeal? Our participation in this Appeal affords us the opportunity to give assistance to our needy brothers and sisters in our area, our Diocese, and around the globe. Our donations, for example, support our diocesan mission and orphanage in Peru. In other words, our involvement is a matter of charity. In addition, our contribution to the Appeal is a privileged way in which we take responsibility for our portion of the expenses involved in the activities of our Diocese of La Crosse. So our monetary support for the Appeal, for example, helps pay for the education of our future priests like Elmwood’s very own Levi Schmitt as well as our seminarian-intern Daniel Sedlacek who will be ordained a transitional deacon in October! In other words, our participation is a matter of justice.
Each parish family will receive a brochure detailing the programs, ministries, and services supported by the Diocesan Annual Appeal. Please pray for Bishop Callahan and for the success of this year’s Appeal. Moreover, please give prayerful consideration to your own financial gift. Each family also received a pledge card that you may return in the self-addressed envelope via mail or the offertory plate at Mass. Thanks to you, the Appeal was a success last year with the majority of our parishioners participating. With your continued generosity, we can once again meet and even surpass our target. As always, one hundred percent of any funds beyond our goal are returned to us for our own needs right here.
Thanks to our parishioners spearheading our efforts again this year: Chair Gene Bauer and Secretary Marie Cebulla of Spring Valley; Chair and Secretary John Bates of Elmwood; and Chair and Secretary Karen Adams of Boyceville. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact them or Becky in our Central Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715.778.5519. May the Lord bless you for your generous sharing of your time, talents, and treasure.
Each year every parish in our Diocese of La Crosse is obliged to submit to the Bishop a very detailed report covering the timeframe of July 1 to June 30. Because we are three distinct parishes that means we submit three separate reports. Any parishioner is welcome to examine the entirety of their parish’s Report by making an appointment with Becky in the Central Office.
The largest portion of the annual Report to the Bishop is an extensive accounting of parish income and expenses. Our bookkeepers – Anna Toutant (Spring Valley), Shelley Sand (Elmwood), and Karen Adams (Boyceville) – work diligently to complete this complicated section of the Report. Every penny that comes in to each parish and every one that goes out must be accounted for! It is interesting to note that 113 of 194 families registered in Spring Valley gave $100.00 or more in stewardship to their parish while in Elmwood 108 of 180 families gave sacrificially at that level and in Boyceville it was 30 of 85 households.
In another part of the Report to the Bishop we give some statistics and information about the spiritual and sacramental life of our parishes. So in Spring Valley we celebrated the Sacrament of Baptism for five infants, five in Elmwood, and two in Boyceville. Last year 11 young people from Spring Valley received the Sacrament of Confirmation while there were five from Elmwood and none from Boyceville. Eight children made their First Holy Communion in Spring Valley while there were four in Elmwood and one in Boyceville. Each week Spring Valley and Boyceville had extended periods of adoration and prayer before Jesus in the exposed Blessed Sacrament while Elmwood had none. Spring Valley also had brief times of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during the Seasons of Advent and Lent as did Elmwood. The Sacrament of Matrimony of four couples was witnessed at Spring Valley (one with both spouses being Catholic, three with only one spouse being Catholic), two at Elmwood (with both spouses being Catholic), and none in Boyceville. Elmwood has its parishioner, Levi Schmitt, studying for the priesthood while Spring Valley and Boyceville have no one. None of our three parishes had any young woman preparing to be received into an institute of consecrated life (as a religious sister or nun). Barb Schneider of Elmwood was the only one from our three parishes who was in the two-year diocesan-sponsored faith formation program called the Lay Formation Institute (formerly known as the Lay “Ministry” Program). We celebrated the Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy for eleven parishioners from Spring Valley, eleven from Elmwood, and three from Boyceville. With regard to our Religious Education (CCD) Programs, Spring Valley had 73, Elmwood 46, and Boyceville 15. Faith formation in the context of homeschooling involved three children from Spring Valley, four from Elmwood, and one from Boyceville.
Answering the call from the 2014-2015 Pastoral Council to expand and increase cooperative outreach among the Catholic communities of Spring Valley, Elmwood, and Boyceville, the Rosary-making mission now meets in two locations -- at Spring Valley in the Brother Michael Catholic Center and at Boyceville in the Saint Luke Parish Hall. Parishioners make Rosaries that in turn are donated to the missions and to the men and women serving in our military. The need is great as some places need thousands of Rosaries each week. Anyone of any age is welcome! Materials are provided as well as instruction in making bead and rope Rosaries. Come as your schedule allows!
Boyceville Saint Luke Parish Rosary-makers
The Rosary-makers meet at two locations:
Spring Valley Brother Michael Center First Wednesday of the month 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Boyceville Saint Luke Parish Hall Every other Thursday 6:30 to 8:00 PM
For more information contact:
Pam Burke 715.307.8312
Cindy Schlegel 715.684.3324
Betty Garsides 715.643.2930