Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Catholic News Service

Priest's line of wines raises awareness of saints, funds for charity

Karen Mahoney

MILWAUKEE (CNS) -- A holy water font at each door, candles, home altars, crucifixes in every room, statues and magnificent paintings of saints permeated Father Dominic Roscioli's Kenosha home when he was a little boy. "When I was living in my grandparents' house and growing up Catholic in the 1950s, it seemed that everywhere in the house, someone was looking back at you," said Father Roscioli. "We had St. Anthony in the hall, St. Rocco in the kitchen, a crucifix in every room, St. Francis of Assisi and Mary were everywhere." In an effort to rekindle an interest in the saints, Father Roscioli and partners Jody Becker and Carlo Pedone have developed Holy Spirits wine. Available in stores, online and in select restaurants, the wines feature saints matched with wine varietals. They began with three varieties of wine: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Nick and St. Rocco. Each blend, produced by the Windsor Winery in California, complements the personality and mission of that particular saint. The label explains a bit about the saint's life as if the saint were speaking directly to the reader. More information about Holy Spirits wine is available at

Holy Week

I love this time of year

At the end of our Lenten journey is the bright ray of hope.
We have sacrificed a bit
prayed a bit more
and reflected on our Lord's journey and passion
His rise and fall in popularity among His people who had no clue as to His purpose on earth.
I would like to think that if I had walked with Him those many years ago, that I would have been the one who stayed by His side. The one who would not have betrayed Him. The one who stuck up for Him. But how can I say that, when there have been so many moments in my own path, that I did not do these things for others? I have let myself down and others so many times, I cannot even count them.
I would have had my hand on the hammer nailing his precious hands to the cross, just like the rest of them. 
It saddens me that I know my own weak character, but in other ways--it is because of my own weakness, that I need Him so much.
His grace
His mercy
His forgiveness and unrelenting love. 
It is a love that I don't understand for despite all my failings, he is still there, smiling and knocking at the door asking to come in. 
The Easter Triduum makes all of that an awareness for me, that despite our lowest points, our failings, our filthy internal rags--that Jesus gave it all to bring us to His Father.
Participating in The Mass of the Lord's Supper, The Good Friday Passion, Easter Vigil and finally the resurrection on Sunday gives me the hope, that despite all the chaos, the tragedy in the world and my own lack of Christian behavior, that His grace is truly sufficient.

Have a blessed Holy Week everyone

Demolition of landmark staved off

Business owner given week to provide restoration plan
Karen Mahoney

As a last-ditch effort to save the former blacksmith shop located at 923 Main Street, the Village Board agreed to a seven day extension to give building owner, Richard Gough, an additional seven days to present a workable plan with agreement of the village engineer and village attorney.

The Cream City brick building has fallen into disrepair and the owner notified a year ago to make needed repairs, but as of Monday's Village Board meeting the repairs were not completed.

Board members unanimously support the restoration of historical buildings, but insist that unless major renovations are made in a timely manner, the only option for the safety of the public and the tenant would be to raze the Main Street structure.

The board approved a motion to extend the order by one week with Gough's Engineer and the Village Engineer in agreement with construction costs. It was also noted that Gough's attorney, Richard Scholze be contacted to supply a performance bond to guarantee the completion, as well as comply with the Village façade plan.

From Pastrami to Playschool

Karen Mahoney

Two local women want to turn a former deli/grocery store at 1036 Main Street into a daycare center.

Lindsey and Kelly Rank plan to open Jump Start Learning Center if they meet the State of Wisconsin's requirements, which include applying for an exemption, as the property does not have room for playground facilities.

"We are confident that we can get an exemption because we will be utilizing the town and walking all over," said Lindsey. "In my previous ten years working in day care, we took walking field trips to the Post Office, Fire Department, Library, Parks, Senior Centers, and the County Fair. We are also within walking distance of several parks, so there is a lot of opportunity for the children to get fresh air and exercise."

The Village Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to the project Monday for use of the property located in a C-1 district.

Jim DeLuca, building inspector, said the building needs minor renovations before it would be ready to open.

"Because it is a daycare center, the state will require additional ventilation, ADA accessibility, and some renovations to the bathroom facilities," he said. "The other issue I see is parking, because there is a lot of traffic on Main Street and there are few places to park."

According to the Rank, parking should not be a significant issue as most of the children brought to day care are dropped off and picked up on staggered schedules during the twelve hours of operation each day.

"We should only have about 33 children total, and generally most people spend 10-15 minutes dropping off or picking up their children," Lindsey said. "We also have some parking area behind the building that we can have open to parents to ease up the traffic problems."

In addition to providing safe day care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, the Ranks plan to include developmentally appropriate activities that will promote all areas of their growth and development.

"Our center will respond to the needs of its families with excellent care-giving and instruction, an advanced curriculum, local community involvement and business partnerships," Lindsey said.

Unique to the center, she added, will be the emphasis on spotlighting local businesses in the area, featuring a business of the month and posting on a bulletin board, descriptions of the services offered or merchandise carried.

"We plan to offer a gift certificate to the business to a family in our day care at the end of each month," Lindsey said.

Owners say that bringing the day care to the center of the village will bring a constant flow of people to the downtown area, eventually leading people to procure items locally.

"We understand that we live in a fast-paced society," said Lindsey. "Parents are in a rush, they go to work, pick up their kids and then rush home for dinner. We have so much here - we have a bakery to get morning donuts and coffee, Quick Trip, the Main Street Deli or R & R pizza for dinners. We have so much in this area that putting the day care here just seems to make sense."

PM Email this article • Print this article Proposed bill threatens to overturn Village Sex Offender residency requirements

Proposed bill threatens to overturn Village Sex Offender residency requirements

Karen Mahoney

State legislators are considering altering rules for the placement of sex offenders that could replace previously passed guidelines from individual municipalities.

The Village of Union Grove, which passed a strict policy for placing sex offenders, are asking the state not to proceed with these changes and they are backed by state Sen. Mary Lazich Senate District 28, and Rep. Jeff Stone 82nd Assembly District. If passed, Senate Bill 548 and Assembly Bill 759 would nullify or invalidate the Village of Union Grove's Sex Offender Residency and Child Safety Zone Ordinances.

After months of work, the Police Commission and Village passed limits on sex offenders' residency April 19, 2008 that prevents registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of school properties, parks, trails, day care centers, places of worship and places children gather. Additionally, registered sex offenders may not loiter more than 250 feet from the aforementioned areas.

Lazich testified in opposition to the bill in Madison, March 11.

"Assembly Bill 759 (AB 759) and Senate Bill 548 (SB 548) impose the greatest risk to children and families in the state of Wisconsin," she told the state Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts. "Eliminating local ordinances that allow local communities and local law enforcement to do their jobs to protect society would put all residents, particularly children, in danger."

According to the Village Board, the Department of Corrections officials have expressed concern with the proposed regulations due to the potential difficulty of placing sex offenders under such standards.

In February, SB 548 and AB 759 were introduced on the state level. A portion of the bills would prohibit any political subdivision from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that affects the placement or residency of, or areas that may or may not be entered, by a sex offender.

Village Board President Mike Aimone said the bill would supersede previously enacted regulations, such as the Village's standards.

"Basically, the offenders would be allowed to live near 200 feet of any place that children gather," he said. "This would affect over 100 communities in the state that have sex offenders."

The Board unanimously voted to oppose the bills and urged residents to contact local representatives.

"For the sake of our children, it should not be up to the Department of Corrections to make the decisions where to locate the sex offenders, but it should be up to the Village to make the decision," said Aimone.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mom's dress sends simple message

Mom's dress sends simple message

Emily Mae Boettcher poses in the same first Communion dress that her mother, Deanna, wore for her first Communion decades earlier. Wearing the simple heirloom dress last May, helped Emily and her family focus on the spiritual importance of the day, rather than losing focus and worrying about the material aspects of the day, according to Deanna Boettcher. (Submitted photo courtesy the Boettcher family)
Every once in a while, the dress in the back of the closet is given a long, nostalgic look when someone rummages through the attic looking for the crinoline slip or the prom dress or the formal winter coat, or simply rids the place of clothes that have outlived their usefulness. The “first Communion dress” is fondly exempt from that dispersal and dwells in the storage space a little longer – just in case. As Emily Mae Boettcher prepared for her first Communion last May, her mother Deanna struggled with balancing the holiness of the day with the elaborate plans that seemed to trap most parents.
A generation ago, girls wore simple white dresses and boys wore blue suits. In some households, what used to be a small family gathering with a decorated sheet cake is now a big to-do that rivals many weddings. More and more, children parade through church in designer frocks, rhinestone tiaras, and, increasingly, tuxedos. Months before their child’s special day, the fancy white dresses and veils hang in the closet while parents scramble to book caterers, DJs, cakes, invitations, hairdressers and photographers.
From a simpler era
Deanna was touched, and a bit relieved, when her mother brought over her first Communion dress from an era when celebrations were a little simpler, and perhaps a bit more reverent.
“I suppose she was hoping it would be reused one day or at least be a nice keepsake for me,” said Deanna, a member of St. Mary Immaculate Conception Parish in Burlington.
She wondered if this dress, purchased so many years ago, would have a place in today’s celebrations. Would her daughter be receptive to wearing a dress that might not be the latest fashion, but held decades of memories and might perhaps be the start of another tradition?
After all, each of Deanna’s four children wore her baptismal gown, and she hoped this dress would be another way to share one of the happiest days of her life with her two daughters.
“She thought the dress was pretty and she really liked the sleeves because they were soft and sheer so she wouldn’t get hot,” said Deanna. “But she was a little apprehensive thinking she would be different from her friends.”
However, when younger sister Abigail, now 6, saw the dress, she loved it right away and thought it was pretty. Her reaction was enough to convince Emily to choose her mother’s dress over the two flower girl dresses she wore to weddings the previous year.
In deciding to share her dress with Emily, Deanna and her husband Jay impressed upon their daughter that it was the Eucharist that was most important – not the dress and not a lavish party.
“I never really felt any pressure from Emily, but other moms made a big deal out of first Communion,” said Deanna. “We didn’t want to lose sight from what really mattered. There are a lot of accessories in the stores, too, that make you think you should buy them, but just two months after the affair, I couldn’t even remember what they were, so it couldn’t have been that important.”
Instructors worry about creeping commercialization
Religion teachers and directors of religious education try hard to stress the importance of the day on which the 7- and 8-year-olds receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time.  But many worry about the creeping commercialization.
The church has no official guidelines on nonessentials, but asks that they be kept “simple enough so as not to distract from what is the most important meaning of that day,” children receiving our Lord in Communion, according to the 1996 sacramental guidelines for first Eucharist for the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
When Barbara Lebak became the director of religious education four years ago at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Burlington, she and her pastor, Fr. Steve Amann, wanted to refocus the meaning of the sacrament, so they moved the celebration.
“We moved it to the scheduled parish Masses on Sunday instead of having a separate Mass just for the communicants,” she said. “Many of the parents were concerned that it would be less ‘special’ for the children and Father emphasized that the children’s relationship with Jesus and receiving him for the first time was what made the day a special event. We continually point this out in all of our contact with the parents.”
While Lebak tries to keep the celebration in perspective by giving simple first Communion prayer books and certificates to the children as reminders that Jesus is the best gift, she realizes that many parents cannot help but go overboard.
“We tell the parents about the need for simplicity, but sometimes the tradition of buying very fancy clothing, especially for the girls, is too tempting to resist,” she said.  “I think the boys are more prone to having borrowed suits than girls having borrowed dresses. The most opulent example I can think of was a $400 dress one girl wore. At least we can say that the dresses our children wear are modest in appearance, another point of emphasis at our parent meetings.”
Economy forces changes in celebrations
As Kenosha struggles with corporate shutdowns and high unemployment, a benefit to the faltering economy might be a refocusing on faith and the sacramental aspect of first Communion rather than the large party. As interim religious education coordinator at St. Therese of Liseux Parish, Carrie Scruggs has noticed that more parents at her parish are unable to afford religious education classes and aren’t planning major celebrations.
“Some parents are making payments for classes and some cannot afford to pay at all,” she said. “Times are very tough and some parents have opted to teach (religious education) in lieu of paying for classes. I got worried about these families when it came time to discuss first Communion.”
In a survey of parents, Scruggs offered to host a group celebration after the first Communion Mass, and is planning to implement a sharing plan to pass on clothing that older students no longer need.
“The first Communion clothing is often more expensive, so I wanted everyone to plan ahead and see if we could pass on clothing that other students have grown out of,” she said. “It is all confidential so no one will feel offended. I just think that we can modify this celebration – the boys don’t need suits; they can wear white shirts, a tie and dark pants. No one needs to spend $200 on an outfit that they will only use once or twice.”
A return to the traditional
While business has been down for some in the “Communion trade,” Julia Kilian, owner of B’Tween Friends, 2223 E. Capitol Drive, Shorewood, has not noticed significant change in the purchase of first Communion clothing. She said most parents will cut back in other areas to do what they can to make the day special for their children.
“In fact, a few years ago, the dresses were simpler and many girls didn’t want to wear a veil,” she said. “Now we are seeing more traditional, lacy dresses with veils. Parents are buying them because the older dresses are a bit outdated. I do think that the traditional clothing is a sign that our Catholic Church as a whole has reverted a bit more to the traditional aspects of our faith and we are seeing this in the sacraments as well.”
Despite the economy, Kilian explained that when times are tough, people become more conservative in their faith and tend to focus on sacramental celebrations.
“They realize that their faith is most important,” she said. “And first Communion seems to be holding more meaning to parents once again.”
Trend is to cut back on gifts
While they do not carry first Communion clothing, Li’l Friar Gift Shop, 622 W. Lincoln Ave., owned by the Basilica of St. Josephat, carries veils, ties and gifts.
“We are selling the same number of veils and ties, but I have noticed that people are cutting back on more expensive gifts,” said Melissa Rabe, store manager. “People are not coming in and buying Swarovski crystal rosaries, but they are buying less expensive rosaries. And instead of buying the pearlized covered prayer books, they are opting for plain ones.”
Despite the trend to spend less on gifts, Rabe has also noticed a return to a more traditional respect for the sacraments and both parents and grandparents are choosing statues, prayers books or other small tokens of the religious event.
“They may not be spending the amount of money but they are spending money on something with the right message,” she said.
The message was not lost on Emily Boettcher who beamed after receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time, and after her mom’s “antique” dress caught the eye of adults and children.
“Most people noticed Emily’s dress and thought it was great that she was wearing it,” said Deanna. “They couldn’t believe it was in such good condition and thought it was very sentimental. As I saw her up there and then saw a picture of me, it made me realize how tradition makes you feel closer to your family no matter how much time has passed.”

St. Thomas More students put faith into action

Members of the St. Thomas More Faith Can Cure Cancer Club participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure last fall. (Submitted photo courtesy St. Thomas More High School, Milwaukee)
Last fall, St. Thomas More junior Kaitlin Kizewski wanted to do something to raise money to help cancer patients. As a child, she couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of the disease after losing her grandpa to lung cancer, but as a teen, cancer has chipped away at her heart on a number of levels. Several staff members of St. Thomas More have survived various forms of cancer, and one is currently battling lymphoma. The disease recently hit Kizewski on a personal level as well.
“In the past year, I found out that one of my close friends, who I have known for the past 12 years, could possibly have cancer,” said the 16-year-old.  “This affected me so much more than it did when I was younger. I was very upset, just like anyone would be.”
After reflecting on the many people directly or indirectly affected by the ravages of cancer, Kizewski put her Catholic faith into action by approaching guidance counselor Sara Vahl about moderating a club called, “Faith Can Cure Cancer.”
“She said she wanted to start it because cancer is something that affects everyone,” said Vahl. “And since we began, we have already 40 members in the group. We were shocked at the amount of students who were willing to step up and not only join the club, but participate and run events. It continues to grow as the year goes on.”
For Kizewski, it was an opportunity to share her faith and give back to others in the community.
“I have been very blessed in my life, and I feel that it is important to help those around me,” she said. “My parents have always told me that I should put others before myself, so I will always help others when they need it. An important part of being a Catholic is helping others, so by creating this club and promoting cancer awareness I do feel that I am living my Catholic faith through this club.”
So far, the club participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, sold pink carnations in October for breast cancer and donated the money to the Susan G. Komen fund.
Last November, students paid $2 to wear a hat to school with proceeds going to Caps for Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization that donates celebrity autographed hats and sports memorabilia to children with cancer.
“We have raised over $1,000 this year already,” said Vahl. “We will be starting the Pennies for Patients contest, and in May we will also be doing a pony tail drive and hair stylists around the city will volunteer their time to cut each participant’s hair for free and the hair will go toward making wigs for cancer patients. We will recognize those who donate their hair and those who are cancer survivors on our staff at our all-school Mass the next day.”
In raising funds for research, Kizewski hopes a cure comes soon so cancer sufferers no longer feel helpless.
“I also wanted to create this club because I want to raise awareness of cancer, and let those who are currently dealing with the disease know that there are people supporting them,” she said. “Cancer affects so many people and I believe that this club gives hope to those who are affected by cancer or know someone who has cancer.”
According to Kizewski, the club’s name was the collaborative effort of herself and four other students who wanted the name to contain the word cancer and a message relating it to their school.
“So we came up with Faith Can Cure Cancer,” she said, adding, “It is more of the idea that you should keep your faith in God while you or someone else is dealing with cancer.”
In addition to raising funds, students often gather to pray for others affected by the disease said Vahl.
“We pray for those suffering from, those who survived, or lost the battle to cancer over our morning announcements,” she said. “We have recognized specific people at school Masses. We also had shirts made, which can be seen on our Web site that states, ‘Faith can cure cancer: Praying for the survivors, remembering the taken, and never ever losing faith,’ It was Kaitlin who came up with that quote.”
While many high school students participate in fundraisers, Vahl is adamant that the values instilled in the Catholic education at St. Thomas More have played a significant role in the club’s creation and success.
“The selfless events, time, and effort all the students put into this club to raise awareness and money for those battling this horrible disease is a direct link to the message we portray at St. Thomas More,” she said. “I can’t think of a better way to communicate our Catholic faith than to watch our students modeling and living out the message of community service every day. The Faith Can Cure Cancer club exemplifies this message and allows students to actively participate in their faith.”

Giving up soda for Lent belongs lifelong practice

P16DeWitt-AIn 1997, Matt De Witt gave up soda, an act of self-denial that was meant to help him take stock of his spiritual life and bring him closer to God – critical goals of this 40-day preparation for Easter.
In most instances, Lenten deprivations are short-lived, but in De Witt’s case, it continues to this day, and in addition to foregoing anything carbonated, the 30-year-old father of two daughters, also lives without coffee or alcoholic beverages.
A competitive U.S Elite racewalker and marathon runner, De Witt, a Racine-area substitute teacher, finds that by treating his body like a true temple of the Holy Spirit, he feels healthier without putting the aforementioned beverages into his diet.
“The only caffeine I get comes from chocolate and tea,” he said. “And I have found plenty of other drinks that are more enjoyable and healthier for me. Giving up the

Matthew De Witt

Name: Matthew De Witt
Age: 30
Parish: St. Lucy, Racine
Employment: Substitute teacher
Book recently read: “The View from Saturday,” by E.L Konigsburg
Favorite movie: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
Favorite quotation: “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” by the late Jim ‘Jimmy V.’ Valvano
(Catholic Herald photo by Amy Rewolinski)
soda really helped me with my running and encouraged me to not only eat healthier, but to drink healthier.”
Most observers in America’s carbonated obsessive culture are in awe of De Witt’s determination to maintain healthy eating and drinking, but see the enormous payoffs in his athleticism.
“My running and racewalking takes up a lot of my time outside of family and work. I also enjoy watching sports, such as baseball, hockey, car racing, cycling, Australian Rules Football and much more,” he said. “I have completed five marathons, three running and two racewalking. My best time was in last year’s Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, where I ran a 2:53:17. My time was fast enough to qualify me for the Boston Marathon. I may run the Boston Marathon in 2011.”
De Witt runs distances between 5 km (3.1 miles) and marathons (26.2 miles) and racewalks distances between 3,000 meters and 20 kilometers, and is a seven time Junior and Collegiate All-American in racewalking. He competed in the 2000 U.S Olympic Team Trials, finishing in 10th place.
“I have also competed at the 2002 and 2010 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships and the 2006 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships,” he said.
While he is proud of his accomplishments, De Witt understands the importance of his Catholic faith and in sharing it with his wife, Whendi and daughters Briana, age 2, and 8-month-old Madelyn. Nowadays, he isn’t looking to give up anything, but rather to give of himself during Lent.
“I try to do a little extra, such as saying extra prayers or extra help for others. This year I am giving a little extra out of my pocket for those in need,” he said. “My faith is very important to me. I try to lead a good life so that others who see my actions and hear what I have to say will hopefully make a few changes in their own lives. I especially want to make sure my daughters see how important my faith is to me so they will live a good life.”
Originally from Kenosha, De Witt is still a member of St. Elizabeth Parish, but a recent move to Racine has the family making its parish home at St. Lucy and with it, new traditions to pass onto his children to experience the richness and rekindling of the faith this Lent.
“We say our bedtime prayers every night and we attend Mass every week,” he said. “Both girls have various Catholic books about the order of the Mass, children’s Bibles, and books on saints. We read these books often.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parishioners give St. Charles ‘extreme makeover’

All he wanted was a presider chair and to move the tabernacle, but what happened after that resembled something reminiscent to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” without the limo, trip to Disneyland or the big bus.

When Fr. Ken Omnerick became pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Hartland last July, he knew he wanted to change the semi-circular bench positioned around the apse. According to Shirley Lamerand, business manager, Fr. Omnerick was unable to see the congregation from the back wall and asked if he could have a presider chair.

P12afterSt.-Chaz-55“He also wanted to move the tabernacle behind the altar so it was visible to the congregation,” she said. “He not only wanted to see the congregation, but he was unable to see the choir (from) where he was seated. A lot was being done on guess between the choir and Father and that resulted in a few miscues because they could not see each other.”

After contacting the parish council about wanting a presider chair so he could view the congregation and the choir, Fr. Omernick was amazed at how quickly the parishioners responded.
Above, before and after photos show the dramatic changes that took place at St. Charles Parish, Hartland, in a week’s time. Fr. Ken Omnerick, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Hartland, asked that a presider chair be added and the tabernacle moved so he could see the congregation and choir better. After the $34,000 self-funded project was finished, the church boasts a new sound system, brand new carpeting throughout, and a freshly painted sanctuary, seen in the “after” photo. (Submitted photos courtesy St. Charles Parish, Hartland)

“They grabbed the idea and ran with it,” he said. “We had a lot of preparation before we got started, such as making sure the steel structures in the ceiling could support the changes, and getting some professional help with the project, but the parishioners really stepped up to help.”

Word was out and suddenly members of the parish offered suggestions of additional changes for the sanctuary. Some wanted the back wall to become more of a focal point in the church. Another family wanted to move the crucifix from the narthex to the wall of the sanctuary.

When the church was remodeled in 1992, the crucifix was relocated to the narthex leaving a plain wall behind the altar. In 2002, the wall was repainted in a lighter faux finish to give it a three dimensional appearance.

“People began talking about wanting the wall color deeper,” said Lamerand. “The whole thing really took on a life of its own, and all of a sudden we had this anonymous donor who agreed to match $10,000 of donations from the members to make this project happen.”

Originally slated for last Advent, the $34,000 self-funded project was bumped to the last week in January as more ideas for change surfaced, including renovation of the sound system, replacement of the carpeting, and repainting the sanctuary.

“Father wanted the project to be done in one week,” said Lamerand, adding, “It was his goal to have everyone see the sanctuary one way for weekend Masses and then totally changed the next week.”

After the last Mass Jan. 24, volunteers tore down the bench, removed a step, relocated the tabernacle, and ripped up carpeting. Parish officials acted as subcontractors, with the secretary coordinating cleaning crews, the parish council president bringing in a team of willing painters, and acting general contractor, Lamerand, coordinating all of the volunteer teams.

“We had volunteer painters work on the side walls each night, with a different crew each night,” said Lamerand. “We hired Spolar Studio to paint the back walls in gold paint, followed by acrylic paint and another layer of gold.”

The combination resulted in a chemical reaction between the two media, leaving the wall a crinkled gold appearance. New lighting accentuated the luminescent design.

Architects and engineers coordinated the sound system upgrades, as well as the relocation efforts for the massive crucifix to make sure it suffered no damage.

The final night a team of nearly 60 people cleaned, polished and removed construction and painting debris to be ready for Sunday’s Masses. Their quick work and massive amount of changes to the sanctuary surprised everyone, especially Fr. Omnerick.

“He kept saying, ‘All I really wanted was to move the presider chair and the tabernacle,’” laughed Lamerand. “I think we were all very surprised at how much this project meant to our parishioners. It has been a very spiritual experience for everyone and we never would have dreamt that all of this would have happened.”

From his first few days at St. Charles, Fr. Omernick said he realized he was blessed with a unique group of talented and caring members, who not only shared their time and talent, but their prayerful selves with the community.

“The change in the sanctuary has really changed our parish in so many ways,” he said. “It is not only beautiful, but the members are a more prayerful community and the church feels more prayerful in spirit.”

The next project for the parish of 1,930 families is to renovate the narthex. After the crucifix was relocated, the members realized that paint was needed, and volunteers came forward to paint the narthex a deeper color and to install oak paneling.

“We decided that we wanted to make a nicer area for waking the body for funerals, and making the whole funeral processions nicer,” said Lamerand. “Like with any home improvement project, one thing leads to another, but we are very pleased and excited with what has been done. It looks beautiful and I hope that people come out to see our church.”

Kenoshans return to Latin roots

Monica and Sarah Gleason, sisters, participate in a Latin Mass at St. Peter Catholic Parish in Kenosha, Sunday, March 14. Last May, the parish revived a centuries-old Catholic tradition, and began offering a monthly Tridentine Mass. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
Dominus vobiscum
(The Lord be with you)
Et cum spiritu tuo
(And with your spirit)
Oremus (Let us pray)

It’s been more than 40 years since the words of the Latin Mass consistently echoed through most Catholic churches. But, this last May, St. Peter Parish in Kenosha revived a centuries-old Catholic tradition.

The ancient rite, set aside after Vatican II in favor of a new, vastly different Mass, is a welcome return for some Roman Catholics, thanks to a July 7, 2007 apostolic letter titled “Summorum Pontificum,” from Pope Benedict XVI, which permits any priest in the Latin Rite to offer the Traditional Latin Mass without permission from his bishop.

This expanded upon the pastoral concern expressed by the late Pope John Paul II, who in 1984 authorized the Traditional Latin Mass of the Roman Rite, but with specific approval of the local bishop.

According to Coalition Ecclesia Dei, an organization promoting the Traditional Latin Mass, the number of weekly Tridentine Masses in the United States has grown from nearly zero in 1988 to more than 300 in 2009. In the Milwaukee Archdiocese, the Tridentine Rite, also known as the Extraordinary Rite, is offered daily at St. Stanislaus, and monthly at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Sheboygan and most recently at St. Peter Parish.

Although Fr. William Hayward, pastor of the parish attended the first Tridentine Mass, the celebrant is Fr. Olivier Meney, from the Institute of Christ the King and St. Stanislaus Parish in Milwaukee, who also travels to Holy Name of Jesus to celebrate Mass.

“We were approached by a group of families to have the Mass on our site,” said Fr. Hayward. “The archdiocese encouraged it and I am very interested and impressed with people like Kamela Gleason who have done wonderful work to get this started here in Kenosha.”

For Gleason, a member of St. James Church, bringing the Tridentine Mass to St. Peter has been nothing more than Divine Providence.

“Many dedicated Catholics have been involved in its initial coordination and planning,” she said. “This journey to bring the Traditional Latin Mass has unified many Catholics in our community. Supporters can be found from many different local parishes and come from all walks of life. Even young people are asking for and desiring this sacred liturgy. Catholic home-schoolers have also shown an interest. They feel that this is an educational opportunity and wonderful way for their children to appreciate and experience the fullness of the Catholic Church’s teaching.”

When the Vatican released the 2007 motu proprio in which Pope Benedict XVI reached out to alienated traditionalists, and relaxed restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict also said the priests who celebrate according to the Tridentine rite cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating the new Mass.

While some parishes have added a Latin Mass, the differences between the Tridentine Rite and the Novus Ordo Rite are substantial. Someone entering a Catholic Church and discovering Mass celebrated in Latin might wonder if they are celebrating the Tridentine Rite, but quite often, it is the same New Order of the Mass that is celebrated daily. The only difference is that the Vatican II Novus Ordo Rite is celebrated in Latin.

Latin Mass locations

St. Stanislaus Oratory
524 W. Historic Mitchell Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53204
(414) 226-5490
Sundays 8 a.m. (low Mass)
10  a.m. (high Mass)
Holy Days 7 p.m.
Daily Mass: times vary

Holy Name of Jesus Church
807 Superior Ave.
Sheboygan, WI 53081-3442
(920) 458-7721
Fourth Sundays 3 p.m.

St. Peter Catholic Church
2224 30th Ave
Kenosha, WI  53144
Second Sundays at 3 p.m.

For more information and Mass dates and times

For more information on other
Traditional Latin Mass locations:
The Tridentine Mass requires the priest to face the altar and tabernacle and turn away from the congregation to demonstrate unity with the parishioners in worshipping God together. Members kneel to receive holy Communion on their tongues, and more women and girls wear a lace veil called a mantilla on their heads. Missals with Latin on one page and English on the other allow those attending Mass to follow along.

With the exception of readings for the feast days of individual saints, the Tridentine Mass has a one-year cycle of Scripture readings. The Vatican II liturgy has a three-year cycle for Sunday readings and a two-year cycle for weekday readings.

The entire congregation recites the penitential rite in the Novus Ordo Mass, but in the Tridentine Mass, priests and other ministers recite the penitential prayers at the foot of the altar before Mass.

Since his ordination in 2000 in Florence, Italy Fr. Meney has celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass daily and has found a great increase among Catholics throughout the world in praying in this ancient ritual.

“This Mass is a treasure of the church and any time you have a chance to go into your grandparents’ attic and find old pictures or other old stuff from them, you want to discover more about how they lived and what life was like before, and that is similar to the interest now in the Latin Mass,” he said.

Admittedly, for Fr. Meney, this nostalgia for a Mass most Catholics never experienced, is not only surprising, but also joyful.

“It is really neat and excellent and I think it helps a lot to understand that what is done today in remembering the past, speaks a lot about the present,” he said. “Everywhere I see the same joy and unity and love, and it is becoming more obvious.”

There are six Kenosha boys trained in the procedures of the Mass. The boys, Thomas 16, Charlie 15, Michael 12, John 11, and 9-year-old Joseph Maurer and their cousin Peter Stephens, all members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish prepared thoroughly for the experience.

According to Charles and Donna, parents of the Maurer boys, Mass in Latin for their three oldest wasn’t too difficult, as the children are all homeschooled and have been learning Latin for a few years.

“This helped a lot,” said Donna. “They also all went to St. Stanislaus Parish for some training in the Latin High Mass. They were very excited and think the traditional Mass is pretty cool.”

For nearly 1,400 years, the Traditional Latin Mass was the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church and some believe its return is bringing more Catholics to the pews.

“One question I have received multiple times from people in the community is, ‘Why can’t we have it at my parish?’ This tells me that there is a longing and great need for the Latin Mass. I guess it is time to start training more priests so it can be more readily available,” she said. “I have personally spoken to a few local active priests who are interested in learning the old form of the Mass. These priests are not only young, but energetic. They can see its peace, serenity and beauty.”

Offering to officiate when needed, retired priest, Fr. John Richetta is happy to be part of the return to the traditional liturgy.

“We see the unbroken continuity of apostolic times from this time to the last four centuries,” he said. “We have a continuity with the past and I think people are longing for a return to the order and dignity of the Mass, as well as a sense of the sacred.”

Dominican part of Gaza delegation

During Dominican Sr. Pat Chaffee’s trip to the Gaza Strip last spring, she photographed these children from a Mercy Corp psychosocial support program. The delegation, sponsored by the grassroots organization CodePink, responded to an invitation from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to witness the impact the December-January 2008 Israeli invasion had upon the Palestinians. (Submitted photo by Sr. Pat Chaffee)
Where pristine homes used to sit, children trod piles of dusty rubble searching for remnants of their past – mementos from slain parents, grandparents, siblings and those of a once carefree childhood, intertwined among rock and their own tears.

Dominican Sr. Pat Chaffee, 72, the Racine Dominican Advocate for Sisters in Skilled Nursing Care, needed to see with her own eyes the impact on the children after the Israeli invasion in December-January 2008, and the effects of the Israeli blockade of land, water and sea. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including more than 300 children.

As part of an 80-women delegation, Sr. Pat spent a week last spring delivering toys and supplies for building playgrounds in Gaza.

The delegation, sponsored by CodePink, responded to an invitation from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. CodePink is a grassroots peace and social justice movement launched in 2002 by about 100 women who want an end to the Iraq war.

The Gaza delegation featured women from around the United States, including academics, social workers, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, educators, peace group leaders and retirees.

As the only religious sister involved in the mission, Sr. Pat was moved to see Ann Wright, former state department official, as one of the group’s key leaders.

“She had been a colonel in the Army,” said Sr. Pat. “When she saw the evils in the Iraq war, she resigned and became a peace activist. All of the delegates are peace activists.”

The delegates brought three playground sets, with swings, slides and merry-go-rounds, sports equipment, toys and a large bag of soccer balls. The sports equipment and toys were purchased from monetary donations to CodePink and playground sets were constructed by one of the CodePink leaders. The gifts were an immediate hit with the children.

“Hundreds of kids went wild,” exclaimed Sr. Pat. “They could hardly wait for the sets to be put together.”

Although providing the play equipment brought relief from the children’s trauma, Sr. Pat doesn’t believe it is enough to bring any long-term improvement in their lives.

Sr. Pat Chaffee
will report on the Gaza Freedom March and December’s international protest during a free presentation Tuesday, March 30
Cup of Hope Coffee Shop
507 6th St., Racine, at 7 p.m. For information, call (262) 637-2213
or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For more information on CodePink, visit
Or write, 712 5th Street NE, Washington, DC, 20002
Phone: (202) 290-1301
“While the children seem normal, physicians and social workers assure us that they are deeply traumatized, as demonstrated by nightmares and bedwetting,” she said. “Also, we saw drawings of soldiers attacking, with planes overhead. When we visited a class, the teacher first asked the children to describe the place where they are happy. Then he asked them to describe the worst thing that could happen and they talked about soldiers breaking into their houses.”

The siege renders the Gaza Strip, a piece of land about 100 miles by 25 miles, an outdoor prison, according to Sr. Pat, who witnessed more than the heartache and devastation of the most innocent. She witnessed the total loss of hope.

“I heard story after story of loss,” she said. “Near the site of the destroyed American University, I met a man sitting in a bombed building. I saw a woman who seemed to be cooking in a nearby section of the building. Through an interpreter, I asked the man about his presence in the building. ‘This was my home,’ he said. ‘It was three stories. Seventy members of my family lived here, in separate apartments. Now my wife and I live here, in what is left of the first floor.’ When the interpreter asked him if he wasn’t afraid that the slab of concrete poised above his living quarters would fall on him and his wife, he said, ‘What do I care? After this, there is no hope. There is no hope.’”

Israel has the right to defend itself, Sr. Pat said, however, she added that the total isolation of the people of Gaza and the killing of more than 1,400 is nothing more than carnage.

“I also heard over and over again stories about hardship from the Israeli blockage of land, sea and air, such as, ‘We cannot rebuild because the materials we need are prohibited by Israel.’ And, ‘In our hospital, this state of the art MRI machine was donated, but it lacks a calibration device and we have neither the money nor Israeli permission to import another one.’ Or, ‘I have a visa to the United States to study, but I cannot leave the Gaza Strip because of the siege,’” said Sr. Pat.

The nun returned to Gaza last December to mark the one-year anniversary for the 2008 Israeli invasion. The international delegates entered Gaza via Egypt during the last week of December and on Dec. 31 they joined an estimated 50,000 Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza to the Erez/Israeli border.

While Sr. Pat is encouraged by President Obama’s insistence that Israel stop the West Bank settlements, she urges him to send special envoy George Mitchell there to see and hear the people, and demand that Israel end the blockage of the Gaza Strip.

“The president, in his historic speech in Cairo, also reaffirmed his support of Israel,” she said. “I ask him, however, to qualify this support. Does he really want the U.S annual gift of $3 billion to be used in killing innocent civilians and children?”

Birthday wishes from my family

Wow it is amazing to me the thoughtfulness of my family members! I had the most outstanding 50th birthday ever and they blessed me so abundantly with cards, prayers, gifts and most importantly love and phone calls. I will never forget my wonderful family-incredibly, I am related to only a couple of them. God has really blessed me with a true spiritual family to replace the one I used to have--He is so awesome! Thank you God!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Retreat Focuses on God Centered Marriage

Brian Magliocco and Melissa Meeker will be married June 19 at St. Lucy Parish, Racine. The couple says their relationship has grown stronger, thanks to a program titled, “God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage.” Along with two other couples, they will offer a retreat for couples this fall, based on the program. (Submitted photo courtesy Brian Magliocco)
Brian Magliocco and Melissa Meeker are close – very close. They know most everything about each other and agree on major issues. They were engaged a year and a half ago and plan to be married June 19, at St. Lucy Parish in Racine.
Recently, their intimacy has grown, thanks to a program they completed with their spiritual director, Redemptorist Fr. Jim White, of the Redemptorist Center in Oconomowoc.
“The program really brought our faith and relationship to the next level,” said Magliocco, youth minister at St. Mary/St. Therese parishes, Kenosha. “It gave us a deeper understanding of ourselves as a couple and God’s plan for a joy-filled marriage.”
Christopher West first developed the program, called “God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage,” in the late 1990s, when he served as director of the Marriage and Family Life Office in the Archdiocese of Denver.
The program provides couples such as Magliocco and Meeker an understanding of the teachings of the church, offering them tools to live married life. It helps engaged couples understand God’s plan for marriage, including the teachings of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” and they come away from the program with a sense of liberation and gratitude rather than resentment toward the church, he explained.
While Magliocco and Meeker were close in many aspects of their faith, such as Natural Family Planning and the theological approaches to the sacrament, a few issues threatened to divide their relationship.
“It was good for us to be able to put our own thoughts on paper and talk to each other and not at each other. For me, I needed to communicate better with Melissa and not be impatient,” he said. “Marriage is a give and take and we need to be selfless. We can’t be selfish in a marriage; our love needs to be like God’s love – selfless in order for it to work.”
Program impacts relationships
A five-year survey of more than 2,000 couples participating in “God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage” found that 91 percent of participants were sexually active coming into the program, while after the program:
  • 48 percent planned to save sex until marriage
  • 31 percent planned to use natural family planning
  • 45 percent might use natural family planning
  • 78 percent had a better understanding of the Catholic vision of marriage
  • 50 percent came away with a more positive impression of the Catholic Church
  • 48 percent planned to become more active in their faith after the program
  • 61 percent made a deeper commitment to Christ after the program
While the archdiocese requires couples to attend an Engaged Enrichment class before marriage, Magliocco believes that challenging the relationship and discerning God’s direction brings the sacrament to a new level. In collaboration with the Nazareth Project for Marriage and Family Formation – a ministry of the John Paul II Center funded by the Catholic Stewardship Appeal – the couple, with the assistance of Dave and Julie Braun, married 13 years, from Milwaukee, and Dennis and Terri Niesen, married 23 years, from Kenosha, are planning a retreat for engaged couples.

For more information:

Engagement Retreat
Based on “God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage”
Oct. 30-31
Redemptorist Retreat Center
1800 N. Timber Trail Lane
The Nazareth Project for reservations and fees
John Paul II Center
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(414) 758-2213

or Brian Magliocco
(262) 694-6018, ext. 133
e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The retreat, which will take place at the Redemptorist Retreat Center, includes material from the Christopher West program, discussions on the sacrament of marriage and will focus on the Theology of the Body from the perspectives of the three couples.
“We are all at different stages in our marriages and will all be able to bring a different perspective to the engaged couples,” said Magliocco. “Through the retreat, we plan to have some talks, questions to reflect on —-personally, with the couples and then finally with others in a large group.”
Two-day retreat for couples
The two-day retreat will have opportunities for Mass, reconciliation, adoration and other devotions. According to Magliocco, the weekend will also foster opportunities to hear about the church’s teaching on marriage, and provide time to reflect, pray and talk about it.
“As engaged couples, we need to understand what God’s call is,” he said. “For many people, marriage is looked at as a contract that you can break with any given conditions. But the church looks at it as a covenant with God and we want to take these vows seriously.”
While the vocation to the priesthood requires at least eight years of formal preparation, the vocation to married life requires six months’ preparation and a five-hour Engagement Enrichment class.
“We are saying that both vocations are equal, but there is a huge difference in how much preparation a married couples receives,” said Magliocco. “From what we have seen, the majority of couples are getting married in the church to go through the motions, but we would like to see them want more and become challenged in their faith and face any difficulties head on before they become a problem.”
Addressing communication issues in the beginning will help to eliminate small issues, such as leaving the cap off the toothpaste tube, before they escalate into a full-blown catastrophe.
“If we don’t do that, we won’t know how to respond to each other’s needs and quirks and will end up in a big fight,” said Magliocco. “But instead, we can realize who the person is and recognize that we all have faults. Communication is a big part of this retreat and the talks at this retreat will be the main focus so couples can take this information and see how it relates to their lives.”
High divorce rate = lack of preparation
For Meeker, going through program brought a clearer understanding of the true meaning of marriage to her and Magliocco.
“We really learned that God should be the center of all that we do on our own and as a couple,” she said. “Fr. Jim has been a great help to us. The program itself is fantastic; Brian and I got a lot of discussion out of it and some good things that we want to incorporate into our marriage.”
With the divorce rate among Catholics nearly as high as it is among non-Catholics, Meeker attributes much of that escalation to a lack of preparation.
“People are not getting to know each other or learning to really understand each other,” she said.
Dave Braun, youth minister of St. Frances Cabrini Parish, West Bend, agreed and added that for Catholics who approach marriage with a God-centered mindset, the divorce rate drops to an astonishing 5 percent.
“So it is a really good start for engaged couples if they can hold onto these Christ-centered principles and build a really good foundation,” he said. “I wish that when my wife and I got married 13 years ago that we were informed about the basis of love versus infatuation.”
While the initial honeymoon period is good and exciting, Braun hopes that couples attending the retreat will benefit from an opportunity to grow into the sacraments and develop a direction that he did not have when he married Julie.
“Having a joy-filled marriage doesn’t mean that things are always happy, but there is a joy in being confident in a totally faithful, free and fruitful relationship,” he said. “I certainly did not know these things when we started but if we had been better able to communicate, it might have been an easier start.”
Program an invitation to God-centered marriage
Magliocco hopes that 25 engaged couples will be open to challenging their faith, willing to grow deeper in a God-centered marriage, and to a more intimate level of communication and decide to attend the Oct. 30-31 retreat. While the weekend won’t guarantee a perfect marriage, he sees it as an opportunity to foster a life-long sacramental marriage.
“We don’t want this to be a one-weekend shot in the arm,” Magliocco said. “We want them to go home, or go out for dinner and talk about the practical things to do when the retreat high wears off and hopefully there will be something long lasting.”
An ongoing small group to keep the discussions and growth alive is another aspect the three couples hope to implement after the retreat. Magliocco challenges couples to come for the weekend and watch God’s blessings on their marriage unfold.
“Give God this one weekend in your life and God will bless you,” he said. “Your faith will grow; you will grow closer to each other if you just make this one life changing decision.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

St. Therese, beloved friend, you promised to spend your heaven doing good upon earth. We come before you in our need. We believe that you listen to us and approach God for and with us. You are love in the heart of the Church. You are love in the heart of God. Please accept these petitions, hopes, needs, and dreams I list below. Please present them to our Loving Father so that God may do what is best for us, for our loved ones, and for the fulfillment of God's Kingdom. Continue your shower of roses in our lives. We ask you, dear friend, with the bold confidence and loving surrender you taught us. We make this prayerful petition in the name of Jesus and through the power of His Spirit.

Monday, March 8, 2010

When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.  

And for you, Dr. Joseph C.--you have succeeded in not only selling your soul, but murdering our faith in the legal system, and those who have taken the Hippocratic oath. Shame on you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Your intelligence is measured by those around you; if you spend your days with idiots you seal your own fate.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

For organist, it's also 'See you at Mass'

Dean Rosko, a graduate of St. Catherine High School, Racine, plays the organ during Milwaukee Brewer home games at Miller Park. When not playing at the ballpark, Rosko also serves as organist at his parish, St. Raphael the Archangel in Antioch, Ill., in the Chicago Archdiocese. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)
Now and then, if Dean Rosko can be swayed by Fr. John Jamnicky, pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church, parishioners might hear a toned down version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” after the Sunday Mass. While members of the two-year-old Antioch, Ill. parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago, are amused, visitors are often surprised to learn that the parish organist is also the organist for the Milwaukee Brewers.
In 2002, when he was 18, Rosko, a Kenosha resident, picked up a spot on the organ bench for the Brewers – a seat that had been vacant since 1986 when Frank Charles retired. It was a dream come true for the St. Catherine High School, Racine, graduate, who grew up attending Brewers games.
“I used to go all the time; my aunt is a season ticket holder,” he said. “I remember going to the inaugural for the opening of Miller Park and two years later, I was working there.”
Touted as the youngest organist in professional baseball, Rosko provides music at 70 to 80 home games each season.
Originally from Sturtevant, Rosko, now 25, transformed his talent on the piano to the intricacies of the organ, perfecting his skills on the Hammond X-66 he helped rebuild at Racine’s Skate Town.
“I was taking lessons there with my younger brother, Aaron, and competed in Roller Figure Skating competitions,” he said. “When I wasn’t taking lessons, or competing, I was playing the organ for skate dances and weekend events.”
After Charles retired, the Brewers used the longtime organist’s recordings at County Stadium and later at Miller Park. Former Brewers’ president Ulice Payne listened to community feedback, and in 2002, put out a call to organists interested in playing for the home games.
Just out of high school, Rosko sent Payne a résumé and CD. After several interviews and auditions, officials chose Rosko over 30 other applicants.
“I was the first organist in 17 years,” he said. “I really enjoy what I do, but it is quite different than what I do at St. Raphael.”
Indeed. The influence of Fr. Jamnicky prevailed as he took notice of Rosko tuning the organ at Mundelein Seminary.
“I made the mistake of giving him my card,” joked Rosko. “Fr. Jamnicky called me to look at the Baldwin organ donated to the new St. Raphael Parish. He wanted my opinion whether it was worth putting money into it or not. He called me several times about becoming the church organist –he is a little persuasive and strong arming.”
Since November 2007, Rosko has served as the parish organist and helped to reconstruct the massive 1917 Nine Rank Kilgen Pipe organ donated to the parish at the request of Cardinal Francis George after the chapel closed at Barat College.
“It was a big project,” Rosko admitted. “There are 700 pipes, and we had to put an addition on the parish, and re-open the original overhead garage door to move the organ inside the church.”
The parish resides in its temporary location in a remodeled machine tool shed on Highways 173 and 45. Because the organ will move to the new parish home in the next couple of years, Rosko helped to rewire and reassemble the instrument so the next move will be much easier.
“He was incredibly helpful,” said Richard Gambla, music director and business manager for St. Raphael the Archangel.  “We rewired the instrument in a month. When we have our permanent home, everything will just plug in when we move it. The job was huge, the wires ran continuous and every note and every rank were wired separately and independently of the 700 pipes. We won’t have to cut any of the wires again – the job was tedious, but fun.”
Rosko agrees. While there is nothing like the sound of 40,000 baseball fans humming to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” his preference is playing hymns such as “How Great Thou Art,” on the pipe organ.
“I love this parish, and I love the music I get to play,” he said. “This is a traditional atmosphere with candles, bells and incense; and for me, much more conducive to the whole spiritual experience. Some people ask why we don’t play piano or more popular Christian music and I am glad we don’t. In my view, and in Father’s view, rich church music should be otherworldly, not like you can hear on the radio. It should take you to another place. Catholic Mass documents support that and Pope Benedict stated that church music needs to swing back to the rich traditions and the instrument of choice is the pipe organ.”
A lifelong Catholic, Rosko put off confirmation as a teen because he wasn’t sure where God was leading him at the time. After becoming immersed with the traditional Catholicism at St. Raphael, he was confirmed in 2008.
“I just went through a stage of just wanting to know more before taking the plunge,” he admitted. “Working here gave me the opportunity to do that. I was glad to do it here rather than anywhere else. This sort of atmosphere changed my whole life and my whole outlook.”
When Rosko isn’t playing at Miller Park or St. Raphael, he plays at Organ Piper Pizza, Greenfield, a couple of nights each week. On Sunday evenings, he volunteers his time to play the mighty Kimball at the Oriental Theatre, Milwaukee.
“I have done this for about three or four years,” he said. “I play before the movies and just do it because I love playing on that organ.”
Rosko is excited to play a role in the building of St. Raphael the Archangel’s permanent home and hopes to remain connected to his new family for many years.
“This is an opportunity to be part of something really great,” he said. “It is a ministry for me and in the music world, it is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often.”
While he considers himself a novice in planning worship, Rosko is taking private lessons and learning about liturgical music at the same time. Throughout it all, he admits that God is forming him.
“My faith is getting so much stronger from this ministry,” he said. “I begin playing well before Mass as my form of prayer and this helps me get into the right frame of mind. I can’t just sit down and change gears from my regular life to playing liturgical music – this is how I transition and it really is very much a part of the Mass.”