Saturday, November 27, 2010

'New' Catholic finds way to give back

JULIE-tyler1Julie Anich, an occupational therapy assistant in the Franklin School District, works with religious ed student, Tyler Olla, 13, earlier this year during their one-on-one religious education classes at their parish, St. Rita, West Allis. More photos can be viewed at (Catholic Herald photo by James Pearson)When Julie Anich was confirmed in the Catholic faith six years ago, along with the reception of the sacrament came an intense desire to give back to others. She wasn’t sure where to begin until completing a nine-month course taught by Franciscan Sr. Cal Leopold on “The Purpose Driven Life,” a book by Pastor Rick Warren.

“I began to realize that my job, working as an occupational therapy assistant with special education kids in the Franklin School District, might be a way that I could help out as a catechist,” she said. “I began thinking that if this was my thing, working with these types of kids, maybe it really is my purpose in life.”

As a new Catholic with limited experience in the faith, Anich wasn’t sure how she could help. She approached Karen Barczak, director of religious education at her parish, St. Rita, West Allis, and offered herself as a volunteer. Not long after the proposal, came the perfect student.

“We had a little boy in our first grade who was having some difficulty with the classes. He was a bit disconnected and having trouble comprehending the lessons,” said Barczak. “Julie stepped in and began working with him in the second grade.”

Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Tyler Olla, now 13, has a neurobiological disorder that is part of a group of conditions called autism spectrum disorders. Asperger’s Syndrome is characterized by normal intelligence and language development, but with impaired social skills, difficulty communicating, obsessive routines and coordination difficulties.

For the past five years, Tyler and Anich have met every other Sunday morning during the school year for religious education classes. According to his parents, Tom and Tracey Olla, the one-on-one lessons have made a big difference.

“He knows a lot more about God and what takes place, and is more verbal about relating what is going on in our faith,” said Tom. “She helps him to learn rather than just do stuff that keeps him busy.”

A combination of the age-appropriate textbooks and Anich’s ingenuity brings Tyler an awareness of Catholicism that might otherwise slip through his grasp. Because Tyler relies on routine and a relaxed learning style, Anich often purchases photos of religious icons, symbols, books and games to solidify the lessons.

"He knows a lot more about God and what takes place, and is more verbal about relating what is going on in our faith. She helps him to learn rather than just do stuff that keeps him busy."

                               - Tom Olla

“She does such a tremendous job and is very creative with him,” admitted Barczak. “Julie goes out of her way to buy things from Catholic bookstores to help him learn. She never wants to be compensated for the things she buys, either; she just seems happy to be able to reach him.”

Asperger’s Syndrome can be frustrating for the teacher or caregiver because the person who has it may lack social skills and have difficulty communicating. Anich admitted she occasionally wonders if she is making a difference with Tyler, but she said those fears are quickly put to rest, almost as if God himself wants her to know that what she is doing, really does matter.

“On those days, Tyler and I might have the most amazing conversations, or (he might) ask me something that really shows me that he is thinking and wants to know more,” said Anich. “I don’t think that there is a time when we get together that I am not reminded why I still do this. I’m not always sure how it happens, but it’s either something I said, or some way that I connect with him that seems to click.”

As Tyler approaches the high school years, Anich is aware of the emphasis on servitude, especially when it comes to preparation for the sacrament of confirmation. She searched for a way for him to serve others and remembered the parish’s involvement in the St. Vincent de Paul meal program.

“We talked about how the poor people need food to eat and that by helping them out, they are happier,” she said. “Then we discussed making placemats for them so they would have something nice to put their plates on. So we got crayons and rubber stamps and decorated them for the South Side Meal Program. Making these placemats for them is one way he can understand service work.”

Lifelong Catholics, Tom and Tracey attend Mass regularly and are involved in their parish. They wanted Tyler to experience the religious education program like other children his age. Thanks to Anich, he is beginning to put the pieces together.

“I don’t know where we would be without Julie. It would be really hard and maybe he couldn’t even take the classes,” said Tom. “He would be very frustrated if he was in regular classes with the other kids. But this works very well for him – he is learning and he likes to go to church.”

Having a child with Asperger’s Syndrome can be challenging, but according to Tom, some aspects of the disorder are positive, especially when it comes to peer pressure and teenage rebellion.

“He is really a better teenager because of the Asperger’s and because of the classes,” he said. “He doesn’t feel like he doesn’t have to go to church because that is part of his routine. In fact, he wants to go to church and looks forward to his religious education classes. Karen and Julie are a blessing from God for what they have done for Tyler to get a proper religious education. We are very happy.”

As Tyler learns about Jesus, his faith, trusting in Anich, and social outreach, Anich is also discovering lessons of her own through the mind of a child.

“Working with Tyler has really strengthened my faith,” she said. “You know, I am not a theologian and don’t know every Bible story, but he keeps me connected to my faith. It is really doing something for both of us. And he comes up with these questions that really make him think … and they make me think too.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


At the top of the list in things that I am thankful for, is my Catholic Faith and the privileged practicing my faith in a country that does not persecute for religious beliefs.  A close second are my late parents who I miss more than words express.  Selflessly they raised me and my four siblings, treating each of us as if we were only children--giving to us when they went without. Both made sure we had a warm home, were well fed, clothed and raised with honor and integrity. While neither were perfect, they did the best job they could with what they knew about raising children. 

Next I am grateful for a loving husband who is always there supporting me, and cheering me on throughout all of life's ups and downs. You are a true treasure--a Godly, compassionate man who loves me unconditionally. 

My five children will always be eternal joys in my life--each of them was wanted and loved and despite any differences will always occupy a home in my heart. I pray for each of them every single day of my life.

The added joy of four grandchildren give me hope for the future--that life goes on, that happiness and love prevails. I wish everlasting love and joy for each one of them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Racine businessmen say thanks by ‘feeding the multitudes’

RACINE — How many turkeys does it take to feed 1,000 or more guests at a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner?

Answer: At least a couple of hundred, give or take 50.

Turkey and good company. Two Racine businessmen want to make sure everyone has their fill of both, so they are inviting those young and old, well off and less fortunate, to a free Thanksgiving meal.

If you want to go:

Dan and Ray’s Rendering Thanks
Thanksgiving Feast
Open to all, with reservations made in advance
Thursday, Nov. 25
10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Festival Hall, 5 Fifth Street, Racine
To reserve your seat or to volunteer: (262) 637-1190
Yorkville residents Dan Johnson and Ray Stibeck are expecting their first Thanksgiving at Festival Hall in Racine to be busy. They are planning to serve dinner on Thanksgiving Day for more than 1,000 guests from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 5 Fifth Street, Racine.

“Our phone has been ringing off the hook from people not only wanting to come to the dinner, but also to volunteer and donate food,” said Stibeck. “It has been an amazing response; it seems a fire has been lit in the city. At least 100 local businesses are contributing, donating money or their time – some of the county board supervisors will be helping and the mayor of Racine will be here pouring coffee.”

For six years, Johnson, 48, and Stibeck, 34, discussed hosting a community event to show their gratitude for the blessings of their businesses, Johnson is owner of Danny Meats and Catering, 1317 4 Mile Road, Caledonia, and Stibeck owns KZ, Air Conditioning and Hydronics, LLC, 2226 Douglas Ave., Racine.

“We kicked around the idea for a while and this year Danny called me and said, ‘Hey remember that thing we were talking about?’ and I told him I remembered. Then he seemed a little shocked and asked me again, ‘You know, that Thanksgiving thing?’ and I told him that I did remember,” explained Stibeck. “I think he was surprised I remembered. He then says to me, ‘I think it’s time we do it with the economy this way, Racine having such a high unemployment rate, the recent murders and people losing jobs.’ I agreed and told him it was time to make it happen.”

With energy, enthusiasm, food and volunteers, the most difficult feat was finding a facility large enough to house the event. After the City of Racine and the company that manages Festival Hall agreed to donate the space, they were set.

“We are making everything from scratch,” said Stibeck. “There will be no instant anything in this dinner. Everything will be home cooked, but on a massive scale and free to all. We will also be using real dishes, because we didn’t want people to feel like it was just for certain people. If you are ready to lose your home, this dinner is for you. If you are a different race or have different beliefs, this dinner is for you. If you don’t have anyone to share Thanksgiving dinner with, it is also for you. We just want to come together and be thankful and use this day as way to care for each other.”

A lifelong Catholic, Stibeck credits his grandmother, Leona Stibeck, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Racine, his parents and his relationship with God for his desire to give back.

“My faith is very important to me, and for both Danny and I, we believe in giving back and doing the right thing,” he said. “The morals and learning what it means to be a Catholic started when I was baptized as a baby and continues now at the parish my wife and I attend, St. Peter in Kenosha. I think that as Catholics, we need to be about helping people out – I just didn’t expect it would be of this magnitude.”

In between taking reservations and speaking to area businesses, Stibeck answered several calls from his sobbing grandmother, who said she was shocked when she learned what her grandson was planning.

“She was calling me all day Friday, crying,” he said. “She goes to morning Mass and the priest came up to her and told her about what we were doing. She wanted to know how we came up with this idea and I simply told her that we wanted to do something for the community because we were so fortunate to have our own businesses in such a poor economy.”

With the help of Stibeck’s office manager, the friends came up with the name, “Dan and Ray Rendering Thanks,” as a title for their non-profit company. The generic name sanctions the possibility of additional volunteer efforts for the future.

“We didn’t want to lock this in just for Thanksgiving,” said Stibeck. “We are hoping to expand to maybe something for Christmas, or for other times of the year. We aren’t sure yet what we want to do, but we would like to help the needy, or Children’s Hospital – whatever the need might be. We did all of this off the cuff – this planning has only been going on for about three to four weeks, and basically we are just shooting from the hip.”

The efforts of Stibeck and Johnson are a breath of fresh air in a city dealing with staggering unemployment, gang wars, murders and effects of the current economic downturn. They are encouraged that despite the bad news, a community can draw together and make something good happen.

“There is still good out there,” said Stibeck. “Despite all the bad, we need to keep the faith and believe that there is a purpose and reason as to why things happen. We don’t always understand it, but there are good people out there who care about others and still want good for the community. We are so grateful to the community, our neighbors, family and customers and hope our efforts will bring us all closer.”

Feeling the power of God's presence at SLS

A few quiet moments wandering the halls of St. Lawrence Seminary High School this weekend, again brought me to tears.

Why do I weep each time I come to this place?

This was an ordinary weekend, my husband and I host to prospective parents of eighth grade students.

Arms laden with snacks and beverages, we assisted with the weekend schedule and fielded questions from anxious parents on our experience having a son attend a Catholic boarding school. 

Sandwiched between the activities, I took a few moments to reflect and walk alone.

A light touch on my back let me know someone was with me; an invisible arm embraced my shoulders, guiding me down a familiar passage. The sweet, fragrant aroma of incense emanating from the chapel’s brick walls drew me to kneel before the Tabernacle Saturday evening….

…before the school’s evening prayer session
… before the sounds of scuffling feet in quest to find fraternity members--a family within a family,  young men joined for meals and prayers.

Like a gift, I unwrapped 151 years of greatness and reflected on the thousands of priests, brothers, consecrated lay Catholics and those with honorable vocations as husbands and fathers who lived and breathed the Capuchin mission to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Layers upon layers of sacrifice by priests, lay teachers, brothers, sisters, staff, and benefactors--all sacrificing their lives to build the Body of Christ.

One after another, God revealed the sanctity of these walls, of this campus, of this Holy Hill that generations have called home.

The tears flowed to my chin, puddling on the pew before me and again, I feel the presence and a hint of His voice speaking to my heart.

And I know why my son is here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gluten-free Pumpkin Ginger Ice Cream Pie

Found this delightful recipe today and it will be making its home on our Thanksgiving dessert table this year. Let the rest of the family have the pumpkin and cherry pies, my son and I will be having this gluten free baby. 

What do you think? Doesn't this sound awesome?

Gingersnap nut crust:

1 ½ cups (6 ounces) pecans

12 (2 inch round) gingersnap cookies
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted


¼ cup candied ginger, chopped

¼ cup water
1 quart premium vanilla ice cream
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Place pecans, gingersnaps and sugar in food processor; pulse to coarsely grind. Add butter and pulse until clumps form. Pour into a 1½ inch deep 9 inch pie plate. Using fingertips, distribute mixture first up and around sided even with rim of pan. Then press firmly with an even pressure to compact crumbs against sides of pan. Press remaining crumbs on bottom of pan into an even layer, turning pan as you press, and making sure that there are no loose crumbs. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake about 8 minutes, until golden around edges; do not over bake. Cool completely. Crust can be frozen 1 month unfilled.

In small saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer candied ginger in water until soft; liquid will evaporate and thicken a bit. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature. Soften ice cream in refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes, until soft and malleable but not melted. With electric mixer or by hand, combine pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt, then add ginger pieces and blend until evenly distributed. Add ice cream and beat slowly until just creamy and evenly combined (no streaks).

Working quickly, scrape ice cream into crust with large rubber spatula; smooth the top but mound ice cream slightly in the center. Place in freezer to firm, about 6 hours, then slide into a plastic freezer bag or wrap with plastic wrap and foil to store. Freeze up to 2 weeks. Serve directly from freezer and cut with sharp knife. Store in freezer.

Serves 6 to 8

Oh Yeah-maybe I should make two and eat the first one before the big day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Can I just run away?

So here it is, just 8 days until Thanksgiving.
Trying not to stress out this year--after all, I promised myself I wouldn't.
After all, it's only family coming, right?


So, yesterday began with cleaning the carpets. I learned this neat-o trick from Mary Hunt from Debt-free living. She recommended not using detergent and instead, pouring boiling water into the tank. She said she tried it numerous times and it worked great--way better than detergent and hot water.


A word of warning: If you have the Bissell carpet machine with the plastic lined reservoir, the boiling water will melt the liner, leaving a GAPING hole in the plastic, thus dumping the water either onto the carpet in a nice big puddle or into the dirty water tank. 

Either way, your carpets are not getting clean today. Nor are they getting cleaned tomorrow because upon calling the customer service number and placing an order for a new reservoir, I was told that I need to wait 7-10 days before my order will arrive.

By then the family will be gone.

After a few moments of hyperventilating, I did what any obsessive compulsive person would do, I mixed up a boatload of Oxyclean and cleaned the carpets with a scrub brush on my hands and knees. 

Tomorrow I head to the doctor because my back, which has been out for 8 days, is now much worse. The 12 ibuprofens I was eating for the past week are not even touching this pain.

Perhaps I should not be so neurotic. 

So, today, I figured I'd do something easier--like roasting one of my two turkeys ahead of time, carving it and freezing the meat until the big day. Unfortunately, the succulent juices from the beautifully roasted turkey poured onto the carving board, overflowed the little gutters, and like Niagara Falls, dripped all over my wooden countertop and onto the floor where the dog, who thought he died and went to heaven, began lapping it all up. 

In my quest to remove him from the room, I slipped on the slimy mess and onto my backside.

I am not making this up, I swear.

Three hours later, the turkey is put away, the counters and dishes are washed and so is the floor. 

My back is killing me; good thing I already have that appointment for tomorrow, because at least I will get my money's worth.

On that note, I am going to watch Hell's Kitchen because it will make me feel good to see someone have a more miserable experience than myself.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holy Moly Archbishop Dolan is new President of the USCCB

Like many Catholics around the United States, I am stunned and somewhat elated that our former Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan was elected the President of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops today. After all, it seemed like just yesterday we celebrated his going away party at the Catholic Herald offices in Milwaukee.

This election marks the first time a sitting USCCB vice-president has not gone on to serve as president.  This unprecedented event ran in Archbishop Dolan's favor by a 128-111 vote on the third ballot surpassing  Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson.

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and New York have to be feeling very proud of their beloved Timothy Dolan today.

The 60 year-old Archbishop will assume his new three-year position Thursday, along with his newly elected Vice-President, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville. He succeeded 147-91 over Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. of Denver  in another third ballot. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finding the Grace

Oh we are all faced with it at one time or another, aren't we? Feelings of inferiority, failure, and insignificance. It is so easy to dwell on the negative-loss of money, loss of youth, loss of family and friends--in fact, if queried, we could easily come up with a substantial list of negatives. 

It's easy to list our faults and the daily details that plague our peace, but coming up with the positives are a different story altogether. 

Face it, we are hard on ourselves and more so, we are hard on God. 

If we, as imperfect beings are given the gift of life, faith, providence,  laughter, sunshine, a roof over our heads, and food to eat--who are we to criticize where we fit in the economic or popularity class system?

I do it all the time and I am ashamed that I do so. 

Looking back at the vicissitudes of my life are many years of suffering--but there are many more of happiness, laughter and wonderful memories.

Why is it then, that I dwell on the bad?

Have I forgotten that God has been present through it all? It has been His arms cradling me as tears pool on my pillow. His thoughtfulness as we somehow find the means to provide for our family, and His grace that I have survived the darts from those once close. 

He was here all along, and I didn't pay attention.

What seems horrible in my eyes is perhaps an opportunity for growth in His. I can't say how many times, I have uttered to God that I can't take another disaster, another bill, another sickness, another, another, another..........and yet, I am still here and still able to complain. 

I think its time I make a list--I am grateful for my faith, my husband, for all five of my children, for my four grandchildren, my job, enough food to eat, clean water, a warm house, a fuzzy puppy and our two parakeets (ok, not so thankful about them), close friends, caring colleagues, cars that work, good medical care, gluten free groceries and recipes to go with them, and wonderful memories of my parents, siblings and other relatives.

Lord help me see your hand, your grace and your love through all my struggles.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On Suffering



 When trials come, and often they are many--reflecting on the words of Christ can bring us through to the other side. For whatever thorns we suffer, it  pales to what HE did for all of us.  

 In my humanness, I feel feel frail and vulnerable, but Christ is here, by my side, giving me strength and courage to carry on. We are to be servants, we are to love despite persecution and condemnation and we are called to suffer and carry our own cross. 

We know that scripture tells us that if we follow Him, we have to be willing to lose family and friends for His sake--and willingly we stand up and say, "We are willing. We will suffer for you. We will follow you."

Why then, if I know that--is it so difficult to do?

The passage from Isaiah below is a favorite one of mine and of my husband; it brings into perspective, the servants heart-and the openness of Our Lord to endure so much suffering without opening his mouth in protest. 

Lord forgive my failure to see the greater picture and thank you for the grace to endure our daily suffering.

   Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up,and shall be very high. As many were astonished at him ­­his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,

and his form beyond that of the sons of men ­­so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand.

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.--Isaiah 52-53

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I choose to be Courageous

Courage. What makes a King out of a slave? Courage.
What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage.
What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage.
What makes the Sphinx the 7th Wonder? Courage.
What makes the dawn come up like THUNDER?! Courage.
What makes the Hottentot so hot?
What puts the "ape" in ape-ricot?
Whatta they got that I ain't got?
Courage--that's what!

-The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz

Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength. Despite my breakdown of tears this morning, this is what I aspire to do.  Regardless of my intentions, it will not happen unless pray and continue along that path of trusting that God will provide all that we need --even though, on the outside it appears to be a disaster of epic proportions.

Despite the Cowardly Lion's self-disclosure, he was courageous in defending Dorothy the Wicked Witch and the Wizard knew this and proclaimed it as he bestowed a medal of courage to the Lion

As for you, my fine friend, you're a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger you have no courage. You're confusing courage with wisdom. Back where I come from, we have men who are called heroes. Once a year, they take their fortitude out of moth balls and parade it down the main street of the city and they have no more courage than you have. But they have one thing that you haven't got - a medal. Therefore, for meritorious conduct, extraordinary valor, conspicuous bravery against Wicked Witches, I award you the Triple Cross. You are now a member of the Legion of Courage.

 I want to be a member of the Legion of Courage like the lion and despite the thorns thrown into my path from the evil one, I want to cast aside my own concerns and realize that nothing happens without the knowledge of Christ and with it, the grace to continue.

One of my favorite quotes helps me to know that I am not alone in this journey and that my journey is not for naught.

Remember, we are the one's we've been waiting for. We all have a purpose to fulfill. The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you. --Jim Wallis

Friday, November 12, 2010

St. Mary marks 25 years of perpetual adoration

ELM GROVE — Several times each week, pediatrician Dr. Andy Swietlik, his wife Julie, and their nine children drop by the neighbor’s house to spend quiet time with a loved one.
They spend their time in prayer – sometimes praying the rosary, sometimes praying the Stations of the Cross, and sometimes praying in other ways.

Often the children drop by on their own, open the large doors of St. Mary Visitation Parish, and enter the adoration chapel in an effort to grow closer to their friend Jesus.

“We have been taking them for a long time and it helps our kids grow by seeing their good friend, Our Lord, each day,” explained Julie, member of the parish. “We try to go in the evenings together as a family, but the kids will often stop by on their way home from playing in the park. They say a quick, ‘hello’ and often bring their friends and cousins to the chapel as well.”

Members and friends of St. Mary Visitation Parish have tallied 218,000 hours of prayer in continuous eucharistic adoration since the Feast of the Holy Rosary (Oct. 7) 1985. The parish marked this milestone on Oct. 6, with a prayer service, Benediction and social gathering.

No matter what time of day or night, or which day of the year, with the exception of Holy Thursday through the Easter Vigil, at least one person remains before the Blessed Sacrament, and generally two volunteers are scheduled around the clock to ensure someone is always present.

When former St. Mary Visitation member Don Riemer learned about perpetual adoration from a Catholic magazine in the 1980s, he knew it was something he wanted to pursue at the parish, so he approached his late pastor, Msgr. Joseph E. Emmenegger, about the possibility.

“We talked back and forth for a while, and I gave him some information about perpetual adoration and a few months later we started,” he said. “We decided to use this small room that was reserved for nose-to-nose confessions and started with eight chairs. I made the altar and my wife Carole did the decorating.”

While enthusiasm was great in the beginning, continuing the prayerful practice took a bit of ingenuity, especially as the air began to chill and the snow blanketed the roads.

“We had some drop out, but there was always someone there,” said Riemer, a member of St. Anthony Parish, Pewaukee. “I was the main coordinator for five years and every week we had a sign-in book and another book for those wanting to sign up for a spot. No matter what, the Lord made sure someone was there, even if a person slept through their 2 a.m. time – the person in the spot before would just stay on the extra hour. It all worked out.”

Most touching to Riemer was the faithfulness of a now deceased elderly gentleman who kept a 3 a.m. vigil in the tiny chapel. It was his sole desire to gaze upon the Lord and await his homecoming.
“I used to tell his wife that he can’t continue coming at that hour,” said Riemer. “But she said it was his goal to die in that chapel. That really touched my heart.”

When the cramped space became too small to accommodate those wishing to stop for a visit, the chapel was relocated to the former parish baptistery where it is today. In 2006, the chapel was renovated to seat 12 among ancient relics, icons and a hand-carved crucifix from Jerusalem. Since then, husband and wife team, Dr. Jerry and Fran Auger, have taken over decorating and cleaning.
While many eucharistic miracles exist, according to Vatican-approved documents, such as the miracle documented in 8th-century Italy, when a doubtful priest witnessed the Communion host transform to human tissue as he consecrated it, worshippers at the St. Mary Chapel find solace with or without dramatic occurrences in their own lives.

“We don’t know the graces and wonders from the hours of praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Julie. “But the Lord does and we are always thankful for what we have, such as good health and keeping us close as a family. We also continue to pray for vocations for our children and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in 10 to 20 years with all of them. It’s a great thing to live next door to our Lord.”

Some who come to fill their slot among the 168 hours per week often enjoy praying during the early hours. Others appreciate spots later in the day, where they can cast aside their cell phones, dim the noises of the outside world, ignore the traffic and rest in the comfort of holy silence.

“We have people who come from all over several counties to pray here, and not just from our parish,” explained coordinators Joseph and Mary Schwarz. “We are very blessed to see more coming here who are in their 20s and 30s, too, and it seems that this age group is really growing.”
For the Schwarzes, stopping in every day, even for a few minutes, has kept the couple close to God and to each other.

“We don’t always make it, but we try,” admitted Mary, who also writes a weekly column on eucharistic adoration for the parish bulletin. “We go and thank him for all he has done for us and know that coming here has helped us get through life. He has blessed our marriage and blessed us personally – and going to adoration is such a good place to pray for our kids and grandkids.”

Like many couples who began 25 years ago, parishioners Al and Kay Eberle have a set time each week for eucharistic adoration.

“It is just a very special part of our lives and it becomes near and dear and we always look forward to our hour a week with the Lord,” said Kay. “I would, in a sense, compare it to not missing Sunday Mass, and whenever we can, we will sub for those who can’t make their visit.”

In an effort to streamline the volunteering process, a steward program was recently started to oversee the scheduling.

“That is working out well,” said Kay. “We have one steward for each day. That person makes sure all 24 hours are covered, and is the go-to person if people can’t find a substitute. This has helped a lot because Mary and Joe were getting so many phone calls and would fill in anytime someone couldn’t make it. They have done such an amazing job for 20 years and it’s nice to give them a little break.”
Riemer remembered that Msgr. Emmenegger often alluded to the many blessings the practice of eucharistic adoration has brought to St. Mary Visitation.

“He would always tell me, ‘You have no idea what this chapel did for St. Mary’s,’” said Riemer. “I don’t really know what he meant, but he said there were so many blessings. I believe that this is true simply because we have the 25 years of longevity – I don’t know of too many parishes that have had eucharistic adoration for this many years.”

I will be with you Always...

....Until the end of time.

Jesus' words are embracing me today.

Mounting medical and cost of living bills added to our decreased income and other familial woes are giving me a sense of frustration I have not known in years.

For the first time in my life, I broke down crying with the billing office of Aurora Medical--we have such a pile of bills from them and several other doctors and pain clinics for my husband's medical issues and lately, from my own. I told a woman who probably didn't care, that coming up with their idea of a workable payment plan just wasn't going to fly because we can no longer afford to purchase groceries. To her credit, she was kind, but there was little she said she could do. Honestly, I understand her position, after all--they need to pay the staff for their services, just as I want to be paid for my own.

What is difficult is that these bills are for the most part from a personal injury my husband sustained at a store 4 years ago and they are simply not our fault. But again, the doctors still need to be paid.

While we live frugally, it doesn't seem to be enough for us as we are trying to juggle living on social security disability coupled with my wavering freelance income. It's hard juggling all the plates and today, I just want to pull the covers over my head, go back to bed and pray that it all goes away. However, the mounting medical bills, my son's school tuition, cost of living expenses, and basic necessities will not go away.   I am beginning to feel the familiar sick, churning mass in my stomach as the holidays encroach and we have nothing to give as gifts. In short, we need a miracle or we will lose it all.

It isn't as if I am not working hard, I am--but it isn't enough. I could work 24 hours a day and it wouldn't be enough to get us out of this mess and I want to wave the white flag, climb in a hole and give up.

But in the midst of my wallowing in self pity, I feel the sliver of warmth into my heart telling me to hold tight, for better days are coming.

I don't know how, but I just know in my soul that somehow our Lord will get us through this. It is up to me to be patient and remain faithful to Him. I have to focus on the fact that He is a God of miracles, and He will give me the grace to overcome this impending disaster, and He will find a way to help me get those bills paid.

I just need to pray more.

If I take this struggle and turn my face towards the Light, and have faith, I know somehow, all will be ok. I know that God's love and the Holy Eucharist is all we really need anyway and it is my own flesh that is suffering, I have to be about the eternal and believe that in the end, all that will matter will be our closeness with Him.

One way that comforts me is to pray a novena to the Infant of Prague for strength and a miracle. 

O Jesus, Who has said, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened," through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.
(Make your request)
O Jesus, Who has said, "All that you ask of the Father in My Name, He will grant you," through the intercession of Mary Your Most Holy Mother, I humbly and urgently ask your Father in your name that my prayer will be granted.

(Make your request)
O Jesus, Who has said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My word shall not pass away," through the intercession of Mary Your Most Holy Mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.

(Make your request) PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Divine Infant Jesus, I know You love me and would never leave me. I thank You for Your close Presence in my life.
Miraculous Infant, I believe in Your promise of peace, blessings, and freedom from want. I place every need and care in Your hands.
Lord Jesus, may I always trust in Your generous mercy and love. I want to honor and praise You, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where is the Dog Whisperer when I need him?

Aww, he's so cute, just look at him
so innocent, so fluffy, such a little lover!
Yes, this is Argyle at one year old--and he is all of those captivating adjectives and more. 

It is the more that drives me bananas

Before Argyle came to live with us at 8 weeks, we diligently watched each episode of The Dog Whisperer to learn important training tips to ensure we raised him in a calm-submissive manner. After all, we messed up a lot with our first dog and we didn't want to repeat those mistakes. To reaffirm our new-found knowledge, we also invested in several of Cesar Milan's books and found them to be quite helpful.

And just as Cesar taught us, Argyle walks perfectly, comes when we call, sits nicely while being groomed, doesn't bark, sleeps in his crate and does everything a good calm submissive dog should do, with one primordial exception.

Beneath that downy white exterior and shiny sable nose lies the masticating mechanism of a pit-bull.
For some reason, our Bichon Frise who has never met a shoe he didn't love, is convinced that he is either a pit bull or a labrador, because truly, he has jaws of steel.

This dog gnaws everything to oblivion and I mean everything--toilet paper, the little white caps at the base of the toilet, shoes, slippers, rugs, dryer sheets, paper, books (including yours, Cesar!),--it drives us nuts. We have gone through nylabones, rubber balls, kongs, stuffed toys, squeaky rubber toys, rawhide, pig ears, Frisbees and knotted ropes--each met with the same quick death. Out of desperation, we graduated to toys designed for much larger dogs--think Dino the Dinosaur sized toys and chews--yup, within minutes, they were history too!

Finally, I bought those stinkin' bully sticks and when I say stinkin'--have you ever inhaled after ripping the plastic off one of those? It isn't pretty, folks. The odor is a cross between a fresh cow pasture and an overflowing litter box.  But, because bully sticks are recommended by Cesar, we held our noses, shelled out the seven bucks and bought one. 

Of course we listened to the expert when he said that this is perfect chew for a dog and would easily last six months. Who are you kidding, Cesar? You have not seen the likes of Argyle, aka Jaws. This pit bull wannabee can chew through one of those in 20 minutes!

I have no idea what we will do for Christmas decorations this year. Surely, the 12-foot tree is not going up with this chewing magnet around. I can just see it now--three a.m. visits to the vet for xrays to find out whether he swallowed the antique hand blown glass Santa Claus ornament that suddenly went missing, or gee, what happened my Scarecrow ornament from the Wizard of Oz collection?

No thank you, this year, if the decorations can't be bolted from the wall, or hung from the ceiling they are not going up. As it is, we are living quite spartan lives because anything that is not nailed down is history--yeah, we used to have wall paper in the kitchen--in fact, we used to have walls--now they have assumed the characteristic of a large wedge of dehydrated swiss cheese. 

Where are you now, Cesar? 

Do you have any advice- because we are running out of furniture and he has been eying my husband in a strange way of late.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Crushed but not forgotten

Wilted, brown, and crushed to the earth
The blossom was no more a rose than a sunrise a storm
melting into the sooty earth
almost as insult
the rains fell
creatures trod
and the flower became the earth
God's hand caressed the seed within
dried the soil with rays of His Son
breathed on the bloom
the sodden soil and forgotten bloom
became a beautiful rose
and all took notice 
of its magnificence

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. John 12:15

Friday, November 5, 2010

Missing you, but......


At the finest level of my being,
you're still with me.
We still look at each other,
at that level beyond sight.
We talk and laugh with each other,
in a place beyond words.
We still touch each other,
on a level beyond touch.
We share time together in a place,
where time stands still.
We are still together,
on a level called love.
But I cry alone for you,
in a place called reality.

--Richard Lepinsky

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The broken child

Torn, wrinkled wrapping

Frayed ribbons

Open to unveil the sting of a father’s hand

Disappointment in a mother’s eyes

Imperfections noted like billboards to weary travelers

She is flawed

Their hushed discounting

A reward for recalling sordid deeds against the flesh of innocence

Words that gouge like shards of glass into the heart

Crimson tears smeared with an angry fist

Silent cries,

Unanswered whispers sobbing into darkness

Dreams stilled,

Emotions stunted

All familiar but unwanted gifts from early youth

A fractured soul

Blood filled amulet spills onto her brokenness

A thin stream of white

Shines through the cracks

Breaks through the heart

And warmth draws in

A loving hand lifts from the mire



And caresses

She learns of love from the Father

And begins to heal

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103: 1-5

Catholic Woman's Club marks 100 years

P4WomenClub10-14-10The Catholic Woman’s Club of Kenosha celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 3, with a Mass at St. Elizabeth Church in Kenosha and a dinner at the Best Western Harborside in Kenosha. Among those at the dinner were (seated from left) Fr. Henry Maibusch, the group’s spiritual advisor, Lillian DeFazio, an eight-term past president, and Judy Lichte-Summers, secretary. Standing are Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Peggy Bain, the group’s president, Kenosha mayor Keith Bosman, Arlene O’Connor, vice president and Marilynn Strangberg, the corresponding secretary. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni) 

KENOSHA — The Catholic Woman’s Club of Kenosha recognized its 100th anniversary with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki at St. Elizabeth Parish on Sunday, Oct. 3. The Knights of Columbus Messmer Assembly #1201 assisted at the Mass, followed by a banquet and program at the Best Western Hotel.

It’s a milestone that club president Peggy Bain, 81, is proud to have reached and one that might have surprised its 65 charter members – who established the club after a series of conversations in 1910.
The reason the club started was simple. The women wanted to find a way to spread the knowledge of Catholic catechism to those desiring to learn more about their faith, share that education with others, help the poor through humanitarian projects and make lifelong friends.

A century later, the group’s focus is the same and one that has attracted more than 240 members from Catholic parishes throughout Kenosha.

“We meet around 1 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, from September through May,” said Bain. “This year we have a new home in DeSimone Hall at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish and we welcome all Catholic women ages 21 and up from all of Kenosha County.”

Meetings last two to three hours depending on the activity, such as cards or bingo. Often there will be entertainment or a speaker who will talk to the group on health or other topics of interest.

“We begin our year with Mass, and participate in food drives, knitting projects such as mittens, scarves or hats for the needy,” said Bain. “We also honor all members who have died during the year with a candle lighting ceremony during Lent.”

Interested in joining?

The Catholic Woman's Club is open to all practicing Catholic women ages 21 and up in Kenosha County.

For more information on joining, and meeting times, contact Peggy Bain (262) 657-3665.
As the group’s historian, Vickie Nelson, 71, is working on a 100-year book for the celebration, to chronicle the group’s activities, photographs and charitable efforts. The task is a bit daunting, as early historians moved from the area or inadvertently discarded some of the records and photos dating back to the early years.

“But I am using what I have and going from there,” said Nelson. “The main thing is that we are going to celebrate all that the club means to us – as our group grew, we supported and continue to support charities, missions, knitting projects, scholarships and other humanitarian projects.”

The club does no fundraising and only requires dues of $15 per year, but the outreach is staggering, thanks to gifts from several deceased members who created bequests or charitable trusts to the Catholic Woman’s Club. Among other efforts, these funds have enabled the group to offer two annual $1,000 scholarships to students attending St. Joseph Academy in the name of deceased member, Alvina Skinkle.

“These are offered to one boy and one girl. Those scholarships are really encouraging to me as I sent my kids to parochial school and it’s wonderful to help others do the same,” said Bain. “We also donate to pro-life organizations, Women’s Horizons, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and some money goes to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Our group does a really wonderful job of reaching out and volunteering our time.”

While its primary focus is growing in faith and stewardship, Nelson appreciates the close network of friends she has developed over the years.

View the webinar, "Parishes in Collaboration,"

presented by Sr. Katarina Schuth for parish councils/staff on Thursday, Oct. 28.
“I love the friendships I have made and enjoy the work we do volunteering at Brookside Nursing Home, too – the older people fascinate me and I have learned so much from them,” she said. “We also have speakers at many of our meetings, celebrate Mass together and enjoy each other’s company. My faith has grown so much since becoming involved with these wonderful women.”

Under the spiritual direction of the group’s chaplain Augustinian Fr. Henry Maibusch, , the Catholic Woman’s Club cares for the sick by sending cards and gifts to those in nursing homes or in the hospital, and honors its deceased members by assisting as honor guards at funerals, and with Mass remembrances.

“It is a very touching experience to serve as honor guards,” explained Bain. “We stand while the family processes into the church and stand near the family. We also make sure to have a Mass said for each deceased member of our group. It is important for us to let those suffering know how much we care about them.”

While Bernadette Lasky-Loewen, chairperson of special social events, is a member of several business clubs in the Kenosha area, the Catholic Woman’s Club offers something the others can’t – a chance to connect with other women and openly share her faith.

“I wanted to join something with women,” said the 77-year-old. “I wanted lace tablecloths, nothing conversations, fun and silliness, but most of all spiritual growth. I’ve been involved in my parishes and the Serra Club and they are wonderful, but I like this group because of the theme, ‘Concern and Love for One Another.’ I enjoy the meetings with Masses, caring about our sick members and having Masses for our deceased. It is a group of women from all over the city with a common concern about our Catholic faith and whose friendship I admire and treasure.”