Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom reflects on the recent 175th celebration of her home parish, St. Edward the Confessor, Mackville, Wisconsin. Christ continues to build up the church in this rural area through the sacraments and the goodness of the people of God who call this place home.
Sister Catherine Gilles and Sister Anne Marie Lom, daughters of the parish, joined the parishioners of St. Edward, Mackville, on Sunday, October 15, 2023 to celebrate the 175th year since the first Mass was celebrated in the Town of Center, Outagamie County, Wisconsin. Bishop of the Duluth Diocese, Dan Felton, son of the parish, presided. Listen to the liturgy here. In his homily, Bishop Felton recalled that an anniversary of this type is calculated not by the building of a Church or a date of incorporation but is calculated from the time of the first Mass. At Mackville, that first Mass was held in a family home. Joining Bishop Dan was Father John Hephner, priest of the Diocese of Green Bay, who is a descendant of that first family and Father Robert Chinnapan, present pastor. and Deacon Jeff Hofacker also officiated at the Mass.
Bishop Dan wove, with song and story, the history of the parish through the years. He remarked that during this year of Eucharistic Revival in the United States Catholic Church, we were celebrating what united us from the beginning, the Eucharist. Bishop honored people in the present and asked us to embrace our future. In conclusion, we were all asked to turn to face the cemetery toward the back of the Church. We were celebrating with all those who had gone before us! As if on cue, though not rehearsed, the two ushers, flung open the back doors and our beautiful cemetery came into full view. Sunlight poured in toward the pews and this heavenly moment gave us all pause to rejoice in an experience of the Communion of Saints. Totally unpracticed and unanticipated, these ushers were listening carefully and followed a prompting of the Holy Spirit to make visible the concept Bishop Felton was manifesting. Some of us had tears remembering our parents, siblings, and friends who were resting in that cemetery!
Following the Mass there was a potluck dinner in the school social hall. One can only imagine the delicious salads, breads, and desserts that complimented the broasted chicken provided by a near by supper club. There was plenty of time for reminiscing, visiting, and expressing gratitude for a beautiful experience of Parish Life.
Sister Annette Kurey and Sister Mary Ann Spanjers, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and daughters of the parish, were with us “in the Spirit” as we celebrated.