Antigo Area Catholic Churches Newsletter — August 2021

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Antigo Area A Letter From Our Pastor

Introducing Our New Parish Newsletter Dear Parishioners, ugust 3 marks my first anniversary as your pastor. I am blessed to celebrate Mass in three beautiful, sturdy, and unique church buildings that witness to the legacy of Rev. Bemowski, Rev. Hubert, and Rev. Binder. We have a waiting list at our vibrant Catholic school. The faith formation program offers great materials and wonderful catechists. Talented musicians enliven our weekend Masses. Even our cemeteries are beautiful and well cared for. It seems like every week I notice yet another gift or blessing. We often fail to notice the blessings that are right in front of us. That is why we are introducing our new parish newsletter. Every month you will read stories that highlight the blessings we have as Catholic Christians and members of God’s family. The upcoming issues will feature people, ministries, and events within our Antigo Area Catholic Churches. As we see Christ at work within us and our community, we will be inspired to more boldly live our own lives as stewards of faith and participants and contributors to a vibrant faith community. Our parishes have been engaged in stewardship for 25 years. You will be familiar, for example, with the Annual Stewardship Renewal that will happen this Fall. The Renewal is our chance to ask ourselves how we prioritize the way we use God’s gifts in the Church. We will make written commitments to ourselves and to God concerning how we will be more devoted with our use of time, talent, and treasure. While the words may be familiar, I encourage you to listen with fresh ears. You will find the focus has shifted away from the gifts you can make to the community and more on the gift that is you. Through stewardship, you will come to know yourself as a beloved child of God, a precious temple of the Holy Spirit, and a uniquely gifted member of the Body of Christ.


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What Does Stewardship Mean?

hat comes to mind when you hear the word “stewardship”? Do you think of it as just another way to talk about money? Do you quickly dismiss it as a notion that has nothing to do with being Catholic? Stewardship is actually a concept that is Scripturally-based and is vital to our life as Catholics. God tells us, in the very first book of the Old Testament, “Be fertile and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and all the living things that move on the earth” (Gen 1:28). What does that mean to us today? It simply means that God is telling us, “This is yours, so take care of it.” One of the first things God tells us to do is to be good stewards of the gifts He has entrusted to us! The Old Testament is not the only place where we can find references to stewardship. Indeed, of the 36 parables in the New Testament, more than half of them deal with time, talent, possessions, or money. Therefore, if Jesus spoke of stewardship that much, it should be a very important part of our lives! As Catholics, we refer to the three facets of stewardship as “time, talent, and treasure.” Although these are three concrete ways to express and measure stewardship, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us that stewardship is part of discipleship. Stewardship is a way of responding to God’s call in every aspect of our lives. The Scriptures and Church traditions teach us one important point that cannot be overstated — that stewardship is primarily based on our need to give

in gratitude, not on the Church’s need to receive. Of course, both the Catholic Church and our particular parish will always need money. However, we are not asked to give simply to defray costs and fund charitable programs. We are instead asked to remember our need to gratefully return a portion of our time, talent, and treasure to God, recognizing all that He has given to us. It is important to remember that stewardship is a way of life, and not a program. True Catholic stewardship involves an ongoing call to live as followers of Christ. It takes time to find and define personal goals. You can begin by examining your commitments to the parish. How do you live your faith in your daily life with your family and friends? How much time do you spend in daily prayer, going to Mass, or being involved in parish ministries and activities? What percentage of your income should you give back to God every week? What talents do you have that could be used to strengthen our parish family? In the coming months, we will be increasing and intensifying our education and communication on stewardship. We will be developing a better understanding of how stewardship is a way of responding to God’s call to discipleship. And with God’s help, changes will occur in each of our hearts as we devote ourselves to a stewardship renewal within our parish. Examine how you are currently responding to God’s call to stewardship. If God called you home tomorrow, would He proclaim, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”?

The Old Testament is not the only place where we can find references to stewardship. Indeed, of the 36 parables in the New Testament, more than half of them deal with time, talent, possessions, or money. Therefore, if Jesus spoke of stewardship that much, it should be a very important part of our lives!


The Ushers Ministry:

Upholding the Pillar of Hospitality for Our Vibrant Faith Community


e’ve learned a lot of new ways to do things during the COVID-19 pandemic, from electronic clinic visits to livestreamed Masses and much more. We’ve also learned that an important part of our faith is celebrating with one another. The Mass is to be experienced in person, alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. So, what could be more important than making sure every single person seated around us knows they are truly welcome in God’s house? Here in our Antigo Area Catholic Churches, we are blessed with a dedicated group of ushers who make sure everyone feels welcome. They are there to open the door, lend a smile or answer a question. Greg Rusch and Florian Baginski have both served as ushers for more than 35 years — Greg serves at St. John’s and Florian serves at Sts. Mary and Hyacinth. While this way of serving isn’t complicated, there’s something special and essential about this ministry. “I just help out where it is needed,” Greg says. “More people should get involved in the parish and volunteer to do things,” Florian says. “We should all do our part.” So, for more than 35 years they have done their part, greeting everyone with a smile and ensuring that people are seated, the collection is taken, and that bulletins are distributed at the end of Mass. Another one of the ushers’ key tasks is finding parishioners to take up the gifts — both Greg and Florian try to find family members of those for whom the Mass is being offered. Greg’s wife, Kathy, also helps after Mass to make sure the missalettes are put back and everything is put away and clean. For those with busy schedules, the Usher Ministry is an ideally simple one — it takes place during Mass, and there are no extra meetings or training sessions to attend. Florian and Greg invite others to get involved and be trained as ushers. After all, having a wider number of available ushers can only strengthen the ministry and, in turn, hospitality in our wider faith community. It’s particularly helpful to have people step forward who are willing to usher if one of the scheduled ushers can’t be there. Any adult can step forward to be trained as a backup, in the event they are needed. And, you never know when you might make a new friend. Being involved in a ministry, like the ushers, can introduce us to new faces. Plus, it’s a way to give back to our Lord who gives so generously to us. “I usually talk to the people about the weather when they come in,” Florian says. “You can always talk about the weather, but you can’t change it!” continued on page 7

Florian Baginski serves at Sts. Mary and Hyacinth.

Here in our Antigo Area Catholic Churches, we are blessed with a dedicated group of ushers who make sure everyone feels welcome. They are there to open the door, lend a smile or answer a question.



This summer youth experienced Totus Tuus, which means “totally yours.”

Totus Tuus offered a week of fun and learning more about the Catholic faith.


he family is the first place children learn the faith. This is why the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church calls the family the “domestic church.” In turn, the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops lays out several ways to build a “domestic church,” like always attending Sunday Mass, praying a Rosary as a family, and inviting priests, deacons and sisters into your home, to name a few. The Antigo Area Catholic Churches seek to also teach children the faith, outside of the home. “We want to help engage parents in catechesis,” says Tracey Minish, who has served as Director of Religious Education for the past seven years. “We want to give them the tools that they need to be the model of faith for their children.” We look forward to the upcoming year as a chance to reformat the way the faith is taught. After the ups and downs of 2020 and 2021, we believe this is a great time to “begin anew.” “I believe — among parishioners and families — there is an authentic hunger to return,” she says. Faith Formation classes are held Wednesday nights with sacramental prep on the weekends. In particular, Tracey hopes we are able to facilitate more participatory lessons, similar to the lessons used for the LifeTeen program — she has taken additional training in Arizona through LifeTeen. Through this format, someone proclaims the lesson, then students break into small groups to discuss. “I believe that if a person’s relationship with Jesus is prominent, then all truths of the Catholic faith make sense,” Tracey says. With the small groups being smaller in number than an average class, more catechists are needed. Tracey asks all adults to consider teaching, and thanks all of the teachers for their commitment to the program. This ministry has a profound impact on both the students and the teachers. Deacon Andy Bures has been teaching Faith Formation for more than 20 years. He started teaching at St. Wenceslaus and moved when the programs all combined, and he has been teaching the juniors for the past few years. He really enjoys being able to have a positive impact on the lives of young people. “The definition of a Catholic is to evangelize,” he says. “This ministry is the best ministry to grow in faith. You have to deepen your faith to pass it on.” He asks everyone to consider a “reorder” of their lives to

Year of Building Relationships with Jesus teach Faith Formation. Jesus has called us to make a commitment to our faith, and this is a great way to do that. Kristin Steffen has been teaching for a total of 10 years and teaches third grade. For her, this is a way to give some of her time back to God, who has been so generous. “What I love about Faith Formation is having the opportunity to help kids realize being Catholic is fun, awesome, and a way of life,” she says. Following all of the challenges of the last school year, we look forward to more normalcy and time to make authentic connections with one another. We also want to take the opportunity to welcome all those who are new or anyone who missed the last school year. All are welcome. At our churches, we want to be doing just what our mission statement says — “As friends and followers of Jesus, we are devoted to fostering households and communities of discipleship through the mission and ministry of the Catholic Church.” “What I would say to someone who is thinking about volunteering is just do it!” Kristin adds. “You don’t have to be a certified teacher or have experience. All it takes is a love of the faith. Taking that leap will be something you will never regret. Helping shape the minds of our youth, being a Catholic role model is humbling and amazing.” This year, Tracey is stepping down as the Director of Religious Education. We thank her for 7 years of dedication to this ministry and wish her well. We look forward to the 2021-22 school year and plan to build on the wonderful foundation Tracey has set for us.

Following all of the challenges of the last school year, our Faith Formation leadership is looking forward to more normalcy and time to make authentic connections with one another.

“The definition of a Catholic is to evangelize. This ministry is the best ministry to grow in faith. You have to deepen your faith to pass in on.” — DEACON ANDY BURES

All are welcome in our Faith Formation program!

If you would like to get involved with Wednesday evening Faith Formation or weekend sacramental preparations, please call or email Stephanie Bures at 715-623-4938 or



hen Cathy Strobel’s husband passed away last year, she was struck with grief, but Our Eucharistic Lord held her hand and bore her sorrows in His Sacred Heart, day by day, and prayer by prayer. “Personally, I love Adoration and I have found it to be very helpful,” says Cathy, who coordinates Adoration at our parish along with Pete Schlegel. “It got me through some very, very rough times, like when my husband was sick. And it is still helping me a great deal today. I know everyone has problems in their lives and crosses to carry, and that is why it helps so much to have Jesus at our side.” Currently, Adoration is offered at Sts. Mary and Hyacinth on Mondays beginning at 4 a.m. until Friday at 10 p.m. All parishioners from all three of our parishes are encouraged to come and pray before Our Lord in Adoration for at least one hour per week. Our parish family is working towards the goal of having Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. “When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked His disciples to wait for just one hour in prayer with Him,” Cathy says. “That is what He is saying to us now. Jesus just wants to love us and for us to love Him in return. He wants to spend time with each of our parishioners and be there for them in the midst of their busy lives. Adoration is the perfect way to enjoy some precious one-on-one time with Jesus. It is so fulfilling to have this quiet time in our lives.”

Many of us may feel intimidated at the thought of coming to Adoration and sitting in total silence with Christ. However, as Cathy emphasizes, there is nothing to be uneasy about. “When I am in Adoration, sometimes I pray, but often I just sit with Jesus and think of nothing in particular,” she says. “It is just good to be with Jesus, and you don’t necessarily have to say anything. Jesus wants you to be there. He wants to help us and be with us. There are so many blessings that flow from Adoration.” Cathy also offers her help to anyone who may want some encouragement in this area, as well. “I would be more than happy to talk to anyone about Adoration or take them to the chapel if they are interested,” she says. “I am concerned that some people may not really understand what Adoration is, and maybe if they did, they would be more interested in going.” Even though St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a very busy religious sister who picked up thousands of dying people off the streets of Calcutta, she always made time for Adoration. In fact, she believed it was the most essential aspect of the Christian life. She once said, “The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth.”

There is a great need for more adorers to spend their “best time on earth” with Christ in Adoration. If you would like further information about this beautiful ministry of prayer, please contact Cathy Strobel at 715-350-9761 or Pete Schlegel at 715-623-2024, or refer to upcoming parish bulletins. 6

Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Starts Sept. 7 at 7:15 p.m. in Hoffman Hall

Do you or someone you know want to learn more about the Catholic Church or become Catholic? Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a chance to ask about all things Catholic and learn the “whys” behind the “whats” of Catholicism. RCIA prepares candidates to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil. It also helps confirmed Catholics become stronger members of the Church. Think of RCIA as Adult Faith Formation.

Classes will be held Tuesday evenings at 7:15 in St. John’s Hoffman Hall beginning Sept. 7. Register by calling Joanna at the St. John office 715-623-2024.

Sept. 7 — Introduction. Where are you on your faith journey? Why be Catholic? What is RCIA? Intro to the Bible. Sept. 14 — Proofs of God’s Existence. Sept. 21 — The Divinity of Christ. Sept. 28 — Scripture and Tradition.

The Ushers Ministry

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St. John’s also has an automated external defibrillator (AED) on-site, which ushers have been trained to use. In the event of a medical emergency, ushers also step in to call 911 or direct medical personnel once they arrive. Both Greg and Florian agree that ushering helps put a friendly face to the parish. “It makes a big difference when someone greets you when you are visiting a different church,” Greg says. “You want to know where to go when you arrive.”

“More people should get involved in the parish and volunteer to do things. We should all do our part.” — FLORIAN BAGINSKI You are invited to help usher and put a friendly face to our parishes! Please call the parish office at 715-623-2024 if you would like to get involved in this wonderful ministry of hospitality.

Greg and Kathy Rusch enjoy being involved at St. John’s.


Saint John the Evangelist 415 6th Ave. Antigo, WI 54409 (715) 623-2024 Saints Mary & Hyacinth 819 3rd Ave. Antigo, WI 54409 (715) 623-4938 Saint Wenceslaus N5340 Church Rd. Deerbrook, WI 54424 (715) 627-2126

Our New Parish Newsletter Our ultimate goal is to help you grow in faith, hope, and love. We want you to find more peace and joy in your life. We believe that stewardship is the path that leads to a fuller life. As we strive to develop stewardship as a way of life in our Antigo Area Catholic Churches, I hope I can count on your involvement. You have a place here, and you play an important role in helping us all live as disciples of Christ. We also value your thoughts and input. In March 2022, we will be conducting a comprehensive parish survey. Your feedback will help me and parish leadership to better understand how the parishes can respond to your needs and those in our community. I know you get a lot of mail. We certainly don’t want

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to add to your recycle bin. If you prefer electronic format, or not to receive the newsletter at all, let the parish office know. I just ask that you take time to read this one newsletter. I promise you will find some nuggets of encouragement and inspiration. And perhaps you will be as excited as I am for next month’s edition. Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Joel Sember Pastor

MASS & CONFESSION TIMES SAINT JOHN: Masses: Monday, 8:15 a.m., Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, 8:15 a.m., Thursday, 8:15 a.m., Saturday, 6 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. Confession: Tuesday, 5:30-6:15 p.m. & Sunday, 8-8:45 a.m. SAINTS MARY & HYACINTH: Masses: Wednesday, 7:15 a.m., Thursday, 7:15 a.m., Friday, 7:15 a.m., Saturday, 4 p.m., Sunday, 7 a.m. Confession: Saturday, 3-3:45 p.m. SAINT WENCESLAUS: Masses: Tuesday, 8 a.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. Confession: Sunday, 10-10:45 a.m.