Antigo Area Catholic Churches Newsletter — November 2021

Page 1

November 2021

Antigo Area Fr. Rommel Rodriguez Dacoco: MEET

Getting to Know Our New Parochial Vicar


fter about three months in Wisconsin so far, Fr. Rommel Rodriguez Dacoco — known as Fr. Dox — loves the beautiful places and all the people he has met. Having made an approximately 24-hour trip via multiple planes, Fr. Dox arrived in the United States on Aug. 1 to serve as Parochial Vicar here at Antigo Area Catholic Churches. He joins us most recently from Immaculate Conception, Quipayo, Calabanga, Camarines Sur, Philippines, where he served for four years. There are 10 other priests in our diocese from the Archdiocese of Caceres in the Philippines. “We are here to be of service to achieve the very core vision and mission of the diocese of bringing the people to discover, follow, worship, After about three months in Wisconsin so far, Fr. Rommel Rodriguez Dacoco — known as Fr. Dox — loves the and share Jesus with others as his disbeautiful places and all the people he has met. ciples,” he says. Fr. Dox was born in 1975 in Talojongon, Tigaon, Camarines Sur, Philippines. He comes from a large family of seven siblings, one half-brother and three halfsisters. His father, Jose Dacoco, passed away but his mother, Emerenciana S. Rodriguez, still lives in the Philippines. Ordained in June 2006, Fr. Dox has been an Associate Pastor at five parishes and a Pastor at two. He describes himself as simple, humble, and friendly. He is grateful to be a priest — it is a blessing to him and a true calling. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and football. He also loves to continued on page 5



Giving to God First

ave you ever wondered why no one really becomes uneasy when someone brings up the first two “Ts” of stewardship – giving of your time or talents – but when the third “T” comes up, many of us become uncomfortable? That third “T” is treasure, and some people simply become so annoyed by the subject, they tune out the words from the pulpit. Why is there seemingly such an adverse reaction? Our finances are such a personal subject. Discussing money issues with others is not easy, and having someone tell us what to do with our finances is even worse. We earn the money, after all. So shouldn’t we decide what to do with it? Of course, the answer is “yes” – we decide every day how to spend our hard-earned dollars. Indeed, the monetary choices we make will either keep our finances in check, or put us into the red. The average American family has about $7,000 in credit card debt – so finances certainly represent a challenge to our current society. Tight budgets, trying to “keep up with the Joneses” or poor finan-

cial management may be to blame for our tight resources. Does this mean we do not have anything left over for God? Stewardship, at its roots, teaches that we are not supposed to give God our “leftovers.” We should instead strive to return to God a portion of our “first fruits” – giving to God first and then using the rest for our other needs. God gave us our talents that help us earn a living, after all. He should come first. This idea can be worrisome for many. If our finances are already strained, how will we ever find enough to give back to God? Or, if we do try to give God our “first fruits,” will there be enough left over to cover our required expenses? Taking the correct financial steps toward good stewardship simply boils down to trust – believing that God, who takes care of all of His creation, will take care of us. Trust that in giving to God first, we are both acknowledging that our multitude of blessings come from Him, and that we are thankful He chose to give them to us. And finally, trust that if we give to Him first, that all else will fall into place – because He is in ultimate control.

Stewardship, at its roots, teaches that we are not supposed to give God our “leftovers.” We should instead strive to return to God a portion of our “first fruits” – giving to God first and then using the rest for our other needs.


A Letter From Our Pastor

Are We Grateful for Our Blessings ? Dear Parish Family,


aise your hand if you love mornings… not me — and especially when the morning begins what I know will be a challenging day. I recently began such a day with my morning prayers and a cup of hot coffee. I noticed that the fear and anxiety of the day were building into frustration and resentment. Happiness research says that gratitude and happiness go hand in hand — if we want to improve our happiness, we have only to take a little time for gratitude. So I opened my journal and wrote down five blessings that I had recently experienced. Almost immediately, my mood improved. I did it each morning and in less than a week, I started to feel like a whole different person. I may have even started to love mornings. Many people make time to be grateful before bedtime — I seem to need gratitude in the morning. Let’s take a couple minutes to reflect on all the ways the month of November can turn our hearts to gratitude. November 1st is a Holy Day for All Saints, who are enjoying the happiness of Heaven and praying for our salvation. November 2nd we pause to remember All the Souls in Purgatory. Our parishes gather together to recall those who passed in the previous year. Though we are saddened by their passing, we are grateful for how their lives blessed us. We can bless them in return by giving them the gift of a plenary indulgence. All we have to do is visit a cemetery and pray for the dead any time between November 1st and the 8 th (under the usual conditions of Confession, Communion, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father). November 11th we honor and thank our Veterans who

served in the United States Armed Forces in one capacity or another. Indicative of the importance of this day, every year at 11 a.m. Eastern, the President of the United States lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Judging by the number of people who tell me they pray best in a tree stand, opening day of deer hunting season must be a sort of day of prayer. What a great time to sit out in nature and marvel at the Creator and his marvelous creation! Then on November 25th, we pause for a national day of Thanksgiving. It is a day that was based in faith from its very beginnings, and it is an indication of how much we have to thank God for in terms of the gifts we have received — our lives, our families, our Church, our Lord and Savior — everything we are and everything we have. With Advent starting on November 28, I want to encourage you to maintain a spirit of gratitude through the busy holiday season. Perhaps you could make time each day to list five things you are grateful for. Behind the gifts is a Giver who loves you and provides for your needs. Let us be grateful not only for all the good gifts but for the Good Giver Himself. Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Joel Sember Pastor 3

Altar Servers:



ltar Servers often do their job so quietly and patiently that they can blend right into the sanctuary during Mass. However, when speaking to altar servers, Pope St. John Paul II said that they have a special calling to be friends to Jesus. Their job might seem simple enough — to assist the priest during Mass — but Nick and Nate Wild, parishioners at St. John, have discovered that serving at the altar has deepened their faith and their relationship with God. Nick, 16, has been serving for seven years. He and his family lead busy lives, but because of his faith, he knew it was important to serve the Church in some way. “God has the power for everything,” Nick says, “So we have to respect that and worship Him.” Nick found that by serving, he got to know the priests better.


He has enjoyed talking with them and learning more about the Church and his faith, and even found that he is open to discerning the priesthood. Nick’s younger brother, Nate, is 11 and has been altar serving for four years. Initially, he thought that he would like to serve alongside his brother. “I thought maybe I could be like him and serve,” Nate says. “I thought it was cool to be up there and maybe we could serve together.” Nate was nervous as well as excited the first time he altar served, but his brother was there to help him and he got used to it quickly. “It’s kind of fun and it feels like if you help out it goes faster,” Nate says. “You get to do stuff instead of just going along — you

WING IN UNDERSTANDING OF THE MASS get to help out.” Nate has liked that he has a chance to talk with the priest and feels like he has gotten to know him. One of Nick’s favorite things about being an altar server is being able to help with special Masses. He has served at Easter Mass, at funerals, at healing Masses, and even at Mass with the bishop. “It’s fun and serious at the same time,” Nick says. Both of the brothers have found that altar serving gives them a different perspective of the Mass. They see things in a way that just isn’t possible when you are sitting out in the congregation. This new perspective brings their faith to life and engages them in the liturgy. They both like that they can be useful while participating at Mass.

The Antigo Area Catholic Churches welcome adults and students in fourth grade and up to altar serve. Servers are needed at weekend Masses, Holy Days of Obligation, and funeral liturgies. Some training is required. If you are interested in being an altar server, please contact Fr. Joel at

Meet Fr. Rommel Rodriguez Dacoco sing and prepare simple Filipino dishes. Fr. Dox also looks forward to learning more about our culture and lifestyle. “It is indeed a great privilege and honor for me to be part of this mission and I’m looking forward to learning more about your culture, lifestyle, and expression of faith moving forward,” Fr. Dox says. As the winter season approaches, Fr. Dox is anxious to

continued from front cover

experience it. The Philippines has summer and the rainy season — not the four seasons with which we are blessed. He is also excited to minister to all parishioners and Antigo area community members. “I am willing to be used as Jesus’ instrument to bring His message to the people,” Fr. Dox says. “It is a calling and a great privilege to serve the church and His people.”

“It is indeed a great privilege and honor for me to be part of this mission and I’m looking forward to learning more about your culture, lifestyle and expression of faith moving forward.” — FR. ROMMEL RODRIGUEZ DACOCO (FR. DOX), PAROCHIAL VICAR 5

The Sign of the Cross:

A Powerful Prayer Tradition in the Catholic Church


ince we say and make the Sign of the Cross so often, it may easily become a rote, perhaps even thoughtless, action. However, it is important to remember that the Sign of the Cross is much more than a simple gesture. Even in its most basic form, the Sign of the Cross — accompanied by the spoken or unspoken words “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” — is a prayer, a creed stating our belief in the Holy Trinity, the dual nature of Jesus Christ, and the dependence of our salvation on His crucifixion and resurrection. In addition, making the Sign of the Cross is an indication of a willingness to take up our own cross and suffering for the sake of Christ. The prayer is considered one of the greatest weapons against Satan and all demons, and an added strength against the temptations of the flesh. In the Roman Catholic Church today, the Sign of the Cross is typically made with either three fingers or an open hand touching first the forehead, then the chest, followed by the left shoulder and then the right (in the Eastern Church, the right shoulder is touched before the left). The concept of making a sign, or “setting a seal,” upon the forehead of those who place their faith in the Lord appears in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible — see Ezek. 9:4 and Rev. 7:3, 9:4, and 14:1. Early versions of the Sign of the Cross were traced on just the forehead, using the thumb and forefinger held together in the shape of a tiny cross. We still see this version of the blessing performed during Baptisms (with the cross traced on the infant’s forehead) and on Ash Wednesday (with the cross traced in ashes on the foreheads of the faithful). Similarly, when the Gospel is read during the Liturgy of the Word, the priest or deacon leads the congregation in forming this small cross on the forehead, mouth, and chest, indicating a willingness to keep the Word of the Lord in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts. There is no doubt that our early Church fathers were strong believers in the sanctifying power of the Sign of the Cross. A second-century ecclesiastical scholar, Tertullian, and a third century saint, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, both wrote about the necessity of performing the Sign of the Cross at one’s waking and one’s lying down, at entering and leaving


a room, at mealtimes, and more. St. Augustine also referenced the importance of marking the cross on the faithful’s forehead during the administration of the sacraments. It is likely that the sign transformed from the tiny cross on the forehead to the larger, full-body cross used today sometime in the fifth century, when heretics began questioning both the dual nature of Jesus Christ — fully human and fully divine — and the unity of the Holy Trinity. Believers in these crucial Church doctrines began forming the cross with three extended fingers (representing the Trinity), keeping the ring finger and little finger pressed down into the palm (representing Christ’s dual nature), and tracing a cross on their entire upper body so there could be no mistaking the gesture. Today, the Sign of the Cross still figures predominantly in our prayer life as Roman Catholics. We commonly perform it upon entering a church; at the beginning and end of the Catholic Mass, a Benediction, or the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament; when opening and closing our personal prayers; at mealtimes; and when passing by a Catholic Church (in recognition of Christ, present in the tabernacle). As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, the frequent, intentional use of the Sign of the Cross can help the faithful dedicate each day to the glory of God and provide strength in the face of trial and temptation (2157).

The Prayer Line Ministry:

Faithfully Offering Intentions for Healing


hen Shirley Harder or Midge Tatro receive a request for a prayer intention, they immediately put the St. John Prayer Line into action with 30 parishioners answering the call. “We call it ‘the Prayer Line’ at St. John,” Shirley says. “Since Fr. Charlie started it in January 2010, he didn’t like the term ‘chain.’ He said it was more like a prayer line, talking to God.” Both women entered into the Prayer Line Ministry after being involved in other ministries. “I belonged to a different group and when we got together we were always praying for each other when we asked about intentions,” Midge says. “When Shirley and I got together, we knew other denominations have prayer chains. We talked about it and approached Fr. Charlie and asked him if we could start it at St. John. We started it 11 years ago, and we’ve been going pretty steadily.” New members have been added to the prayer lines, thanks to the Stewardship Renewal commitment cards turned in each year. Shirley and Midge coordinate two prayer lines, with each having 15 members, including themselves. When either one receives a request for prayer, one calls the other to begin contacting the members in her line. The women set up the two prayer lines for the sake of time. Having one person call all 30 members in succession would take too long to put all the prayers into action quickly. “We try to get as many as we can,” Shirley says.

Allie Brehm and Mary Anne Crawford manage the prayer line for Ss. Mary & Hyacinth and St. Wenceslaus. It started spontaneously when one person asked a few friends to pray for an intention. Eventually, they organized themselves into a chain and created a little booklet with the names and phone numbers of all the members. Mary Anne still has all those booklets; she estimates over 150 people have been part of the ministry at one time or another. Many of them have since passed away, leaving about nine members at this time. The requests for intentions vary, but most are for surgeries — particularly for cancer — medical test outcomes, or any kind of stressful situation. Midge and Shirley also ask those calling how much detail they would like to have included as their intentions are passed along. “We have people who call who aren’t Catholic, and they ask if they can request prayers,” Midge says. “We accept all who call.” “We are truly talking to God,” Shirley says. “If I call Midge and we get both lines going, everyone says whatever prayer they want. There is no exact prayer. It’s just prayer and asking God to help that person. We tell our members as soon as you get a request to immediately pray,” Shirley says. “What we’re doing is thinking about prayer as we’re sending out the request, and we’re already starting to pray, just not directly. When we call the members, they are asked to write down the request.” continued on back cover

“When a person asks me for a prayer, I write a note down. We get the prayer request out to all and I’m then personally talking to the Lord. At the time I say, ‘this person needs healing,’ and I’m just talking to the Lord — ‘Please send Your healing angels.’” — MIDGE TATRO


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

The Prayer Line Ministry “When a person asks me for a prayer, I write a note down,” Midge says. “We get the prayer request out to all and I’m then personally talking to the Lord. At the time I say, ‘this person needs healing,’ and I’m just talking to the Lord — ‘Please send Your healing angels.’” “It’s totally confidential,” says Mary Anne. “If someone comes up and says, ‘Did you hear about so-and-so’s situation?’, I don’t tell them anything. Whatever is told to us, you know it’s in God’s hands, and nobody else’s.” She herself has been facing health issues these past three months but it has only made her pray all the more. “As soon as I

continued from page 7

get up in the morning, I always run in, wash my face, brush my teeth, and then I say the Rosary. In the afternoon I have about two hours of prayer and I love to sit and just talk to God.” The prayer ministers say they have heard from parishioners who have come back and told them, “Your prayers were answered.” One case, in particular, involved a parishioner facing a cancer diagnosis. Prayers were offered for the parishioner facing surgery, and as there were subsequent tests. “The person’s tests have all been great,” Shirley says. “This parishioner is doing good.”

Prayer requests may be sent either to Mary Anne Crawford at 715-623-5179, or Allie Brehm at 715-623-4818. St. John prayer requests go to Shirley Harder at 715-623-5633, or Midge Tatro at 715-627-7668.

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.