My wife and I have been members of St. Mary's Parish for 30 years. We joined when we retired and though we are a little closer to Armstrong Creek than Florence, we joined here because there was more for parishioners to do here at St. Mary's. Initially, I was a reader, a distributor and a choir member. Some time ago, our parish director informed me I could only do one thing on the altar so I chose the choir. The rule re doing only one thing has since been abandoned. In our earlier years as members, Kay and I were also involved with St. Vincent de Paul and I was happy to see it evolve from an annual rummage sale to what it is now with a full fledged store.
We are now snowbirds and we joined a parish in Florida that was initially a mission church and presently is the second largest parish in the diocese. I also was a reader, distributor and active in the parish food pantry and was finance chair of the weekly parish bingo.
I might recall one instance when my elderly father reached a point where he could not live alone and some of my family members (brothers and sisters) were thinking of a nursing home. My wife and I happened to hear a Gospel at this time that indicated, "take care of your father". That was it - we took my dad in and Kay quit her job and took care of my dad for two years before he died.
At the time, we were living more than 100 miles from DePere where my father's funeral would be held because he spent his lifetime working at St. Norbert College, my alma mater. Before the funeral, in talking with my brothers, I asked if they, like me, had the tiniest doubt that there really was a God. I said maybe a 3% doubt. My brothers told me, "NO - I'm crazy". For my Dad’s funeral, I picked out four songs. At the funeral, a fine choir sang all four songs and added one more, "Just a Closer Walk with Thee". The following Sunday at our home parish, over 100 miles from De Pere, we attended a late Mass that typically had no choir. Because a group at church just returned from a retreat, they sang at the Mass we attended - all five songs of my father's funeral were sung in the same order as at his funeral. With tears in my eyes, I thanked them after Mass and said I didn't think any of them attended his funeral. Their response was they didn't know of my father's death. This was to me a minor miracle and I lost the 3% doubt.
I'm slowing down a bit, but my heart is still with St. Mary's in Florence especially since our current pastor, Fr. Timothy, has arrived at our parish and is bringing us all closer to God. —Norbert Zelten
I enjoy going to church because it's fun to see people you know, including friends. I also like Father Timothy's stories to help explain the readings in a fun way. I'm thankful for God and Jesus and the great deeds and miracles they performed themselves or through other people. I want to be a disciple like the Saints and apostles by following Jesus in his footsteps.
—Evan Parker, Grade 4
I like to go to church because I want to learn
about God and being a disciple of Jesus. I think
of Jesus as a friend I can always talk to.
—Emmett Parker, Grade 3