“…as John was completing his course, he would say: ‘Who do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me: I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’” (Acts 13: 25) (Gather# 1149)
“Behold.” The word calls us to be open and lift our gaze to something wonderful we have not yet seen. “Behold… what is coming.” The secular historians of the day describe John the Baptist’s following as one of the largest social movements of the age. Yet when his ministry was coming to an end he said to his followers: “Behold! Lift your eyes to one who is coming.” As so often happens, the Church calendar provides us with the perfect Feast to encourage and strengthen us given the needs and challenges of our day. Celebrating the Birth of John The Baptist encourages us to be open and lift our gaze to the wonderful things ahead. Or, better said, to the one from whom all wonderful things come.
Though not the “largest social movement of our day,” there has been significant “movement” here at St. Anne’s these past 18 years. If anything it has taught us to always keep our eyes open and lifted to the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. We have learned to always “behold.”
After 30 plus years of Polka Fests, our St. Anne’s annual extravaganza just keeps getting better. Reflecting its continued evolution we are this year changing the name to “St. Anne’s Fest” reflecting the movement from all Polka music to a variety of music that appeals to families and people of all ages. One sign that we are moving in the right direction is the ease with which we have gained a new co-chair. We welcome this weekend John Lang to the overall leadership team. He will understudy JoAnn Krahn, Randy Kaiser and Delores Clancey this year and then help lead us into the future of St. Anne’s Fests in years to come. Thank you to all who have come forward to help provide our community a place to recreate — a place to relax and become open again to a new life ahead.
With all of the other excitement we could easily miss another sign of a promising future. At Mass next weekend the St. Anne’s family will bless the youth heading out on their mission trip to serve our brothers and sisters in Michigan. The very rough economy has left pockets of poverty in our neighboring state not unlike that found on reservations or long associated with Appalachia. Six months ago a nervous Youth Minister John Schmitt came to the Finance Council asking for financial backing for the trip. Raising $22,000 in a few months seemed and overwhelming task. John and our youth received a round of applause at our last Finance Council meeting for raising all of those funds and then some. John would be the first, of course, to extend those expressions of gratitude to all in the parish who so generously supported this effort. In the past, youth who have gone on Mission Trips have come home changed into leaders. So “Behold!”
This letter was written over a week ago so I don’t have current numbers, but our talks and letters informing people of our unfinished work with the Annual Diocesan Appeal were getting a strong response. In particular we thank a “senior” couple in our parish who contributed $10,000. Because all contributions over our target come back to the parish assessment free, I make one last appeal to all who have not yet contributed to do so.
Well, Fr. Burkhardt and Fr. Hennes, I hand over to you the Church of St. Anne; a community that truly “lives the Gospel with love and courage.” I confidently say, you have no idea what you are getting into! So “Behold!” Open your heart and lift your gaze into the infinite possibilities that lay ahead of you. Dream big, capture the hopes of this faith community, and you will release gifts and abilities able to accomplish more than you can ask or imagine!
Thank you to all who had a hand in last weekend’s incredible…. unbelievable…. touching…. inspiring…. fun and filling farewell party. At one point the church erupted into a (secretly planned) flash mob dance! Deb Zakrzewski, Barb Laurent, Jill Warsaw and team — thank you for one of the grandest celebrations we have ever had. And to you, dear people of St. Anne’s, I give thanks for the best years of my life. I love you with a heart you opened to life and to love. I urge you now, as I seek to do myself, to… Behold!