Archive for the ‘Funeral Homilies’ Category

From Earthly to Divine — Funeral Homily for John Boehm, 85

March 27, 2023

By Fr. Victor Feltes

John’s family has told me about his many loves. How he has loved Sharon, to whom he was married for twenty-two years until her passing in 1981. How he has loved Maria, his wife these last twenty-six years. And how he has loved his family as a good Christian father who “always told you he loved ya.”

He loved any kind of music and any opportunity to sing. He commonly sang at funerals, and his fellow parishioners in church liked to sit near him to help make themselves sound better. He used to work all week and then proudly lead “Johnny’s Family Affair” every weekend. Then, each Sunday morning he would shepherd his family to St. Jude’s for Mass, followed by Sunday fun with the kids. John loved being a mechanic through six decades; taking things apart and putting them back together right. He also loved his motorcycles and (like his natural children) he would name them; including Grey Dog, Happy, Jolly, King, Silver Hawk, and others.

When he turned eighty, his family gifted him a bike. Since John’s balance had become rather poor, they bought him a three-wheeler. He loved riding it as much as he could, being outside enjoying the weather, touring around New Auburn and the surrounding countryside. Even a week before his death, he was talking about his desire to go riding again. He hoped to experience that familiar good anew and more deeply.

Now these various examples of John’s loves reflect the ambiguity of that word. “Love” is an equivocal term — not meaning the same exact thing every time it is used. John, of course, did not love music or his motorcycles in the same way that he loves his family or loves our God, and yet he loves them all. Similarly, the words we use to speak of God are true and yet remain mysterious.

The Holy Trinity gives us images and terms to reveal what the divine Persons are like; such as Father, Lord, King, Son, Shepherd, Lamb, Rock, Light, Judge, Advocate, Creator, and Savior. God’s inspired word identifies him as truly and perfectly Good, Loving, Holy, Just, and Merciful. At the same time, divine Fatherhood transcends earthly fatherhood, and God’s goodness far surpasses in quantity and quality, our human understanding and experiences of goodness.

These images and terms are analogies, likening the earthly to the divine. And in every instance, where some similarity is noted between God and his creatures there remains an even greater dissimilarity. We know something of goodness, but God is truly good and even better than we know.

Created things, the people and good things we know and love, all do reflect something of the divine. Our Triune God reveals himself to us as our Father, as the Church’s Spouse, and as our Brother in Christ, who will always tell us that he loves us. God is a mechanic, too; repairing things and putting them back together right. God delights in his children, and invites his family to join in his eternal song. And he leads us to worship, to fellowship, and to rest with him, calling each of us by name.

As St. John writes, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. Beloved, we are God’s children now…” So even though there is sadness in life’s partings, we approach John’s death and our own deaths one day with consolation and hopeful expectation. For all created things, the people and things we know and love, reflect something true and good of our Creator and Savior. And if we cooperate with our Lord in grace and love and goodness, on the day of Resurrection, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

Jesus says “Come to Me” — Funeral Homily for Clarence “Clancy” Mikl, 66

March 25, 2023

By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

On behalf of St. Paul’s and St. John the Baptist Parishes, I would like to extend our sympathy to the members of Clarence’s family. We will continue to remember him in our thoughts, prayers, and masses in the coming future. Whenever we gather as a community of faith to celebrate the Eucharist, whether it is a simple liturgy during the week or a more solemn celebration on Sunday, one thing we always do is to remember in a very special way, our faithfully departed and their families.

Clarence and Janice were married on December 3, 1977, and they had five children and ten wonderful grandchildren. He came from a large family and is also survived by his brothers and sisters. Clarence was a friend to everyone he met. He retired in 2019 after twenty years of working at Spectrum Industries in Chippewa Falls. He enjoyed hunting and fishing year around. He established “Da Famous Mikl Deer Camp” near New Auburn. He built himself a bunkhouse which he enjoyed in his retirement. He shared his love for the outdoors with his grandchildren, including hunting, camping, and showing them how maple syrup is harvested and made. He was a true American patriot, and a Packers, Brewers, and Badgers fan.

He was a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Bloomer and the Knights of Columbus, and for many years was a Boy Scout leader. He was a handyman and taught his kids to fix their own cars and trucks, and to do other things as well. He loved being helpful, and was always willing to lend a hand in whatever was needed.

In the Gospel today, Jesus offers words of comfort. Anyone who is tired, disappointed or depressed can be lifted up by the comforting promise that Jesus will give you rest. We all have problems in life. These problems can be big or small, and make us sad and tired.

Whenever we lose a person who is dear to us, we are overcome with emotion. We are sad and confused. Here is the Good News. To all those who are alone and in need of someone to talk to, those who have no one, those who feel lost and lonely, Jesus can help. He says, come to me. Jesus is always there to help us, we are never alone.

While we are truly saddened over the passing from this life of Clarence, our faith reassures us that the sadness we are now experiencing will be transformed into joy because Clarence, like Jesus, has died, but he has died into Resurrection. Even now as we continue to celebrate his funeral liturgy, he is enjoying the fullness of God’s presence and will continue to enjoy that fullness forever.

In Jesus, we find total comfort.

She gratefully said “Yes” — Funeral Homily for Janet Sikora, 83

March 10, 2023

By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

On behalf of St. Paul’s Parish and myself, I would like to extend our sincere sympathy to Janet’s family, her sons and daughters, her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her siblings. She was born September 16th, 1939, in Cooks Valley. She was the daughter of John and Alvina Zwiefelhofer. She married Alfred Sikora on October 29th, 1960.

In her younger years, she worked at the Bloomer Canning Factory and later at the Renegade Truck Stop as a cashier. While working at the truck stop, she got to know most of the police officers in the area. She was like a mother to a lot of people. Christmas was her favorite holiday and she enjoyed watching the Hallmark Channel on TV. She loved to play cards whenever she had a chance. Janet really enjoyed Dave’s Bloody Marys. She had a love for life, if it was cooking, traveling, or family. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were very special to her.

Janet was a long-time member of St. Paul’s and was active in the PCCW. She loved to pray the Rosary and, in later years, watch Mass on TV. While she was living at Dove Healthcare, she was very faithful in attending Mass. Last week, she was dozing at Communion time, I approached her and quietly asked if she would like to receive Communion, and she gratefully said “yes.”

Our readings today remind us that God will wipe away all of our tears. Christ died for us and destroyed death so that we can be with Him in eternity. For if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Each of us shall give an accounting of himself to God. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day. The responsorial psalm reminds us that the Lord is our Shepherd. He will take care of all our needs. If we truly believe this, God will answer all our prayers.

Every good gift and every perfect gift from above, comes down from the Father. So, when you think of the good times and the good things about Janet, know that these came from God. Every good in our lives is a gift from God.

Jesus Christ became man and came to heal the brokenhearted. One day, God will wipe away all sickness, evil, and pain. Life can be difficult, but if we trust in the Lord, everything will be ok. God loves us.

Let us remember that this earthly life is temporary and that all of us have been created to live in eternity with God. Let us remember, that God has a plan. We don’t have to know what His plan is, but it will be perfect. We trust Him, He is faithful, He is good, and He Loves us.

Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Every Human Person is Special — Funeral Homily for Lynda Sykora, 58

March 6, 2023

By Chinnappan Pelavendran

On behalf of St. John the Baptist parish and I, I want to extend our sympathy to the family, her husband Roger, and children Rachel, Alex, and Hannah. Also, I extend our sympathy to the friends of Lynda. She will be missed by many for a very long time. We are pleased that she no longer has to suffer. I had the privilege of Anointing Lynda before she died. When I asked how she was, she said she was well. She was very calm and eager to receive Jesus. She was at peace.

Lynda grew up in Alabama and moved to Cooks Valley in 1994. She and Roger have been members of St. John the Baptist Catholic church since they were married in 1995. Lynda worked on the farm, was a great cook, and enjoyed gardening, flowers, and canning. She was also a 9-1-1 dispatcher for a while. She enjoyed spending time with her family. Attending her kids’ sporting events was a happy time for her.

Our readings this morning give us great consolation. In our first reading, we were told the Lord will wipe away tears from every cheek. We know that everything we do makes sense only if it is leading us to peace in God. We know there are many distractions and temptations in life, all pretending to offer us peace and happiness, but none of them do because we know that we will find this peace and happiness only in God. When we find our peace in God, we become friends of God, when we live with God’s love in our hearts, then we have peace. That is why our first reading said the Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek. When we hope in the Lord for salvation, how blessed we are.

There is a truth that is good for us to reflect on at the time of death. The truth is that:

Every human person is special.
Everyone is unique.
Nobody ever takes anybody else’s place.

It is very clear in the gospel reading that being blessed does not always mean being materially blessed. The beatitudes which Jesus offers us are a sign of contradiction to the world’s understanding of happiness and joy. How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution?

Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression. God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world.

We are gathered here today to remember Lynda and pray for her. Let us also pray for Roger and their children during this difficult time. Let us also pray that we also will find peace in God.

May her Soul Rest in Peace.

Death & Resurrection — Funeral Homily for Judith “Judi” Schindler, 71

February 5, 2023

By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

The parish of St. Paul’s and I wish to extend our sincere sympathy to the family of Judith. It is always difficult to lose someone that we dearly love.

Believing in Jesus’ resurrection is the core of Christian belief. It is the basis of our Christian faith. There would not be Gospels without the resurrection. There would be no Christianity, Church, the Priesthood, or sacraments without the resurrection. There would be no hope without the resurrection.

We would not have the resurrection without the death of Jesus Christ. We don’t have flowers, fruits, or trees unless the seed is sown. The seed has to die in order to start a new plant. Therefore, St. Paul preached not only the resurrection but also the crucifixion of Christ.

St. Paul reminds us that death is not the end, it is only the beginning. Life is not over, it is only changed. In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus told us that He is preparing a place for us in heaven. Death is a doorway to a new life with God. Jesus accepted death and has given us the rewards of eternal life.

Our first reading today talks about the souls of the virtuous. That reading calms any fears about death for those who trust in God. What better place could we go after death than into the hands of God? What a beautiful way to describe God’s care for us. Do you remember when you were little and your parents held you in their arms? When we die, God will take us in His arms. We believe that God has taken Judith into His arms.

In today’s Gospel, we talked about the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Jesus came to earth to free us from our sins and grant us everlasting life with him in paradise. It is difficult to know how Jesus must have suffered during his passion and crucifixion. Even today, God brings good from the sufferings that people endure.

Judith and her husband, Norman were married on June 27th, 1970 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in New Auburn. They were inseparable. she was an independent woman. She was a Eucharistic minister and a CCD teacher and a lot of other things. She worked as the food director for the Chetek schools for 34 years. She and Norman raised two sons, Cory and Jeff. They enjoyed spending time with their family. She was close to her sister Suzanne. She will be missed by many.

We thank God for Judith. We are grateful that she was catholic. Let us place her in the hands of our Blessed Mother. She understands our pain and suffering. May our God grant Judith eternal rest in His heavenly kingdom. May Her Soul Rest in Peace, Amen.

“Jesus Loves Me” — Funeral Homily for Mabel Klingbeil, 93

January 23, 2023

By Fr. Victor Feltes

Great love is powerfully expressed through great trials. When Mabel was only eleven years old, she experienced a shocking personal loss. Her ten-year-old sister Betty passed away from an appendicitis. And for the rest of Mabel’s life it seems she wanted to help make sure others were safe and well. Mabel would live to be the last-surviving member of the family of her birth. She served as a caregiver to her parents and her adult siblings as they passed on before her.

She was married in this church to her husband George in 1958. They gave life to four sons together, including two, John and Tim, who passed away in infancy. After fourteen years of marriage, Mabel became a widow at age forty-three. She raised her two boys, Michael and George, on her own; doing her best to fill the role of two parents, for instance, taking them out to go fishing. Then, after her retirement, Mabel began raising children anew at age seventy-two. She cared for her grandkids, Katie and Sarah, concerned for both their bodies and souls, for instance often saying, “Remember to pray and brush your teeth!” How did Mabel say she liked raising children? “I had a ball.”

Kindly but firm, Mabel was not swayed by the increasingly straying views of popular culture. She has been a well-known St. Paul’s parishioner for many years volunteering at our school and singing in our church choir. She would take the girls with her up to the balcony for funerals. The other choir members and widowed school teachers were often recipients of Mabel’s care.

I remember Mabel telling me in her room at Dove nursing home, that she had been a teacher for a total of thirty-three years (seven years elsewhere and then twenty-six years here in Bloomer). She loved teaching her students and said she would still like to teach—if she were not ninety-three years old. I saw her Tuesday afternoons when I brought her our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and she always received him with devotion.

Because of circumstances of her upbringing, Mabel had a hard time accepting God’s amazing love for us. She once remarked, “When I [was growing] up, I never knew that God loved me.” At times, she wondered, “How could Christ die just for me?” Yet Jesus Christ has powerfully revealed his great love for us, especially through his trials.

Why else would God become man in Jesus Christ if not from great concern that we would be safe and well? Jesus comes to us as a teacher in a visible life on earth thought to have numbered thirty-three years. Kindly but firm, he possesses and imparts truth in an errant world. He formed young disciples in his charge; sometimes he even took them fishing. He comes as our Good Shepherd, laying down his life for his sheep, desiring none of us to be lost.

Jesus worshiped at his Father’s house and offered himself in sacrifice on the Cross. Now he calls us to worship in his Church and receive the great gift of himself offered in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus, now risen, is the first-surviving member of his family. Raised from the dead, he lives forever to help us through this life into the next. He is the faithful, loving caregiver of his spouse and his brothers and sisters; that is, of his Church as a whole and each of us individually.

So you see, Jesus Christ forms faithful Christians to be more and more like himself, and shepherds them to be with him in paradise. “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?” Despite all these things, we can conquer overwhelmingly through him who loves us. Mabel, in her final recent trial, found comfort in this truth, as she often sang that sweet children’s song: “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” Let us be faithful to Christ, so that together with Mabel we may “behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!

The Communion of Saints — Funeral Homily for Sylvester Berres, 91

December 31, 2022

By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

On behalf of the parish of St. Paul’s, I would like to extend our sympathy to the friends of Sylvester. He will be remembered in our thoughts, prayers, and Masses. Whenever we gather together, as a community of faith to celebrate the Eucharist, we always remember our faithfully departed.

Sylvester’s friends will remember him as a prayerful, quiet, and gentleman. He was faithful to the daily Masses when he was able. He came frequently because he wanted to receive the Lord in the Eucharist and knew that he was not alone and that Jesus was with him. Sylvester invited me through Mr. Mark Bischel to his nursing home to hear his confession two weeks ago. He probably knew that it would be his last confession. I feel that he made a very good confession and now he is in Heaven with God.

In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we are told that “the souls of the just are in the hands of God. They are in peace because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.” The Lord is Sylvester’s shepherd and no more will he walk in the valley of darkness, because he walks with the Lord.

In today’s second reading, “No one lives for himself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord.” Sylvester lived his life for the Lord, died in the Lord, and now lives with the Lord.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus spoke about a grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and produces much fruit, it has served its purpose. When a believer is faithful to God, God remains close to them. Sylvester was a good example, he was alone and must have been lonely sometimes but because he was close to God, he was comforted by God.  Because he was alone, Sylvester is a good example for us to follow when we are feeling alone or depressed.

When we die, life is changed not ended. We remember people when they die and pray for them. We can also ask them to pray for us. This keeps us close to them and we will think of them frequently. The people of the Church are in three areas: the Saints in Heaven, the souls in Purgatory, and those of us still living here on earth. We believe that all are united around Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection.

In the Apostles’ Creed, we profess our faith: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” The living and the dead are united by praying for each other. This is the communion of saints that we profess we believe in during the Apostles’ Creed. I believe in the communion of saints. Believing in the communion of saints, believing that life is changed not ended, we pray for Sylvester.

Something New Under the Sun — Funeral Homily for Marvin Weber, 94

December 30, 2022

By Fr. Victor Feltes

Ancient people thought about time differently than us. They did not picture time to be like a flying arrow, moving forward toward some end and purpose. They imagined time to be like a flat circle, going round and round. They saw history, in its broad strokes, repeating itself. The same four seasons, cycling over and over. Every empire eventually being replaced by another. This attitude is reflected in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, whose author wrote:

“What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun! Even the thing of which we say, ‘See, this is new!’ has already existed in the ages that preceded us.”

That author adds:

“There is no remembrance of past generations; nor will future generations be remembered by those who come after them.”

Indeed, very few people’s names are remembered by this world after just a handful of generations. To keep track of time in the ancient world, the custom was to refer to the years of the ruler’s reign (such as “the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar”). Yet those earthly rulers came and went, as history spun round and round with no apparent purpose.

But then, unexpectedly, something truly new happened under the sun. It is an event that we always celebrate during the present time of year. At the center of history, God entered history, becoming a human being like us. “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.” We now number all the years of time as before or after the Christmas birth of Christ our King (“B.C.” or “A.D.”). Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” His life reveals that our lives, this world, and all human history are not merely random accidents but exist with purpose in God’s plan. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”

We are gathered here for Marvin’s funeral at a meaningful time. He passed away two weeks ago, before the celebration of Christmas. Today, we offer his funeral Mass during the week between Christmas Day and a new year. His peaceful passing comes, in a sense, both before and after Christmas. Year after year, Marvin already knew and looked forward to the joy of Christ’s coming. He had already experienced great joy in Jesus but had not yet experienced its fullness in the time to come. The life of Jesus Christ causes us to see a Christian’s death through eyes which are different than the world’s. For a Christian, dying, “this momentary light affliction, is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” So Marvin’s passing is more than just a sad parting; it is a cause for joy in us as well.

Marvin married Betty inside this church 65 years ago. She told me many stories about her husband’s life, and there is no way I could retell them as thoroughly or as well as she. But I would like to highlight three anecdotes: First, Betty told me about Marvin’s dad who, when Marvin was about seven years old abandoned his family. Thirty years later, he appeared at his son’s doorstep and said, “I’m here.” He offered no apology, he gave no explanation, and Marvin was not happy about that, but Marvin valued forgiveness and forgave him. Marvin said he wanted his children to have a grandfather; he wanted them to know his father. Second, Betty tells me regarding Marvin, “If he found two pieces of wood he would make something.” Marvin has loved woodworking. He delights to repair or remake things into something greater. And third, at an age of 94, Marvin died relatively young. Because of the longevity of many of his ancestors who lived to be more than 100, Marvin died at a younger age than he had expected. For this reason, according to Betty he often put projects off for later saying, “I’ve got time.”

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Where I am going you know the way. … I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Christians’ lives throughout the centuries will reflect the One whom they have followed. For instance, despite our past unfaithfulness, our abandonment of God, Jesus forgave us, because he desired that we would come to know his Father. Christ took two pieces of wood for his Cross and used them to repair us and make us into something greater. And though our Lord died relatively young, with the resurrection he’s got time—everlasting life—to share with us forever.

The world will not remember us a few generations from now, but though the world may forget us, Jesus never will. Christ our King has come; entered time, our world, and our humanity to save us. So on this day of Marvin’s funeral, we are consoled by Jesus’ words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. … Behold, I make all things new.”

“They Rest in You” — Funeral Homily for Dr. John Eberle, 97

December 11, 2022

By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

On behalf of the parish of St. Paul’s, I would like to extend our sympathy to the members of Dr. John’s family. He will be remembered in our thoughts, prayers, and Masses. Whenever we gather together as a community of faith to celebrate the Eucharist, we always remember our faithfully departed and their families.

Dr. John reached the age of 97 and was still able to live in his own home. He was married to Frances for almost 72 years. His son, John, and two daughters Marcia and Michele survive him. He also has five grandchildren and one great–grandchild. During his life, Dr. John was self–employed for many years as an optometrist. He enjoyed many hobbies, such as working in his yard, golfing, flying his own airplane, and tinkering with old cars.

As we heard from the book of the Prophet Daniel we are reminded that many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, but the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like stars forever. St. Paul reminded us, through death we shall be united with him in the Resurrection; our old self was crucified with him so that our sinful body might be done away with. The Gospel of St. Matthew tells us about the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells us that good people will be blessed, such as those who mourn will be comforted, those who are merciful will be shown mercy and those who are clean of heart will see God. We believe that Dr. John is one of the good people.

When someone dies, we experience many emotions. Sadness is one of those. We are going to miss Dr. John. As Catholics, we know that we will see him again. His life has changed not ended. Near the end of Jesus’s life on earth, He spoke to his disciples these very comforting words; “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me also. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places…” Our houses here are only temporary. Heaven is our permanent home. Death reminds us that there is no final resting place in this world. Even the grave is temporary. We live in the hope that when our earthly journey is done, we will be at home with God forever. Only God can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. St. Augustine’s understanding of this truth led him to write, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

While we are truly saddened over the passing from this life of Dr. John, our faith reassures us that the sadness we are experiencing, will be transformed into joy because Dr. John, like Jesus, has died, but he died in the Resurrection. Even now as we continue to celebrate his funeral liturgy, he is enjoying the fullness of God’s presence and will continue forever.

“My Portion is the Lord” — Funeral Homily for Audrey Schillinger, 87

December 5, 2022

By Fr. Victor Feltes

When her husband, Marvin, passed away in 2013, Audrey became a widow. In these recent years, she has endured breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other bodily ailments. We all walk through dark valleys in this life. Who strengthened Audrey to endure all of this with unconquered joy? She was not alone through her trials. She had her dear friends, siblings, sons, and granddaughters, but most importantly of all, Audrey had the Lord Jesus. With him, as we heard from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, “although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Her Lord, the Good Shepherd, was near. The 23rd Psalm says of him: “You spread the table before me… and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” For many years, Audrey faithfully approached the Lord, at his table in this, his house. She came here to St. Paul’s Church for Mass every Sunday until the arrival of the pandemic. Thereafter, concern for her vulnerable health kept her at home but she continued to watch the Mass on TV. Yet the Lord Jesus still came to her and she eagerly welcomed him to her home.

Rod Ramlow (the lector for today’s funeral) and his wife Betsy have lived next door to Audrey since 2016. In the final seasons of her life, each Sunday morning, Rod brought Jesus Christ to Audrey in the Holy Eucharist. Rod tells me that when he would arrive at her door, he would have barely rung the doorbell when Audrey would quickly answer. He says it was as if she were practically waiting at the door. Like we heard from the Book of Lamentations: “My portion is the Lord… Good is the Lord to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him.

As an aside, are you or someone you know homebound or greatly hindered from coming to Mass? Please contact the parish office so we can organize Holy Communion to be regularly taken to you or them. Others have simply neglected to come back to church without good reason, or else they have never known that Jesus is really here in the Holy Eucharist. Whatever the case, the Lord awaits to encounter them.

Who does Jesus tell us is blessed, or blest? We just heard from St. Matthew’s Gospel the Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Someone who knows the poverty in their spirit or soul, will seek out and rely on the Lord’s fullness and strength. Jesus says, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, will hunger and thirst for the Righteous One. Jesus says, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Someone whose heart is clean or pure — uncluttered by lesser things — will intensely desire God. Audrey sought out and relied upon Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. She hungered and thirsted for him, saw him and received him, the one who drew her to himself. So today, as we pray for her soul, we have well-founded hope that the desire of Audrey’s heart will be satisfied by entering the Kingdom of Heaven to be with her Lord.

The Kingdom in his Garage — Funeral Homily for John Schwartz, 81

December 2, 2022

By Fr. Victor Feltes

Many stories could be shared about John; as a friend or neighbor, as a father to six children, or as a husband to Vernetta, whom he married sixty-one years ago today. He did interesting work for both multinational businesses and local organizations throughout the years. And even after his final job concluded, his kids tell me “he never retired.” I wish to tell you today about one of the ways John kept himself busy.

Whenever he drove a load to the Bloomer Recycling Center he might return home with more stuff than he had left with. In what others had rejected as trash, John saw value. He often said, “Everything is fixable.” John took his found-treasures back to a four-car garage in the backyard of his home. His kids tell me, “When he wasn’t working, he was there…” working.

The interior of John’s garage featured cupboard cabinets; each one painted to match and labeled to indicate the tools, parts, or materials stocked inside. John’s garage was a warm place—in both senses of the word. Throughout the colder months, John used his wood stove to keep the inside temperatures around 75 or 80 degrees. And once hotter weather came, John would open up his garage doors, sit in the doorway with a toothpick between his teeth, drinking coffee and waiting for people to stop-by to visit.

He was happy to share his time and talents with them, generous in sharing his tools or efforts whenever asked. His children tell me John loved that garage, saying, “His garage is his kingdom.” All good things in this world reflect the goodness of our Creator and our Redeemer. The beautiful realities we see are icons of invisible realities. And so, John’s garage is a partial glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

Because of humanity’s sins and corruption, we were rightly condemned. But we were not to be rejected, left to be abandoned, forever. God continued to value us. He saw treasure in our trash. And Jesus came down to redeem us, intending to take us home. Christ is always working, and everything is fixable, because “all things are possible for God.”

Jesus prepares a special place for each of us. Enthroned in heaven, he opens the doors to receive us. His Father’s house is a very warm place—in both senses of the word. We must be prepared to stand in the intense fire of God’s all-holy presence and infinite love for us. Thankfully, Christ is generous in sharing with us his tools and helping graces, so that we may become perfect (truly “good enough”) through faith in him. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, about whom countless stories could be told, John and you and I can all be together in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Re-Presenting His Mysteries — Funeral Homily for Sara Caron, 59

November 19, 2022

By Fr. Victor Feltes

When Sara was first diagnosed with breast cancer, her two boys (Mick and Jake) were just twelve and seven years old. She thought of how hard it could be for them to have to grow up as children without her. She did not know how much time she had left, but one of her goals was to be around for them, to raise them throughout their high school years. Today, thirteen years later, her sons are twenty and twenty-five years old. She successfully brought them both to adulthood.

Her family tells me Sara has worked at fifteen different places over the course of her career, and even with cancer, she never stopped working. They say she went “above and beyond” at work and would never take time-off for herself, but she would take days away from work to care for her family; for instance, keeping vigil with Mick in the hospital. Sara also kept on working for another reason: to preserve her continued health insurance coverage. You can imagine how much out-of-pocket cancer treatments would have cost. Sara did not wish to burden her beloved husband, John, and their household with terrible medical debts.

To echo the words of St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, only with difficulty does a person give their life for others, though a good person might have the courage to lay down their life for those they love. St. Paul speaks of how “God proves his love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” When we witness someone, despite their flaws, give their life not just once but year after year for those they love, it is that much easier to believe that our perfect, holy, loving Lord has lived, and died, and risen for us.

Recall Christ’s words from the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.” Our Lord, to whom Sara prayed every day, dwells within his faithful Christians, re-presenting his mysteries in their lives. “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.”

Jesus prays in St. John’s Gospel, “Father, those whom you gave me are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me.” Christ’s longing within us makes the psalmist’s words resonate with us: “There is one thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate his temple.

Christ who has called us, who dwells in us, who re-presents his mysteries in our lives, who inspires eternal longings within us, desires us to be with him forever where “he will wipe every tear from [our] eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order [will have] passed away.” This is our cause for our firm and happy hope, for Sara and for every Christian.

A Trimmer of Trees — Funeral Homily for Gordon “Gordy” Weyers, 90

October 27, 2022

By Fr. Victor Feltes

For several decades, Gordy has loved trimming trees. Of course, there is much more to the man as a Catholic, a husband, a father, and a friend, but this is one of his curious quirks. Whenever Gordy saw outside his house a tree branch which was not right, he was highly-motivated to intervene. He would pull out his ladder and tree-cutting tool to go take care of that errant branch. Dot (that is, Dorothy) his wife of sixty-seven years would tell him, “Don’t climb the ladder,” but he would do it anyway.

Gordy began saying he wanted a new ladder but his kids kept trying to talk him out of this desire, hoping he would stop climbing at his age entirely. Yet by all accounts, his old ladder was very rickety, so eventually Dot said, “Get him a new ladder, because he’ll fall off the old one.” Dot would periodically look out the window to check on Gordy tree trimming on his ladder. Years later, she told him, “Good thing you never fell off!” He replied, “Oh, I fell off a few times, I just didn’t tell you.”

But here’s the thing: after Gordy’s trimming—however daring or reckless it may have been—his trees looked really good. Dot reports that “he never did anything that made them look bad.” Those trees became more perfect, more healthy and strong, more handsome and beautiful, by having been cared for and pruned by Gordy.

We often recall “the Lord is my shepherd,” but we less often reflect on how our God is a gardener. In the beginning, God created a perfect garden. And when St. Mary Magdalene first encountered Christ resurrected on Easter Sunday she thought he was the gardener. Jesus teaches, “I am the vine, you are the branches… and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” And the Letter to the Galatians tells us that the fruits which the Holy Spirit grows in us include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are like trees which God prunes to make us more perfect.

Now I imagine if gold were alive and aware it may not feel eager be purified in a furnace’s fire, and the pruning process might not be a lot fun for a tree. But the Book of Wisdom tells us, ‘as gold in the furnace, God proves us… before taking us to himself.’ And though parts of our trees (of ourselves) must die and some of our unsightly branches must be trimmed away, the Lord makes our souls more perfect, more healthy and strong, more handsome and beautiful, through his care and pruning.

Like Gordy with his trees, Jesus saw us outside of his Father’s house. He saw our branches were not right. And he was highly-motivated to intervene. Call it daring or reckless, but our Lord put his life on the line. Christ went up the tree of the Cross to trim our flaws and perfect us. And after death felled him, Jesus rose again.

He declares, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” To enter into heaven, we must be perfected in Christ’s love. So if any imperfections still remain in Gordy’s soul, we ask Jesus today to prune them away. And we welcome our Lord to continue trimming any errant branches within our souls as well.

Death is not the End — Funeral Homily for Robert “Bob” Sarauer, 84

October 16, 2022

By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

Robert “Bob” P. Sarauer’s death is not the end. We can still be united with him. We are gathered here around the table of Eucharist, around Jesus, and Bob too is gathered around the Lord. He is now closer to the Lord, enjoying a closer union with the Lord which we also hope to share in the future.

We have heard in the first reading the souls of the just are in the hands of God. What better place could we go after death than into the hands of God? What a beautiful way to describe God’s care for us. Do you remember when you were small and your parents took you up in their arms? You were in the arms of your parents. When we die, God takes us up in his hands. We are in the hands of God. We believe that God has taken Bob up into his hands.

The readings end beautifully, expressing the faith of someone who believes in God’s goodness and who therefore is not afraid to die.

They who trust in him will understand the truth,
those who are faithful will live with him in love.
For grace and mercy await those he has chosen.
(Wisdom 3:9)

Those who trust in him will understand the truth. Those who are faithful will live with him in love. When we die, we go to God’s love.

Robert “Bob” P. Sarauer, 84, passed away on Monday, October 10th, 2022, at his home surrounded by his loving wife Marlene, and family members. He was born September 2nd, 1938, in the Town of Cooks Valley and graduated from Bloomer High School in 1956. On September 8th, 1959, he married Marlene Bowe at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Tilden.

Bob was a kind and gentle man who was loved by all, he loved spending time with family and friends. He always thanked everyone and had a big smile that everyone will remember. Bob enjoyed playing cards and getting together with his former classmates. He loved to travel whenever he could, especially the Alaska trip and all his hunting trips, and was a lover of the Packers football team.

Bob was a farmer all his life and liked milking cows, raising pigs, and cutting wood. In the year 2000, he sold the farm to his son and continued helping with farm work until his health slowed him down. He was survived by his loving wife Marlene for sixty-three years, had three children, four grandchildren, six step-grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and ten step-great-grandchildren.

So we ask God to take Bob up in his arms, to pour his love, grace, and mercy upon him.

Suffering & Joy — Funeral Homily for Rodger Falkenberg, 75

October 11, 2022

By Fr. Victor Feltes

Rodger has experienced years of suffering and years of joy. After being born into a large, poor family and serving in the Vietnam War, he returned home and joyfully joined a new household. Facing life’s struggles, what a man could do is be bitter and glum, but Rodger loved making people laugh; sometimes with his Donald Duck voice or an intentional stumble. Even after enduring four, painful back surgeries, he still would roll down a hill to amuse his nieces and nephews.

Rodger knew that just because something is broken doesn’t mean that it’s without value. At what he dubbed his “Polish Shopping Center” (or what others call the city dump) Rodger would take things which others had despised. He would tinker with them as necessary, restoring them and prizing them as treasures to keep for himself or to share with others.

One thing I learned about Rodger and his beloved Donna is that they share a great, personal love for ice cream. Giving up ice cream for Lent was a great personal sacrifice in their house because they could eat an entire pail of it for a meal. In recent years, with his memory declining, they would often go to a particular restaurant. When the friendly staff would ask him, “Is it your birthday?” He would sincerely reply, “I think so,” and be treated to ice cream.

September 2nd of this year marked the 50th anniversary of Rodger and Donna’s wedding day here at St. Paul’s Church, and the family celebrated this occasion simply and sweetly together. Their daughters were getting Dad and Mom an ice cream cake and the employee was making a mess of squeezing-out the inscription on top, but Kelly or Lisa said, ‘It’s fine, really, just put sprinkles on it.‘ The party was a happy, intimate family gathering at home. And despite what had seemed to go wrong the cake still tasted very delicious in the end.

In today’s psalm the psalmist speaks of his suffering, praying for deliverance: “Relieve the troubles of my heart and bring me out of my distress. Put an end to my affliction and my suffering and take away all my sins. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.” It’s not wrong to pray for relief, like Jesus himself did in the Garden of Gethsemane, but in Christ we see that our sufferings play a role in our glory. Jesus says, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. …Whoever serves me must follow me… [to the Cross].

When Jesus suffered and died, “people saw and did not understand,” but in light of his resurrection Christians know death is not the end of the world. As St. Paul says, “We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. [So] we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. …We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”

For the faithful and righteous the sufferings this world sees as worthless are taken up by Jesus to rework our souls. Our Lord will claim us from this junk yard, he will fully restore us and prize us as treasures for himself and to share with others. The messed-up cake of this world will be salvaged. Once God’s family is gathered together again, we will simply and sweetly agree that everything turned-out fine in the end. Can this day of Rodger’s funeral be his birthday to new life? I think so. In heaven, our Lord “will wipe every tear from their eyes,” and convert the sufferings of his people to joy. “Behold,” he says, “I make all things new.”