Everyone agreed: It would be better to be at Westmoor eating bacon.

Joe Fricano

But just because they couldn’t gather as usual at Westmoor Country Club in Brookfield didn’t mean that the Catholic Professionals Forum of Metro Milwaukee couldn’t end their 2019-20 season on a high note.

In place of the usual in-person breakfast meeting, the CPF hosted a Zoom meeting on Thursday, May 21, for about 70 participants.

“In these uncertain times, I figured this was a great opportunity for all of us to see one another and to connect with this network. I know everyone is probably missing each other in this group,” said Joe Fricano, a CPF member who coordinated and ran the meeting. “This is a chance for everyone to be together after not being together for two months.”

“This year, as we find ourselves in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need the reassurance of the grace of the Holy Spirit to walk by faith,” said Fr. Dave Reith, spiritual director of the group, in his opening prayer. “By faith, we seek to return to a sense of the normal. It was so easy to take for granted in the past.”

True to the CPF’s mission of connecting Catholics professionally while deepening them in their faith, the virtual meeting featured speakers who engaged in discussion on a wide range of topics that included the Archdiocese’s Catholic Comeback plan, continuing charitable and pro-life ministries amidst the pandemic and the state of local Catholic schools.

Some highlights of the meeting included:

— Lydia LoCoco, director of community relations for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, discussed the Catholic Comeback plan for resuming public Masses and shared updates about the archdiocese’s enhanced online presence. She also elaborated on the charitable ministries of the Catholic community during this public health and economic crisis. “When you’re the Church, it’s not enough to say, great, I have a good website, we’re connecting … we have the obligation and the passion and the mission to touch people physically, through floods, through pandemics, because we’re the face of Jesus Christ and His Hands here on earth.” She highlighted entities carrying out the corporal works of mercy during this time — in particular Catholic Charities, who has been assisting those not eligible for economic relief.

— Dan Miller, director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, gave an update on the situation with the pro-life world via a short video. “There have been 19 babies saved from abortion during this pandemic by sidewalk counselors in front of abortion facilites right here in Wisconsin,” he told the group. He asked for continued prayers that parents choose life in these uncertain times. “There is incredible pressure to abort.”

— Donna Bembenek, representing Catholic Memorial High School, and Brenda White, representing Siena Catholic Schools of Racine, spoke about how Catholic schools are faring during the pandemic. “We have pivoted extraordinarily well and quickly. Our faculty and staff have really stepped up and it’s been a great exciting time,” said Bembenek. “We lead with mission, and our mission hasn’t changed,” said White.

Niles gave Fricano access to the CPF’s database of 650 individuals, and sent out an email to gauge interest in the Zoom meeting. He said the enthusiastic response was overwhelming.

“It was well-received and people we spoke with after really appreciated it. Normally we meet 10 times a year on a monthly basis and we were starting to miss each other,” he said.

Plans are in the works for resuming in-person CPF meetings beginning in August.

And the famous Westmoor County Club bacon? It’ll be there, and just as delicious as usual, said Niles — but pre-plated, not the usual buffet-style. It’s a post-coronavirus world, after all.

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