Peter Strupp, cross bearer, leads members of St. Lawrence Parish, St. Lawrence, in the eucharistic procession during its annual feast day celebration on Aug. 9. Some of the banners carried by participants date to the 1800s. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

“What I really enjoy is the people working together as team,” Fr. Dominic told your Catholic Herald through an email.

“In short, it is a grand family celebration where relatives and neighbors are invited,” he added. While this may be true for the outcome of the feast day, there is much work that goes into it.

Nancy Pfeifer, a parish council member for three years, said the project takes nearly five
months to plan.

“I would say by March or April then the feast day committee is getting together already, getting plans organized as far as getting tents, food and everything lined up,” Pfeifer explained. “Fr. Joseph (Dominic) always takes care of inviting a main celebrant.”

Former Archbishop of Milwaukee Timothy M. Dolan, Bishop Richard J. Sklba and Bishop William P. Callahan have been celebrants for the parish feast day Mass and procession.

“We started out with a Mass, and the main celebrant (this year) was Fr. Patrick Heppe,” Pfeifer said. Eucharistic procession and Benediction were part of the main event, followed by a social hour on parish grounds.

“Over the years (the parish) has done picnics, they’ve had dinners,” said Pfeifer. “But the last five years we’ve just revived the tradition of the church and celebrated the feast day with a Mass and a eucharistic procession and Benediction.” Fr. Dominic was the one to suggest
the procession and Benediction, according to Pfeifer.

The eucharistic procession winds through the parish grounds after the Mass, and is led by Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, first Communion and confirmation classes, as well as several parish groups such as the Christian Women’s League. Each assembly carries a banner and some from as late as the 1800s, according to Pfeifer. The United States, Wisconsin and papal flags are also displayed.

David Wenninger, a member of the St. Lawrence Parish feast day committee, agreed that a big part of the success of the feast day is the planning that goes into it months in advance.

“We didn’t want to get it too complicated,” he said about the event. “We wanted to make it an outing for the parishioners, for everybody to get involved in. It’s kind of neat when Fr. Joseph Dominic came to our parish. He talked about having these things, and I’ve been a member of (St. Lawrence) parish all my life and I always remember how the nuns would tell us Aug. 10 was St. Lawrence’s feast day.

“Fr. Joe (Dominic) decided to make it something special, though,” he added.

The reasoning behind the celebration is simple, according to Wenninger.

“I guess what we feel is that we’ve got a strong tradition, being 163 years old, and we want to build on that tradition and look toward the future and get people involved.” One way they manage to bring parishioners in is by asking them to contribute their “green thumb” talents.

“The first year we purchased flower pots and had all the parishioners grow flowers, and now every year prior to the feast day celebration, the whole procession route is filled with flowers that parishioners brought.” This year parishioners donated more than 130 flowering plants for the event, according to Fr. Dominic.

Archbishop Dolan’s presence at the event was especially notable, he said, adding that worshippers were amused by an incident during the opening procession.

“I know one thing that people always get a kick out of and Archbishop (Timothy M.) Dolan did when he was processing. There is a farm just south of the church and as Archbishop Dolan was walking out, cows kept pace with him,” he laughed.

“We get a lot of people that come to the church and come to the celebration, just saying that this is what they look for, the feeling of being wanted and getting involved, and a friendly church. I think that’s what we’re really trying to do here,” he added.