Getting into the Christmas spirit at Apostolate event Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
apostolate christmas
Kevin Harris, left, from St. Coletta in Jefferson, and his sister, Linda Harris, from Madison, attend the annual Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities Advent/Christmas Party on December 1 at Monroe High School in Monroe. To view or purchase photos, go to www.madison (Catholic Herald photos/Kevin Wondrash)

MONROE -- A big part of the 2018 story of the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities-Diocese of Madison has been rain.

Heavy rains and flooding prevented the annual Day at the Dells from taking place in August of this year, and wet weather caused some concerns over travel to the annual Advent/Christmas Party at Monroe High School.

While snow might have made things look like a winter wonderland, the temperatures stayed warm enough to keep it to just rain that came from the skies, and the party went on, as scheduled, on December 1.

For longtime attendees like Kevin Harris, from St. Coletta in Jefferson, and his sister Linda Harris, who drove him to Monroe, it’s a “great way to get in the Christmas spirit.”

“I like the music and the Mass,” said Linda, adding Kevin likes “the meal and the cookies.”

“It’s just a great venue,” she added. “This is really nice and relaxing.”

Another longtime attendee, Tasha from Janesville, also appreciates the Christmas Spirit.

She reflected on how the late longtime director of the Apostolate, Msgr. Thomas Campion, would talk about, “Jesus being born on Christmas Day” and for her, “Christmas is not about gifts, it’s about people coming together and people enjoying dinner and enjoying company with each other.”

Welcoming guests

As buses and other vehicles arrived at the high school, they were greeted by volunteers, as well as Apostolate Director Msgr. Larry Bakke, Associate Director Deacon Jim Hoegemeier, and Project Manager Kellie O’Brien.

The guests were escorted into the high school gym, where they were entertained by the annual favorite, Hugo, singing holiday songs while playing his guitar.

The festively-decorated gym, transformed into a party hall in just an hour the night before, following a wrestling meet, had its tables adorned with candy canes and Christmas cookies for the guests.

Old friends reunited and new friends were made as the gym began to fill up with more than 600 party-goers.

As the Madison Diocesan Choir walked in, it was the sign that Mass was about to begin, and a sacred part of the day would get underway.

Celebrating faith and the season

The familiar face of Monsignor Bakke, who presides at many of the Apostolate TV Masses on WISC-TV in Madison, greeted everyone at the start of the Mass.

He noted that, despite the joy in the room, “we gather in sadness” noting that it was one week since Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, who was scheduled to celebrate Mass, died, and Monsignor Bakke called it “my humble privilege to preside in his place and to join us all together in prayer.”

During his homily, he used the example of a candy cane as a sign of faith during the holiday season.

From the white hard candy, showing the goodness and purity of Christ and the “rock solid foundation” of God’s promises, to its shape, both a “J” for Jesus and a shepherd’s crook, showing Christ as the Good Shepherd, he called it “a wonderful reminder this is what the season is all about”.

That goodness would be on display during Communion time, when Monsignor Bakke and several priests from the area, went to each guest at their seats, to give them Communion.

Having a great time

Following Mass, volunteers served the guests their lunch, a hot turkey meal.

Hugo returned with his guitar, and once he started playing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the man himself showed up, along with Mrs. Claus, and many guests lined up to get their picture taken with them.

A little dance party started up among the guests, who found an open space on the floor to gather and show off their moves with the music.

As the guests all departed back home, they were given an early Christmas present -- a cross made from genuine olive wood from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, along with some prayer cards.

For more information on the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities, including upcoming events, resources, information on applying for grants, and more, go to or contact the Apostolate at 608-821-3050 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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