Apostolate hosts annual Advent/Christmas Party in Monroe Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
apostolate bakke
Attendees at the annual Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities Advent/Christmas Party bring up the gifts during Mass to Apostolate Director Msgr. Larry Bakke and Associate Director Deacon Jim Hoegemeier. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MONROE -- It’s a scene familiar in many Decembers. A Christmas tree, Christmas music, Christmas cookies, old friends getting reacquainted, new friendships forged, and even a visit from Santa.

Throw in a Mass, lunch, and gifts to that mix and you’ve got the sights and sounds of the annual Advent/Christmas Party presented by the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities-Diocese of Madison.

This year’s event took place at Monroe High School in Monroe on December 7.

More than 500 people attended.

Gathering together

As cars and buses pulled in near the school, guests were greeted by Apostolate volunteers and members of Monroe Fire and EMS, who also gave of their time to the event.

After the guests checked in and got their name tags, they went into the Monroe High School gym to begin the celebration.

There, they enjoyed Christmas cookies, and were entertained by the music of Hugo, playing Christmas songs and other popular standards.

Mary Cragg from Cuba City has been coming to the event for several years.

“I like everything,” she said. The “good friendship, good food, and nice Mass.”

Helen Kelly from Madison came to the event for the first time.

She attended with her aunt, Anita Bronson from Madison, who came for many years with her late husband.

“I think this is a great thing,” Kelly said, and called the event “very organized”.

She said it’s a good thing for the Apostolate to put on because “people need a little joy in their life.”

As the start of the Mass was drawing nearer, Hugo surrendered the stage to the Madison Diocesan Choir, under the direction of Dr. Patrick Gorman.

The choir provided music for the Mass, and was accompanied by musicians from Monroe High School.

Celebrating the season

At the start of the Mass, Msgr. Larry Bakke, director of the Apostolate, welcomed everyone to the “marvelous celebration”.

He also mentioned that Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison “sends his great love and his greetings” even though he could not be there, as he was en route to Rome for his ad limina visit with Pope Francis.

During his homily, Monsignor Bakke remarked to everyone that “you look so marvelous . . . you are the very faces that I see when I’m looking through television cameras at WISC studio.”

Monsignor Bakke is the main celebrant of the Apostolate’s TV Mass, seen every Sunday on WISC-TV in Madison.

Monsignor Bakke said that the Advent and Christmas seasons of celebration connect everyone with “the great gift giver who is our God”.

He stressed the importance of “making sure every single person, every single one of us, throughout the diocese and beyond, knows that they are highly gifted and important and welcomed.”

He also emphasized the importance of gratitude.

“The happiest people I know are people who live a real sense of gratitude each and every day,” he said.

“We thank God for all of the ways that God has come and will come and continues to come into our lives through the Church, through each other.”

As the Mass continued, guests brought up the gifts during the Offertory.

Along with the bread and wine, was a prayer chain, made up of hundreds of intentions submitted by guests and volunteers.

Later, during Mass, the spirit of service would be on display as priests from the Diocese of Madison went out into the seating area to distribute Communion to those who wanted to receive.

Nurses were on hand to help with water, continuing their readiness to help during the entire event.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Monsignor Bakke thanked everyone who helped, especially those from Monroe High School who swiftly changed a gymnasium into a room for gathering, and would later change it back into a gymnasium again for school use.

“Our grateful hearts are extending to all,” he said.

A joyful time

Following the Mass, volunteers shifted into another gear, and prepared to hand out a turkey lunch for 500.

For some, it was time to eat, relax, and visit with those around them.

For others, it was time to sing and dance as Hugo returned, guitar in hand, to continue the Christmas music and fill the air with festive holiday tones.

Some brave souls made their way to the front area and turned it into their own dance floor, showing off their moves to the music.

Once Hugo played the familiar “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” that meant it was time for jolly old St. Nick to make his appearance, along with Mrs. Claus at his side.

Hundreds of arms and cameras made their way to the man in red as many guests wanted their picture taken with Santa.

As the festivities came to a close, the guests departed, but not before receiving a gift from the Apostolate -- a pen and an LED candle with the Apostolate logo and Bishop Hying’s motto of “Love Never Fails”.

About the Apostolate

The Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities-Diocese of Madison works to promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the life of the Church.

Every baptized person, regardless of their abilities, has received a special vocation to holiness, and the Apostolate strives to promote their participation in local parishes and diocesan events.

Along with the Advent/ Christmas Party, the Apostolate holds another large event in August -- the annual Day at the Dells at the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in Wisconsin Dells.

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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