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The Circle of Faith History

The Catholic faith has had a long and rich history in our area.  Over the years many changes have occurred, but belief in the Lord has endured and flourished.  One relatively recent change has been the linking of our local parishes so that we can better utilize our limited pastoral resources.

The concept of a parish linkage has actually been in use in our area for many years, even if it wasn’t officially referred to as a linkage.  Holy Trinity New Denmark was, and still is, a mission church of All Saints Parish in Denmark.  Also St. Mary’s, Stark was a mission church of St. Mary’s Glenmore until they merged in 1998.  Those relationships allowed the smaller parishes to remain open even though they did not have a priest specifically assigned to their parish.

The first linkage in our area was formed in July of 2000, when St. James Cooperstown, All Saints Denmark, and Holy Trinity, New Denmark formed a linkage based on direction from the Green Bay Diocese.  This change was prompted by the retirement of Msgr. Bob Gulig, pastor at All Saints.  Fr. Ron Colombo, who had come to St. James in 1993, was assigned to be pastor of the three churches.  A committee of members from the parishes was formed to work out the details of how the linkage would handle the change and a great variety of issues. 

At that time, it was decided to discontinue regular Sunday masses at Holy Trinity.  Yet Holy Trinity remains open as a parish, and has services twice a month on weekdays, as well as Masses on holidays and special occasions, and remains an active member of the linkage.

Tragedy hit in December of 2004 at St Joseph's Parish where Sister Marlene Greatens, Parish Director for the parish since 1993 and Sister Joleen VanDyke, Music Minister since 2000, passed away in a fire at their living quarters at the parish. At that time, Fr. Colombo was appointed Temporary Parish Administrator. In Nov of 2005 Fr. Colombo was assigned by the Diocese as Permanent Pastor at St Joseph's and St Joseph's joined the linkage. Msgr. Robert Gulig had been appointed their Sacramental Minister in 2000 and passed away in Nov 2005. Fr Rallen Stencil was appointed to be his successor and he served as Sacramental Minister until May of 2009 when he was severely injured in a car accident.

2009 saw the addition of St. Mary’s Glenmore/Stark to the linkage when Fr. Lee Kahrs retired as their pastor in September of that year.  Fr. Colombo was appointed as pastor and administrator for all five parishes.  Fr. Dave Koch was appointed as sacramental minister to assist with the demands of saying Mass at the various locations.  Fr. Ron and Fr. Dave strive to do all they can to meet the sacramental needs of all the parishes.  At that time, the decision was made to refer to the linkage as the Circle of Faith Catholic Community.

Each time the linkage changed, members were selected from each parish to work out details of the new community.  The addition of St Mary’s in 2009 brought a new, permanent committee created to help manage the operations among the parishes.  The Circle of Faith Inter-Parish Council consists of two members of each parish.  One of the first tasks they embarked upon was to realign the Mass schedule to accommodate all five parishes. 

We have been blessed over the years with wonderful servants of the Lord to continue our mission.  In addition to the priests mentioned earlier, Deacon Cal Naidl has been assigned to the linkage off and on, since 2000.  He has provided sacramental support as well as expanding the RCIA program to all parishes in the linkage.  Sr. Gerri Krautkramer was hired in 2007 as a Pastoral Associate and has taken over leadership of the RCIA program and provides support and assistance to Fr. Ron in many areas.  In 2009 the linkage made the decision to develop a Youth Ministry program and hired a part time Youth Minister.  In July of that year Judy Brown was hired to fill that role.  Ann Mleziva was hired in September 2010 as her replacement when Judy decided to pursue a fulltime position elsewhere. 

Cooperation and sharing among the parishes has grown over the years.   In 2006 the Pastoral and Financial councils started meeting as a group as well as individually on a single night to reduce the number of meetings our pastor must attend.  The meeting sites rotate among parishes and give members a chance to interact each month.  In 2007 the first annual linkage-wide summer picnic was held and 2008 saw the debut of the linkage newsletter which is sent to members of all parishes on a quarterly basis.   The separate parish bulletins were combined in 2009 allowing parishioners to see the news and events of all our linked parishes, regardless of which weekend service they attend.

No one can predict the future.  However the future of the Circle of Faith Catholic Community remains bright as we learn to work together to foster our faith and continue the good work of the Lord in our parishes, and in the community as a whole.

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