Brother Sun greeted me at the dawn of this day with a startlingly orange blaze and glow. Having verified that nothing was on fire, I drifted back to sleep, grateful for the chance to rest a bit before a busy day of celebration.
The festivities commenced at 11 am with brunch and much conversation over the weighty question of weather: would the late morning rain, wind, and chill abate soon enough for our 3:00 Mass to take place outdoors, as planned?
At 1:00, under a wind-scudded sky still heavy with gray and with the scent of rain, we gathered with representatives from the Marathon Area Business Association for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the front doors of the House. With the help of an amusingly large pair of scissors, I and Brothers Tony Scannell, Isadore Herriges, Gus Seubert, John Gau, and Tom Zelinski cut the ribbon to great applause. Once the ribbon had been cut and the scissors safely stowed, Fr. Tom Zelinski offered the most fitting of prayers: the 1927 classic, Bless This House. More than a few tears were shed, several of them mine.
But the mood shifted from sentimental to a bit silly when I invited all those gathered (including our friends from the Marathon Area Business Association) to step inside the chapel and take turns ringing the bell for a total of 100 times. Much merriment was made until the bell flipped over on ring #83 and hung silent in the belfry in spite of our efforts. The Capuchins present assured us that this was not the first time such a mishap had occurred! Thanks to the diligence of two volunteers, Clayton Gore and Patrick Clancy, who fear neither heights; the attic; nor large, heavy bells, the bell was soon righted and the ringing could resume. We brought the peals to a halt on ring #94, just before the blessing of our elevator construction project.
The reader may (or may not) be surprised to learn that The Book of Blessings does not contain a blessing specific to elevators! Nevertheless, Fr. Bob Streveler, our Senior Priest in Residence, did a fine job of improvising a blessing that fit the occasion perfectly.
Between the conclusion of the blessing and the commencement of the Mass, we rounded out the ringing of the chapel bell: Br. Steve Kropp, Vice Provincial of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, sounded rings #95 and 96; Fr. Tom Zelinski, one of the last Capuchins to minister at St. Anthony’s, sounded rings #97, 98, and 99; and the three of us together rang in the century, so to speak.
As the 100 years pealed sonorously to life, so dawned the brightening of the weather, permitting us to celebrate Mass outdoors, as planned. Fr. Bob gave a fitting homily, admonishing us to set the earth on fire, as Jesus had come to do: on fire with love, compassion, and a thirst for justice. It’s the kind of fire – the bright, dancing light – that St. Anthony’s has brought to Marathon for 100 years.
Forth we went joyfully from this celebration, charged with the task of keeping that bright, dancing light burning brightly into the next hundred years.
But first, we rest on this cool night.