was the land – rich, fertile land. The land was warmed by the sun and refreshed by the waters of the Rib River, the rains of summer and the snow of winter. The land teemed with a variety of trees, flowers and other plant life that invited deer, birds, rabbits, fish and other animals who found food and shelter upon it and within it. It was holy ground.
Then the first inhabitants came, native peoples who also found a place of shelter, safety, and nourishment. They may have hunted here, lived here, and fished the waters of the river here. For them, it too was holy ground.
Their presence gave way to European immigrants who used the rich soil for farmland. The crops they raised fed their families and livestock. Their presence built a lasting community now known as Marathon, Wisconsin. It was holy ground.
The community gave of themselves to welcome the Capuchins to this land. The Capuchins and the community worked together to clear a space of trees and used the wood for building. They hauled stones formed of the earth for the foundation of a place that came to be called St. Anthony’s. It was holy ground.
For many years, St. Anthony’s welcomed young men, immersed them in the beauty of the land and the bounty of creation, nurtured their love and respect for all creation, and formed them for ministry. Their footprints mark this land and their fingerprints are on this place. For them, this was holy ground.
The Capuchins also welcomed others to come to this holy ground. Even during the early years of their presence here, they welcomed men, and later welcomed women as well, embracing all who came seeking a deeper connection with the Creator and His creation. For those men and women, this was holy ground.
Now this holy ground has new stewards who strive to remember and honor all that has come before. It provides our foundation. It nourishes and strengthens us as we move forward in this new chapter. It teaches us to trust in the providence of a gracious God who gifted all who came before and continues to gift us today.