Even though many of you won’t read this until after Thanksgiving, we don’t feel it necessary to limit our gratitude to one day a year. In fact, each week the Chronicle ends with the words, “Deo Gratias!” For those of you who did not study Latin in school, that means “Thanks be to God!” So you see, here at St. Anthony’s we have so much to be grateful for we can’t limit to a single day. Keeping the spirit of Thanksgiving alive, here are some of the many things we are so grateful for:
Kim is eternally grateful for our volunteers. She said, “I could not do my job if I didn’t have the ladies who come and help with the weekend preparations. I have learned so much from them. They don’t just help with food, they share life lessons and close friendships. I feel like I am a part of their families.” Jackie H. is grateful for the fresh sour dough bread made by some of our volunteers. In fact, we all appreciate all of our Ministry Associates, our army of supporters who freely share their gifts of time, talent, treasure and prayer with us all year long, year in and year out. We say it often, but we can’t say it often enough – we cannot do what we do without all of them. We are blessed by their gifts and are so grateful for each and every one of them.
Sr. Barb and Adele both expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to help bring people to St. Anthony’s. Sr. Barb said, “I am thankful for the opportunity to help people find time for a private retreat, to help them grow in their relationship with God.” Adele added, “I am so thankful to ‘work’ here and be able to walk the same ‘paint faded’ square on the first floor as so many before me. It gives me a sense of being part of St. Anthony’s past as well as part of its future while being mindful and grateful for the present!”
We are so grateful for those who come and stay with us. Sr. Barb is thankful for the variety of people she has met and gotten to know by listening to them. Likewise, Kim is thankful for meeting the many wonderful people who come to St. Anthony’s on retreat. She said, “I have met so many people who have made an impact on my life. I am grateful to have met each and everyone of them.” We are also grateful when some of those who stay with us make the effort to thank us in person or by taking the time and effort to send us a note of gratitude for their stay. The bulletin board in the office has probably a dozen such notes pinned up there. There are also those who include kind words of appreciation in their Christmas card to us, or leave a note for housekeeping in their room, or a note in the kitchen for Kim. They may never understand how much their kindness and thoughtfulness brightens our day, but we truly appreciate it.
We are also grateful to those who were unable to visit us in person the past three years but joined us via Zoom for programs and retreats. They helped get us through the pandemic and we were grateful to be able to stay in touch and serve them in that way. Zoom would not have been possible without the support of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in LaCrosse who gave us a grant to purchase the equipment and pay for the Zoom subscription. What a blessing that has been!
In addition to Sr. Barb and Adele, others expressed their appreciation for working here. After three very challenging years, we were able to get to the other side of the pandemic without anyone being laid off or let go or even becoming seriously ill. But the gratitude goes well beyond job security. Jain is thankful for the emotional support staff offers when one of us is going through difficult times and for staff that steps up to the plate when help is needed. Cecilia said, “I am really thankful that at St. Anthony’s we live and work as a community, that we have the gift of a hot meal provided each day, and that we can gather together, breaking bread among people whose company I truly enjoy. I also think it’s really awesome that we can be a small part of the amazing and ongoing history of this place, and I hope that we’ll always be good stewards of St. Anthony’s for future generations.”
Speaking of community, both of our residents added their thoughts on gratitude. Candy is thankful for a place to call home. Tracy added, “Most of my adult life I have lived in very large cities. St. Anthony’s has gifted me the opportunity to enjoy nature once again. Walking the trails, nurturing plants in the gardens, watching and feeding the birds and other critters have all become very spiritual experiences to me. I am so blessed to be able to enjoy these gifts by just walking out our front door. God is indeed all around us! Adventures in nature remind me of this upon each new day, what an amazing gift! I am very grateful indeed!”
Community extends beyond the walls here and always has. The community of Marathon invited the Capuchins to plant roots here more than 100 years ago, and our relationship to the community remains. In addition to a number of Ministry Associates from Marathon, we are blessed to be able to interact with the larger community of Marathon and the surrounding area. We are grateful to host the Village’s Fire Department’s Easter Egg Hunt here each spring, and we are grateful to be part of the Marathon Area Business Association’s Holly Days celebration each December. Jackie H. is especially thankful for the tractor rides through the woods during Holly Days. We are thankful the school children from Marathon feel welcome to come here for learning opportunities, volunteer days and cross-country runs. We are grateful the local American Legion Post includes us in their celebration of Memorial Day at the cemetery out back, in recognition of Fr. Myron and Fr. Ben who served in the military and are buried there. We are also thankful the area fire department volunteers come and train here each year so we know they are prepared if we ever need them.
Jackie K. echoed Cecilia and Adele’s appreciation for the history of St. Anthony’s: “I am thankful and honored to be able to continue the work started by our Capuchin brothers, and grateful to be able to do that work with the wonderful dedicated staff and residents that work and live at St. Anthony’s.”
There is so, so much to be grateful for that even this rather lengthy Chronicle is only the tip of the iceberg. For all the blessings of the past, and for all the blessings God has in store for us in the coming years, we say Deo Gratias!