The first entry in the House Chronicle for January, 1952 contains a census of sorts. It begins as follows:

In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ begins the year 1952. The year begins in the 13th year of the reign of the Holy Father, Pius XII, gloriously reigning as the 261st successor of St. Peter. His Excellency, the Most Rev. John P. Treacy is the Bishop of the Diocese of LaCrosse in which this house of St. Anthony is situated. . . .

The entry goes on to list the Minister General and Provincial Ministers of the St. Joseph Province, the civic rulers of the nation and state – President Truman, Vice President Barkley, Governor Kohler, US Senators Wiley and McCarthy, and US Representative Murray representing this congressional district – and then proceeds to list all of the members of this house by name and role, 78 in all. The entry then continues:

No matter how you add them up, it comes out to a house packed full of religious. However, in spite of the large number, a good religious life flourishes between superiors and subjects and among all the classes. Such a spirit of cooperation and fraternal charity is especially necessary in a house of studies.

The entry continues with a look back at the turmoil of 1951 (Korean War, the spread of communism, government corruption, a persecution of the Church), as well as some positives (Fr. Peyton’s campaign for daily recitation of the rosary, moral standards for television, success of the Bishops’ clothing drive, resettlement of refugees, and beatification of several saints). Next, the Chronicler looks forward to 1952 and concludes with the following:

However, [1952] is a year in which we all can and will, with the grace of God, advance in holiness. Whatever the external circumstances may turn out to be, this is our primary task.

Although it is a bit presumptuous to assume our status as of January 1, 2022 with just over 24 hours remaining in 2021, this Chronicler is going to risk it.

In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ we will soon begin the year 2022. Our Holy Father is Pope Francis and the Bishop of LaCrosse is Most Rev. William Callahan. Our civic leaders include President Joseph Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, US Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, and US Representative Tom Tiffany.

Jackie Kellner is the Center Director, Sr. Barb Knauf is our Hosting Coordinator, Adele DiNatale-Svetnicka is our Retreat & Program Coordinator, Kim Hoenisch is our Food Service Manager, Bob Mooren is our Building & Grounds Supervisor, Jain Skaar is our Housekeeping Coordinator, Jackie Hackel assists Jain in Housekeeping and Kim in the kitchen, Cecilia Gruetzmacher is our Office Coordinator and Ron Burclaff is in Accounting. The members of our Board of Directors are Terri Sersch (President), Jeanette Carlson (Vice President), Dave Joswiak (Treasurer), Gary Gisselman (Secretary) and Terry Pisca. Our Resident Volunteers are Candy Bahr, Tracy Hoefs and Marge Lindell.

Like our brothers 70 years ago, for us 2021 had its share of turmoil, beginning with the attack on our nation’s Capitol building, the persistence of the Covid virus and the death, illness, financial hardships and chaos it has brought, the damage caused by natural disasters of all sorts, the divisions within our churches and our communities, and the intense anger that seems to have infiltrated all aspects of our world. This year also had some positives like the availability of Covid vaccines, at least here in the US, once again welcoming refugees to a new life of freedom, and witnessing the generosity of people willing to assist when natural disasters strike. For us here at St. Anthony’s, the biggest positive in 2021 was the ability to remain open despite the challenging external circumstances. This was only possible with the spirit of cooperation and fraternal charity among the Board of Directors, staff, residents and volunteers.

While we do not know what lies ahead for 2022, we are likely to experience both turmoil and positives, just as in 1951 and in 2021. Yet, as Brother Chronicler so wisely noted in 1952, we all can and will, with the grace of God, advance in holiness. Whatever the external circumstances may turn out to be, this is our primary task.

For God’s grace to advance in holiness whatever our external circumstances may be, in 2022 and beyond, we say Deo Gratias!