Operation Pancake: Notes and Quotes

Four score and five years ago, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception assumed pastoral control of St. Peter's Parish in Kenosha, Wis. Over those 85 years, the Marians have guided countless numbers of people in their spiritual journeys. The work continues today with Fr. Bill Hayward, MIC, pastor, and his assistant, Fr. Michael Callea, MIC.

During their visit to St. Peter's over the weekend of Jan. 17-19, 2009, Deacon Andy Davy, MIC, and Bros. Jim McCormack, MIC, and Angelo Casimiro, MIC, experienced many new things. Each commented on the value of being exposed to the people and situations in a vibrant parish, far different from the life of the seminary and monastery.

You can view their remarks as a "content analysis" of what goes on in the heart and mind of a young man at this stage of his quest for the priesthood.

On Parish Life
Deacon Andy: Life in a parish is much different than in a formation house. The priests have to try to keep up with a community life. I was impressed with how Frs. Bill and Michael were faithful to having morning prayers and taking their meals together. They also read from the writings of Blessed George Matulaitis [Marian Renovator]. Then when we visited Fr. Peter Cibulskis, MIC, [a Marian who resides at St. Joseph Home, a care facility] I could see how they continued to have that sense of community with him as well. They were living as Marians."

Brother Jim: "I can see how it can be a real challenge to have such a small community [of priests] - a community of two. The Marian identity seems to be in the forefront of the parish life there. It's not a diocesan parish but a Marian parish, with the Marian literature out front and the pictures of the past Marian pastors on the wall."

Brother Angelo: "Even amid their busy schedules, I saw how Frs. Bill and Michael made the effort to pray and eat together as a community. It was great being with them and spending that time together. I also saw how much the parishioners appreciated and respected them. They're awesome priests."

About the Pancake Fund-Raiser:
Deacon Andy: "The pancake breakfast was a way of helping raise money for seminarians so that our men can be ordained to the priesthood. They will be the Marian priests of tomorrow. The fund-raiser was a way of helping these men. We still need much more because more men keep coming. We currently have 10 seminarians and six novices. To train new priests doesn't come cheap. The typical time for formation is a minimum of six years."

Brother Jim: "The pancake breakfast wasn't only to raise money. It was also a chance for the people to meet us seminarians and for us to meet and get to know them. The people had a chance to see the joy we seminarians have. They got to meet Deacon Andy, a newly ordained deacon who is still a seminarian and is near completion of his studies. Deacon Andy got to preach his first homily at a parish. You can say it was a knockout. People were swooning afterwards."

Brother Angelo: "I thought, 'What a brilliant idea, to help raise funds for the seminarians!' People love to eat and it's at meals that people get to know each other. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet the people at a parish run by Marian priests. People kept telling me they were praying for vocations and were happy to see their prayers being answered. Poster boards were put up and slide presentations shown with pictures of the seminarians involved in different activities - praying, serving at Mass, celebrating holidays, working, studying, hiking, biking, skateboarding, and the like. "People said afterwards they were glad to see that we also have fun at the seminary and that it's not so serious all the time. For some reason, people think that we cease being human upon entering the seminary or religious life. It's not like that at all."

About Serving Pancakes:
Brother Andy: "I found it a joy, simply getting to know the people in the parish. The funny thing is that as a deacon now, I was answering the call to serve tables."

Brother Jim: "I found it joyful being able to serve the people. They were appreciative, which made it rewarding. I sensed their desire to want to get to know us better."

Brother Angelo: "It definitely took me out of my comfort zone. Being an introvert, I usually find it hard to adjust to social situations. But I put my best foot forward and greeted everyone with a friendly smile. I was able to connect with some people and talked with them and got to know them. I took great joy in watching Deacon Andy and Br. Jim interacting with people. I continue to learn a lot from them and look up to them as my big brothers, even though they're much younger than me."

About Experiences Outside of the Fund-Raiser:
Brother Angelo: "I enjoyed visiting Fr. Peter at the Saint Joseph Home and the other residents there. I learned a lot from seeing Fr. Michael minister to the folks there. In a way, I saw the face of the priesthood and what it's all about. People still look up to priests, especially to help console them in difficult times. They are looking for answers."

Brother Jim: "I enjoyed greeting people at the door. Some of them thought I was Fr. Bob Vennetti." [AUTHOR'S NOTE: Br. Jim and Fr. Bob do share a slight physical resemblance and an eerily similar resemblance as great Marians!]

Deacon Andy: "The work of preparing homilies taught me much. I could see how the Holy Spirit gives you the grace to preach what needs to be preached. The main message of my homily at St. Peter's was that we live out our vocations through our bodies, and that is how we glorify God."

Brother Jim: "One thing was cool, I mean, besides the subzero weather! I was watching Deacon Andy minister while knowing that I'm a year behind him. I look to him as a big brother and an awesome example. It's a preview of coming attractions."

On the Lessons of Unity and Cooperation
Brother Jim: "There is something fun about traveling together as brothers. There was a sense of us working together as a team. We were serving Christ and the Church together. That was the awesome part. There was a fuller witness of charity. It was about serving Christ in our love as brothers. We worked together as a team in the Mass on Saturday morning. Deacon Andy assisted as a deacon at the altar, Br. Angelo was the altar server, and I lectured. Each of us served the people of God in different functions. It was part of our gift to the community. The people I met said that they hoped we would come back and serve them as priests one day."

Deacon Andy: "It was real joy to be with [Brs. Jim and Angelo]. They are tremendous men. We were living out our vocations as brothers working together. The people saw us as a community living out our vowed life, our religious consecration. That's important for vocations, so that other young people can see it. It's not just about one person going out but about being apostolic in the sense that Jesus didn't send His apostles out one by one, but two by two. There is the presence of community."

Br. Angelo: "I loved the sense of camaraderie that we three had in going out to Kenosha as brothers. Even on the plane going there, I could sense that other people could detect that as well. It's not every day that you see three young men in collars traveling together. I enjoyed being with two of my closest friends on this adventure to Kenosha. We were like the Marian Task Force on a mission to serve pancakes, raise money, and have fun.

Please help us educate the Marian priests of tomorrow.

Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is author of "Dan Valenti's Journal" at thedivinemercy.org. He wishes to thank Br. Angelo Casimiro for acting as "point man" in gathering information for this article.

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