May 10, 2016 // Uncategorized

St. Gaspar, settled in midst of lake country

Father Bernard Ramenaden, OSB

By Stephanie A. Patka

ROME CITY — North of Sylvan Lake on State Road 9, sits the small parish of St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Built in 1957, the quiet brick building might have a stoic appearance, but for the town of Rome City and the parishioners, St. Gaspar’s is a vibrant testament to the strength and beauty of an active community.

The demographics of the parish are reflective of the local geography. Over half of the 236 families registered at the parish are retired and the parish sees an increase of at least 100 additional families in the summer months. Pastor Bernard Ramenaden, OSB, has been pastor for eight years and says that while the parish doesn’t have a youth religious education program, the adult faith formation program is very strong.

There is a bible study class of over 35-40 people that meets after the morning Mass every Thursday throughout the year. The group, led by Father Ramenaden, focuses on Scripture and various religious books. This year, they have been using books on the Jubilee Year of Mercy from Our Sunday Visitor. Additionally, between the two Masses on Sunday morning, there is another group that meets for discussion of current topics of interest and how they impact the Catholic Church and faith community.

Life-sized, this Pieta was a gift from several generous parishioners.

“St. Gaspar’s parishioners are very religious and value learning and growing deeper in their faith,” Father Ramenden reflected. “Between Bible studies, discussion groups and meditative books during Advent, the people here are hungry to learn more about God and their faith.”

For the last several years during Lent, the parish offers three days for the Stations of the Cross on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Between the three days, over 120 people show up. “There is no excuse not to come to stations because we offer so many times,” Father Ramenaden said. “I encourage people to come twice.”

In addition to opportunities to growing in faith, the parishioners of St. Gaspar offer numerous opportunities to grow in community and friendship with each other. After Stations of the Cross on Wednesdays during Lent, there is Mass and a soup supper. Volunteers alternate each week and provide soup for the 60-70 parishioners who come and spend time with each other.

The generosity of the parishioners extends from internal events such as the soup supper to many events of the church that involve  and impact the local community. Parish member Sue Miller often donates soups to the Lenten suppers as well as the annual Fancy Fair Craft Bazaar through her restaurant, Twin Six in Wolcottville.

The Fancy Fair Craft Bazaar is one of the largest signature events for the parish. The event features more than 40 different crafters who sell their wares. The parish members support the event by providing cookies for the enormous “Cookie Bar” and by providing soups, sandwiches and sloppy joes for the lunch.

The event is organized by chair, Luanne Shull, on behalf of the Rosary Sodality in order that the group can continue to financially underwrite more than 20 different ministries throughout their local community.

“This Fancy Fair helps make all this support possible, we are so lucky to have so much generosity here in our parish,” Pratt said.

Organizing the Fancy Fair isn’t the only project of the Rosary Sodality. The parish also helps buy presents and supplies for needy families during the Christmas holiday through the Angel Tree Project. Recently, the sodality has been collecting plastic shopping bags in order to use the cleaned plastic as a type of ‘yarn’ to crochet mats for the homeless. These mats are crocheted by members of the Sodality and donated to various homeless shelters even as far as Fort Wayne.

“We have a sense of community here; we are more than just people who fulfill obligations of going to church every week,” Pratt said. “What is most remarkable is that we have people that have a commitment to fellowship and community; we are just knit together like that.”

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