A Word from Father

  Słowo od Pastora

Announcement 5/1/2021.  Father Guanella has been appointed Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Wisconsin Rapids, with residence at the parish rectory, effective July 6, 2021. Father Mark A. Miller, Pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Ettrick and St. Ansgar Parish in Blair has been appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Polonia and Immaculate Conception Parish in Custer, with residence at Sacred Heart Parish rectory in Polonia, effective July 6, 2021.  Please keep both Fr. Guanella and Fr. Miller in your prayers during this transitional period.

MAY 9, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


This is not an easy bulletin column to write to say the least. As I am sure you already know, as I publicized last weekend at the Masses, Bishop Callahan has announced that I have been appointed pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Wisconsin Rapids, effective July 6, 2021. This came as quite a surprise to me and, in fact, to the diocese itself. The former pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, Father Valentine Joseph Gasparraj, was called home to his own archdiocese of Madurai in India. As a priest of Madurai, Father Valentine must follow the decision of his archbishop. His departure was unexpected to the Diocese of La Crosse and that left the parish vacant without a pastor.


Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish is also a parish that has a parochial vicar (associate pastor). Parochial vicars are newly ordained priests who spend time “learning the ropes” of what it means to be a priest and how to work in a parish. In our diocese, most newly ordained priests spend about four years total, in two different assignments, as parochial vicars. In addition, many parochial vicars are also assigned as chaplains to the Catholic high school and middle school in the deanery. In Wisconsin Rapids, the parochial vicar of Our Lady Queen of Heaven is also chaplain to Assumption High School and Middle School.


Because the pastor of the parish where there is a parochial vicar is a “mentoring pastor,” not every priest is well-suited or willing to mentor newly ordained priests. A mentoring pastor must be willing to spend time guiding, teaching, and helping the newly ordained priests understand their vocation as diocesan priests and instructing them about the administration, operation, and working of a parish in the Diocese of La Crosse. That being said, with the departure of Father Valentine, the bishop needed to find a priest well-suited and willing to mentor a parochial vicar and, at the same time, be the pastor of the parish. It was my name that the bishop chose for this assignment, even though the bishop and personnel board had not intended to move me this year—these things come up and it cannot be helped. I was quite shocked to receive that telephone call from the bishop since I’ve only been a pastor here for one year (and one year as administrator). Nonetheless, the Rule that I follow as a Dominican reminds me that I should be ready at all times to work wherever a greater pastoral need demands it.


I am happy to announce that Father Mark Miller, currently pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Ettrick and St. Ansgar Parish in Blair has been appointed pastor of Sacred Heart in Polonia and St. Mary’s I.C. in Custer as of July 6, 2021. Father Miller and I have known each other for many years and I have no doubt that he will do well as pastor here. In fact, his parents were parishioners at St. Raymond of Peñafort in Brackett where I served as a parochial vicar and his mother was the parish secretary of SS. Peter & Paul in Independence where I served as a seminarian. I trust that you will treat him with the same care and affection that you have shown me.


I know many of you, perhaps most, were surprised and possibly upset with this transfer but I hope you understand the reasoning behind this unexpected move. My cousin, Saint Luigi Guanella, noted that, as Christians, “the whole world is our homeland” since we are all pilgrims on the journey, striving for Heaven, no matter where we actually find ourselves. Nevertheless, I won’t be too far away: you’re always welcome to come and visit me at Our Lady Queen of Heaven in Wisconsin Rapids! God bless you all.


—Fr. Guanella

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Fr. Alan Guanella


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MAY 2, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

During this month of May, Pope Francis has requested that the entire Church invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the end of the pandemic and, in a special way, he is inviting all of us to pray fervently for those most closely affected by it. The month of May will be dedicated to a “marathon” of prayer to ask for the end of the pandemic, which has afflicted the world for more than a year now, and to ask for the resumption of social and work activities. Pope Francis wishes to involve all the Marian Shrines around the world in this initiative, so that they may become vehicles of the prayer of the entire Church. The initiative is being conducted in the light of the biblical expression: “Prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God” (Acts 12:5).


During each day of May, guided by a calendar with specific intentions, all the Marian Shrines around the world, united in a communion of supplication, will lift up their prayers, which, like the fragrance of incense, will rise up to Heaven. Thirty Marian Shrines will take turns leading this prayer throughout the Church and offering the faithful a series of prayer moments for them to participate throughout the entire day. The Marian Shrine for May 17th will be our own Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC with the specific intention of praying for all world leaders and for all heads of international organizations. May 3rd will be the Shrine of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Poland, with the specific intention of prayer for all those infected with the coronavirus and all the sick.


The Holy Father will open and close the prayer, along with the faithful around the world, from two significant locations within the Vatican City State. On May 1st, Pope Francis will pray at the icon of Our Lady of Help, an icon venerated as early as the seventh century, inside Saint Peter’s Basilica erected by Pope Gregory XIII in 1578, at the Gregorian Chapel, where the relics of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor and Father of the Church, are also kept. On May 31st, Pope Francis will conclude this prayer marathon from a significant place in the Vatican Gardens.


Therefore, in the spirit of Pope Francis’ “prayer marathon” you are encouraged to pray the Rosary daily for the end of the pandemic, for those most closely affected by it, and to ask for the resumption of social and work activities. There are sheets available in the back of church with the Marian Shrines and daily intentions listed. You can also view it online at:



—Fr. Guanella

APRIL 4, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


Happy Easter! The collect prayer for Easter Sunday Mass states that Jesus has conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity. We ask God today that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by the Holy Spirit, rise up in the light of life. Please know that I continue to pray for all of you during this Easter Season. Remember that the Season of Easter, also known as Eastertide or Paschaltide, begins on Easter and continues for fifty days. Saint Athanasius, the great fourth century bishop of Alexandria, calls the Easter Season “the great Lord’s Day” and thus the season is celebrated as a single joyful feast of the Lord’s Resurrection. We can now joyfully say, “Alleluia. The Lord is Risen. He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia.”


Next Sunday we will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. There are two fountains of grace available on Divine Mercy Sunday. The first is to receive the special graces of Divine Mercy Sunday promised directly by our Lord through St. Faustina. The theologian who examined St. Faustina’s writings for the Holy See, Rev. Ignacy Rozycki, explained that this is the promise of a complete renewal of baptismal grace, and in that sense like a “second baptism.” To receive these graces, the only condition is to receive Holy Communion worthily on Divine Mercy Sunday (or the vigil celebration), by making a good confession beforehand, and staying in the state of grace and trusting in His Divine Mercy. Remember that you do not have to go to confession on Divine Mercy Sunday itself. We know from her Diary that St. Faustina made her confession in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday on the day before (Diary, 1072).


The other fountain of grace is a plenary indulgence, that is, the complete remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, which may be obtained on Divine Mercy Sunday. This indulgence differs from the special graces promised by our Lord through St. Faustina. This indulgence is granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in You!). A partial indulgence is granted to those who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus with a legitimately approved invocation. The indulgences can be obtained for oneself, or for the poor souls suffering in purgatory, whereas the special grace promised by our Lord for Divine Mercy Sunday can only be received for oneself.


In her Diary, St. Faustina records a special promise given to her by Jesus. He told her to communicate it to the whole world: My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of my mercy (Diary, 699). Happy Feast of Divine Mercy to you all!

Fr. Guanella

MARCH 28, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


We have reached the final part of our Lenten pilgrimage and made it to Holy Week. In 2011, I spent most of Holy Week in London, England at the Parish of Our Lady and St. George where I had spent the summer before on assignment as a seminarian. On that Palm Sunday 2011, Pope Benedict XVI gave a remarkable homily. I provide part of it below:


«It is a moving experience each year on Palm Sunday as we go up the mountain with Jesus, towards the Temple, accompanying him on his ascent. On this day, throughout the world and across the centuries, young people and people of every age acclaim him, crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”


But what are we really doing when we join this procession as part of the throng which went up with Jesus to Jerusalem and hailed him as King of Israel? Is this anything more than a ritual, a quaint custom? Does it have anything to do with the reality of our life and our world? To answer this, we must first be clear about what Jesus himself wished to do and actually did. After Peter’s confession of faith in Caesarea Philippi, in the northernmost part of the Holy Land, Jesus set out as a pilgrim towards Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. He was journeying towards the Temple in the Holy City, towards that place which for Israel ensured in a particular way God’s closeness to his people. He was making his way towards the common feast of Passover, the memorial of Israel’s liberation from Egypt and the sign of its hope of definitive liberation. He knew that what awaited him was a new Passover and that he himself would take the place of the sacrificial lambs by offering himself on the cross. He knew that in the mysterious gifts of bread and wine he would give himself for ever to his own, and that he would open to them the door to a new path of liberation, to fellowship with the living God. He was making his way to the heights of the Cross, to the moment of self-giving love. The ultimate goal of his pilgrimage was the heights of God himself; to those heights he wanted to lift every human being.


Our procession today is meant, then, to be an image of something deeper, to reflect the fact that, together with Jesus, we are setting out on pilgrimage along the high road that leads to the living God. This is the ascent that matters. This is the journey which Jesus invites us to make. But how can we keep pace with this ascent? Isn’t it beyond our ability? Certainly, it is beyond our own possibilities. From the beginning men and women have been filled and this is as true today as ever with a desire to “be like God”, to attain the heights of God by their own powers. All the inventions of the human spirit are ultimately an effort to gain wings so as to rise to the heights of Being and to become independent, completely free, as God is free. Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful. With the increase of our abilities there has been an increase not only of good. Our possibilities for evil have increased and appear like menacing storms above history. Our limitations have also remained: we need but think of the disasters which have caused so much suffering for humanity in recent months.


Following the Liturgy of the Word, at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer where the Lord comes into our midst, the Church invites us to lift up our hearts. In the language of the Bible and the thinking of the Fathers, the heart is the center of man, where understanding, will and feeling, body and soul, all come together. The center where spirit becomes body and body becomes spirit, where will, feeling and understanding become one in the knowledge and love of God. This is the “heart” which must be lifted up. But to repeat: of ourselves, we are too weak to lift up our hearts to the heights of God. We cannot do it. The very pride of thinking that we are able to do it on our own drags us down and estranges us from God. God himself must draw us up, and this is what Christ began to do on the cross. He descended to the depths of our human existence in order to draw us up to himself, to the living God. He humbled himself, as today’s second reading says. Only in this way could our pride be vanquished: God’s humility is the extreme form of his love, and this humble love draws us upwards.


We are on pilgrimage with the Lord to the heights. We are striving for pure hearts and clean hands, we are seeking truth, we are seeking the face of God. Let us show the Lord that we desire to be righteous, and let us ask him: Draw us upwards! Make us pure! Grant that the words which we sang in the processional psalm may also hold true for us; grant that we may be part of the generation which seeks God, “which seeks your face, O God of Jacob” (cf. Ps. 24:6). Amen. »


Fr. Guanella

MARCH 21, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


The Fifth Sunday of Lent, where we find ourselves today, is traditionally known as “Passion Sunday.” This did get a little confusing with the reforms of the liturgical calendar after the Second Vatican Council as the name for next Sunday, Palm Sunday, is known officially as “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion” and so sometimes after Vatican II, Palm Sunday has also been called Passion Sunday.


Modern confusion notwithstanding, this Sunday begins the time of Lent known as Passiontide. Author Philip Kosloski notes that, “Traditionally the final two weeks of Lent in the Roman Rite are used as an immediate preparation for the sorrowful events of the Easter drama. It is a period of time to focus more and more on the Passion and death of Jesus and so accompany him on his way to Calvary.”


So what is different about Passiontide? The preface at Mass (the prayer that begins the Eucharistic Prayer), is now the Preface of the Passion, rather than of Lent. We hear: “For through the saving Passion of your Son the whole world has received a heart to confess the infinite power of your majesty, since by the wondrous power of the Cross your judgment on the world is now revealed and the authority of Christ crucified.” It is also tradition in many churches to cover (or veil) statues and images with purple cloths on this Sunday. Crosses remain covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil. Why do we cover statutes? Just as we fast throughout all of Lent, during this more directed time of Passiontide, we even fast from the beauty of statues and images until the glory of Easter. The veiling is also associated with John 8:46–59, in which Jesus “hid himself” from the people.


Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent used to be the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The hymn Stabat Mater, which is traditionally sung at Stations of the Cross, is actually the sequence for that feast day. In 1969, the feast was removed from the calendar since there was another feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in September. Nonetheless, there is an alternate collect (opening prayer) on the Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent that remembers the sorrows of Mary.


As Philip Kosloski continues, “In the end, Passiontide is meant to be a special penitential period where we focus on Jesus’ bitter passion and foster within ourselves sorrow for our sins. The good news is that Passiontide does not have the last say, and this somber period of preparation ends quickly so that our hearts can rejoice in the beauty of Christ’s resurrection.” I wish you all God’s blessings during these weeks before Easter as we prepare our hearts through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the reception of the sacraments to celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death!

Fr. Guanella

MARCH 7, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,


You may have noticed that during Lent, the cantors and choir are singing some of the Mass parts in Latin. I wanted to take a moment to explain why we are doing this and what the Church teaches about Latin in the liturgy. It may come as some surprise to you as there is a lot of misinformation out there about the place Latin has in our Church’s liturgy.


You may have heard that the Second Vatican Council “did away” with Latin in the liturgy. This is not so. In fact, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy notes that “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” Vatican II did permit the vernacular to be used in the liturgy, “in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants.” The Council Fathers also taught that “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”


In response to the Council Fathers’ wish, a 1974 letter was sent from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship to all bishops on the minimum repertoire of plainchant that every Catholic should know and be familiar with. A booklet of these Latin chants was included. One of the reasons expressed as to why every Catholic should know these chants is to make it easier for Christians to achieve unity and spiritual harmony with their brothers and sisters and with the living traditions of the past, since when the faithful gather together for prayer they manifest at once the diversity of a people drawn ‘from every tribe, language and nation’ and its unity in faith and charity.


The booklet, called Jubilate Deo, includes the Kyrie (which is Greek, not Latin), the Gloria, the Creed, the Holy, Holy, the Our Father, the Lamb of God, and some various hymns like O Salutaris Hostia and Ubi Caritas. Here at Sacred Heart, we already chant the Kyrie often and so we have implemented chanting the Holy, Holy (Sanctus) and the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) in Latin during Lent. In Advent we chanted these prayers in English with the same melody as the Latin text.

Why does the Church care about Latin? Latin is our liturgical language as Catholics. It is still the official language of the Church. Even though most people are no longer conversant in Latin, the use of Latin conveys to the mind of the people that something is going on upon the altar which is beyond their comprehension; that a mystery is being enacted. Furthermore, the use of Latin in the Mass is a means of maintaining unity in the Church, for the use of one and the same language in Roman Rite churches all over the world is a connecting link to Rome, our Mother.


Some people will object that they are not able to fully participate in the Mass if parts of the Mass are not in their own language. Liturgical participation, as the Church understands it, has little to do with physical activity and the pronunciation of words: it has to do with prayer. To maintain that one cannot participate in the Mass unless one understands every word is to reduce the notion of participation to a mere function. The celebration of Mass consists more in action than in words. This reason cannot be overstated. The Catholic Mass, however, is a holy sacrifice offered to God the Father by an ordained priest. The action of the Mass, and the mystery of it, is reinforced by the use of Latin.


In Christ,

Father Guanella