MEET THE PARENTS: The Baraniak Sequel

In the midst of so many wedding bells ringing, I realized that I had posted earlier that I'd give you an update on my first family wedding back on 7 June 2008 uniting my niece Jolynn Baraniak and Jerome Jones up at St. Joe's Holy Family Church in Phlox.

While at the Abbey for Chapter during the week that preceded the wedding, I told Norbertine Father Dane Radecki and Abbot Gary Neville that I was headed to Phlox for the celebration of my niece's wedding. Dane asked me how many family weddings I had performed. I told him that at this point I have had no family weddings, but that the requests were beginning to stack up. Dane suggested that I will love the experience -- in fact he stated that this will be one of the more enjoyable experiences I'd have as a priest.

I wasn't so sure about Dane's encouragement! It seems as though when I pierce the Langlade County line, I want to arrive at home simply as son, brother, uncle and neighbor. Coming home and "being on" as priest adds a different sort of pressure; in fact, I recall the Gospel where Jesus was not welcomed home in his native land of Nazareth; in fact, not only was he unable to perform any miracles there, but it was his home-folk that wanted to throw him over the edge of the hill. [I suspect my family sometimes feels like doing the same to me!!!]

Well as you are aware, I am no Jesus! Nor did Jesus have someone as beautiful, kind and loving as my niece Jolynn to whom he would be able to minister; as such, the results in Phlox were different than the end result in Nazareth. Even though I would have felt very comfortable sitting in the congregation with my family and watch Father David Kiefer, the local pastor, preside, Dane was correct, it was a wonderful experience.

There were so many great aspects about the wedding -- the simplicity in some ways, the elegance in other ways; the full church filled with so many relatives and friends, all of whom were familiar to one another so much that all could be called by name; and Scott Koeppel serving his "Fawesome" homemade wine to assure us that we would not need to pray for Caana to come down upon Phlox by turning water into wine!

But no doubt, among the many highlights were the beautiful talks at the wedding table. Too often, I avoid this moment at weddings because when you mix intoxication with a microphone, the results are often pretty raunchy! Not in this case, however. The maid of honor, my niece Haley -- Jolynn's younger sister -- gave a beautiful talk about their closeness over the years. She was simply eloquent as she spoke so emotionally about her admiration for her only sibling and how happy she is over Jolynn's happiness. Haley serves as a youth minister up at Gillett, serving with my Norbertine confrere, Father Joe Coopmans, O. Praem. Joe is quite affirming of her work there and I've heard folks from the diocese tell me how well Haley is doing. At the dinner I had evidence of her talent.

And then there was David's talk. I always knew that David was a classy man. He's very concerned about how he presents himself; yet he has a sense of humor that looks like, sounds like and laughs like David Letterman. While he is so outgoing, there's also a pretty shy side to my older brother. But the ease with which he seemed to speak at the dinner truly surprised me. His eloquence matched my sister-in-law Lynn's beauty that night. Had I known that earlier, I would have cut my homily short and let David finish the preaching. Well to be totally honest, I would not have cut it short -- but you already know that, though, don't you?

I remember the day that Jolynn was born, 9 May 1978. In fact, she was the first baby I've ever had the honor to hold. That is a moment I will always cherish -- and never forget. After the untimely and unexpected death of Father Tim Shillcox, O. Praem.'s niece, Nicole, a Lourdes Parishioner told me, "Father, we all understand that for your priests, your nieces and nephews are like your very own children -- or as close as you can get to it!" And you know, she was right. And I think that's why Father Dane was equally correct. 7 June 2008 was a milestone day for me; it was a day of sacramental proportions for Jolynn and Jerome and a day of true blessing for those who gathered together for the event. Heads up: I'll do it all over again on 27 September 2008 with my niece, Jessica. More evidence that "God's flock is even in the family!" "Give it a shepherd's care!" Obviously, more to come... ... ...

PICTURE: No, it's not Dave and Lynn at the wedding dinner, but tailgating at Lambeau Field. The Packers would do the preaching at that event!


Jill DePrey said...

Thanks Fr. Jim, for always sharing the good times and sometimes the difficult times of your life.... I always look forward to your next entry!!

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