By Tony DeGol
Every Sunday at Mass, Anna Mary Wenzel figuratively holds her breath during the offertory procession.
Her adorable granddaughters, Maria and Marissa, have the official duty of carrying the basket containing the collection envelopes and lose cash to the altar and the patiently waiting pastor.
Maria is five and Marissa is three, so there is always a chance of them accidentally dropping the basket and having the loot fly everywhere.
Happily, the girls have always executed their duties flawlessly, and disaster has always been averted.
Even with that pit in her stomach for a few minutes each week, Wenzel cherished being in the pew every Sunday at the 9:00 a.m. Mass at Saint Catherine of Siena Parish in Mount Union.
Not surprisingly, this period without public liturgies is challenging.
“With this coronavirus, the hardest thing has been not going to church,” she said. “I know we can watch it on TV, but it’s not the same.”
Wenzel is a nurse who has worked in both hospital and nursing home settings. She is currently employed by the Mount Union Area School District.
Her career is important, but faith and family are her priorities.
She and her husband, Kurt, are the parents of a daughter, Megan, and a son, Bryan.
Wenzel savors being a grandmother, or “Bubba,” as Maria and Marissa call her.
Like so many other Catholic women, she is honored to pass her faith to the next generation.
A native of Mount Union, she is a life-long parishioner of Saint Catherine of Siena. It is especially gratifying to attend Mass with her family and see Maria and Marissa take such an interest in Church, even at their young age.
“We go to Mass,” Wenzel noted. “That’s Sunday. No excuses. That is what we do.”
The family especially turned to their faith a few years ago when little Marissa, at the age of 13 months, was diagnosed with a hole in her heart and had open heart surgery. Not long after that, she developed fluid around her heart, and her prognosis looked bleak.
“I never pleaded so much in all my life with the Good Lord upstairs,” Wenzel admitted. “I don’t know what I would do without my faith.”
Thankfully, Marissa recovered and is doing beautifully.
“She’s full of spit and fire,” joked Wenzel.
This time without public Masses has even been hard on the grandchildren.
Maria loves and misses Religious Education classes at the parish every Sunday, Wenzel explained, and Marissa keeps asking to see Jesus.
It is no wonder Bishop Mark’s announcement that public Masses would resume on the weekend of June 13 and 14 was greeted with such elation.
“I just want to go back, and I want to receive Communion,” Wenzel added. “The building doesn’t make our faith, I know that, but it’s about everyone being together and being one Catholic family. I’ll feel whole again.”
Her pastor, the Very Reverend Joseph Fleming, VF, is ready to welcome back the Wenzel family and other parishioners with open arms.
“I am looking forward to the time we can celebrate the Eucharist and pray together,” he admitted.
“We love that man,” said Wenzel of Father Fleming.
And Maria and Marissa will surely love the day when they can resume their important job of carrying the collection basket again.
When that happy moment arrives, their “Bubba” probably won’t even mind holding her breath in the pew again.
[Photo: Anna Mary Wenzel accepting roses from granddaughters Maria and Marissa on Mother’s Day.]