||Fr. Larry Bakke
MONROE -- Fr. Larry Bakke says he is “always excited about new possibilities.”
He definitely has much to be excited about in taking on his new roles as director of the Apostolate to the Handicapped of the Diocese of Madison along with serving as pastor of the newly named St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Monroe.
“I’ve done many new ministries in my 36 years as a priest,” he said in an interview. “This is what God wants to do now.”
Stepping into big shoes
When Bishop Robert C. Morlino asked him to take on the position held for 44 years by Msgr. Thomas Campion, Father Bakke saw it as a “new adventure” in his life as a priest.
He will be stepping into big shoes as director of the apostolate, founded by the late Bishop Cletus F. O’Donnell in 1967.
At that time, Bishop O’Donnell asked then Father Campion to direct the new diocesan outreach program for the disabled and elderly. He held the position until his death in 2010.
Of Monsignor Campion, Father Bakke said, “He was very highly respected and loved, not only in Monroe but throughout the diocese in bringing the presence of the Church to the disabled. He had a very personal presence, and that’s what I’ve also striven to do — to be a presence and a support to people.”
Father Bakke brings a wealth of experience to his new position with the apostolate and the parish. He has worked with youth (there are many young volunteers with the apostolate) as director of youth ministry in the diocese and director of Camp Gray for 16 years. He has been a hospital chaplain, serving at University Hospital in Madison for almost four years.
And he has ministered at parishes in Madison, Sun Prairie, and Baraboo, most recently for seven years at St. Joseph in Baraboo.
Father Bakke has enjoyed all of his experiences as a priest. “I love people and I love the priesthood and sharing Christ. This (his new positions) is a whole new exciting way to respond to that.”
Father Bakke admits that directing the Apostolate to the Handicapped will be a “big learning edge” for him. He will first educate himself on what the apostolate has done over the past 44 years. He also wants to find out what other dioceses are doing for the disabled, to discover what has been helpful and what more the apostolate could do for individuals and even for parishes.
“I will be learning and hopefully catching a new vision for the apostolate,” he said.
Father Bakke will be celebrating most of the weekly television Masses airing on Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. on WISC-TV, Channel 3.
He plans to preside and preach at the August 19 Mass at the Tommy Bartlett Water Show site near Wisconsin Dells, with priests from around the diocese concelebrating.
The traditional Christmas Mass and dinner will be held on December 3 in Monroe.
Importance of this ministry
Father Bakke hopes to let people know about the other activities of the apostolate. He emphasized the importance of this ministry.
“There’s hardly a page in the Gospels that doesn’t have a reference to Jesus and his ministry of healing. It’s been a huge priority in the Church, especially when we’re challenged with people with so many disabilities.
“We have to make sure they feel loved and that we as a Church can support them by bringing them the Good News of the Gospel and helping them in other ways. That is why the TV Mass is important, as are opportunities to gather and provide supportive materials to raise awareness.”
Father Bakke will also be busy with St. Clare of Assisi Parish, which represents the merging of St. Victor Parish in Monroe and St. Rose of Lima in Brodhead. It is the only Catholic parish in Green County. St. Victor School educates students in 4K through fifth grade.