Apostolate to the Handicapped presents annual Day at the Dells Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Sep. 01, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
Msgr. Larry Bakke (far right), director of the Apostolate to the Handicapped for the Diocese of Madison, visits with Richard Tranel (far left) from Monroe and other guests at the apostolate’s annual Day at the Dells at the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in Wisconsin Dells August 19. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

WISCONSIN DELLS -- “This is really a miracle,” said Norberta Lewis from Necedah.

The first-time guest of the Diocese of Madison’s Apostolate to the Handicapped Day at the Dells was amazed and impressed that a priest would bring Communion to her seat, a volunteer would bring her sack lunch, and she, and her friend Margaret Gabay, also from Necedah, would get a chance to see a performance of the Tommy Bartlett Water Show.

“This is marvelous,” Lewis added.

An initially rainy day, but cleared by late morning, August 19 marked the day of the annual event.

Hundreds of guests arrived on the grounds of the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in Wisconsin Dells.

Some arrived by bus, others arrived via their own personal driver for the day.

The day featured Mass celebrated by Msgr. Larry Bakke, who is the director of the apostolate and presides at the weekly Apostolate to the Handicapped TV Mass seen Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. on WISC-TV.

Several priests from the diocese concelebrated Mass and helped distribute Communion to all the guests seated in the water show grandstands.

The day also featured a free bag lunch and free performance of the water show’s program, “A Salute to the Movies.”

The day begins

Water show volunteers greeted the guests in the parking lot and drove them in golf carts to the grandstands.

BurnaDeane Quamme from Holy Family Parish in Waterloo and Marshall was also at the event for the first time.

She said she was looking forward to seeing the water show and thought this year was a “nice time to go.”

As the covered upper decks began to fill up with guests, the priests prepared for Mass on the water show stage, and the choir from St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo warmed up and prepared to perform their music ministry.

Celebrating Mass

Monsignor Bakke welcomed everyone and thanked the Tommy Bartlett staff and volunteers for all their help and support.

“They are great in generosity and service for us all,” Monsignor Bakke said.

Later in his homily, Monsignor Bakke said, “It is in great goodness that we gather this day.”

He continued, “It’s in that goodness, as we live in God’s love every single day that we’re -- as the Gospel said -- called to be ministers of that love to each other.”

“We come together on this beautiful day,” he added, “a great opportunity for us to be together and to know that none of us is alone, none of us is by ourselves. We are a part of this bigger and bigger community that is beyond just the residences that we live in, the parishes that we are a part of, the communities, wherever we are . . . It’s in that goodness that we give great praise and thanks to God.”

Mary Fruits was the sign language interpreter for the hearing impaired. She is seen in that role on the WISC-TV Mass.

Newly ordained permanent deacon Jim Hoegemeier read the Gospel during Mass.

Lunch and show

As soon as Mass concluded, water show staff and volunteers and apostolate volunteers promptly distributed lunches to the guests.

Helpers packed the lunches during Mass on the grounds of the water show and worked hard to make sure they’d be ready in time.

As guests finished eating, the sounds of one of “The Dells” most famous attractions sounded over the loudspeakers -- The Tommy Bartlett Water Show.

For nearly 40 years, apostolate guests have been treated to the aquatic performances of fast boats, water skiers, and tricksters of all sorts.

On this day, guests were wowed with themed acts from movies such as Star Wars, Top Gun, and American Graffiti.

Ahead of the start of the National Football League season, there was also a water ski race between three performers wearing each a Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers jersey. The performer in the “#4” green and gold jersey was the winner amid many cheers and a few boos.

About the apostolate

The Apostolate to the Handicapped hosts two events each year when handicapped and elderly people are brought together.

In addition to the Day in the Dells, there is the annual Advent/Christmas Party, which will be held in December at Monroe High School in Monroe.

The apostolate also has a grant program available to parishes, schools, and organizations of the diocese to provide supportive services and/or create accessible facilities.

For more on the Apostolate to the Handicapped, go to or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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