Day at the Dells event is a ‘blessing of love and support’ Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Sep. 07, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
apostolate bakke
Msgr. Larry Bakke, director of the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities-Diocese of Madison, meets Soccaro, a guest at the annual Day at the Dells. The event was held on August 25 on the grounds of the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in Wisconsin Dells, which included a free performance. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photos/Kevin Wondrash)

WISCONSIN DELLS -- As more than a dozen buses pulled into the parking lot on the grounds of the Tommy Bartlett Water Show on August 25, an annual tradition was about to begin again.

It was the annual Day at the Dells event sponsored by the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities-Diocese of Madison.

The day consisted of Mass, lunch, and a free performance of the Tommy Bartlett Water Show now in its 65th season on the waters of Lake Delton.

‘A great opportunity’

With increased bus transport available this year, many people who hadn’t been to the day before came out for the first time.

“We thought it was a great opportunity,” said, Pat Launder from Madison, who came with her husband Bob.

“Everybody is so helpful and handy,” she added.

Once everyone got off the buses, show staff was waiting to take them to their seats via golf carts.

The water show grandstands and stage served as the setting for Mass.

Peggy and Terry Dorshorst from Poynette were also at their first Day at the Dells. Although Peggy had seen the water show before with family, it was Terry’s first time seeing the performers.

“We decided let’s do it,” Peggy said, and added she was looking forward to “being with people.”


A ‘beautiful day’

As Mass got underway, Msgr. Larry Bakke, director of the Apostolate and pastor of St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Brodhead and Monroe, welcomed everyone on what he called a “beautiful day.”

Concelebrating with him were around 20 priests from the Diocese of Madison who helped distribute Communion to the guests all seated in the grandstands.

Deacon Jim Hoegemeier, associate director of the Apostolate, read the Gospel and Kellie O’Brien, project manager, served as reader.

The choir from St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo served as music ministers.

In his homily, Monsignor Bakke said it was a “momentous year” for the Apostolate, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It was formerly directed by Msgr. Thomas Campion from 1967 until his death in 2010.

He added the Apostolate has “always been a living goodness of the very Gospel . . . being able to proclaim and bring the very goodness and message of God’s love for all of us.”

Monsignor Bakke added, “How important and valued each one of us is no matter what our abilities or perhaps our disabilities that we are so important and absolutely loved by our generous God.”

He thanked his “brother priests” for coming to help out and also thanked Tom Diehl, Tommy Bartlett president, general manager, and co-owner, and his staff for all their help hosting the day, which they have done for nearly four decades.

Lunch and show

Following Mass, show staff and volunteers from around the Diocese of Madison went person-to-person in the grandstands and gave all the guests their bag lunch for the afternoon.

As the guests ate lunch, it was time for the show.

Continuing its tradition of “Livin’ the Dream,” the performers of the Tommy Bartlett show gave their all in a full performance of the show for all the guests.

It included water skiers, ski jumpers, fast boats, and the always-mischievous “Aqua” the clown.

As the afternoon wound down on the day, many of the first-timers said they’d be back next year and would tell others about it.

The Apostolate works to promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the life of the Church.

Every baptized person, regardless of their abilities, has received a special vocation to holiness, and it strives to promote their participation in local parishes and diocesan events.

For more information, go to or call 608-821-3050.



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