Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School, Marshfield, WI

In many ways, it’s crazy to see this pile of rubble.

As I write this, this pile of rubble is now gone. What was there before was Sacred Heart Catholic School. This school is where three generations of Essers went to school. My grandpa, my dad and his six other brothers, as well as my brother and I went here for elementary school. As you can tell, a lot of Essers passed through the halls of this school.

The school was in decline when I attended. My fourth grade class had five boys, including myself. After that year, they decided the class size was too small and they decided to not offer a fifth grade class. I finished out fifth and sixth grade at St. John’s across town. My mom actually went to St. John’s, so I guess I can say I attended both of the elementary schools my parents attended.

When it came time to do a vow renewal and second wedding reception for my Wisconsin family and friends, it was a no brainer to have the vow renewal at Sacred Heart. Our actual wedding was in Texas, at the Inn at Salado. The Inn at Salado was Victoria’s grandmother’s childhood home where her great-grandparents were married and her grandparents had their reception.

As you can see there’s a lot of family history there on Victoria’s side. In addition, Victoria’s aunt, who is a Lutheran minister, officiated the ceremony. Now, I’m Catholic and Victoria is Methodist. By Catholic Canon Law, weddings need to take place in a Catholic Church to be recognized immediately by the Catholic Church. If you have a wedding outside the Catholic Church, it is not automatically considered valid and must be convalidated. We decided since we were planning to have our wedding outside the Catholic church, we’d have it convalidated in Wisconsin.

Another thing that you can do is what is called a dispensation. This effectively means an exception to Canon Law that is granted by the Bishop of your diocese. After taking our Catholic marriage prep classes and filling out the paperwork that involved telling about the family historical significance of where we were getting married and the significance of the officiant, we were granted a dispensation by the Bishop of the Diocese of Austin. Our wedding at the Inn at Salado would fully count as a sacramental Catholic wedding!

Now, we knew that a lot of family and friends that could not make it down to Texas, so we planned to have an additional reception in Wisconsin. Since we no longer had to worry about getting our marriage convalidated, we decided to do a vow renewal. Sacred Heart was the perfect place to do it!

With the family history at Sacred Heart, as well as the fact I was an altar boy there, there is a lot of history. We could celebrate my side of the family well here, just as we did at the Inn at Salado.

Sacred Heart is actually combined with the Corpus Christi Parish. Corpus Christi is actually a little country church tucked kind of between a few corn fields. I was actually baptized there and my parents belonged there before we started school at Sacred Heart. Because of the small size of Corpus Christi, it made sense that these two parishes combine.

We also asked Deacon Ray to officiate this vow renewal. Deacon Ray has been a pivotal member at both Corpus Christi and Sacred Heart. I remember him always being at Corpus Christi and he knew my large family very well. It only made sense to ask him to officiate.

If you know me, I take tons of pictures of everything. One exception, is in church. I shut my phone off when in church. In a lot of ways the reverence of church isn’t a place to gawk around and treat as an Instragram-worthy spectacle. Times have changed a bit and I know Father Keith will livestream Mass on Facebook, so I snapped two pictures of the inside before shutting my phone off.

Deacon Ray did a great job with the vow renewal! It was awesome I could come back to Sacred Heart and be greeted with welcome arms.

In many ways, it is crazy seeing how much has changed, but also seeing how much has stayed the same. My parents still belong to Sacred Heart. It’s a great church that has stood the test of time and adapted to the changes. The school may no longer be a thing, but the church has moved on and I hear the new parish center they’re building is going to be awesome. It was awesome being able to make this a part of our vow renewal.

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