Altar society treasurer is a real treasure

By | April 30, 2009

She was the head cook at Bay View Middle School for 19 years, plus worked at Suamico Elementary and Bayport High School earlier in her career. She retired in 1992, which gave her more time to support the parish she so loves.

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Grace Kaminski (Rick Evans | For The Compass)


It’s a “homey” parish, said Kaminski in her upbeat tone of voice. People come from all over the area for Mass because “they feel right to home with us,” she said of the parish, whose pastor is Fr. Gary Dantinne.

To put Kaminski’s service to St. Benedict Parish into perspective, it was 1970 when she first became treasurer of the Altar Society. Richard Nixon was in his second year as president of the United States and Pope Paul VI was pontiff.

“Nobody wants the job,” chided the bubbly Kaminski of her position as Altar Society treasurer, later adding, “I like to joke, too.”

Yes, a lot has changed since 1970. But not the enthusiasm Kaminski has for the many good works that fill her life.

The list of the service she gives to St. Benedict is long and treasured.

The Altar Society’s endeavors go to many good works, said Kaminski. Besides providing the flowers for the parish at Christmas and Easter, as well as various altar and church needs, they have also supported the Golden House, the Marion House, the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse in New Holstein, Paul’s Pantry, St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army. They have also supported “Water for Life” in Haiti and sent $700 to Haiti to use for the purchase of solar ovens.

Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Grace Kaminski

Parish: St. Benedict, Suamico

Age: 82

Favorite saint: Anthony

Words to live by: “Give and you shall receive.”

The Altar Society includes 30 members, including one member who is 99. They meet each month on the second Thursday. Her daughter, Geraldine Corbeille, is also a member. And the Altar Society’s secretary, Marie Zakowski, 83, has been in her position for 25 years, said Kaminski, noting the many good works she has also done for the parish.

Kaminski and others in the parish are still reveling in the success of the parish’s famous Lenten fish fries, where they served an average of more than 400 people during each of the Friday night events. Her background as a school cook is a big help, with preparations beginning already on Thursday morning.

“We get a lot of them (guests) from Green Bay,” she said of the fish fries, which feature local perch from the Suamico Fish Company. The homemade potato pancakes and potato salad are also a big hit with guests, she said.

Kaminski is quick to say that there are many in her parish who should be mentioned for their service.

She and Clara Drzewicki, 89, take their turn cleaning the church every fifth week. The pair worked in the school system together for 31 years in the school lunch program.

At the summer picnic Kaminski works the sweets stand, helping raise hundreds of dollars for the parish.

She also participates in a monthly “birthday club” which includes 15 women who get together each month to socialize and celebrate. She’s also an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and leads rosary recitation after morning weekday Masses.

Her husband, Andy, keeps busy at the parish as well, serving as an usher.

Kaminski, a West De Pere native, moved to Suamico when her parents bought an 80-acre farm. She and Andy, who retired from Procter and Gamble, also farmed in Suamico.

In addition to the Altar Society, Kaminski is a member of the Knights of Columbus Auxiliary and in the fall she helps with the parish craft fair. That includes making crafts for the event. Among her favorite items is a tissue box cover that features a cardinal.

“I make a lot of crafts and a lot of crocheting,” said Kaminski. “I can’t sit still.”

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