The title of this blog is Compass GPS, as in Going Places with the Staff. It’s an opportunity to share information, anecdotes and other experiences that don’t make it into our stories.
Sometimes when we’re on an assignment, a moment of serendipity occurs. That was truly the case at the Rural Life Mass March 27 at St. Mary Church in Crivitz. I was there to take photos of the usual events: the blessing of seeds and soil inside the church and the blessing of farm animals and farm implements outside the church.
What I wasn’t expecting (nor was anyone else except Bishop David Ricken and Fr. Walter Stumpf) was a special blessing for a young altar server, Joey Pickett, who is recovering from two surgeries and radiation treatment following his diagnosis for a brain tumor.
Luckily, when Bishop Ricken introduced Joey following Communion, I was kneeling near the front pew. I planted myself there waiting for the blessing of seeds to take place. Instead, Bishop Ricken stood with Joey and told us that the altar server was recovering from a brain tumor. I was in the right spot for photos as Bishop Ricken placed his hands on Joey’s head and began a prayer for his healing.
After Mass (and after the outdoor procession and blessing of animals and tractors) I scurried to get more information about the altar boy with the wide smile. Since the rural life luncheon was about to begin, I wasn’t able to interview Sherie Pickett until the next day by phone. That gave me time to do some online searching.
I found that several benefits had been held for Joey in Crivitz. Supporters have labeled the fund-raising effort “Kick It Pickett” and have even created a Facebook page. I learned from Fr. Stumpf that the Parish Council of Catholic Women made a donation to offset some of the family’s expenses of traveling to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.
Some of these side stories did not make it into the story about Joey, including the fact that after Joey’s first MRI to detect the brain tumor, a second tumor on his lower spine was discovered. That needed to be treated as well.
When the staff at Crivitz Elementary School learned about Joey’s diagnosis and radiation treatment, they decided to surprise Joey and have a head-shaving celebration on Jan. 17. Fr. Stumpf also had his head shaved. A second event at the school on Jan. 31 (four days after Joey’s 10th birthday) saw nearly 90 kids have their heads shaved and raise nearly $15,000 for Joey. That event was captured by WBAY-TV.