PLAINFIELD — It took a little while, but Dave Senft finally found his spiritual calling and the missions he feels God meant for him to share with the world.
The Milwaukee native came to the Plainfield area when he was a high school junior. He then joined the service before returning here. He and his wife, Julie, joined St. Paul Parish in about 1990, when they started their family.
Senft is a plumber and owner of Paradise Plumbing in Bancroft. He does plumbing jobs for the parish as needed and did the plumbing for a Habit for Humanity house that volunteers from the parish helped build.
He also pitches in on other small jobs that arise at the parish.
But he kept feeling another nudging — to join the choir. “I feel strongly that that is what God asked me to do,” he says. “He gave me something with my voice and asked me to share it. It took me six years to get the nerve to join the choir. God asked, and I said no.”
Finally, he couldn’t say no anymore.
“God took an introverted, stuttering dyslexic who can’t read music and put me up in front of all those people,” he says. “Now, I’ve been in the choir for 21 years and I say it’s my calling. I sing bass in the choir and in solos. When it helps other people get the context of what that song is about, when they can hear that in my voice and it motivates them, that means everything to me.”
That was never more relevant than when he sang at the funeral of his son, David. David was 14 when he died in a school bus accident. He had enjoyed his father’s singing and “used to brag me up a little bit to his friends,” Senft says.
He doubted his ability to sing at such an occasion but did it as a gift for his son. “When it was happening, I wasn’t really there,” Senft says. “When I started singing, it was like I was watching myself. I sang, ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ by Mercy Me.
“From that point on, I knew if I could do that I can do anything.”
He felt another nudging — to support right-to-life activities. He just needed an opportunity, he says, and found it when the parish’s deacon at the time, Bob Precourt, was going to take part in a March for Life in Stevens Point.
“I took the opportunity,” Senft says. “It wasn’t just me who felt that way. There were a lot of people in the community wanting to get involved but just waiting for something to happen.”
He has since taken a leading role in that mission. “There was a time when I was sitting on the fence about right to life,” Senft says. “I felt that I would never do that myself, but I would not stop anyone else from doing it, either. Then common sense knocked me in the head. If it’s a baby when you want to keep it, why is it not a baby if you don’t want to keep it?”
He works with the parish, Wisconsin Right to Life -Waushara Chapter and the Knights of Columbus to help raise awareness of the issue and funds for the First Choice Pregnancy Resource Center in Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids.
He said the most common reason women seek abortions is that they feel they have no choice. “But there is an alternative,” Senft says.
His wife, Julie, and son, Rob, 19, both participate in right-to-life activities, as well. “My son, Rob, has been instrumental,” Senft says. “Every time I ask if he could help, he says, ‘Whatever you need, Dad.’ He’s already put in more than 200 hours of volunteer service. He’s not a vocal person, but if there’s any work to be done, there’s Rob.”
A recent fund-raiser featured recording artist Jaime Thietten in concerts in Wautoma and Appleton. “I got to sing a duet with her,” Senft says. (The song is on YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi8d_HZYzww).
For Senft, his volunteer work revolves around the idea that each new generation needs to step up and contribute. “When I was in my 30s, I looked around at the leaders of our church. Everyone had gray hair,” he says. “It reminded me of the song, ‘Who’s Going to Fill Their Shoes?’ The only person I could think of was in the mirror. We all have to look in the mirror sometimes. The more people who get involved, the more they will want to get involved and join in.”