[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]DENMARK — The fruits of Mary Vogel’s artistic labor decorate the walls and shelves — not to mention the property — of her rural Denmark home, where she and her husband of 55 years, Jerome, have lived for 47 years. Vogel’s talents range from crocheting, knitting and sewing to metal welding and wood carving. “When I hear about a new craft, I’m anxious to do it,” said Vogel.
The Kewaunee County native is known for her commitment to everything she pursues, and that includes her service at All Saints Parish. Vogel has been a sacristan at the church for two decades. She cleans the sacristy, washes altar cloths, changes candles and makes sure everything is just right for Mass. “I feel good when I’m up on the altar,” she said, making sure it “looks good for the Lord.”
Vogel is also a familiar face in the parish’s faith formation program, where she has taught the confirmation class for 26 years. This year she instructed the fourth grade class, but will transition back to confirmation next year.
Her role as a catechist began after her children – Brenda, Greg, Jeff, Tom, Steve and Linda – started attending religious education classes. “Instead of driving back home, I thought I would stay there and teach,” she said.
When a request for confirmation class teachers appeared in the parish bulletin, she talked her friend, Darlene Wertal, into team teaching the class with her. The two women had a lot in common, including their mutual experience of living in a convent for several years. “We were ex-nuns,” Vogel said with a smile.
Vogel, whose father died when she was 8, moved to Stangelville with her mother, stepfather and two brothers when she was 12. She attended Holy Rosary School in Kewaunee for two and one-half years. One of the sisters teaching at Holy Rosary encouraged Vogel to enter Holy Family Convent in Manitowoc, so she spent two years as an aspirant with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity before returning to Stangelville and graduating from Kewaunee High School in 1959.
Her friend, Wertal, spent three years in a Milwaukee convent. “We learned so much at the convent,” said Vogel, and it helped them to prepare for teaching the confirmation classes.
Just as the convent had a positive impact on her faith, so did pilgrimages to Lourdes, France; Fatima, Portugal; and Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Appearances by the Blessed Mother have been approved by the church in Lourdes and Fatima, while Medjugorje apparitions have not received the church’s blessing.
Those experiences, especially at Medjugorje, led Vogel to a strong devotion to the rosary. It motivated her to begin a rosary group at All Saints Church about seven years ago. The group recites the rosary before daily morning Mass. Vogel no longer attends all of the daily Masses at All Saints. Sometimes, usually on Fridays, she attends Mass at the Carmelite monastery, which is located a few miles from her home.
“Mary’s always willing to pitch in, no matter what’s asked of her,” said Diane Steinberger, a fellow parishioner who has known Vogel for four decades. “She sees things that need to be done and gets right in there and helps. I don’t know anybody who does more for her parish than Mary does.”
When she isn’t volunteering at church, Vogel can be found making crafts or teaching others to make them. She has been part of the Denmark Home and Community Education (HCE) program for 46 years and serves as the northeast district’s culture and textile arts chairperson.
“The Lord has blessed me with a lot of different crafts that I can do, so I have been giving lessons,” she said. She is currently leading a wreath making class and will soon begin a class at a local senior center showing residents how to make crafts with glassware and bottles.
One of Vogel’s prized crafts is a wood-carved statue of St. Francis of Assisi, which stands about one foot tall. “My stepdad was a carver and he had macular degeneration,” an incurable eye disease, she said. Before he died last May, Edwin Reinke traced a drawing of St. Francis on balsam wood but was not able to carve it. After his death, Vogel decided to carve out the image as a tribute to her stepfather. “I just wanted to finish what he started,” she said.
Family continues to be the joy of Vogel’s life. She now has 13 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
She also tries to pass on the faith to her family. “I like to be with them, to help them if they have questions about their religion.” It’s a gift she received at home and at the convent and one she intends to continue sharing. “From what I’ve learned and what I’m still learning, I try to pass it on.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]
Your Catholic Neighbor
Name: Mary Vogel
Parish: All Saints, Denmark
Favorite saint: Therese of Lisieux, Padre Pio
Words to live by: “Let the children come to me.”