BAY SETTLEMENT — Every parish, in order to grow and evangelize, needs devoted members who give freely of their time and talent. Holy Cross Parish has Ginny Lardinois, a lifelong member whose involvement is widespread and dates back to her days as a student at Holy Cross School.
“My parents were always involved with things going on in the church,” said Lardinois. It was their example, along with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, that got her started. The religious community was established in 1868 to serve Holy Cross Parish and School.
“They got us involved in things like the choir,” she said. “We had an adult choir after that, and I just continued. I’ve been in the adult choir since high school.”
For the past 34 years, Lardinois has directed the adult choir, which sings two Sundays each month and on special occasions. “We’ve been together a long time,” she said. “We know each other, we have a lot of fun and we’ve been told we have one of the nicest choirs in the area.”
All of the credit goes to Franciscan Sr. Jeanette Peplinski, she said, who began the children’s choir, the women’s choir and the men’s choir, with the latter two merging to form the adult choir.
Lardinois said her family’s history and the parish’s history are interwoven and go back generations.
“My great grandparents came over from Holland and settled here in Bay Settlement,” she said. “So our family has been here awhile.” Her father, Francis Van Egeren, attended Holy Cross School, eventually met and married Bernice Burkart of New Franken, and bought his father’s farm.
Her parents passed on the importance of family and faith, she said.
“I wanted my kids to have a Catholic school education, so that’s why we looked for a house in the area,” she said.
Lardinois met and married her husband, Marv, on June 4, 1966. “Just before we got married, we found our house, just a mile up the road, and we’ve been living there for the last 52 years.” She and Marv have two children, Jerry Lardinois and Kathy Heller, and four grandchildren.
Her family’s deep roots at Holy Cross have given Lardinois added interest in the parish’s history. She is the unofficial parish historian. “I guess I am part of that history,” she said with a smile.
When the parish was preparing for its 150th anniversary in 2002, “I started collecting historical data and memorabilia for that occasion,” she said. “Since then, people have been giving me all kinds of historical information. So I have been at work compiling albums of pictures and data.”
The parish has a heritage room where all the history Lardinois has compiled is on display. Holy Cross recently broke ground on a parish center, and a special area will be reserved for historical data. “We want that in the new addition so that people can come in and look at the history of the parish. Since I’ve been here my whole life, I have a special interest in how the parish was started, the school and everything going on here,” she said.
Choir director and parish historian are just two of the many hats Lardinois has worn in her years at Holy Cross. She’s been a member of the parish board of trustees, finance committee and board of education. She co-chairs the parish’s annual rummage sale and has roles in just about every parish social and fund-raising event. She also served as Holy Cross School secretary for 23 years.
“I was the first secretary that Holy Cross School ever had,” said Lardinois. “It started out part-time and then became full-time plus.”
The hours spent giving her time to Holy Cross Parish have been an opportunity to meet new people and strengthen old bonds, said Lardinois.
“I found out that, by volunteering to do things, I learned a lot from that work. Sometimes I learned that I didn’t want to do that anymore, but there are a lot of things I learned from other people by working with them on the various projects,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors, get to know other people and get to feel like you’re a part of the family.”
Lardinois said she is thankful to God that her family has been blessed “by not having any really big trials. But with every little trial, I still turn to my faith and to God for every little thing,” she said. “Yes, God plays a big part in my life and I talk to him every day and often.
“I feel that God has given me a lot of blessings and I feel that, as long as he gives me my health and I have the means to do this, I will continue to do it,” she added. “I enjoy working with my neighbors and friends and other neighbors of the parish. You feel more part of the parish family that way.”