POY SIPPI — For the Lipperts, serving Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish is all in the family. Like a baseball team for Jesus, all nine pitch in wherever needed from mom, Renee, and dad, Rob, down the lineup of Caleigh, age 20; Lyndsey, 18; Noah, 15; Maren, 12; Andrew, 8; and Kolby, 5; to Jude, 11 months.
“Jude is just cute, he’s biding his time, he’s kind of the mascot,” said Renee, who grew up in Poy Sippi and has been a member of Sacred Heart since she was 4. “This is the church I grew up in, it feels like home to me. The people are truly welcoming.”
“Our church family is an extension of our family life,” said Renee. “We all help at home, and we all help out at church.”
The family’s service runs the gamut. The five oldest children are servers. “I like going up there and serving Jesus,” said Andrew. “I used to get nervous, but I’ve done it at least eight times now, so not so much anymore.”
Lyndsey is a lector, Caleigh and Renee are lectors and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and Noah is an usher.
“I like ushering,” he said. “Meeting and greeting all the people, helping everybody through the doors, saying good morning and putting smiles on their faces.”
Noah, along with his dad, also does maintenance, shoveling snow and mowing the lawn, while Kolby is the sweeper. “That’s what Kolby does for the church. He cleans, he sweeps,” said Renee. “That boy is a little worker for 5 years old. At home he does laundry, he vacuums, he does the dishes – he just likes to clean.”
In addition, the kids do youth ministry at the Waushara County Food Pantry in Wautoma every month, organizing food donations. “We unpack and repack items, sort nonperishables and produce, stock shelves … it’s a process, but actually quite fun,” said Lyndsey.
The three sisters and other parishioners have been discussing ideas for youth ministry activities to raise funds for the church and possible mission work, including a bake sale, noting that Maren makes cream puffs and cupcakes.
“Deacon Bob [Precourt] raises money for the Appalachian Project, to build homes, and a while ago he talked to us about maybe doing a mission trip to Kentucky,” said Lyndsey. “If we could raise money to do something like that, I think that would be amazing.”
Every other Wednesday, the family attends catechism at St. Mark Church in Redgranite, with Renee teaching the middle school group. “It’s called Generations of Faith because anyone from the parish is welcome,” she said. “It’s a unique program that includes kids as well as adults, from first graders and younger to people in their 70s.”
“It’s challenging to bring something to the middle schoolers that was written in a time that was very, very different than our time,” she added. “I want them to come away loving their Catholic faith as much as I do.”
The Lipperts join members of the congregation to help decorate the church for religious holidays, including putting up and taking down the Christmas tree (Kolby vacuumed up the needles), hanging colored linens for Lent, and arranging tulle and lilies for Easter.
“I always look forward to all the different flowers they bring into church, a sign of spring,” said Lyndsey.
There’s plenty of opportunity for fellowship and community building, too, with monthly meals at Sacred Heart and quarterly dinners that are hosted on rotation by each of the four churches in Poy Sippi, two Lutheran, one Catholic, and one Methodist.
“There’s rarely a week that we don’t have something on the schedule to do,” said Lyndsey. “We don’t miss church. It’s been a part of us, and our family, for as long as I can remember.”
“I would feel very proud if all of my kids grow up to love Jesus, love our Catholic faith, and go to church,” said Renee. “I hope they stay doing that the rest of their lives. And then we will be successful parents.”