GREEN BAY — Nick Klika feels fortunate to serve in his current ministry at St. Bernard Parish. He reads for the Sunday livestream Masses celebrated by Fr. Mark Vander Steeg, pastor.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to go to Mass and receive the sacrament of the Eucharist,” he said. “I see the people who log into the livestream and comment their appreciation for the Mass. That helps me appreciate even more that I get to be there because other people can’t be. I know how much they wish they could be there with us.”
Klika was invited to help out with Sunday Mass by Fr. Vander Steeg on the Tuesday (March 17) before churches were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was at St. Bernard Church for an evening liturgy and adoration.
“I didn’t know at first what it all entailed,” said Klika. “I had read only once or twice before, not anything regular.”
The first week, Mass was recorded on Saturday. Livestream Masses from St. Bernard began the following Sunday at 9 a.m. on YouTube.
“Usually, I arrive around 8 a.m.,” explained Klika. “I prepare by reading the readings a couple times. We get things set up for Mass; 8:55 a.m. comes quicker than you think. The first five minutes are music. Joe LeBeau (music and liturgy coordinator) does the music.”
Reading at Mass has helped Klika find a deeper appreciation for Scripture, he said.
“I feel that I’ve been able to reflect on the readings more and that I have a better understanding of what is being said,” he said.
Klika has watched portions of the Masses online. “I’ve definitely watched my part to see if there was anything I messed up,” he said. “I try to see if I can improve.”
Klika attended St. Bernard School from kindergarten through eighth grade. His faith grew in high school, he said.
“I grew up in a Catholic family. I was a cradle Catholic, but it wasn’t until after I graduated from middle school and after my freshman year of high school that I really started taking my faith seriously,” he explained. “A couple of my friends from middle school had gone on some of the (service) trips. I heard how much fun they had and what a great experience it was. I started slowly, but surely, taking after them. It was a great chance to build fellowship and grow closer to God. It has definitely, over the years, helped to form my faith today.”
Klika made his first service trip in the summer of 2016, following his first year at Green Bay East High School. He traveled to Detroit for a Shine Catholic Work Camp.
“We helped the community out there with backyard gardens and painted houses,” he said. “I met a lot of good friends of mine (on that trip) and have gone on other trips like Steubenville and March for Life.”
Last summer, Klika was a part of a group, made up primarily of 2019 high school graduates from the parish, that traveled to Rome with Fr. Vander Steeg.
“It was a lot of fun. It was very hot. We were there in July,” said Klika. “It’s an experience that I would recommend for anyone who is able to go. I liked St. Peter’s (Basilica) and seeing the Vatican as a whole.”
He was scheduled to return to Italy this summer with a group led by Fr. Vander Steeg, but the trip was postponed until 2021. In addition to Fr. Vander Steeg, whom Klika describes as “a great priest,” he points to two friends, diocesan seminarians Michael Vance and James Kanning, who attend St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., for helping him grow in his faith.
Klika is currently a student at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. His pastimes include golf. During the “safer-at-home” order, he decided to take up playing the ukulele, which he describes as a “slow process.”
Klika looks forward to a full St. Bernard church again. Will he continue as a reader at that time?
“If Father wants me to, I will,” he said. “I know that we have the regular readers who will be itching to come back, but if I’m needed, I like to help out.”