MENASHA — You could say Halle Castonia was following in her mother’s footsteps when she walked down the aisle of St. John the Baptist Church July 18 to marry Michael Logemann. But it would be more accurate to say she was following in her grandmother’s footsteps.
And her great-grandmother’s footsteps.
And her great-great-grandmother’s footsteps.
Nearly 94 years after Clara Dombrowski and John Heindl were wed at St. John the Baptist Church in 1926, Halle and Michael Logemann continued the family’s five-generation tradition of exchanging vows at the Menasha church.
Halle told The Compass that keeping the family tradition alive was an honor — especially because she has a bond with each of the other brides.
“It’s so special and it’s so rare,” she said. “I think, too, what’s even more special is the fact that all five of the generations, I got to actually meet all of those women — all the way to my great-great-grandma Clara. I knew her up until I was 7 years old, which I also think is a very rare thing.”
Halle is a 2015 graduate of St. Mary Catholic High School in Neenah. She attended Marian University in Fond du Lac, where she earned an elementary/middle education degree in December 2019. She is currently teaching seventh grade religion at Xavier Middle School in Appleton.
Halle and Michael met in the summer of 2016 while both were participating in a summer performance of the Wizard of Oz at St. Mary Catholic Schools. “I was pretty much in the ensemble and Michael played Uncle Henry,” she said. They got engaged in April 2019 and set their wedding date for July 18, 2020.
The location was the easiest part of their plans.
“I pretty much knew in my heart that it would be St. John’s because, being the fifth generation to get married there, I knew that it would definitely mean a lot to my family, especially my parents and grandparents,” said Halle.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Halle said she worried that the wedding would have to be postponed.
“It definitely got to a point where it was a little upsetting and a little scary and a little discouraging,” she said. “For a period of time, we thought that there was a possibility of having to postpone the date. We were kind of preparing for the worst, but as God would have it, we were able to stick with our original date, which was really exciting.”
On her wedding day, wedding announcements and photos from all five generations were displayed on tables in the church gathering area, where guests were given temperature checks, face masks and assigned seats a safe distance from each other.
Fr. Tom Long, pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Oshkosh, Michael’s home parish, presided at the wedding liturgy. Halle even wore the wedding dress her mother, Rebecca, wore on her wedding day.
“It was just a total celebration of family and the sacrament of marriage,” said Halle’s mother. “What made it even more special is that Halle knew her great-great-grandmother. It wasn’t just a name on a family tree. Halle had a relationship with her great-grandmother as well, and still with her grandmother.”
All of the couples that preceded Halle and Michael in marriage at St. John the Baptist Church were remembered during the ceremony. They included:
- Clara Dombrowski and John Heindl, married Nov. 22, 1926;
- Eugene Heindl and Amber Koch, married Sept. 11, 1954;
- Pam Heindl and Paul Cleveland, married Dec. 16, 1972;
- Rebecca Cleveland and Chris Castonia, married June 12, 1999.
“To actually be able to meet the brides of all of the generations and to have a relationship with them and to share that bond with them is a really special thing for me that I don’t take lightly,” said Halle. “I would definitely hope to continue this tradition as long as we can.”
She described her great-great-grandmother, Clara, as a matriarch of St. John the Baptist Parish. “St. John’s was very precious to her. I remember when she was living, she would try to get there every day (for Mass) and she was always sitting there in the front row,” added Halle. “I think that it would make her very proud to know that I was able to get married here as well.”