There is a poem about parenting that reiterates many times the theory that children learn what they live. That theory has been proven true time and again in Working Mom’s adopted hometown of Monroe, where youth understand and demonstrate the value of community service from an early age.
In 1971, when the Diocese of Madison relocated its Apostolate to the Handicapped program, and the Apostolate’s director Father Thomas Campion, or TC, as he fondly became known in Monroe, to the county seat of Green County no one could have imagined the lasting impact it would have on generations of Monroe residents.
In an era where many teens are deeply entrenched in the adolescent mindset of “what’s in it for me?” Monroe teens routinely set aside time to assist with Apostolate fundraisers; events for the disabled, sick, and elderly; and travel to Madison to videotape weekly television masses aired on WISC-TV 3.
Early on in the Apostolate’s days in Monroe, those served by Campion and those serving alongside him became known as “Campion’s Champions.”
When youth are reticent to appear different from their peers and shun attire without the ‘right name brand’, Monroe teens beg and barter for the latest “Campion’s Champions” t-shirts, which prominently feature the Apostolate’s logo of an individual seated in a wheelchair.
Adults from other areas often look quizzically at the attire and ask Monroe parents, “What do you have to do to make them wear a t-shirt with someone in a wheelchair on it?”
Their surprise is evident, when this Monroe parent answers honestly, “Nothing. However, getting them to wear something else can be difficult!”
Typically, youth who serve as acolytes for mass discontinue that service around eighth grade or ninth grade. With that in mind, imagine trying to find acolyte vestments long enough for the tallest center on the varsity basketball team or broad enough for the all-conference football lineman because they want to continue serving masses for the Apostolate.
At the offertory of Apostolate masses, there is seldom a dry eye in attendance when these healthy, strapping young men slowly escort a handicapped, elderly or ill guest up the center aisle carrying a portion of the gifts for the mass.
Many consider these young men to be the “whose who” of the High School because of their athletic prowess or other accomplishments. However, these teens have a much more staid outlook. They consider themselves honored to have this responsibility, taking it very seriously, walking with the guest to his or her chair and standing by patiently until the guest is seated safely and comfortably.
Prior to his death on November 12, Campion taught these youth and many before them about the importance of service through his own continuous service. Even when his illness required him to carry oxygen with him, he continued to serve others delivering communion to those hospitalized at Monroe Clinic, saying mass there and at St. Victor in Monroe and planning for the Apostolate's annual Christmas Day.
The next Working Mom's piece will talk about that special day held annually the first Saturday in December in the Monroe High School Gymnasium.