Each year in Rome to mark Pentecost, men climb the 142-foot Pantheon dome with bags full of rose petals to shower the people gathered inside through the dome’s oculus. It’s a symbolic act meant to signify the descent of the Holy Spirit. The Pantheon is the largest freestanding non-reinforced concrete structure in the world.
This ancient tradition (which dates to the seventh century) inspired COF Agent Roger Bockweg, who had been contemplating ways to re-energize his home parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Burlington, Kentucky.
“I thought about how we could celebrate Pentecost at my parish,” said Roger. “They probably weren’t going to let me cut a hole in the roof, but I thought I could do something else.”
Roger came up with an idea to serve pancakes shaped like flames to Immaculate Heart of Mary parishioners on Pentecost Sunday in May. But he couldn’t do it alone. He reached out to friends at the parish and asked if they could volunteer. By the time Pentecost rolled around, he had recruited 20 people.
“It was a wonderful team,” said Roger. “Although I came up with the idea, there was no way it could’ve been executed without their help.”
On the morning of the event, Roger and his team arrived to set up tables, chairs, and COF promotional items. They immediately noticed that the parish lawn — which is typically cut on Saturdays — had not been cut the day before. But it was too late to postpone the event. Roger saw no other option but to carry on with it despite the taller-than-usual grass.
Roger walked inside the church to resume set-up, and when he went back outside, he noticed that two volunteers had driven home to get their lawnmowers to cut the lawn before the event was scheduled to begin.
On the freshly mown parish lawn, Roger and the volunteers poured pancake batter onto griddles in the tent shade. After each Mass that morning, they served the hungry parishioners.
“We had a gluten-free pancake option, and several families were happy about that,” said Roger, adding that he will provide sugar-free syrup next year to accommodate all dietary preferences.
This wasn’t the first time Roger has organized an event in Burlington. For Veterans Day two years ago, he lined a Burlington street for a quarter mile with American flags on each side. With the guidance of local veterans, he bought lapel pins and orchestrated a ceremony in which veterans’ family members could participate.
In the future, Roger hopes to spread the word about Matter of Balance, a national program for seniors to strengthen their balance so they can avoid falls. He plans to lead balancing classes as a volunteer.
“For one of the sessions, we bring in a physical therapist to show seniors how to fall down,” said Roger. “In other words, if you’re going to fall, here’s how to do the least damage, and how to get back up. It’s an evidence-based program. The evidence is if they do balance exercises daily, they fall less.”
“It’s been a great joy to help seniors,” he added.
$788 was raised for St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Article by Connor McEleney