Ushers at St. Bridget Parish in River Falls, from left, Jim Schmitz, Chuck Meyer, Ken Bodin and Ed Pechacek, stand behind 6-year-old Luke Bodin who, for the last year, he has been ushering alongside his dad. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

It’s not often that the ushers at a weekend Mass really stand out; their stalwart ministry of silent service often goes unnoticed. That is, unless one of those ushers is a few feet shorter than the others.

Ever since 6-year-old Luke Bodin started ushering about one year ago, churchgoers at St. Bridget of Sweden Parish in River Falls have regularly complimented and encouraged his good work.

Luke’s mom, Lisa Bodin, said her son “watched his daddy do this every Sunday and looked forward to the day that he would be able to follow in his footsteps.”

“His opportunity came sooner than expected,” she said, when one Sunday the usher crew was shorthanded, and “Luke jumped in to help and has been the ‘far-side’ usher ever since.”

Sitting down with the men who ushered for the 11 a.m. Mass on July 24, the four others, including Luke’s dad, Ken Bodin, all pointed to the clean-cut boy as the “guy in charge.”

In conversation, Ken shared that he began ushering at St. Bridget’s not long after going through the RCIA program and becoming Catholic about 12 years ago, two years before he and Lisa were married. His connection with the other ushers also led to an invitation to join the Knights of Columbus.

“It’s gratifying to help people,” said Charlie Meyer, who is head usher alongside Ken Bodin.

Meyer has been ushering for almost 30 years. After his retirement, he began counting the collection money on Monday mornings. Since he had some extra time on his hands, he was asked to help usher as well.

He said it’s important to have a good nucleus of ushers so men have the chance to sit with their wives and families at Mass. Whenever they need an extra hand, he tries to look for someone who is at Mass alone for that reason. He believes the service, while good work, should remain balanced with primary commitments and the ability to stay focused on reasons for attending Mass in the first place.

Meyer affirmed ushering is a role of presence that requires awareness of what people might need. They receive training on how to handle situations such as someone getting sick or needing an ambulance or even in the unthinkable situation where police might need to be contacted. Mostly, though, it’s seeing who might need communion brought to them or extra assistance finding a pew.

“It’s an honor to do stuff for the church,” commented Ed Pechacek, one of the other ushers who said he started before even belonging to the parish “forever ago.”

Pechacek added that “a lot of bonding” happens among the group.

Young Luke himself said he likes ushering because it’s fun, but agreed it is a special thing he likes doing with his dad.

“As his mom,” Lisa said, “My eyes fill with tears, as I watch our 6-year old, with his 6-foot-long basket, collect money from each pew and be so reverent and respectful while doing it. To see him participate in the church at such a young age and do the work of Jesus fills us with so much joy. God is truly working through our Luke.”

She expressed how proud she is of her husband and son, who make a point to sit with her and the younger Bodin children, Colton and Laney, during Mass, except for their offertory and hospitality duties.

Lisa acknowledged the special bond that Luke has built with Meyer. She said that the two chat before Mass, and it wouldn’t feel like Sunday unless Luke came home with something from Charlie’s pocket coin purse. After the collection they often bring up the gifts together, something she called “truly a precious sight. These two have touched each other’s lives in a way that is so incredibly special,” she continued. “This ushering ministry has brought generations together, through Christ’s hand, and for that I am so grateful.”