As he greeted many well wishers after mass this past Saturday evening, Monsignor Larry Bakke replaced his vestments with his classic, green plaid shirt, which he wore over his clerics. On his face, he wore his classic, oversized grin. This past weekend was the last weekend of masses for the joyful Monsignor, as he’s retiring from active parish ministry after 46 years.
Ordained a priest in 1975, Monsignor Larry Bakke has done a little bit of everything for the Diocese of Madison. He’s served at a few different parishes (St. Bernard’s, Madison; St. Albert the Great Parish, Sun Prairie; St. Joseph Parish, Baraboo; and for the past ten years as pastor of St. Clare of Assisi Parish, Monroe), he served for four years as the chaplain of the University Hospital in Madison, and for the past ten years, in addition to serving as the pastor in Monroe, he has served as the Director of The Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities.
Additionally, just a few years after being ordained, Father Larry was assigned to serve as the Director of a small youth camp near the Wisconsin Dells. Badly outdated and needing many repairs when he took the reins, Father Larry got to work revitalizing and growing our beloved Camp Gray.
Perhaps his greatest feat during his time leading Camp Gray? He was the first director to open up camp for female campers. Prior to his arrival, Camp Gray was for boys only.
When he stepped down as director in 1993, he joined Camp’s Advisory Board, and he has been helping to guide this great mission in that capacity ever since.
While he’s retiring from serving as a pastor, he’ll continue to oversee The Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities. During his tenure as the Director of The Apostolate, Monsignor has worked hard to grow the reach of this important ministry. The Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities offers grants for the parishes and ministries of the Diocese of Madison. Camp Gray has been the recipient of a few of these grants, as we’ve done extensive work ensuring that our buildings and facilities are accessible to all.
Jeff, Rebecca, and their kids went to Monroe, WI on Saturday for the celebration of the retirement of Monsignor Bakke. His presence in the life of the Hoeben family has been a steady constant since the beginning. Monsignor Bakke celebrated the wedding of Jeff and Rebecca (in Camp’s St. Francis of Assisi Chapel), and he also baptized their three children.
Good news for all of us that will surely miss him serving as a pastor; Monsignor Bakke will continue to celebrate most of the weekly television Masses that air on Sunday mornings at 7a.m. on WISC-TV, Channel 3.
Wishing you a very happy and well deserved retirement, Monsignor Bakke!
Thanks for all you’ve done for Camp Gray, for the Diocese of Madison, and for so many of us that have been blessed to cross paths with you over the years.
Please pray for the Good Monsignor as he steps back to enjoy some well deserved rest!