Eulogy


We pray that the faith the early settlers brought to this community continue to be nurtured and grow. We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer

We pray for our families, for the sick and elderly relatives that God may comfort them in their trials. We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer

We pray for the residents in Nursing Homes that they may be cared for. For the staff and caregivers that they may provide continued love and assistance to those in need. We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer

We pray for the Wilken, Hockert, Roers and Koeplin families that they may feel the presence of God's love. We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer

We pray Our Lady of the Hills will continue to guide our actions and to protect this area from harm. We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer

We pray for Laura that she may witness Christ's welcoming embrace and eternal peace with the faithful departed in heaven. We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer

I'm glad to see so many familiar faces in attendance this morning. You honor us with your presence. Thank you for coming.

I wish to thank your pastor, Father Lemm, for his generous hospitality and gracious consent to my Mother's desire to be buried from her home parish. Thank you also for assisting in the many details and answering my questions concerning the service. Your help has made this a beautiful occasion.

Thanks to Father Joe Korpf, our pastor at Our Lady of Victory in Fergus Falls, for taking time from a busy schedule to assist in celebrating the Mass for my mother and delivering the beautiful homily. Father brought communion to our house many times, twice a month he says Mass at Pioneer Home. He anointed Ma after her first stroke in January of 1995 and again the Friday before her last one. The morning of her stroke, he came and said the prayers of the Church for the dying. One hour before she was to pass away, Father came without being called, and said the concluding prayers for someone who has died. He stayed with me until she passed away. last night he conducted the prayer service at the Olson Funeral Home. You certainly took good care of mother and she always responded with a big smile when she heard you were coming to see her.

Thanks to our soloist, Pam from OLV, for singing ma's favorite religious song "The Holy City". She-would play the piano and Della would sing it until the walls vibrated.

Thanks to your organist, Rose, and to the choir for leading in song. Your music filled the church with warmth and joy. Thanks to the pall bearers for your presence today, Thanks to our relatives on both sides of the family for your many invitations, family gatherings, prayers, visits, calls, flowers, food and friend-ship throughout the years. Ma loved you all.

And finally, thanks to this parish, the surrounding community, our neighbors at the farm, especially the Allie Korkowski family, and those at RusDic Manor for your kindness, help and friendship shown to my parents and to me during these many years. May God bless you all.

We are gathered here this morning not only to pay our last respects to the mortal remains of my mother, but also to witness the passing of the last of the 3rd generation of Hockerts who immigrated to his country in the 1860's from the little German village of Schwemlingen in the Saarland of western Germany. Only surviving member of this generation is Tillie Hockert Reynolds. According to the late Msgr. Lorsung who spent many hours tracing family history, Nickolaus Hockert's wife, Anna Boesen ( I'm using the German pronunciation) is presumed to be the 3rd person buried in our church cemetery. The reason for this uncertainty surrounding her death and burial in 1869 is that no church records were kept until the establishment of a permanent pastor in 1876. A Rev. Francis Pierz (for whom Pierz, Minnesota is named) was instructed by his bishop, Bishop Cretin, to walk from St. Paul to Millerville where he then heard confessions, baptized infants, held marriages etc. Also the first Mass was celebrated at the home of the John Miller's. From Millerville Fr. Pierz walked to what is now St. Lawrence near Rush Lake and from there to Long Prairie where he remained for several years ministering to both the settlers and the native Indians.

A question we may ask of ourselves this morning is - what motivated the Nick Hockert family and other like families to leave their native land and to come to America? Was it because they heard of free land and that money was scarce in Germany, or were they denied the freedom to dream of a better life for themselves and their children and that opportunity lay across the ocean? Whatever their reason, it must have been a heartwrenching decision for them to leave behind aging parents, brothers and sisters whom they would never see again and to journey across a vast ocean and to spend 7 long weeks on the water before reaching New York with a wife and 4 small children. They must also have been aware that many could and would die during the passage from various diseases. In fact, Historians tell of whole families perishing before they arrived in New York. They sacrificed their privacy as each family huddled together in cramped quarters. Also what provisions, what family treasures would they be allowed to bring along. But "Wenn der Papa sagt, Mir gehen zu America, mir gehen!!: Kinder mach shnell."

And so the family came up the mighty Mississippi and spent 2 years in St. Louis where Nicholas's sister, Barbara, had arrived 2 years previously. Then it was on to Minnesota where they settled on the east shore of Lake Moses, the present home of Dennis Hockert. There was no Welcome Wagon Hostess to greet them, but rather the harsh reality of frontier life. There was no church, Mass or sacraments, no school or country doctor, no roads but trails through the woods - and for neighbors, total strangers bound together by a common language (German) and faith (Catholic) and the need to survive. After erecting their log houses, their first priority was to build a church and a school as the hub of their new formed community. They also reserved time for duty, responsibility, commitment and a love for family, church and community. We here today are mightily blessed because of the strong faith, courage and commitment of these early settlers of our area whether their names were: Hockert, Wilken, Miller, Weber, Buscher, Wagner, Dobmeyer, Hopfner, Zwack, Lorsung, Cichy, Freske or Koeplin.

What guided these immigrants to leave their native land and endure the hardships of pioneer life? Perhaps, just as a star once guided the Wise Man to Bethlehem, a star of destiny must have guided these families to this peaceful area of good rich soil and void of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and war and where their seed, long planted in the earth of our cemetery, has grown and blossomed. And we today are the fruit of their labor and sacrifice. Our journey's today are often taken with the aid of brochures which spell out in detail what we are about to see. Theirs was not a journey of sight, for they ventured forward into the unknown, theirs was definitely a journey of faith, a faith not only in themselves as individuals and as families, but more importantly, a deep and abiding faith in Cod that His guiding hand would see them safely through.

The Wilken family originated from Mecklenburg, near Berlin, and Johan Wilken and his wife, Hannah, and 3 Kinder came to America in 1851 and settled in Racine, Wisconsin. William was born in this country and came to Minnesota in the early 1870's. He married Bertha Hockert in 1878 in the little log church here at Millerville. To this union were born: Anna(Mrs. John Schwartz), Willie, Johnny, Carrie(Mrs. John Hopfner), Della(Mrs. James Benoit), Carl and my mother Laura(Mrs. Joe A. Roers). The descendants of Annie - Laura and Louise - have passed away and never married, Della didn't have any children, and Mother's branch of the family is also rather bare, being I'm the last twig. But the descendants of Willie, Johnny, Carrie and Carl have made up for these deficits and we are indebted to them for doing so.

John Donne in one of his sermons written in the 1600's says "No man is an island unto himself, but is apart of the main. When the Church baptizes a child, that action concerns me because that child is here connected to that body of which I am a member, and when she buries a man, that action concerns me too, for any man's death diminishes me. Therefore1 when the bell tolls, ask not for whom it tolls, for it tolls for thee." When the bell tolled for Anna and Nickolaus Hockert, it was already tolling for our Grandpa William, for our Grandma Bertha, for my dad Joseph and my mother Laura, but also for me. I was wondering, as I was writing this down, what Nickolaus and Anna would say to us today as they view this response, beautiful church, music and a concelebrated Mass. Perhaps it would be a simple "Ganz schon". But they may also add the idea that hope must triumph over adversity. For this is a wisdom tutored by life itself, about the seen and the unseen, about things that change and things that are changeless.

I believe we have all heard the expression "the fork in the road or the road not taken" - a time at which we make a choice that will ultimately change the direction of our lives. Mother was presented with this choice in her teen years She began taking piano lessons at age 13 from Anna Dahl in Evansville and at about 18 she attended the Fargo Conservatory for 6 months. The following fall she was to return to Fargo to continue her musical education. However, her parents were getting up in age and her mother was ill at the time. So mother, already at the train station, turned back and returned home to remain with her parents. She cared for her parents until Grandpa died at age 86 and Grandma at age 97. Again the theme of duty, responsibility, commitment and love enters the picture. Why? The answer is quite simple - for many of us gathered here this morning - God doesn't ask for volunteers to perform a task. He hands us the ball and whispers, "Go for it". So we, in the lives of our various families have our own instances of "the road not taken" because we too have heard and listened to the "voice of the distant drummer"

On the eve of August the 9th, 1996, Jesus entered Mother's room and stood at the foot of the bed and said "Laura, you have labored long and faithfully in my vineyard, now come with me to your new home - an eternity with me in heaven".

May Laura and all the faithful departed rest in peace!