When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the
Baptist, biblical scholars will agree — He definitely did not do it as a
But members of St. John the Baptist Parish in
Gildehaus did a polar plunge as a reminder of their own baptism and the
Lord’s baptism, and to come together as a parish community during a
About two dozen people took the plunge on an overcast
morning, Jan. 9 at Veterans Memorial Park in Union. The temperature was
30 degrees, but participants didn’t seem to care, as they got down to
T-shirts and shorts — some even going without socks and shoes — to
plunge into the muddy pond.
With winter activities canceled at the
parish, pastor Father Timothy Foy considered other ideas to bring
together the community in a safe way. Father Foy had done a polar plunge
sponsored by a Christian radio station a year ago. He thought, why not
host a similar activity, timed to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord
celebrated Jan. 10. With the parish being named St. John the Baptist —
well, it all came together perfectly.
Proceeds from the
registration benefited the parish’s Helping Hands ministry, which
provides food and financial assistance with utilities to people in need
in the community. Members of the Legion of Mary coordinated logistics
for the day, with commemorative T-shirts given to all who registered.
event was an opportunity to bring people together as a reminder that
they are all members of the Body of Christ — and for some frigid fun,
Father Foy said.
“The events of Christ’s life are extended to us,”
such as baptism, he said. “It’s important that we are renewing that
relationship to Christ, and entering to an awakening helps identify
ourselves as united with Him. We’re not just individuals with an
individual religion — we’re all members of the Body of Christ.”
from the Gospel of John prior to the plunge, Father Foy stressed that
the event was not to be a renewal of baptismal vows (“It was fully
completed at your baptism, at my baptism,” he said.) but as a way to
reflect on Jesus’ life, and how He humbled Himself to be with us,
through our mutual baptism.
“His desire was so great to be with
us,” he said. “In our baptism, God freed us from the power of sin and
from the bonds of original sin, any personal sin. We are reunited with
the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The
unconquerable love of God came present into our hearts at baptism —
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
St. Paul said that we die with
Christ and rise with Him into new life through our baptism, he
continued. “We’re grafted onto the spotless humanity of Christ — He’s
the vine, we’re the branches. He made it possible, with this feast,
where He got baptized in His own washing by St. John. But He didn’t have
to do that. He chose to manifest the truth that God is His Father. And
we can also understand that we are to be the children of God.”
Bargen and her son, Nathan, 23, took the plunge together. This was the
first time in a long time that Bargen had been in person with fellow
parishioners. As a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Washington, Bargen has
stayed away from public gatherings due to her potential exposure to the
COVID-19 virus. She recently had a gap away from patients in which it
was deemed safe for her to attend the plunge.
“It was freezing — I don’t know that I’ll do it again,” she said with a laugh.
Bargen participated in another polar plunge a couple of years ago. He
said this one was more meaningful, coming together with his parish. “I
thought it was good to get people into the right mindset to make this a
more impactful experience,” he said.
Kate Schroeder and two others
served as lifeguards, along with assistance from the Union Fire
Department. Schroeder, who had participated in a polar plunge two years
ago in the same pond, said the key to a successful plunge is to run
straight into the water, turn around and run right back out. And don’t
get bogged down by wearing too many clothes.
“You just run
straight out,” said Schroeder, a member of Immaculate Conception in
Union. “It’s muddy. You get stuck. People are going to lose shoes — if
they go all the way in. And have warm clothes on hand.”
Jacquin wasn’t able to take the plunge due to recent surgery but instead
helped other members of the Legion of Mary to coordinate registration.
She recently witnessed a baptism and said it reminded her of our
connection to the Lord through His own baptism.
“Life is kind of tough right now, and we know God is our savior,” he said. “He’s worth the cold.”
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
We recently celebrated
the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday, Jan. 10, remembering the
baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Jesus was
born without sin, so He did not need to be baptized. But He did so, and
thus marked the beginning of His public ministry, that He could be
identified with the sinners whom He had come to save.
of Matthew recounts the moment of His baptism: “After Jesus was
baptized, He came from the water and behold, the heavens were opened
(for Him), and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and)
coming upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my
beloved son, with whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16-17).
welcomes His own baptism as an example for the rest of us. He is God’s
Son, the living presence of God, in human flesh, on earth. When we renew
our baptismal promises, we proclaim our belief in the waters of baptism
and our new and ongoing life in Christ. The baptism of Jesus reminds us
of our identity: who we are and whose we are; and mission: to live as
children of God and to live a Christian life as co-creators with God in
building up the Kingdom of God on earth.
Further reading from Vatican News: bit.ly/2XmICcP
Readings from Jan. 10, the Baptism of the Lord: bit.ly/3hWJAG5