Embers from the Fire
A weekly blog by Deacon Dan Wagnitz for the Quad Parish Community
E.K. 1929 – 8/14/2020
My day job is the Safe Environment Coordinator for the Diocese of Green Bay. My office is in
the Chancery building. I will be in that position for just a handful of weeks because I decided
last January that I was not going to miss one more October. October, or more precisely, that
golden couple of weeks of October when the mornings are clear and crisp with a touch of frost
but the afternoons are golden and warm in splashes of sunlight playing with the leaves –
yellow, red, orange shimmering in the light breeze, are my favorite weeks of the year. And
each year as I push deeper into my 60’s they seem to be over quicker and quicker. I have a
deep spiritual desire to be out in each and every second of them this time around, and for as
many times around as I have left.
I have been busy documenting processes and getting as many big projects finished off as
possible so the next ones in line can keep the ball moving forward. It has gotten me
contemplating the concept of legacy. Legacy is the impact of one’s existence on others. That
has also gotten me thinking about E.K. 1929 more often.
The Diocesan offices form a campus of four buildings. You may or may not be aware but the
site used to be an orphanage. That is why some of the ceramic tiles on the walls are decorated
with boys and girls and toys and animals. I have heard that some folks while working late have
heard the echoes of children running the halls. I have only encountered E.K. 1929.
I suppose to make it easier on the children to move from building to building during the season
of winter snows in the old days, there are some underground tunnels that connect some of the
buildings. The door at the end of the hall on my floor in the Chancery leads into a tunnel that
connects to Melania Hall. I knew about the tunnel but had no interest in going in it until I
started counting steps. The Diocese, like many employers, offers an insurance incentive for
those who are more active. One way of demonstrating your activity is to wear a device that
counts your steps each day. My device presents two daily goals: to walk at least 10,000 steps in
total, and to walk at least 250 steps for the nine hours of the work day. I discovered a couple of
winters ago that it is about 280 steps from my office, through the tunnel to the door leading
into Melania and back again. It’s handy when it’s cold and snowy and slippery in the parking lot
to walk the tunnel each hour.
It was on one of my first walks in the tunnel that I encountered E.K. 1929. The initials and the
date are chiseled into one on the concrete blocks that make up the wall. They are about four
feet off of the ground. The height and the fact that it would have taken some strength and real
or makeshift tools to chisel the date suggest someone who was a teenager. Besides, it just
sounds like something a teenage boy would do.
So, who was E.K. and what was his life story as it played out in 1929? He obviously wanted to
make his mark – literally – that he was here. He was a real person. He had hopes and dreams
I asked Olivia in Archives if we have records that would perhaps put a face on E.K. She thinks
it’s possible. I haven’t had the opportunity to explore those records. There are limited name
possibilities with the letter “e” so it may be more likely. I’ve told others who work at the Curia
and pointed out his mark. I’m a little surprised that I seem to be the only one working there
now who noticed. Maybe a retirement legacy project may be to find out more about E.K. and
what legacy he left in life. For now, I pray an “Ave” for him each day. Perhaps that is legacy
enough – that someone noticed you were there, that someone remembers, that someone
prays for you.
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