FATHER WALLY KASUBOSKI’S  face has more lines and his hair is more gray since he moved to Panama 31 years ago, but his devotion to God, through his words and deeds, remains as bright as ever.
FATHER WALLY KASUBOSKI’S face has more lines and his hair is more gray since he moved to Panama 31 years ago, but his devotion to God, through his words and deeds, remains as bright as ever.

     Twenty-five years ago, four Ripon-area residents made the first sojourn down to Central America to help Father Wally Kasuboski’s mission to nourish rural Panamanians’ bellies and souls.

     Wally’s younger brother, Peter, was among those who left snowy east-central Wisconsin for the humid, 90-degree jungle that surrounds the padre’s compound in Wacuco.

     Joining him were Jerry Marchant, Marty Hammen and me.

     Peter, Jerry and Marty were there to build a church roof. I was there to chronicle their efforts, but even more, to tell the tale of Father Wally’s ministry.
With my Sony camcorder ... I set out to report how a 46-year-old Capuchin priest/attorney who grew up with 13 siblings on a farm southeast of Ripon had settled — possibly for the rest of his life — in a jungle that had few of the creature comforts he enjoyed 4,224 miles to the north.  ...

As I’ve previously written in this space: “It doesn’t take an army to change the world. Just a person with a good idea, a little vision and a big heart.”

     Come to this weekend’s Freeland Film Festival to see that big heart in action. Father Wally will be there for the screening of his story, “From Mass to the Mountain — A Director’s Cut,” directed by Ripon native Kurt Sensenbrenner and Colin Sytsma. All three will be on hand for the movie Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Thrasher Opera House, and will field questions after the screening.

     Interspersed within their beautifully filmed story is the shaky, bleached-out footage I shot a quarter century ago.

     Wally’s hair is more pepper than salt back then, but otherwise his humor, wisdom, benevolence and devotion shine through.
A favorite moment from my amateur filmmaking — Sensenbrenner and Sytsma inserted 30 seconds of this particular scene — came one morning. I’d been awoken by God’s alarm clock, a rooster, before I peeked through a crack in my floorboards. There was Father Wally, alone as he prayed by candlelight. ...                            — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Sept. 12, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.