Karen Mulry holds a purple orchid corsage, similar to one placed on the statue of Mary, seen in the background May 4, at St. John Nepomucene Church in Little Chute, Wis. An anonymous request to place flowers on the statue for Mother's Day has been sent to Reynebeau Floral in Little Chute for 69 years. This year makes 70 years, if the shop receives the request yet again. (CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass)
LITTLE CHUTE, Wis. (CNS) -- There's a Mother's Day mystery afoot at St. John Nepomucene Church in Little Chute.
For the past 69 years, flowers have shown up at the statue of Mary courtesy of an anonymous donor. Though parishioners enjoy the sight of the lovely flowers, no one has figured out who the donor is.
Karen Mulry, a parishioner who is retired from her family's florist business, said every year an envelope with a one-sentence letter and a check arrives at Reynebeau Floral in Little Chute on the Thursday or Friday before Mother's Day.
"It's always written the same and says, 'Dear Florist, would you please put the annual purple orchid by the Blessed Virgin again this year? Thank you very much.' The first check was for $2 and each year, it increased a little," Mulry told The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay.
"I remember that first one because it was my first Communion that year," she said. That was 1947.
Her parents, Jack and Viola Reynebeau, owned and operated the florist business that they had started in 1935. "My mother did the orchid as a wrist corsage because the arms of the statue were extended," Mulry continued. "After the church was remodeled, the statue was hung on a wall. Now we do a pot of flowers to set at Mary's feet."
As the years went on, Mulry said the employees always anticipated the letter and made sure to save one or two purple orchids for Mary.