March 18, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Take advantage of Indiana’s beautiful state parks

Shirley Vogler MeisterSince the 1970s, a group of Catholic couples whose husbands sang or still sing with the Indianapolis Maennerchor have been going on hikes and picnics at Indiana’s state parks.

Originally, we did this as campers with our children on weekends in the spring or autumn. Eventually, some Maennerchor Protestant singers and their wives also joined us.

As our children graduated from high school and attended colleges or began working, our group’s members suggested varied times of the year for our nature adventures.

Since many of the men and women still worked, we kept our weekend jaunts and began enjoying the hospitality of the wonderful Indiana state park inns.

By the time the working men and their wives retired, we realized that we could go any time of the year. So someone suggested that we take winter hikes and picnics. We have enjoyed doing this in many state parks for several years.

This year, we gathered at Clifty Falls State Park. Rain prevented us from walking on the trails because of mud.

However, those of us able to be there still enjoyed our picnic in our favorite open-sided shelter with benches and a stone hearth. We roasted sausages and ate other picnic fare.

This was our smallest group ever because some of our friends enjoy vacation time in warmer climates during the cold weather months.

We realize that at some point we might not be able to do this anymore. Some members of our original group have passed on. We remember each and every one, and honor them through prayer and the wonderful memories that we have from former years.

During these weekends, we were able to find Catholic churches near the parks and attend Mass.

On two occasions, the Indianapolis Maennerchor sang concerts in Spencer so many of us camped at a nearby state park.

I am sure that other campers were perplexed when our husbands—also known as “The Gentlemen of Song”—and their wives left with the men in tuxedoes and the women dressed appropriately for the evening’s event.

What a blessing our trips to Indiana’s state parks have been for us. When the groups were large, other guests at the inns sometimes joined us as we played games in the evenings. At our invitation, one out-of-town couple even joined us for our hike and picnic.

Our Catholic camping friends are members of Holy Spirit, St. Barnabas and St. Pius X parishes in Indianapolis as well as Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis—where my husband, Paul, and I are members.

We recommend that other families enjoy Indiana’s beautiful woodlands by camping at the state parks or staying at the state park inns.

For more information about state parks, contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 317-232-4200 or toll-free at 877-463-6367 or log on to the website at

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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