By Janelle C. Gergen/Editor, OND
Crookston – On Jan. 31, 135 people from around the Diocese of Crookston gathered for the 40th Diocesan Annual Appeal (DAA) Kickoff Dinner. The event, held at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, is a time to gather those who help facilitate the annual appeal at the parish level, including clergy, and thank them for their work in support of the diocese.
To celebrate 40 successful years of the appeal, invitations were extended to past diocesan staff members and those who have given consecutively for 25 years or more. The DAA was announced in parishes on Feb. 2-3 and pledges will be taken the weekend of Feb. 9-10.
This year’s event began with Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner leading Evening Prayer, followed by musical entertainment and an hors d’oeuvres social.
“This is a 40th celebration of generosity … and of people sharing with one another God’s blessings so that the work of the Lord can continue,” Bishop Hoeppner said. “Thanks for coming and thanks for all you have done in years gone by to support your parish and this local Church.”
Gordon and Maxine Pagnac of Cathedral Parish attended the celebratory event and said they contribute annually to the DAA because they feel it is important to support the pastoral ministries of the entire diocese. Noting their money can impact others beyond their parish through the DAA, Gordon simply said, “We give because we were raised up that way.”
Fred Houdek of St. Michael, Mahnomen, has been involved with the DAA for 40 years. He was on the original parish planning committee during the first appeal year in 1978-79, has always been an active contributor and now serves as a parish captain alongside his wife, Sharon.
One of the best things he sees coming from DAA dollars is the promotion of priestly vocations and support of seminarians. “I want them [seminarians] to feel taken care of and not have financial burden hanging over their head when they are considering their future,” Fred said.
A presentation and dinner followed the social. The guest speaker for the night was Bishop Emeritus Victor H. Balke. Bishop Balke, the sixth bishop of Crookston, served from 1976 to 2007. He resides at Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks.
He spoke about the history of the DAA in relation to the need for implementing the vision for the Church following the Second Vatican Council. The appeal was originally titled “Bishop’s Annual Appeal” and launched in January of 1979. It was later changed to “Diocesan Annual Appeal” to highlight the appeal’s purpose of serving the people of the Diocese of Crookston rather than the bishop’s administration of it.
“It was clear that the diocese would have to be a resource for the parishes in order to implement it [the vision of Vatican II],” said Bishop Balke. “This required diocesan offices. Offices required staff. And offices and staff required money.”
Prior to the DAA, the only internal source of funding for the diocese was assessments, which is the tax placed on parishes by the diocese according to the norms of Canon Law. An additional source of funds was needed.
“I spoke to the Priests Council and the Consultors about beginning an appeal and they agreed, though there was some minor opposition. There always is some minor opposition, especially to good ideas,” said Bishop Balke. “A steering committee of priests and laypeople was then formed.”
In addition to Bishop Balke, the steering committee for the Bishop’s Annual Appeal of 1979 included Father William Keefe; Mr. Joe Welle, Bemidji; Father (Msgr.) Roger Grundhaus; Father Vernon Miller; Mr. Patrick Benedict, Sabin; Father (Msgr.) Donald Krebs; Mrs. Jackie Schwietz, Thief River Falls; Mrs. Dee Sullivan, Crookston; Msgr. John McAleer; and Father Eugene Wesely. The committee set the first goal for the appeal, which was $400,000.
According to an advertisement in OND archives, Catholics were asked to become “totally involved Christian Stewards”. Parishioners were asked to “give their time, talent and financial support to bring the appeal to a successful conclusion”.
Bishop Balke also spoke about the growth of diocesan offices and ministries over time. He said, “All these ministries are connected in one way or another to the advancement of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. These offices are not ends in themselves. The purpose is to help parishes spread the Gospel and build the Kingdom.”
“The DAA represents funds generously given and wisely spent,” he said. “If life begins at 40, so it is with the DAA.”
In closing, Bishop Balke said, “By the grace of God, the leadership of the bishop and his staff and the dedicated work of people like you – and so many others – this annual appeal will go on and on and on for many, many years to come, for the good of the Church and for the glory of God.”
Following dinner, Bishop Hoeppner shared a few parting words and a blessing.
“Our Diocesan Annual Appeal makes the offices of the diocese possible. The offices continue to assist the parishes in doing the work of the Lord. ... I thank you for your years of giving and your years of work for the Diocesan Annual Appeal.”
The goal for the 40th DAA is $900,000. If you are interested in learning more or donating online, visit: www.crookston.org/daa.