Soup for seminarians raises funds and builds community

Talk to any seminarian and they will tell you the countless ways people from around the diocese support them  — through prayer, notes of encouragement, visits, and sometimes through financial donations and fundraisers. All of these make a difference in their lives as they discern the priesthood.

“I’m profoundly grateful for all of the spiritual and financial support we receive as seminarians,” said seminarian Tom Skaja, who is in his first year of theology at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

“These generous gifts of prayer and monetary assistance allow us to focus on our formation and discernment as we study for the priesthood,” he said.

For years, the Holy Family Council of Catholic United Financial has contributed financially to the Monsignor Schuler Seminarian Fund, a grant program through Catholic United Financial that helps seminarians with basic living expenses during their studies.

“Because attending the seminary is a full-time job for the seminarians, they can’t have an outside job. Sometimes they need money just to pay their car insurance or to buy new shoes. That’s what the Schuler grant is for,” said Kathy Hemmelgarn, a member of the council.

A few years ago, the council, which includes the communities of St. Lawrence Church in Rush Lake, St. Henry Church in Perham and Holy Cross Church in Butler, decided to raise funds through an annual soup sale and supper.

Parishioners donate produce and other items for the soup, which the council members and others from the communities prepare for sale.

“We make it this time of year because of deer hunting,” Hemmelgarn said. “The hunters are looking for a quick and easy meal they can heat up and eat.

“It’s really a community event,” she added. “It brings together people from the different parish communities. It is also a social event where we gather and just be together while we are making the soup. We have a lot of fun.”

The group began preparing this year’s soup on Monday, Oct. 31, and readied containers for pick-up Nov. 2 in gallon and half-gallon portions, which sell for $20 and $10 respectively. The group estimated they make about 45 gallons of soup each year and donated about $1,000 to the Schuler fund each of the last few years.

In addition, after the 5 p.m. Mass Nov. 5 the parish will host a soup supper, which includes the soup along with fresh baked bread and homemade apple crisp. A free will offering will be collected to benefit the Schuler fund.

“I’m always moved when I hear of efforts like this to support our seminarians,” said Father Scott Pogatchnik, vocation director for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

“Simple things done with big hearts help our young people see that living for others always leads to fulfillment,” he said. “Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish that we bring and multiplies them into life-changing encounters for all. It’s a privilege to witness.”

About Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is a multimedia reporter for The Visitor newspaper.

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