by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Zucchetto was not on the menu at the Deo Gratias Awards dinner on Nov. 3 at Savior Pastoral Center here, but it was on the agenda.
A zucchetto (not a zucchini — that’s a vegetable) is the small, round, red skullcap worn by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann during liturgical events.
His zucchetto, unfortunately, was not available when the Deo Gratias Award was given to Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kan., and Charles Berkel, of Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee.
“If I had my zucchetto, I would have to take it off to you,” the archbishop told Father Michael Hermes, president of Ward.
And he wasn’t the only one.
“You learned well from your mother, Charlie,” said the archbishop, also giving Berkel a symbolic hat tip. “If there is anything good or noble going on in the community, Charlie Berkel is part of it.”
Both Father Hermes and Berkel walked away that night with a flame-shaped, glass Deo Gratias (Latin for “Thanks be to God”) Award, bestowed by the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas. The award recognizes outstanding achievement, service and support of Catholic institutions that are CFNEK fund-holders, as well as Catholic Legacy Society members. About 150 persons attended the dinner.
Father Hermes accepted the award and recognized two Ward alumni who have also been major benefactors of the school: Louie Mufich, from the class of 1942, and Dr. James B. Pretz, of the class of 1941.
With their help, said Father Hermes, “we are ready to grow ourselves.
“We see this Catholic faith formation at Bishop Ward, college prep education, and endowment will be our sustainability. And for the next 10 years, we hope to deliver this to the school for the future of our city.”
Berkel, an engineer who founded and grew Berkel and Company Contractors, Inc., in Bonner Springs, credited his mother and his wife Antoinette for forming his own attitudes toward giving.
In his opening presentation, CFNEK president Larry Strecker recognized the 14 bronze award and three silver award parishes and schools of the Planned Giving Initiative. Each of the 17 winners received certificates after the dinner’s conclusion.
Asking to support the church is a part of building up God’s kingdom, said Lesle Knop, executive director of the archdiocesan stewardship and development office and ex officio CFNEK board member.
“I think, in truth, my brothers and sisters, that it’s awful to think about asking for support for the church as anything but a noble pursuit of building the kingdom of God,” she said.
“We are inviting people to participate in the building up of God’s kingdom,” she continued. “What could be more noble or wonderful than that? I’m not talking about begging. I’m not talking about fundraising. I’m talking about asking people to give. Everyone has something to give, a lesson I learned very well from the Little Sisters of the Lamb, who are with us tonight. I learned this . . . just in the friendships they form and the dignity they give to others in asking them to give a little bit of what they have.”
Knop also explained that the CFNEK undertook a major revision of its investment policy and investment management.
“Recently, we have added alternative investments to our approved asset allocation classes,” said Knop. “This breakthrough idea is the result of committed leadership by very bright, capable Catholic advisers. . . . To this end, we have hired Prairie Capital Management, LLC. . . . Andrew Klocke, the managing director in the [firm’s] Kansas City office, is our investment consultant.”
She also said that in the last fiscal year, the CFNEK made distributions of more than $1.3 million and ended the year with total liabilities and net assets of $41,513,047.
Michael Murphy, executive director of the International Catholic Stewardship Council, gave the keynote address. He had been development director for the Archdiocese of Detroit and its endowment foundation.
Murphy cited St. Paul’s activities raising funds for the Christians in Jerusalem, recorded in 1 Cor 16:1-4, as an early example of fundraising for the church.
“St. Paul . . . saw fundraising as a bridge between the wealthy communities of [Greece and Asia Minor] and the Jerusalem community,” said Murphy. “For St. Paul, this interaction between giving and receiving is a material expression of his theology of interconnectedness, the same thing that is being done today.”
He also said the reason donors give is because of their passion for something.
“Donors who establish endowments don’t just have passion, they want communion,” he said. “Why? Because they want to be involved. Because they want to be co-creators. Because they want to be co-ministers. Because they want to help co-redeem.
“And that’s exactly what we do. We are called to participate in the Lord’s redemptive activity.”
The evening ended with a prayer and blessing from Archbishop Naumann and “Salve Regina” sung by the Little Sisters of the Lamb.