‘Lifting all up’

Elevator project gains momentum at St. Joseph Church, Flush


by Paula Glover
Special to The Leaven

 

FLUSH — Every Sunday at the small parish of St. Joseph here, older parishioners struggle up the limestone steps leading steeply to the front doors of the historic church.

“My husband and I both need an elevator,” said Jerry Ebert. “One day, he almost fell over on the steps. We don’t want to fall.”

Ebert made her comments at a fundraiser for that very elevator, held at the rural parish east of Manhattan and west of Wamego. Her son, Dan Ebert, echoed his parents’ sentiments, saying, “My mom and dad both need it.”

The hog roast, silent and live auctions, and beer garden held Sept. 19 raised nearly $17,000, said organizer Dale Magnett. The donation of the hogs and much of the food made the event an even greater success.

“It was well worth the effort,” said Magnett, even though the volunteers cleaning the parish hall until well after midnight had to be up early the next morning to attend Mass. “Everyone had a great time, and it made people more aware of the project.”

More than 325 meals were served at the fundraiser, and there were 250 donations made to the silent and live auctions by individuals and businesses in the parish and the surrounding communities. A raffle for a car, donated by a local dealer, sold around 600 tickets; one for a handmade quilt, many more. Organizers have held other fundraisers as well, including a garage sale, dinner theater and a softball tournament.

Building an elevator has been discussed in the parish for several years. But starting early in 2009, a new push was begun to raise the necessary $275,000. The current project includes an elevator with three stops and remodeling bathrooms to accommodate the handicapped. Raising the funds will be no small feat for the 128 registered families.

To date, around 60 percent of parish families have pledged to the project. So have 10 families that used to be parishioners, along with 14 families that are not parishioners. Around $125,000 was pledged prior to the hog roast fundraiser.

The parish is steadily making progress toward meeting the archdiocesan guideline that the total cost of the project has to be pledged, with half collected, prior to the start of work.

Deb Jilka, whose son Brian is a seminarian at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., said it is important to support the project — not only for parishioners, but for people attending weddings or funerals who need to get into the church.

Father John Pilcher, pastor of St. Joseph, has been a strong advocate of the elevator project, called “Lifting All Up to Share His Cup.” His experience in smaller parishes has led him to believe that people are likely to work together and take responsibility for efforts like the hog roast fundraiser.

“It is our Christian duty to help people who can’t normally get into the church,” Father Pilcher said at the fundraiser. “The people who are doing this work are working very hard and doing a superb job.”

For more information on the parish’s fundraising efforts, contact Magnett at (785) 456-1300.

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