Local Youth & young adult

St. Lawrence Center’s premier fundraising event goes virtual

From left, Taylor Dinke, Rachel Farquhar, Catherine McManus and Tynan Bollinger gather around St. Lawrence Center director Father Mitchel Zimmerman in 2019. LEAVEN FILE PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Moira Cullings

LAWRENCE — It’s been 27 years since St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas held its first Divine Winefest.

After a hiatus that began in 2005, the central fundraising event was implemented again in 2019. Now during its third year back, Winefest will be held for the first time virtually to mobilize support for its mission at KU.

“The Winefest is really a rallying around two things that people care a lot about: the University of Kansas [for] Jaywhawk fans, but also our beautiful Catholic faith that brings so much meaning into our lives,” said chaplain Father Mitchel Zimmerman.

“And, of course, wine,” he added. “A lot of people enjoy great relationships and memories and conversations over wine.

“We put those together into an event that really rallies support for the St. Lawrence Center.”

St. Lawrence Center’s key fundraising event brings together people’s love for KU, Catholicism and wine.

The event will take place on Feb. 6 starting at 6:30 p.m.

It will include a virtual reception featuring stories that highlight St. Lawrence Center’s work, a program including remarks by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Father Zimmerman, an auction and other donation opportunities.

“It’s essentially the same program just done from home,” said Father Zimmerman. “We still deliver the same message and we still invite the same support.”

People can register for free and consider giving a financial gift during the event.

Father Zimmerman explained how crucial the evening is for the center’s continued evangelization efforts at KU.

Because the center is not a parish, it relies on support from parents of current students, as well as alumni and friends of KU, he said.

Drew Kanne helps run the St. Lawrence Center’s Mission Formation retreat in 2020. Divine Winefest allows the center to grow its reach and boost its evangelization efforts at KU. FILE PHOTO BY BOB LI

“Our opportunity and our responsibility is to place the Catholic faith in conversation and dialogue with all the people at KU,” he explained. “It’s an awesome opportunity for the church and a sacred responsibility to present the faith in a compelling way.”

Father Zimmerman said 90% of students stop practicing their faith during their college years and St. Lawrence supporters seek to counter that.

“What we hear from people over and over,” he said, “is they want the St. Lawrence Center to do everything that we can to reach new students — students that the church is having a hard time reaching,” he said.

“They want us to take risks to do whatever it takes to get into conversation and relationship with those students.

“They really want us to go out and try to reach the lost.”

That can happen, said Father Zimmerman, with just a $500 investment, which goes toward increasing the center’s capacity to reach a new student.

“If we put those resources creatively to use,” he said, “we’re really confident that we have the staff and we have the strategy to get in front of these young people and to get in conversation with them.”

Attend Divine Winefest virtually

To sign up for Winefest, visit the website at: divinewinefest.com.

Scroll down and click here then follow the prompts to sign up.

By signing up, you’ll be kept up to date on details about the event.

If you can’t make the event on Feb. 6, the livestream will be available to watch any time.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage the website, social media channels and Archbishop Naumann's Facebook page. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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