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Get started or get better at ministry by attending diocesan Charity Summit

charity summit

Beth Casbon (left) and Theresa Switt are two of the Diocese of Gary's Charity Summit organizers. The free Charity Summit will be held at Queen of All Saints in Michigan City on Nov. 16 beginning at 8 a.m. with anyone involved or interested in charity ministries invited. A parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Valparaiso, Casbon is with the Social Teaching Ecclesial Commission and serves as board vice chair for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Gary. Switt, an All Saints in San Pierre parishioner, is also a member of the Social Teaching Ecclesial Commission and serves as board chairwoman for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Gary. (Bob Wellinski photo)



NWIC correspondent

“Charity is at the heart of the Church. It is the reason for its action, the soul of its mission.”  - Pope Francis


      MICHIGAN CITY - Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Gary’s Social Teaching Ecclesial Commission are teaming up to gather people from across the diocese to explore ways in which parishes can be more explicitly engaged in charitable ministries of various kinds.

      This Charity Summit will be hosted by Queen of All Saints on Saturday, Nov. 16, beginning with Mass at 8 a.m. The summit is free to attend, and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Participants will hear a keynote speaker and panel discussion, attend breakout sessions, offer feedback and depart after a closing prayer at 3 p.m.

      “The idea of the Charity Summit is to gather everyone from throughout the diocese who is involved with charities - and those interested in starting or helping with charities - to see what we are doing, what we are doing well or where we need improvement. It’s a coming together and a reminder to everyone in the diocese of our Christian call to be charitable,” said Beth Casbon, one of the summit organizers and vice chairwoman of the Catholic Charities board. A parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Valparaiso, Casbon is also a member of the diocese’s Social Teaching Ecclesial Commission.

      Another summit organizer is Theresa Switt, a parishioner at All Saints in San Pierre and also a member of the Social Teaching Ecclesial Commission who chairs the board for Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Gary.

      Casbon explained that following the 2017 diocesan synod and the restructuring of Catholic Charities, former Bishop Donald J. Hying asked that the diocese’s Social Teaching Ecclesial Commission to determine how parishes might become more engaged in charitable ministries. At the summit, parishes and groups that now sponsor various kinds of charitable ministries will be able to exchange ideas and best practices, while representatives of parishes looking to expand their charitable work can get ideas for more seasoned volunteers.

      Dr. Timothy Matovina, a Blessed Sacrament in Gary and Andrean High School alumnus, will give the keynote address, detailing each person’s call to charity and where it is found in scripture. Matovina is professor of theology and the William & Anna Jean Cushwa Director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame.

      Two, one-hour breakout sessions will allow participants to discuss topics covering financial, housing or food assistance programs. Those attending can choose the topics of their choice. The sessions, led by a moderator, will allow people to discuss ideas and concerns, or ask questions about the topic.

      Casbon and Switt explained the breakout session as a way to see where the diocese and parishes are doing well, where improvements can be made, where services are being duplicated or where a parishes may want to start a service, but are having trouble figuring out how to get started.

      “Everything will be laid out on the table. The idea is to share a wealth of ideas,” said Casbon.

      Participants will also benefit from a panel discussion featuring Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference; Sister Peg Spindler, executive director of Sojourner Truth House in Gary; Father Mike Surufka, a Franciscan priest who serves as pastor of Holy Name of Jesus in Cedar Lake and administrator at Holy Angels Cathedral and Ss. Monica and Luke in Gary; and a representative from the Salvation Army. They will provide their expertise on the work of charitable ministries.

      Switt and Casbon said everyone should walk away with something they can use. “A debriefing at the end will give us some insight on what (participants) heard throughout the day, basically tie the whole day up in a little package. People can walk away with some thoughts and ideas,” said Casbon.

      Clergy and deacons, pastoral council members, those serving or interested in serving in charitable ministries, young Catholics, and anyone else looking to serve in a charitable ministry are invited to the summit.

      “We think people will walk out invigorated. What we are hoping happens immediately afterwards is that relationships are built and develop a charity network. . .groups and parishes start working together on their own and go forth from there,” added Casbon.

       To register for the summit by Oct. 31, contact Gayle Finney at 769-9292, ext. 282, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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