By Barb Arland-Fye
As part of their commitment to individuals with special needs, a Knights of Columbus council in Davenport has donated $500 toward a confirmation retreat for those individuals.
Deacon Timmerman Council No. 14678 of Holy Family Parish in Davenport made the contribution Nov. 30 in response to an Aug. 25 article in The Catholic Messenger about the diocese’s desire to reach out to adults with special needs.
The money the Knights contributed comes from the Tootsie Roll Drive for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, which Deacon Timmerman Council members, spouses and families held Aug. 19-22.
“This was a complete surprise; it’s a wonderful surprise,” said Mary Wieser, the Davenport Diocese’s faith formation director. She accepted the contribution on behalf of the diocese during the council’s Persons with Intellectual Disabilities Night.
Wieser is asking for input from parents or guardians about their vision for the retreat for individuals with cognitive disabilities ages 16 and older. Ideally, it would be held in the spring.
“Parishes need to let us know about their needs and the potential for a special needs retreat in their parishes. Parents and guardians can let me know or let their parish’s director of religious education know about their ideas so that we can proceed with planning,” Wieser said.
She and Msgr. Drake Shafer, pastor of St. Ann Parish in Long Grove, hope to organize a meeting in January on special needs ministry for individuals age 16 and older. They are particularly interested in ensuring that those individuals who have not received one or more of the three sacraments of initiation would be able to do so.
The Catholic Messenger wrote about that initiative and members of the Deacon Timmerman Council picked up on it in discussions about funding nonprofit organizations that serve individuals with intellectual disabilities, said Grand Knight Jim Schebler. “We thought there was a need in setting up a retreat and getting it going.”
Other beneficiaries of the $5,000 that the Deacon Timmerman Council raised during the Tootsie Roll Drive: Special Olympics of Iowa, One Foundation, Iowa-Illinois Challenger Softball League, Handicapped Development Center, Davenport Challenger League and Holy Family Parish for its confirmation retreat, which includes youth with cognitive disabilities.
“We’re very grateful to the Knights of Columbus from Holy Family for this financial contribution that will give people with special needs an opportunity to have the same retreat or spiritual experience that the typical classes get in sacramental preparation,” Msgr. Shafer said.
“All of the diocese’s Knights of Columbus councils are very generous in supporting special needs programs in the schools, parochial and public, and Special Olympics through their Tootsie Roll program. St. Ann’s council is giving seed money toward beginning our own parish program for individuals with special needs who are 16 and older,” Msgr. Shafer added.