By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DEWITT — St. Joseph’s parishioners, students and parents value their church and school, but they aren’t the only ones.
Recently, members of the DeWitt Chamber & Development Center (DCDC) and members of the community voted St. Joseph Parish and School as Non-Profit of the Year.
Father Paul Connolly, the parish pastor, accepted the award at DeWitt Chamber & Development Company’s annual year in review meeting last month. “It’s special,” he said, but any congratulations directed toward him are misplaced, he added. “It doesn’t say anything about the priest. It says what the people in the parish have done for the community.”
To be nominated, nonprofits need to be members of DCDC who have “made a difference in the lives of the people they serve and have produced outcomes that exemplify innovative excellence and featured best practices,” said Emily Schmitt, events coordinator for DCDC.
DCDC members initially nominated local nonprofits; the top five were sent on to a public vote through an online survey.
One anonymous community member wrote in the survey that St. Joseph is “an excellent organization that makes a difference in the lives of those in the church and school as well as others. This year is their 150th year of being in the community and they have been developing wonderful young people who continue to give back to our community year after year.”
Another said, “They make a difference, from the parishioners who donate generously back to the poor, to the church’s youth who have a visible presence in the community through food drives, raking leaves, writing cards for veterans, and more.”
Fr. Connolly said he admires what St. Joseph parishioners have done to live out their faith through service and participation in the DeWitt community. Parish members organize Christian Experience Weekends (CEW), which attract people of all faiths. The parish works with the community referral center to offer assistance to those in need. School classrooms conduct penny challenges during Lent to help the less fortunate and graduates of the elementary and middle school carry their serving hearts into high school. Adult parishioners often participate in community service clubs and local politics.
To receive the award on behalf of the parish he admires so much was “humbling,” the pastor said.