By Kay Cozad
FORT WAYNE — The Spirit was moving among friends at a lakeside cookout in summer of 2011, when the women discussed the delicious summer fare they all feasted on that day. As they began swapping recipes, inspiration struck and the idea to create a cookbook for their home parish of St. Vincent de Paul in Fort Wayne was born. Two of the women, Ann Gray and Terri Coonan, courageously stepped up and took the challenge. And to bring real meaning to the project, Coonan, mother of two diocesan priests, Fathers Terry and Matt Coonan, suggested the proceeds benefit the seminarians of the diocese.
So after garnering permission from St. Vincent pastor Msgr. John Kuzmich the project was underway, gathering recipes contributed from parishioners, seminarians and their parents and even Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who included a treasured family recipe.
Along with the 625 enticing recipes the “Come to the Table” cookbook includes a section of prayers for vocations and priests and its pages are sprinkled with meaningful quotes from beloved saints as well.
The faithful culinary duo offered advance sales advertising the cookbook at $15 each throughout the parish, with 500 responses by April of 2012. By August the cookbook, printed by Morris Printing, was ready for sale. Gray and Coonan are gratified to have sold a total of over 1,000 cookbooks to parishioners of their parish, and many who attended the Women’s Arise Conference in September and Bishop Dwenger’s craft fair in November.
Bishop Rhoades met with Gray and husband Nick, a board member of the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana, on March 25 to receive a check in the amount of $7,749.27 to benefit the seminarian education fund, all from the proceeds of the sale of the cookbook.
The bishop noted he was pleased to have gifted his sister with a copy of the cookbook and in gratitude for the contribution said, “I am deeply grateful to Ann Gray and Terri Coonan and all who helped with the cookbook for the benefit of the Blessed John Paul II seminarian education fund. This fund is so vitally important for the future of the Church in our diocese as we have a great need for such material support for our seminarians’ education.”
With 28 seminarians, of which 40 percent are graduates of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, studying for the priesthood and more applications being processed this year, Bishop Rhoades noted “the Holy Spirit is alive in the diocese” where the number of vocations continues to grow.
According to Harry Verhiley, director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, the annual cost of a seminarian’s education is roughly $45,000. And among the several sources of revenue that support the education, including the Annual Bishop’s Appeal and the Pentecost Collection for Education of Seminarians, is the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education, which is a permanent fund invested in the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana (CCF) to provide income for the education of diocesan seminarians. It is into this fund that the proceeds of the “Come to the Table” cookbook will go.
For more information or to donate to the Blessed John Paul II Fund for Seminarian Education contact the office of Stewardship and Development at (260) 399-1405 in Fort Wayne, or (574) 258-6571 in South Bend.
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