By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
This year’s gatherings were held in Carroll hosted by Dave and Terri Prenger, Mapleton hosted by Steve and Colleen Sulsberger, Le Mars hosted by Chuck and Kay Kellen, Dakota Dunes, S.D., hosted by Mark and Jenny Wetz and Storm Lake. On average there are five to seven gatherings held each year.
The goal for the Bishop’s Circle this year is $150,000 and $136,319 has been raised as of June 26, said Kristie Arlt, diocesan director of stewardship and communications.
“About three years ago, Bishop Nickless, Royce Ranniger and I started looking for different funding streams,” said Arlt. “We wanted to do it in a non-evasive way. We didn’t want to raise the goals of DAA or the cathedraticum for diocesan needs. The last thing that the bishop wants to do is increase the burden on parishes.”
The decision was made to create an annual appeal for the bishop, the Bishop’s Circle. The first gathering was held for potential members at Bishop Nickless’ home.
Supporting the bishop
The Bishop’s Circle is a yearly program with membership renewed on an annual basis. There are currently 87 memberships.
“The minimum to join the Bishop’s Circle is $1,000 and we have gifts ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. We have about 88 circle memberships,” said Arlt. “We are very pleased with the amount of support we have received, it’s a blessing.”
One of the struggles Arlt hears from Bishop Nickless is that he doesn’t have as much contact as he would like with the laity.
“When he was a priest in Colorado, he had his own parish, so on a daily basis he was interacting, meeting and saying Mass with parishioners,” she said. “Through these Bishop’s Circle gatherings, he is able to connect with more parishioners in the diocese.”
With the help of the host couple and others, a list is formed of people who may potentially want to support the Bishop’s Circle. There are about 25 to 30 people invited to each gathering.
“These events aren’t just about fundraising. It is good opportunity to build relationships and gather feedback as well,” she said. “One of the first things bishop stresses is that we are looking for people who support their parish and their school and then can support the Bishop’s Circle.”
Arlt said they are not looking for members “who will pull any donations away from their parish or school. Those are what the people of the diocese need to support first and foremost.”
She talks to the attendees about how the diocese is funded – Diocesan Annual Appeal, cathedraticum (a parish tax) and investment income.
“In years like 2008 and this year, when investment incomes are down, we don’t have a fundraising stream to help balance the budget. Bishop’s Circle has really come in and helped with that effort,” said Arlt. “We are so grateful for the people who have supported the Bishop’s Circle because it has made a tremendous difference.”
She said that as a thank you to the members, the bishop came up with the idea to dedicate a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Mass for the members during May and June. It is for the members, their fathers and mothers, living and deceased.
“We get about 100 percent return when we send those out,” said Arlt. “They really appreciate that.”
Also, in August, Bishop Nickless has a special Mass for the Bishop’s Circle members at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City. This year’s Mass will be held on Aug. 18 with a reception to follow at the bishop’s home.
She added that the support from people across the diocese has been overwhelming.
If you are interested in giving to the Bishop's Circle, please call Kristie Arlt for more information at (712) 233-7513 or email her at kristiea @scdiocese.org.
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