Teens from St. James and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishes participate in outdoor games during a retreat at Camp Calvin Crest in Fremont. COURTESY PHOTO

Equipping Disciples

Parish events build camaraderie and help evangelize

Summer vacation bible schools, parish festivals and retreats are all important ways to foster a sense of community among a Catholic parish’s members. These types of events help members grow in faith, get to know one another outside of Mass and can help evangelize. 

“Although Mass is the central focus of any parish, other events are important because they provide opportunities for people to meet new people and feel more connected,” said Jodi Phillips, associate director of the Evangelization and Family Life Office for the Archdiocese of Omaha.  

“They are a great way to evangelize, too,” she said. “Maybe a family isn’t ready to join the parish, but they know their children would have fun at vacation bible school or the parish festival. When they show up at these events, they see some of what the parish and the Catholic Church have to offer.” 

Of course, the cost of holding these types of events pose a challenge, but the Catholic Futures Foundation of Northeast Nebraska (CFF) has continued to help make more of these faith opportunities possible. For more than 43 years, the CFF has made grants of up to $2,000 for parish, school or religious education projects and programs. 

Recently, teens from St. James and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishes in Omaha left screens, homework and other worries behind to attend a retreat that included outdoor games and hiking along the Platte River thanks to a grant from the CFF. Participants spent time in prayer, small group discussion and Mass at Camp Calvin Crest in Fremont.  

Last summer, St. Anthony Catholic School in Columbus held a week-long Vacation Bible School full of singing and praising the Lord with the money they received from a CFF grant.  

Bonnie Nebuda from the stewardship and development office at the Archdiocese of Omaha said that although the CFF has been distributing grants for more than four decades, there are still a lot of people who don’t know about it. She hopes to get the word out about the grant program so more Catholic schools and parishes will apply.  

Nebuda encourages people to visit this page learn more about the program and consider applying.  

“Although this year’s deadline is April 28, it is never too early to start thinking about next year,” she said.


Learn more about CFF grants

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