By Tim Lilley
Special to The Message
Editor’s note: See the accompanying story at the end of this story for more information about the Deo Gratias Society.
Bishop Joseph M. Siegel welcomed more than 150 members of the Diocese of Evansville Deo Gratias Society for a Mass and celebration June 4 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. Several priests of the diocese concelebrated, and Father Andrew Thomas gave a talk during the celebration that followed in the St. Benedict Cathedral Woodward Center.
Deacon Gary Keepes served as Deacon of the Altar, and Deacon Kevin Bach served as Deacon of the Word. Jim Muehlbauer served as Lector, and Amy Miller served as Cantor. Matt Bohleber and his wife Amanda served a Gift Bearers, and members of the diocese’s Savio Group were servers for the Mass.
More information about the Deo Gratias Society, which was formed in 2021, appears at the end of this story.
Bishop Siegel talked about the Holy Trinity in his homily because Trinity Sunday falls on the Church calendar the Sunday after Pentecost - June 4 this year. He talked about the Sign of the Cross, noting how prevalent that prayer is in our world today.
We say it to begin and end prayer. We say it when we enter and leave church. We see it on athletic fields around the world. The prayer is so short, and has become so common, that it can be easy to say without really thinking.
Bishop Siegel pointed out that the Sign of the Cross is a profession of faith. When we say it, we proclaim the reality that the Trinity is alive in our world. He noted that, when we say the prayer using holy water, we also are professing that, through Baptism, we are immersed in the Holy Trinity.
He said that our responsibility includes sharing in the mission of the Trinity, including shedding the light of truth in the world. Our responsibility, he added, includes going out to serve those in need and inserting the reality of our faith into the secular world.
Bishop Siegel also expressed humble gratitude to members of the Deo Gratias Society for all that they do to support the Diocese of Evansville, its ministries and their parishes. He reminded those in attendace that we live, act and serve in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
At the reception following Mass, Joe Paul Hayden, Diocesan Director of Stewardship, noted that this celebration is the first held by the Deo Gratias Society, which was formed in 2021. He said the society already has more than 1,000 members from across our 12 counties.
Bishop Siegel told those in attendance that they are blazing a trail for all those coming after them. He noted that stewardship is a way of life, and he thanked society members for being witnesses of God’s mercy across the diocese. He closed by expressing his deep gratitude for the daily testimony they provide of their Catholic faith.
Father Andrew Thomas, administrator of St. James Parish in Haubstadt and Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Haubstadt, gave a brief talk on “The Beauty and Necessity of Inspiration and Gratitude.” As announced elsewhere in this issue of The Message, Father Andrew becomes pastor of the two parishes June 28.
Father Andrew told attendees that having doubts about our beliefs don’t make us less Christian. The opposite is true. He said, “Even when we doubt, we can call on the faith of our God. This is what inspiration and joy really is.” He talked about Psalm 62, which includes, “My soul rests in God alone, from whom my salvation comes. God alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall never fall” (Psalm 63: 2-3).
Father Andrew added, “Doubt has to come up for faith to exist.”
About the Deo Gratias Society
Special to The Message
The Deo Gratias Society was established in 2021 to recognize those who have financially invested in the mission of Jesus Christ in the Diocese of Evansville. Members are those who give annual, unrestricted gifts of $1,000 or more toward the Catholic Parishes Campaign.
Deo Gratias is Latin for "thanks be to God." This name is appropriate as we give thanks to God for those people who, having recognized all the gifts that the Lord has bestowed on them, have expressed their gratitude to Him by generously supporting the needs of our local Church. They are partners in a shared commitment to ensure that the Diocese will continue to have the resources to effectively bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people in our 12 counties.
The Deo Gratias Society consists of two donor levels:
$5,000 and above
Members of the Deo Gratias Society:
- Receive recognition that they are leaders in supporting the advancement of Christ’s work in the Diocese of Evansville.
- Are invited to an annual Celebration at St. Benedict Cathedral each Spring.
- Are invited to a special gathering with Bishop Siegel each December. (Caritas Christi Level Members)
- Are listed in the annual Diocesan Impact Report. (members may request to remain anonymous)
- Are remembered daily in prayer, especially at the Mass, by Bishop Siegel.
For questions about the Deo Gratias Society, please contact Joe Paul Hayden, Director of Stewardship for the Diocese of Evansville, by email at [email protected] or by phone at 800.637.1731.