Diocese holds second annual Deo Gratias Society celebration

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrates Mass April 14 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville for more than 175 members of the Diocese of Evansville Deo Gratias Society. The Message photos by Megan Erbacher

By Megan Erbacher

The Message editor

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel welcomed more than 175 members of the Diocese of Evansville Deo Gratias Society for Mass and a celebration April 14 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. 

The second annual event began with Mass, followed by a catered reception and brief program in St. Benedict Cathedral’s Woodward Center. Father Tyler Tenbarge gave a talk during the reception in the St. Benedict Cathedral Woodward Center.

Five priests of the diocese concelebrated Mass with Bishop Siegel. Deacon Philip Rogier assisted and proclaimed the gospel. Diocesan Director of Worship Matt Miller served as Master of Ceremonies.

Diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministry Bertha Melendres served as lector of the Mass. Dr. William Blanke and his wife Dana served as gift bearers, and members of the diocese’s Savio Group were servers for the Mass.

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.

The Deo Gratias Society consists of two donor levels: Caritas Christi gives $5,000 and above, Lux Mundi gives $1,000-$4,999.
Deo Gratias is Latin for "thanks be to God." This name is appropriate, organizers explained, 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,” according to organizers.

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel

During his homily, Bishop Siegel talked about special people and said that at some point in our lives, we meet someone or have an encounter that deeply impacts our lives. It could be a famous movie star, he said, a professional athlete or a musician. Or, Bishop Siegel said, maybe it is an ordinary person, one who becomes extraordinary to us because they touch us deeply by their goodness.

Often, Bishop Siegel said, the experience of meeting such a special person is hard to share with others. It’s difficult to translate the excitement or enthusiasm with family or friends, he said.

The disciples must have felt this way when they recounted Jesus’ appearance to them in Jerusalem, Bishop Siegel said, as he noted the day’s Gospel of Luke 24:35-48. 

He said Christ truly does make himself present to us – just as he did to the apostles and the disciples – often through the sacraments, especially through the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our Catholic life.

Diocesan Director of Stewardship Joe Paul Hayden. 

At the reception and program following Mass, Diocesan Director of Stewardship Joe Paul Hayden noted that the second annual celebration is “in gratitude for your leadership and witness in our diocese.”

“I am grateful to be with you all here today. … We cannot do what we do, we cannot bring Jesus Christ to others without the generosity and support that you offer us year after year,” Hayden said. “So, on behalf of our diocesan team, thank you. Thank you for your stewardship and what it allows us to do for Jesus Christ in our diocese.”

Bishop Siegel noted stewardship is a way of life. He expressed his gratitude for the faithful witness and commitment to Christ that the Deo Gratias members show in their support of the church.

Diocesan Director of Vocations Father Tyler Tenbarge gave a brief talk focused on inspiration and vocations. He told attendees he doesn’t often speak about the how of vocations, or the “method to the madness.” He divided it into four ways we can reach young men and women discerning priesthood or religious life: pray, gather, encourage and accompany.

“It’s not just one person trying to do vocations in the diocese,” Father Tyler said. “It’s lots and lots of people casting lots and lots of nets. … If we can do those four things really well. If Catholics did at least one really well, think of our numbers.

“God wants that for us even more than we do, so let’s help him out. Thanks for being a part of it.”

For more information about the Deo Gratias Society, visit https://www.evdio.org/deo-gratias-society.html.