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John Lavrich, a parishioner at Ascension in Chesterfield, volunteered at the St. Nicholas Food Pantry. Ascension Parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference runs the pantry.
John Lavrich, a parishioner at Ascension in Chesterfield, volunteered at the St. Nicholas Food Pantry. Ascension Parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference runs the pantry.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Annual Catholic Appeal

For the Life of the World

The Annual Catholic Appeal supports a wide range of programs and ministries that are essential to so many people in the archdiocese

The Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Annual Catholic Appeal supports a wide range of programs and ministries that are essential to so many people throughout St. Louis and surrounding areas.

Examples include support for active and retired priests; adult faith formation and evangelization efforts; Catholic education assisting children with a sense of purpose and value; parish food pantries serving people who are hungry; medical and dental care for low-income residents in rural areas; programs that teach respect for human life; vocations programs, which help youth and young adults discern a vocation to the priesthood or religious life; support for youth ministry; and more.

The goal of the 2024 Annual Catholic Appeal is $15.5 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar raised goes back into the community in direct services.

A true home

Sister Anna Maria pinned a boutonnière to the shirt of Louis Sternitzky at a Mardi Gras party in February at St. Agnes Home.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand
When Dorothy Hellweg’s husband died in spring 2022, she decided it was time to move.

“When he died, it was just a house — it wasn’t home without him,” she said. “And that’s why I wanted to leave and be with other people.”

Dorothy, 91, found that new community at St. Agnes Home in Kirkwood. St. Agnes Home was founded in 1935 by the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, who continue to serve at the home alongside lay staff. The home offers a continuum of care that includes assisted living, an enhanced care program and a care center.

One of the biggest draws to Dorothy was the home’s chapel, where she has since spent “many hours,” she said. A former parishioner at St. Anselm in Creve Coeur, she has enjoyed making friends with other residents who share her faith and attending Mass, the daily Rosary and weekly Perpetual Help devotions.

She also goes to confession regularly, offered by St. Agnes Home resident and chaplain Archbishop Emeritus Robert J. Carlson. “He’s so wonderful. I’ve had occasions where I need to talk to a spiritual advisor, and who better could you ask for?” she said.

Seminarians from Cardinal Glennon College regularly visit Dorothy and other residents. Dorothy has traveled the world — checking off all seven continents and 135 countries — and has no shortage of stories to share with her visitors.

“We just get to know them, and they get to know you. And I think because we are parents, I’ve been able to give some good ideas to the seminarians,” she said.

Sister M. Magdalene Therese, St. Agnes Home’s social services designee, began working at the home around the same time Dorothy moved in. The Lord speaks to her every day through her apostolate, she said.

“It’s not just a saying — I really do see His face in the residents I’m serving,” Sister M. Magdalene Therese said. “Getting to journey with people to see Him face-to-face at the end of their life is a huge blessing.”

A resident had died the previous day, and it was humbling “to journey with her and see how her family delighted in her, and the Lord delighted in her, even though at the end of our lives, we’re just breathing and our hearts are beating and that’s all we can contribute,” she said. “We have to do nothing to earn His love. That’s a huge lesson He teaches me through all of this.”

The order’s mother founders never wanted to run an institution or a facility, but a true home, Sister M. Magdalene Therese added.

“What we’re supposed to be doing — if we’re doing it right — is providing a home for people where they feel known and loved and taken care of,” she said. In her vocation, “We’re trying to make a home for Him, the divine heart of Jesus, but we also have this physical home where we are spiritual mothers to our residents.”

Deacon Gene Zimmermann is a chaplain for the Rock Community Fire Protection District. “I think as a chaplain, we bring calm to chaos,” Deacon Zimmermann said.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

Bringing Christ to others

For Deacon Gene Zimmermann, serving with the Rock Community Fire Protection District is a family tradition.

Deacon Zimmermann, his father and four of his brothers have been volunteer firefighters for the district in Arnold. Although Deacon Zimmermann stepped back after having his third child, he now serves in a new way as a part-time chaplain.

As a chaplain, he sees a different side of the work, focusing on caring for the people involved in incidents after the firefighters have finished their work. He enters into scenes of tragedy, often car accidents or other deaths, to offer a ministry of presence.

“Even though we’re total strangers, they have that comfort that we are there,” he said.

He recalled going out to a home to be with a mother whose teenage son had just died of suicide. He stayed with her until more family arrived and offered to let her son’s employer know what happened so she didn’t have to make that phone call.

Deacon Randy Maune blessed tractors before the Journey For Charity Tractor Cruise in St. Clair. The tractor cruise raised money for several food pantries in the area.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand
He also has accompanied firefighters themselves to debriefings after particularly difficult calls.

“It’s bringing Christ to them and helping them realize that anything is possible with God,” he said. “There’s nothing that happens here on earth that’s so bad that it should pull us away from the love of Christ. I’m there just to be present to them and to show them that in the midst of darkness, there can be some hope.”

Prayer plays a big role in his chaplaincy, too. “When I’m on the scene, and I’m not talking to somebody, I’m praying,” he said. “And afterward, I remember the calls that I’ve been on, and I pray for each one of them, to this day.”

Deacon Zimmermann, who is assigned to Holy Family Parish in Arnold, was ordained in 2022. His years of formation with the Office of the Permanent Diaconate prepared him well to serve as a fire chaplain, he said, especially the training in hospital ministry.

“In hospital ministry, it’s knocking on somebody’s door and walking into a stranger’s room and saying hi,” he said. “And with (fire chaplaincy), I walk into people’s homes, and I’m a total stranger, and I introduce myself and ask if there’s anything I can do. It’s very close to doing hospital ministry.”

He also uses his formation in pastoral counseling, he said, talking to people in tough situations and knowing when to connect them with further mental health and other resources.

In addition to his fire chaplaincy, Deacon Zimmermann is also active in Holy Family Parish, assisting with the Parish School of Religion, serving on the parish transition team and sacramental ministry. He and his wife, Dawn, have six children and 15 grandchildren (with number 16 on the way).

In his secular career, he’s a sheet metal worker at Pipe and Duct Systems, nearing 40 years in the construction industry. His diaconate formation and ordination helped open up new conversations with his coworkers, he said, including a conversation that led to him baptizing a colleague’s new baby.

“It’s a part of my life — there’s no difference anymore. I’m a deacon, a husband, a father, a construction worker. It’s all blended together,” he said.

From left, Chris Engelhardt, Deacon Dana Engelhardt, Dieunite Henrichel and Finndia Cherelus prayed before lunch in January 2023 at the Engelhardt home in St. Louis. Dieunite and Finndia, who are cousins from Haiti, stayed with the Engelhardts for a time and are now going through the United States’ asylum process.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

A welcoming community

When Patricia arrived in St. Louis from her native Colombia, she found new friends through the Immigrant and Refugee Ministry.

An effort of six south St. Louis parishes — St. Stephen Protomartyr, St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Cronan, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Pius V — the collaborative effort launched in 2023 builds upon a ministry for immigrants and refugees that had been based at St. Pius V for more than three decades.

The ministry pulls on the strengths of all six parishes, connecting volunteers with immigrants and refugees in the community to assist them as they settle in in their new homes. There also is a focus on education and advocacy opportunities related to local, state and national policies.

Kevin Kuehl, hired last August as ministry coordinator, and other volunteers make regular visits with Patricia and other immigrants and refugees, often bringing food and personal care items. They also help them with other resources, such as utility assistance, health and legal care or even English classes.

“After we’ve established a first connection, we like to follow up with people and get to know them more, and that’s where the ministry part comes in — where we’re able to pray with them” and build relationships, Kevin said. Being with them in their homes also gives volunteers a chance to discover other needs that might be present.

Claudio Da Silva, left, a parishioner at St. Pius V who came to St. Louis as a refugee from Angola, visited with Kevin Kuehl, the Immigrant and Refugee Ministry coordinator. The Immigrant and Refugee Ministry assists Da Silva with his English literacy skills.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Annual Catholic Appeal
Patricia and several members of her family are seeking asylum here, with more family expected to arrive later this year.

Speaking through a translator, she said that St. Louis has been a welcoming community. The Immigrant and Refugee Ministry helped to connect her with resources to find items for their apartment, including furniture, household items and clothing.

“I knocked on a lot of doors, and they were the ones who answered,” she said. “The people have been very helpful in getting us established here.”

Sister Dona DeMarco, a religious sister with the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart, has volunteered with the ministry since September and has enjoyed making connections with people in their homes. That might include time for prayer “or just visiting — those fun times, maybe cooking together, having people cook a meal from their culture, and just sharing that.”

Kevin said it’s simply about opening the doors to building community. “A lot of people arrive here and can feel very isolated,” he said. “We have a lot of people who are coming from places where there’s not really an established community from their homeland. They’re trying to figure out how to connect.”

And sometimes when they meet newcomers, they find connections to the Church they didn’t know existed. “We find that a lot of them, when you mention the Catholic Church, they have very positive reactions to that,” Kevin said. That might lead to a conversation with a mother who is interested in having her baby baptized, or it becomes an invitation to come to Mass, he added.

“It’s opening the door to the sacraments and the communal life in the sacraments,” Kevin said.

Father Brian Fallon spoke with Michael Hanson, a Washington University sophomore from St. Louis, during a dinner after Mass on March 3 at the Catholic Student Center at Washington University.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

Guidance for students

As Sofía Then entered her college years as a student at Washington University in St. Louis, her mom, a Wash U. alum, encouraged her to seek out the Catholic Student Center (CSC).

“I come from a pretty lukewarm Catholic family,” she said. “The first couple of weeks of classes I came to the CSC to see what it was all about. The catalyst for me in seeing this community as my home was the Awakening retreat.”

The weekend retreat, one of several retreat offerings through the Catholic Student Center, is designed to guide students with their personal growth, faith and college experience, while also taking a break from student life.

Joyce Djikeng, a Washington University graduate student from Houston, Texas, attended Mass on March 3 at the Catholic Student Center at Washington University.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand
Faith previously had been a private endeavor for Then, a junior studying anthropology and biology. The ability to experience faith in a communal way at the retreat and the love she discovered among her fellow participants stayed with her beyond the weekend experience.

The CSC is a place where “everyone who comes here feels known, loved and cared for by God and by the community,” said Father Brian Fallon, who joined the student center last year as chaplain.

Hospitality is offered not only through the sacraments, retreats and faith-sharing groups — but also through service and social justice opportunities and events. And sometimes that hospitality is made apparent simply by being a place where students can study, enjoy a hot meal and visit with one another.

That creates an environment where students can comfortably ask deeper questions about the faith and where God might be working in their lives. Working with a campus ministry team, “my role is to be able to be a part of that mission and to be able to help them continue to feel that loving presence of God,” Father Fallon said.

In addition to the Catholic Student Center at Washington University, funding from the Annual Catholic Appeal supports Newman Centers at other institutions in St. Louis, including Lindenwood University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Maryville University.

In tending to students through simple acts of hospitality “we can begin that conversation through our hospitality and help people to see that it’s a reflection of the love that Jesus has for us,” Father Fallon said.

For the Life of the World

Left to right: Jane Kariuki, Ann Muchiri, Grace Murungaru, Lydia Wambui, and Diana Koskei Donovan played music with Steve Wakaba at Mass celebrated in Swahili at St. Norbert Church in Florissant.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Annual Catholic Appeal
The theme of the 2024 Annual Catholic Appeal is For the Life of the World.

“Every year, the Annual Catholic Appeal provides us an opportunity to come together to share the saving hope and love of Jesus Christ by funding the life-giving ministries and good works of our local Church,” Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski said.

“As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus’ example of love, so that others may come to know and love Him,” he continued. “However, He does not leave us to do this alone. He tells us: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world’” (John 6:51).

The appeal funds programs including support for active and retired priests; adult faith formation and evangelization efforts; Catholic education assisting children with a sense of purpose and value; parish food pantries serving people who are hungry; medical and dental care for low-income residents in rural areas; programs that teach respect for human life; vocations programs, which help youth and young adults discern a vocation to the priesthood or religious life; support for youth ministry; and more.

“Because of your support, the Annual Catholic Appeal has helped many people to understand their value and to know, often for the first time, that they are loved,” Archbishop Rozanski said. “This is our mission, and we do it for the life of the world.”

How to donate

The financial goal of the 2024 Annual Catholic Appeal is $15.5 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar goes back into the community in the form of direct services. The appeal will be conducted in most parishes the weekends of April 20-21, April 27-28 and May 4-5. To learn more about the Annual Catholic Appeal, visit aca.archstl.org.


Elementary School Assistance $2,000,000

Stewardship and Development Support for Parishes, Schools and Agencies $425,000

Office of Peace and Justice $140,000

Parish Emergency Assistance Fund $100,000

Parish Food Pantries $75,000

Basilica of St. Louis, King of France $50,000

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis $50,000


Archdiocesan and Parochial High Schools $1,416,000

Archdiocesan Seminary $500,000

Vocation Programs $380,000

Newman Centers on College Campuses $265,000

One Classroom $210,000

Religious Formation $200,000

Special Education $200,000

Today and Tomorrow Educational Fund $150,000

High School Stewardship Essay Program $55,000

Office of Youth Ministry $40,000


Respect Life Apostolate $450,000

Evangelization and Discipleship $400,000

Adult Faith Formation $370,000

Natural Family Planning $221,000

Hispanic Ministry $200,000

Office of Racial Harmony $130,000

Catholic Deaf Ministry $112,000

Catholic St. Louis Magazine $80,000

Catholic Renewal Center $77,000

Elementary Teachers Educational Fund $75,000

St. Charles Lwanga Center $25,000


Catholic Charities $1,650,000

Rural Parish Clinic $325,000

Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service $155,000

Criminal Justice Ministry $75,000

Bridge of Hope Lincoln County $50,000

Rural Parish Workers $50,000

Archbishop’s Charity Fund $30,000

Messengers of Peace Mission Work $25,000

Meals Program and Sts. Peter and Paul Church $15,000


Care for Active and Retired Priests $974,000

Regina Cleri Priests Retirement Home $370,000

Continuing Formation for Priests $280,000

Permanent Diaconate $100,000

Support for Religious Orders $50,000


Annual Catholic Appeal Expenses $1,500,000

Reserve for Unpaid Pledges $930,000

Archdiocesan Services $465,000

None of the money raised by the Annual Catholic Appeal is used to defend or settle criminal or civil lawsuits related to the clergy abuse scandal.

The Annual Catholic Appeal Council

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Annual Catholic Appeal
The Annual Catholic Appeal Council advises archdiocesan leaders and development staff on various aspects of the Appeal, including communications, special events, donor recognition, finance and fund allocations, etc. The council is composed of the Archbishop, Vicars General, members of the Curia, General Chairperson and appointed clergy and lay leaders in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Front row (l-r): Bishop Mark S. Rivituso; Loretta Charleston, Holy Name of Jesus/St. Norbert Parish; Susan Favazza, St. Ambrose Parish; Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski; Deacon John Marino, Ascension Parish; Shirley Zoellner, Assumption Parish in Mattese; John Heithaus, Sacred Heart Parish in Florissant; Angie Suellentrop, St. Gerard Majella Parish

Middle row (l-r): Amy Sauer, St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood; Father Tim Foy, St. Clare of Assisi Parish; Amy Heeger-King, St. Gerard Majella Parish; Dave Voss, St. Ann Parish in Clover Bottom; Merry Mosbacher, Christ, Prince of Peace Parish; Brian Kelly, Ex-Officio, ACA mission advancement office; Brian Niebrugge, Ex-Officio, ACA executive director 

Back row (l-r): Terri Welz, St. Anselm Parish; Mike Hagenhoff, Ascension Parish; Mike Heck, 2024 Appeal Chair, Mary, Mother of the Church Parish; Vern Dirnberger, St. Alban Roe Parish; Father Brian Hecktor, St. Justin Martyr Parish; Father Mike Grosch, St. Gerard Majella Parish 

Not pictured: Tiffany Calzone, Ex-Officio, ACA communications and operations coordinator; Father Paul Hamilton, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville; Brian Abel Ragen, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis; Sheila Roth, Ex-Officio, ACA executive assistant; Father Carl Scheble, vicar general; Dave Sida, Ex-Officio, ACA senior director of operations; Denise Thomas, Our Lady of the Holy Cross/St. Augustine/St. Elizabeth Parish

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