Diocese of Little Rock seminarians walked away with $300,000 for their education and Wynne parishioner Edith Buehnerkemper, 90 years young, will drive away — or rather, her daughter will — in a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado truck thanks to a yearlong fundraising effort by the Knights of Columbus state council.
“It is a blessing that all the knights in the state came together to sell tickets, give donations,” said Knights state deputy Adrian Dominguez of Bentonville. “It demonstrates how the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal organization can come together united for the good of our Catholic faith, which is our priests who can celebrate holy Communion.”
The Chevy Colorado LT Crew Cab 2WD was donated by Frank A. Hug Jr., owner of Hug Chevrolet Buick GMC and member of Sacred Heart Church in Charleston.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, with Dominguez and Hug by his side, drew the winning raffle ticket June 30 as members of the Knights of Columbus watched in the parking lot of the House of Formation at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock. The bishop called Buehnerkemper right away, saying “Edith, I have some good news for you.” After telling her she won the truck, a wide smile came across his face, “Well, don’t keel over now.”
Buehnerkemper, a cradle Catholic and 20-year widow, told Arkansas Catholic she plans on giving the truck to her daughter Mary Elizabeth, who lives in California. Buehnerkemper said she rarely buys raffle tickets, but this time she did it for the seminarians.
“I almost fell on the floor,” when the bishop called, she said, adding “I just try to help people out … I’m still too flabbergasted to realize it.”
At the 107th state convention in April 2015, the knights passed a statewide fundraising resolution to raise $1 million for the Msgr. James E. O’Connell Diocesan Seminarian Fund. Raffle tickets sold by councils throughout the state for $10 each. Council 812 in Little Rock raised the most money, “more than the tickets they were allotted,” Dominguez said, not revealing the amount.
State treasurer Roy Anderle put almost 7,000 miles on his truck, towing the Chevy on a trailer to parishes throughout the state to entice people to enter the raffle. Socorro Dominguez, Adrian’s wife, counted all 100,000 tickets by hand to ensure all were accounted for, he said.
Though the K of C fell short of its goal, the money will still help increase the seminarian education fund. It costs about $41,000 a year per seminarian to educate them for the priesthood.
There are currently 35 seminarians and two men discerning, said diocesan vocations director Msgr. Scott Friend. The fund is restricted and will always go toward seminarian education.
“I’m just grateful they didn’t throw me out of the meeting when I asked them to do it,” Msgr. Friend said of asking the knights to reach the lofty goal of $1 million. “I am so proud of them. They raised a third of a million. It was quite a deal for them to do that.”
For more information on how to donate to the Msgr. James E. O’Connell Diocesan Seminarian Fund, e-mail , call (501) 664-0340 or visit dolr.org/seminarian-fund.
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