Pastor Inspires a Parish to Help Neighbors in Need

Since 2007, the Good Samaritan Fund at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community (HNOJ) in Wayzata has provided almost half a million dollars to aid people in need. It’s an impressive accomplishment for a fund with such a humble beginning, going back to the days when Father Arnold Weber, OSB, was pastor. During his tenure, people would reach out to Father Arnold by simply knocking on his door. “Maybe someone lost their job or didn’t have any food,” explains HNOJ trustee Frank Rondoni. “Father Arnold would dole out some cash to help them.”

The ministry came to be called Arnie’s Door, and parishioners created a fund to support their pastor’s efforts. After Father Arnold’s retirement, the parish honored him by raising additional money for the ministry as part of a capital campaign. In 2007, a fund totaling $1 million was established at the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota and became known as the Good Samaritan Fund.

Fund Provides Immediate and Targeted Help

In keeping with Father Arnold’s vision, the Good Samaritan Fund is dedicated to giving immediate, targeted aid to people in need. “We might help someone get into an apartment, pay for infant formula, or provide a bed for a child who would otherwise have to sleep on the floor,” says HNOJ trustee Steve Hayes, who also serves on the advisory committee that oversees distributions from the fund. “It’s about directly impacting our brothers and sisters who are in great need.”

Disbursements from the fund total around $50,000 to $75,000 each year, with individual parish grants typically ranging from $500 to $2,000. In addition to giving money directly to individuals, parish grants from the fund support organizations such as Interfaith Outreach, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing issues related to suburban poverty. “We’ve partnered with them to be a first contact,” Steve says. “They’re equipped to help people access a lot more services.”

Guided by Hospitality and Charity

The Good Samaritan Fund advisory committee also encourages parishioners to get to know the organizations to which it grants by volunteering with them. “That’s a different kind of faith in action,” explains committee member Karen Karn. “You’re  giving of yourself, not just your money, which is crucial. Father Arnold would say ‘anyone can write a check.’ It means more if you go do something. Then you have some skin in the game.”

As HNOJ transformed from a country church into a large parish, Father Arnold made hospitality and charity a central part of its identity. Today, that charism is imbued in the Good Samaritan Fund and embraced by parishioners. “This fund is a very unique thing,” says Frank. “It represents the generous spirit of our people and how much they care.”

Steve Hayes shares his fellow trustee’s pride in the fund but offers a caveat. “The fund is a great thing, and yet there’s so much need. We must continue to be aware of the poor among us. This doesn’t take away that responsibility.”


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