Parish’s pet ministry raises money for benevolent fund

Anne Marie Amacher
From left, Jan Gillin, Deb Kopacz, Rosie Keeley and Linda Casas make enchiladas to raise funds for a benevolent fund for the St. John Vianney pet ministry program in Bettendorf.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — More than a dozen volunteers spent four days recently making homemade enchiladas to benefit a new benevolent fund for the St. John Vianney pet ministry program. The fund will help pay for emergency veterinary care for pet companions.

“We have a long way to go to have enough funds to offer this, but the enchilada sale is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Kim McCool, who started the parish’s St. Francis of Assisi pet ministry earlier this year.

Linda Casas of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf taught volunteers how to make enchiladas, a skill she learned from her godmother decades ago. “I trust in God and my faith. I did not do this for glory, but for God’s beautiful cause of helping others,” she said. Pet ministry members want to help others “whose fur babies need help.” Casas met McCool through the Called and Gifted program and the two became reacquainted through McCool’s pet ministry program.


Pet ministry members are primarily St. John Vianney parishioners but some members belong to other parishes. Upon request, members donated items to make and package enchiladas, such as potatoes, onions, ground beef, tortillas and plastic bags. Within days, the ministry had the items needed, McCool said. Ahead of the preparation (Sept. 26-29), Casas made the red sauce, which contains chili anchoes.

Preparation began in the parish activity center, where volunteers peeled and chopped potatoes and onions and cooked them with the ground beef for 70 dozen enchiladas. Casas added garlic cloves and other spices to the meat, which simmered for a few hours before volunteers bagged and refrigerated it. Volunteers returned the next two days to prepare the next batch of meat for another 114 dozen enchiladas.

The following three days volunteers prepared the enchiladas, spreading chili ancho sauce on flour tortillas and passing them on to volunteers who fried them briefly in oil. Other volunteers placed the meat mixture into the tortillas, rolled them up and stuffed the ends with more meat before bagging and refrigerating them. The group made 184 dozen enchiladas over the course of four days. Distribution for some orders began immediately but the majority were delivered after Masses Oct. 1-2.

Volunteer Rosie Keeley’s job was to stuff the ends of the enchiladas full of meat. She joined the pet ministry because of her love for animals and love of church. Lona Moore, Deb Kopacz and Jan Gillin either have pets or had a pet at one time and have enjoyed the pet ministry program and its activities.

Father Rich Adam’s dog Joey is “a member of our parish. He is at daily Mass at times. He is so involved,” Kopacz joked. Keeley added, “Joey is such a diva, or whatever you call a male diva. He was not at the food preparation, but we’re sure he smelled the goods being made.”

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