Johnstown Parish Shares the Generosity of #iGiveCatholic


By Tony DeGol

So many people these days decry teens as too focused on themselves and too disconnected to their faith and the life of the Catholic Church.

Jonah Weaver dispels that perception.

A high school junior, Weaver is the president of the youth group at Saint Benedict Parish in Johnstown.

“We donate to a lot of charity groups around the area,” he said of the ministry. “We’re a place of faith for young people to gather and get closer to God and enjoy fellowship with each other.”

The teens in the youth group have plenty of fun, like a recent trip to Haunted Hollow in Somerset County and other recreational activities.

As Weaver mentioned, there is also a lot of spirituality and giving.

During a “Friendsgiving” dinner in November, the kids donated $350 for an Angel Tree program, which surely is helping folks in need. After that dinner, Father David Peles, Pastor of Saint Benedict, spoke with the young people about the Eucharistic Revival happening now in the Catholic Church in America.

In short, there is something good going on with youth at Saint Benedict, and thanks to the faithful’s generous support of the 2022 #iGiveCatholic campaign, youth ministry at the parish is getting a financial shot in the arm.

The youth group is one of six ministries that is benefiting from the parish’s 2022 #iGiveCatholic campaign, which is part of Giving Tuesday, an international day of generosity that happens every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Here in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, all parishes and Catholic schools participate in #iGiveCatholic, as well as select diocesan ministries, such as priestly vocations, the Proclaim! TV Mass Ministry, Catholic Charities, Youth Ministry, and Family Life.

Saint Benedict in Johnstown collected the most donations among parishes and Catholic schools in the 2022 campaign – $23,010. 

Recently, Father Peles presented checks of $3,835 to six ministries selected to benefit from the generosity.

“Last year we raised money for our parish needs, but this year we had a different idea,” Father Peles explained. “The idea was to do something for children on a parish level, a community level, and an international level.”

Saint Benedict chose six organizations to benefit. On a parish level, the Saint Benedict Youth Group and the Helping Hands Outreach were the recipients. In the community, Mom’s House and the Gabriel Project were selected.

Globally, the Catholic school at the Indian parish of Father Antony Sudherson, HGN, Parochial Vicar at Saint Benedict, is benefiting.

Deacon Michael Russo, in diaconal service at Saint Benedict, accepted the check on behalf of the outreach.

“The school has been destroyed mostly because of the monsoons that come to India every fall,” noted Deacon Russo. “They’re looking to restore and rebuild areas of the school. The money will be applied to the restoration project so they can reinforce the walls and get the school back into working order so that the children will have a safe place to study.”

Father Antony’s school is one of many foreign mission projects at the parish, a ministry lovingly steered by Deacon Russo.

The sixth ministry benefiting from the #iGiveCatholic donations is the Haiti ministry led by the Carmelite Community of the Word, a diocesan community of religious sisters. Sister Cindy Burns, CCW, is the Director of Religious Education at Saint Benedict.

Not far behind Saint Benedict in the #iGiveCatholic 2022 diocesan fundraising totals were Saint Michael Parish in St. Michael with $18,036 and Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Altoona with $13,340.

[Photo: Father David Peles, Pastor of Saint Benedict Parish in Johnstown, presents a check to Jonah Weaver, President of the parish youth group, one of six groups benefiting from the parish’s successful 2022 #iGiveCatholic campaign.]