No ice bucket needed to donate to worthy causes

| September 10, 2014 | 1 Comment
Father James Himmelsbach of Annunciation in Minneapolis is doused in his parish’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Sept. 2. Thirty staff members from the church and school lined up on the lawn to have a bucket of ice water dumped on them to raise money and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Photo courtesy of Chris Frank

Father James Himmelsbach of Annunciation in Minneapolis is doused in his parish’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Sept. 2. Thirty staff members from the church and school lined up on the lawn to have a bucket of ice water dumped on them to raise money and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Photo courtesy of Chris Frank

“Absolutely bone-chilling” is how Jimmy Dunn described the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

But it’s his own fault.

Dunn, who is director of youth ministry at Annunciation in south Minneapolis, challenged his fellow staff members to join in the phenomenon.

More than 30 people who work at the parish and Annunciation School — including pastor Father James Himmelsbach — took part Sept. 3, raising some $300 and awareness in the parish community about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Dunn said.

“It was an opportunity to show our support for the family of Dan Weides, a parishioner who is suffering from ALS,” he noted.

Dunn put the hysteria of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in just the right perspective.

In a letter to co-workers, Dunn wrote:

“Amidst the heavy news stories that have filled our airwaves of late, hasn’t it been refreshing and fun to see how the response to the Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral?”

While some people may have already had their Facebook and YouTube fill of waterlogged friends and soaked celebrities, Dunn pointed out that “TV and device screen images of so many cold water dousings have warmed our hearts to and awakened our awareness of the sufferings that challenge our brothers and sisters with ALS and their families.”

That’s just the way we ought to think about this summer’s sensation. It’s amazing that social-media-on-steroids like this could be responsible for raising more than $100 million for research on this one disease.

The parish staff at both Annunciation and Our Lady of Grace in Edina noted that the money they collected from their ice-water soaking is headed to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which is seeking a cure for ALS and other afflictions without using embryonic stem cells.

Consider thisThere are concerns that the ALS Foundation supports research that uses fetal embryonic tissue from abortions.

Father John Floeder, who teaches bioethics at the St. Paul Seminary and who chairs the Archbishop’s Commission on Bio/Medical Ethics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, offered the following statement to help people gain a better understanding of the moral and ethical issues involved:

“Many human sufferings call out to us for help, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) is certainly among them. Jesus Christ and the demands of love must lead us, as Catholics, to give our time, energy and resources to those who suffer. The awareness and contributions that have been raised because of the “bucket challenge” are a testament to that love in so many.

That said, authentic Christ-like love never can accept the deliberate taking of one life for the sake of another, which the use of embryonic stem cells does. To really help the suffering of ALS in a loving way, Catholics should not only support only those organizations that do not use embryonic stem cells, but also express to organizations the need to cease support and funding of practices that use embryonic stem cells that destroys human life.”

The U.S. Catholic Conference suggests donating to ALS research at the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which does not support embryonic stem cell research. For more information, visit http://www.jp2mri.org.

Alternative charities

If you’re still planning to join the crowd of the wet and cold, consider the worthy charities in our own back yard:

  • Holy Rosary in Minneapolis created Centro Guadalupano in 2000 in response to the needs of the large influx of immigrants into south Minneapolis. Centro has evolved to provide adult education, health care that overcomes language barriers, and an especially important program called Andale! — an after-school program for Latino children and youth aimed at increasing academic performance and closing the achievement gap. To donate, visit http://www.guadcenter.org.
  • Catholic elementary and secondary schools are constantly striving to keep up with changing technologies in the education field. Any one of them would welcome your “Ice Bucket Challenge” gift.
  • Your parish or school endowment fund might be your choice for a donation. The Catholic Community Foundation specializes in helping people leave a legacy that benefits the churches and schools they love. If your parish or school doesn’t already have an endowment fund with CCF, the folks at the foundation will help get one started. For endowments and other charitable giving opportunities, visit http://www.ccf-mn.org.
  • Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis on its website (www.catholiccharitiesmn.org) carries a “Wish List for People in Need.” Catholic Charities will get the items to those who can use them. But do your soul a favor and visit http://www.DorothyDayrevision.org to watch the video “Dorothy Day Center: A Place to Lay Your Head.” You’ll want to hit the “donate” button before Karl’s story is even finished.

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Category: Featured, Local News

  • Renard

    The ALS Foundation currently funds one project using embryonic stem cells. Other studies funded by the ALS Foundation use adult stem cells or other non-embryonic stem cells. Donors to the ALS Foundation may stipulate that their donations NOT be directed to the one study using embryonic stem cells. For more complete information, please check the ALS Foundation website.