St. Helena parishioners rally behind family of missing father

| August 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Parishioners at St. Helena Church and School in Minneapolis are hosting a benefit for the Josef and Katy Zurnieden family. Josef went missing July 1. The Zurniedens have two daughters — 6-year-old Grace, who attends St. Helena School, and 3-year-old Veronica.

Jam for Joe will take place from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, on the front lawn of the school, 3200 E. 44th St., Minneapolis. The event will include music, children’s activities, food and a raffle. Organizers suggest a minimum donation of $10 per person. If inclement weather, the event will be moved into the gymnasium.

Donations can be made directly into a trust account at Wells Fargo (tax ID 47-6346506; Wells Fargo account 8678229694). Donations can be mailed or brought to any Wells Fargo, or mailed to the Zurnieden Family Trust, P.O. Box 17112, Minneapolis, MN 55417

An outpouring of support

Katy, who plans to attend the benefit with her daughters, said she is moved by the parish’s generosity, from people’s prayers to helping with her daughters to providing food.

“Seeing what has happened with our family and the amount of people who have turned toward us made me realize a community of people is what everyone needs in their life,” she said. “It’s been a challenge, but we’re surrounded by a lot of people who love us.”

Katy and Joe own and operate Grakat Glass in Minneapolis, which she cannot continue to run without Joe.

“There’s no handbook for this type of situation,” Katy said. “It’s surreal, but I have these two little girls who keep me present in the moment.”

Event organizer and parishioner Dawn Agort-Kurth said the Zurniedens had an immediate impact on the St. Helena community when they joined the parish last fall.

“They give of themselves freely and with their sights set on bettering our community,” Agort-Kurth said. “[So,] everyone is giving the very best of themselves, their skill sets and their time out of love and compassion. The outpouring of love and generosity that I have seen is overwhelming.”

In addition to the benefit, St. Helena parishioners have helped with the search effort, which Katy said continues daily. Along with law enforcement, nonprofit organizations have aided in the search with sonar and cadaver dogs.

“There was a sighting and attempted rescue in the river, but no body was recovered,” Katy said. Some of Joe’s personal items were recovered on the shore.

“Community, family, faith and love are what are really important,” Katy said. “It’s sad I had to be reminded of these important things this way. I’m just trying to stay positive and be the best example I can be for these little girls.”

For more information about the benefit, contact Dawn Agort-Kurth at (612) 865-7394 or

Jam for Joe
Benefit for the Zurnieden family

4:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 21
St. Helena School, 3200 E. 44th St., Minneapolis.

Music, children’s activities, food and a raffle

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Category: Local News