Appeal replacing scholarship dinner for seminarians this year

Rather than raising funds for college seminarians through a dinner this summer, the Msgr. George A. Carton College Seminarian Scholarship Fund is making a general appeal for donations.

A scheduling conflict led to the decision, according to Frank Kobilsek of Mendota, chairman of the annual dinner that usually takes place in early August before seminarians return to their schools.

“Despite not holding the dinner this year, the need to support our college seminarians remains,” said Kobilsek in appealing for donations.

“One of the most important works we can do as Catholics is to encourage and support seminarians,” he continued. “Without new priests, our parishes and communities will suffer.”

Those wishing to contribute are invited to mail checks to the Diocese of Peoria Office of Priestly Vocations, 419 N.E. Madison, Peoria, IL 61603. Checks should be made payable to “Diocese of Peoria” with “Msgr. Carton Fund” in the memo line.

The dinner and fund were created in 2010 by the Diocesan Vocation Team to help ensure that no young man is denied the opportunity to discern a priestly vocation in a college seminary because of his financial situation. Scholarships are awarded in varying amounts to qualifying college seminarians, with the monies paid to the college/seminary to offset tuition, room and board.

The fund is named for Msgr. Carton, a longtime chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria who died in 2000. He founded the (St. Therese) Seminary Endowment Fund by asking a group of women to contribute a dime a day to support seminarians. The group became known as the Seminary Aid Society, and some original members continue to support vocations.

This spring, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, reorganized the Office of Priestly Vocations. Msgr. Brian Brownsey, who guided vocation efforts for more than 10 years, was succeeded by Father Timothy Hepner and Father Patrick Henehan. Father Hepner is the full-time director of recruitment, while Father Henehan is director of formation while remaining pastor of St. Jude Parish, Peoria.
Both are alumni of college seminary.

“It was crucial in forming us into the priests we are today,” said Father Hepner, who was ordained in 2012 and is an alumnus of Immaculate Heart of Mary College Seminary in Winona, Minnesota. He attended the first Carton Dinner as a seminarian.

Christ continues to call men to the priesthood, said Father Hepner, and Bishop Jenky has “invested heavily” in vocations recruitment.

“We need to respond by making sure these men have the means to pursue their vocation,” said Father Hepner. “If we’re going to go fishing for vocations, we need to make sure we have a big enough boat to put our catch in.”

The scholarship dinner is expected to return in 2016. Persons wishing to communicate a pledge or ask questions via telephone or email are invited to contact Amy Chovan at (309) 671-1550 or

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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