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Saving St. Thomas More

DALZELL — Members of St. Thomas More parish in Dalzell are hard at work with another tortellini fundraiser to help finance a way for the church to remain open past July 2014.

While the church is on the verge of being closed and merged with Holy Trinity parish in Cherry, it was given a chance to stay open. As previously reported in the Bureau County Republican, the Rev. Patrick Fixsen said if the Catholic parish doubled its weekly collection and found a way to fill its pews during Mass, it might have a chance.

Since then, members of the church have been striving to put together fundraisers such as spaghetti dinners, an Italian Fest and the popular tortellini fundraiser to raise money for its collection basket.

“We’re praying for a miracle, and the main thing is we want to continue operations after July,” said active member Carlo Olivero. “A lot of people in town think we’re just spinning our wheels, but we’re just really trying here.”

Olivero said the church is always looking for ways to increase its membership. While at one time St. Thomas More used to hold three Masses, it is now down to one Mass.

“And we’re lucky to have 25 at the one Mass,” Olivero said. “It’s sad. We’d love to have more people back here.”

Volunteers from all areas including Spring Valley, DePue, LaSalle and Peru gather weekly to hand cut and twist each piece of tortellini for the fundraiser.

While it’s uncertain how much money this fundraiser will bring in for the church’s fund, Olivero confirmed it once raised around $15,000.

“Hopefully as long as we continue making money, we will save this church,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, the volunteers gathered to cut, roll, stuff and twist each tortellini piece. Every ingredient that goes into the recipe is purchased locally.

The group started with 40 pounds of tortellini, but according to church member Mary Jean Goodrich, the orders have been rolling in at fast speed.

She said as of Wednesday, she’s collected orders to make more than 250 pounds of tortellini.

“It’s good news, though, because it’s all for the church,” she said.

The members will continue the fundraiser through January.

For those interested in placing an order, contact Goodrich at 815-664-4615. The tortellini is sold by the pound, and one pound of tortellini costs $6.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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