Officials with the Kankakee Daily Journal launched its first Readers’ Choice Awards last month and welcomed readers to vote on everything from favorite restaurants, entertainment, and shopping choices to schools, home services and auto dealers. They also included a category for ‘best place to worship’ and ‘best pastor.’
Winners were announced over the weekend in a special section, and among the community favorites were St. George Parish and its pastor, Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV. Parish members were so thrilled, they took out an ad to thank local readers.
“On behalf of all the parishioners of St. George Catholic Church and Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV,” the ad read, “we would like to thank all the people who voted for us in Kankakee Journal poll, resulting in ranking 1st place for not only the best place to worship, but also 1st place in best pastor.
“This truly means we are following through with what we do best, ‘Welcoming everyone who walks through the doors,’ ” the ad continued. “Thanks again and God bless everyone!”
The awards validate the work of Fr. Dan, who was assigned as pastor in 2009. Over the years, he has worked to involve parishioners in the liturgy, in beautifying its grounds, in youth ministry, in taking pilgrimages and in special devotions.
Take this year. Back in September, Fr. Dan and parishioners dedicated the next year to Mary. They framed it this way: In a world filled with growing conflict and tensions, let’s focus on the positive by immersing ourselves in a devotion to Mary for the next year.
For his part, Fr. Dan described the awards as “humbling,” but they bear out his Viatorian mission: “to raise up communities where faith is lived deepened and celebrated.”