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Pancake breakfasts as parish fund-raiser: One griddle makes one sizzling investment

TIPTON, Ind. (The Catholic Moment) - From an initial investment of $1,000 for a griddle, St. John the Baptist Church has raised more than $56,000 for charity by holding pancake and sausage breakfasts.

PANCAKE TRADITION - Since 1982, St. John the Baptist Parish in Tipton has raised $56,000 through pancake breakfasts to assist parish ministries. (Caroline B. Mooney)

PANCAKE TRADITION - Since 1982, St. John the Baptist Parish in Tipton has raised $56,000 through pancake breakfasts to assist parish ministries. (Caroline B. Mooney)

The ushers’ group started the activity in 1982 under the pastorate of Father John Bouvier and four breakfasts were held annually.

Under the next pastor, Father Fred Gschwind, breakfasts were held six times each year. Under the current pastor, Father Leroy Kinnaman, the number has gone up to eight or nine.

“That is approximately 133 breakfasts that have been served using enough hog to fill one-half of a semi,” said Steve Tra-gesser, member of the ushers’ group and head of the breakfast committee. He has worked at all but one breakfast.

“We take free-will donations,” he said. “It used to be a set price, but since it’s become free will, we make more money.”

His wife, Lou Tragesser, a member of the Rosary Society, said the last breakfast, on Feb. 21, made more than $900.

“When these started, we’d only make about $200 at a time, and it just grew and grew,” she said. “Each month the money goes to a different charity. We buy supplies for Vacation Bible School, give money to CCD students, Jubilee Christmas — it really benefits everyone.”

Sharing the proceeds

The proceeds from one breakfast each year are split between the ushers group and the Rosary Society. Other groups that have benefited include the parish youth group, Caregiver Companion, the Tipton Ministerial Association, Mustard Seed, and teachers at St. John the Baptist School. In the spring, proceeds go toward two $500 scholarships for high school seniors of the parish.

Volunteers from throughout the parish now work at each breakfast. About 20 to 25 work at each breakfast, with cooking starting at 6 a.m. and cleaning ending around 1 p.m. Groups come in to eat after the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses, with CCD students eating in between.

“There are a lot of good, special people who help out at the breakfast,” said Lou Tragesser, who helps out at most of the meals. “One man used to make Mickey Mouse pancakes for the kids. Now, Steve makes chocolate chip and the kids all wait in line for those.”

Plain and blueberry pancakes are also served. Each breakfast uses 30 to 35 pounds of pancake mix, 100 pounds of sausage, 35 dozen eggs, 10 gallons of orange juice and milk, and about 150 cups of coffee.

Cashing in on rebates

The parish also makes money with rebates from the pancake mix. Mike Enneking, vice president of the ushers group, noticed the rebate certificates and started mailing them in about a year ago.

“I think he must be in the system now because we get checks back within one or two weeks,” said his wife, Becky, who is president of the parish Rosary Society. “That brings in another $16 to $20 per breakfast, and we just put that money right back in the ushers fund. A lot of different groups really benefit from all the breakfasts.

“I just sent an announcement to our local newspaper announcing the next breakfast,” she said. “We normally have quite a few people from the community who come to eat.”

“We like to go to all of the breakfasts,” said parishioner Karen Ripberger. “They really do very well for the parish.” She attended with her granddaughter, Carly, who “likes to eat the pancakes best.”

Parishioner Gene Baranowski enjoys attending the breakfasts and, as current president of Mustard Seed, was happy to receive some of the proceeds.

“I’ve worked at a lot of the breakfasts,” parishioner Debbie Thomas said. “I really like to meet everybody — it’s a nice chance to talk to so many people.”


This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Catholic Moment (, official publication of the Diocese of Lafayette, Ind.



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