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Living the Mission

High Court Trustees are making a difference in their communities.


High Court Trustees are members of local courts that have been elected by Catholic Order of Foresters state delegates to serve four-year terms. Two of these HCTs are making waves in their local communities.  

For Julie Bries, St. Francis 607, Worthington, Iowa, giving back to the community runs in her blood. Julie’s father, Merlin Fortmann, started the Care and Share Program with their parish back in the 1980s, for parishioners who needed support during the Christmas season. As Chief Ranger of St. Francis 607 for many years, Merlin helped Julie transition to the role when he was ready to step down. Now a High Court Trustee, Julie is carrying on her father’s legacy, and serving her local community through the Care and Share Program. “The program was...going to help our community at any time of year through the Rural Community Food Pantry,” Julie explained. “I also learned from Fr. Quint [Julie’s parish priest] that at the time, there was a great need and people had approached him for help.” Julie, through Catholic Order of Foresters Welfare and Relief Fund, was given $1,000 to donate to an organization of her choice. She donated $1,000 to the parish to help where Fr. Quint saw it could have the greatest impact. “In the early 1980s the farming crisis was very real and hit those in our area,” Julie said. “At times I think we are there again in 2019, so after talking to Fr. Quint I wanted to help by donating to the Rural Community Food Pantry as that is how our parish community helps those in need.” Julie’s parish continues to host a non-perishable food drive once a month to help families in their community.     

What is High Court Trustee Beth McFarlane’s, Sacred Heart 1369, Shawano, Wis., greatest challenge in outreach? “There are so many ideas, and so little time!” she exclaims. Beth has been active in her local court for the past 15 years, volunteering with all opportunities presented to her. Matching Funds fish fries, care packages for college students and active military, organizing volunteers at a food pantry, providing books for each student who attended a reading night, and most recently, Feeding God’s Children (FGC) events—Beth has a hand in it all. She's also passionate about education and involvement with her local Catholic school, as she has volunteered with many organizations within the school, including the Sacred Heart Board of Total Catholic Education and the library. She currently sits on the Boys and Girls Club of Shawano Advisory Board. “It’s an expression of gratitude for the blessings I have received in my lifetime so far,” Beth says when asked why she does it all. “These activities may be small gestures, but to the people we touch when we do them, they mean the world.” Beth hosted an FGC event this May where volunteers made snacks for Wisconsin National Guard members serving overseas. 

These two High Court Trustees lead by example, showing how service of any kind has an impact. To make your own impact through service, contact the Fraternal Outreach Team.

Article by Kaitlynrose Bicek and Alison Mink.

Julie Bries Donation

Julie Bries presents her donation to the Care and Share Program at 

Get Involved 2019 FGC Get Involved Image