8/27/2014 8:27:00 AM Catholic Mutual Group's founding members honored
Catholic News Service photo
Severe damage to the interior of St. Ann Church in Empire, La., is seen in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in 2005. The church also was swept off its pilings. Catholic Mutual Group, based in Omaha, Neb., assisted many of the parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans that suffered property damage.
Catholic News Service
OMAHA, Neb. — Marking its 125th anniversary of providing property and casualty insurance for the Catholic Church in North America, Catholic Mutual Group honored its six founding dioceses.
A specially commissioned monstrance and a hardbound pictorial history book were presented to representatives of the dioceses, including three bishops, at the Aug. 11 dinner in Omaha.
The Omaha-based benevolent society was founded in 1889 after a fire four years earlier destroyed St. Mary's Church in Wood River, Nebraska. The organization's website explains that a group of Midwestern bishops, who were unable to obtain affordable, reliable insurance for diocesan properties, worked together to form the association.
Catholic Mutual Group is now the largest provider of insurance to North American dioceses, religious orders and other institutions, including schools, retirement homes and social service agencies, the organization says.
Speaking at the event, Michael Intrieri, president and CEO of Catholic Mutual, thanked members of the founding dioceses for their continued vision for the church, and all members for their support.
"Not only are we business associates and you are our clients, but we're also friends," he said.
Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, said at the dinner that knowing church property and liability issues are covered gives the diocese more freedom to focus on ministries. He said the need for financial protection and relief was evident in research he did on the histories of various parishes as he took his appointment to the diocese two years ago.
Many parishes suffered "devastating" losses in church fires during the late 1800s and early 1900s, he said.
"Catholic Mutual came along and filled that need," Bishop Conley said. "And they've been at it ever since, 125 years later."