J&J Business Owners Honored


Jim and Debbie Hannigan

2013 marks the 12th year the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is honoring Leading With Faith Award winners — men and women whose business practices reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church.

This year’s winners included J&J business owners Jim and Debbie Hannigan.

Nominations were solicited from throughout the archdiocese. Winners were selected in each of three categories: large business, small business and non-profit organizations.

The winners were honored at the annual Leading With Faith lunch Aug. 14 at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Archbishop John Nienstedt was scheduled to present the awards.

Q & A with Jim and Debbie Hannigan

How do you apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

From the time we started business, we have strived to share what we created with our employees by providing competitive wages and benefits. A number of times, we have given an employee a second or even a third chance when they have struggled with making a positive contribution to our success.

We continue to provide food to various charities and food shelves in the area.

Please tell a story about a time when applying your faith at work really made a difference?

Our children have all worked in the business. Our oldest son, Christopher, was killed in a car accident 20 years ago. He was very gifted and the loss affected us a lot. After he died, we decided to establish a memorial scholarship fund in his name at St. Thomas Academy so that students who want to have a strong Catholic education, but struggle to finance it, can, with our help, have their dream fulfilled.

Who or what has been the most inspirational to you in bringing your faith to the marketplace?

Both of us grew up in strong Catholic families and graduated from Catholic high schools. The nurturing environment fostered by the sisters and priests who taught us has guided us, as has the fact that we continue to be nourished by our faith community each week.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

Many immigrants, minorities and women have been given the opportunity to grow into leadership positions at J&J. They are dependable workers and very loyal to J&J.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

Our building is located in a part of St. Paul that struggles with many issues. We have made many improvements to the building and made it a nice place inside and out. We do not have a big fence around our lot, and yet have experienced very little damage to the premises and its equipment. In many ways, we are an oasis. Many low-income workers from the surrounding neighborhoods have found a home at J&J. In good times and bad, we believe God has been with us.

Age: Jim, 70, Debbie, 69
Company: J&J Distributing (fresh and dry produce distributors)
Title: President/CEO (Jim), COB (Debbie)
Parish: Assumption, St. Paul
Children: Stephanie, Kevin, Christopher (deceased)
Activities: Volunteer with Little Sisters of the Poor

*Photo by Dave Hrbacek, Article by The Catholic Spirit

Jim Hannigan receives St. Jeanne Jugan Award

A Memorable Evening

It was the 5th GALA the Holy Family Residence has hosted since 2007.

jeanne_jugan_award_2014It has been an honor for me to walk along side the Sisters and their staff as a committee member for this fundraising event held on June 11, 2014 at St Thomas University/Anderson Student Center.

The Little Sisters know and live the true meaning of hospitality so it should come as no surprise they would choose a venue that is simple, elegant and welcoming to all who come to support them in their mission.

The evening began with a cocktail hour and silent auction as the guests mingled with each other while enjoying a cool beverage and bidding on their favorite items.  Yes, there were certainly those hovering around their special packages increasing their bids as often as it would take to be the prized winner.

The dinner tables were dressed with soft colored linens and flowers filling the space in the Hall of Anderson Student Center comfortably and cozy at the same time.  Dinner was a delicious combo of beef and chicken cooked by the St. Thomas kitchen staff.

This year’s recipient of the St. Jeanne Jugan Award went to Jim Hannigan, of J and J Distributing.  Jim and his wife, Debbie have long supported, very generously, both in time and treasure the Little Sisters mission.  We are so grateful for their love and abundant blessings towards the Sisters.

The Keynote Speakers were Dr. and Mrs Edward Gatz.  Dr. Gatz was the recipient of a miracle from St. Jeanne Jugan, Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Her miracle of healing Dr. Gatz from his prognosis of terminal cancer, was the miracle that Rome awarded her the honor of her canonization in October, 2009.

The story shared by both Dr. Gatz and his wife, Jeanne, were both compelling and inspiring.  Not often in our lives are we able to sit around table in the same room with a person being able to share such a profound experience.  It was truly “Holy Ground” for all able to attend.

The evening ended with a spirited Live Auction led by Auctioneer Rod Johnson. Traditionally our guests anticipate some exciting items and are anxious to bid.  Lucky winners walked home with auctioned items such as: A trip for 2 to Rome, tickets to a Notre Dame Football Game; Timberwolves Tickets; Boat Cruise on St. Croix River with Fr. John Malone; and many more.

Begging for the Little Sisters was my “calling” this year for the GALA….I always enjoy calling on merchants in our community and asking for their support as I share the mission and ministry of these beautiful women.   So glad this year, once again….our “begging” paid off big time as our generous supporters helped the Sisters exceed their goal….in more ways than one!