Friday, May 20, 2022

St. Mary’s parishioner sells raffle tickets, gets mistaken as a scam


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – A member from the congregation at St. Mary’s Oratory on Elm Street in Rockford was just trying to help raise restoration funds for their church, when his efforts were mistaken as a con. Community members set the story straight on Monday about a door-to-door raffle sale incident in Rockford.

Holly Hilby is the raffle manager at St. Mary’s Oratory in Rockford, Ill. She reached out to the WIFR Newsroom about a story written on Monday, January 17, 2022. The story has since been updated and can be viewed here.

“We believe that a simple misunderstanding may have led to the following story,” said Hilby in an email to WIFR on Monday. “One of our parishioners reported that he was in the Shaw Woods neighborhood, where he lives, with his two small children, selling tickets for our raffle several days before he was sent the story. The parishioner was alarmed by the story and apologized for any alarm caused to his neighbors.”

Hilby confirmed that the church is selling $10 raffle tickets to raise money for a new boiler. “This raffle is conducted with a Winnebago County Raffle License #30580 and the approval of the Diocese of Rockford and adheres to all IRS guidelines,” said Hilby.

Official raffle rules are available at our website Hilby says that even though St. Mary’s Oratory is a 501(c)(3), receipts are not available for the donation because IRS tax code does not consider raffle tickets tax deductible.

“Instead as a receipt the buyer will receive the right half of the raffle ticket, as shown in the attachment which shows the raffle date and prize information.”

St. Mary’s Oratory is about 140 years old, making it the second oldest Catholic church in Rockford. Their parishioners have been working hard to raise restoration funds for the church including the exterior, interior and the mechanical systems as well as the attached neighboring rectory and office.

Just last week workers completed the installation of a new metal roof, flashing and gutters which will allow for the continued effort to refurbish and upgrade the HVAC systems inside church and rectory.

Anyone interested in purchasing raffle tickets can contact the church at

Hilby says the winners will be contacted by phone or e-mail and that winning tickets will be posted to their website after the drawing on January 29. St. Mary Oratory can be reached at (815)965-5971 or

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