More than a year after its inception, the employment ministry at St. Paul Catholic Church is about to host its third job fair, has a regular networking group and is looking to expand to other churches.

More than a year after its inception, the employment ministry at St. Paul Catholic Church is about to host its third job fair, has a regular networking group and is looking to expand to other churches.

The church's employment ministry came out of parishioner Tom Nann's experiences with unemployment.

"I was just astounded that there was nothing from a parish standpoint or a diocese standpoint that addressed that," Nann said. "I knew I wasn't the only one in a very bad situation."

After doing some research, Nann found that employment ministries have been founded in the past but would fade away within a few months.

He was determined to create a lasting ministry that would help those looking for jobs have face-to-face interaction with prospective employers. He also wanted to create a network that could help link businesses and those looking for work.

The ministry now has a group of people who meet at 7 p.m. each Tuesday at the church, 313 N. State St., an e-mail chain to let people know what jobs are out there and a Web site at www.stpauljobaid.org.

Ministry organizers also have committed to hosting two job fairs a year.

The first one last August attracted around 500 people and nearly 40 employers. Church development director Helmut Naunheimer estimates 8 percent of job-seekers left with jobs. The last job fair, held in March, had similar statistics.

With so many job fairs out there right now, Naunheimer said he believes the one at St. Paul stands out because the high number of participating companies allows those seeking employment to get face time with a number of prospective employers.

"Right now, job fairs are becoming pretty frequent, but we do them a little bit differently," Naunheimer said. "Some of these job fairs have had thousands of people, and you can't get around to talk to anyone."

Organizers expect the next job fair, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 6 in the parish's activities center, will attract around the same number of people, and around 40 employers are expected to attend again.

The ultimate goal of the employment ministry is to help curb unemployment in the area, eventually rendering itself unnecessary, Nann said.

"This is the one ministry you start with the intention of it going completely away," he said.

However, both Nann and Naunheimer recognize that with the state of the economy, the need for the employment ministry isn't likely to diminish anytime soon.

"When we first did it, we didn't realize where the economy was going," Naunheimer said.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com