January 8, 2016

Catholic News Around Indiana

Compiled by Brandon A. Evans

Diocese of Evansville

Diocese Honors 67 With St. Maria Goretti Youth Distinction

Bishop Charles C. Thompson, front row center, stands with 2016 recipients of the Diocese of Evansville's St. Maria Goretti Youth Distinction.By Tim Lilley

Bishop Charles C. Thompson called the 67 recipients of the Diocese of Evansville’s St. Maria Goretti Youth Distinction for 2016 “the cream of the crop” during the March 6 Mass and Conferral Ceremony at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.

“Because you are being honored today,” he said, “you have shown qualities and attributes in your own lives – already – of St. Maria Goretti. She chose to die rather than to give in to her attacker, showing great courage and virtue at a very young age.”

He noted that the young people being honored had already displayed elements of strong character, having embraced the values instilled in them by their families and faith communities.

Bishop Thompson said the theme of the day – the Fourth Sunday of Lent – is founded in God’s mercy and in having an ongoing relationship with God. He recalled something he’d heard from a professor in seminary about the day’s Gospel, Luke’s account of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son.

“He said, ‘if you understood this story, you pretty much understood the whole New Testament,’” Bishop Thompson said. “For him, this epitomized the whole teaching of Jesus.” Bishop Thompson suggested that Pope Francis probably would agree with this, noting that the first line of the Bull of Indiction declaring the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s Mercy.”

“He goes on to say that this may well sum up everything about our faith,” the bishop added.

He talked about the concept of repentance, noting that on Ash Wednesday, many who received the sign of the cross on their foreheads heard those administering ashes say, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

“We don’t just repent in despair,” he said, “but also to encounter and embrace God’s mercy and love for us. Repentance must be a part of our ongoing relationship with God. We hear that relational aspect in all three readings.”

“Each time we celebrate Mass,” he said, again focusing on the Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, “we celebrate a God who comes running to us, who immediately embraces us with compassion, who immediately restores us … who never wants that dignity to be lost to us. What Jesus tells us in that story is that God loves us so unconditionally that He will do what seems, to the human mind, to be shameless. But that is the way of God’s mercy … beyond anything we can fathom.

“We gather here today to celebrate your honor of receiving the Goretti Award, which is a great award, but also to celebrate with you our dignity as children of God and ambassadors of Christ,” Bishop Thompson said. “May you have the courage of Maria Goretti to live your dignity day in and day out, and know the mercy of God for yourselves – and show that mercy in the way you treat others.”

Photo caption: Bishop Charles C. Thompson, front row center, stands with 2016 recipients of the Diocese of Evansville's St. Maria Goretti Youth Distinction.

(For news from the Diocese of Evansville, log on to the website of The Message at www.themessageonline.org)


Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Connecting communities at the Logan Center in South Bend

The Logan Center’s Best Buddies program partners Logan clients with students from the University of Notre Dame. The center’s fashion show highlights the Best Buddies volunteers.By Jennifer Miller 

SOUTH BEND — The Logan Center, a place for opportunity and resources for people with disabilities, has had volunteers since it’s inception in 1950. In fact they have been “the lifeblood” of the center. But in recent years the mutual relationship and depth of connection between the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College students and Logan Center clients has increased. Student volunteers have helped since the 1970s and now with development of older programs like Best Buddies, Super Sibs and expansion of faculty engagement in the community new programs are successfully connecting the communities.

The Logan Center in its mission “exists to support people with disabilities in achieving their desired quality of life.” Ranging from birth to elderly age, clients may have a range of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or a traumatic brain injury. They offer a variety of resources and opportunities, including 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. adult day services. During the day program, clients can choose from various studios, like art, nutrition or sensory.

Best Buddies is an international program, which connects persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) with a student to form a positive friendship. Clients range in age from 16 to 40 and there are over 90 college students who volunteer to participate. They share in recreation, such as dances, crafts or bingo. Coming soon, they are hosting “Breaking Barriers: Best Buddies Fashion Show” on March 29, to promote respect for the IDD community.

Bre Hutchinson works as volunteer coordinator at the Logan Center, and interviews students for Best Buddies. She looks for students that “have the heart for it.” Hutchinson recruits from all the local area schools, 14 years of age and older, as well as colleges. She also connects individuals who have a sibling with IDD with client’s siblings in a program called Super Sibs.

“What I love about it is students who come in are quite vulnerable and often put aside their fears or anxiousness and usually end up staying, having an amazing experience,” Shelley Zabukovic describes. Once a freshman core-writing course taught by Professor John Duffy envisioned partnering one student and Logan client for the semester. In building mutual relationships, the students interviewed their partners and wrote their life stories, many of them turning them into bound books.

Photo caption: The Logan Center’s Best Buddies program partners Logan clients with students from the University of Notre Dame. The center’s fashion show highlights the Best Buddies volunteers.

Building Inclusive Parishes continues mission of welcome

Building Inclusive ParishesBy Kay Cozad

FORT WAYNE — As the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend works to address the needs of all its faithful, a grassroots movement based in Fort Wayne seeks to do its part for those with disabilities. Building Inclusive Parishes, a group of lay faithful that includes members ranging from parents of special needs children to persons who are passionate about including everyone in the Church community, began its mission of welcoming inclusion last spring after gathering at a meet-and-greet invitational from the Office of Evangelization.

Kate Jones, parishioner of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish, attended the meet-and-greet and said, “Everyone was invited to enter into a conversation to develop ideas on effective ways to engage all people with disabilities, into a full and meaningful participation in our church.” Jones, who lives with a hearing loss, reports that the purpose of the group is “to provide resources to individuals and their families to ensure that all can be well-formed in their Catholic faith, have access to sacraments, and be included in their parish communities so that, in turn, parish families can be strengthened by the unique and particular gifts in each member to build the body of Christ in love.”

The Building Inclusive Parishes group recently prepared its mission statement, inspired by Ephesians 4:15-16, which reads, “Through prayer, support, advocacy and catechesis, we strive to be inclusive of all individuals with disabilities or special needs and help them know that they are welcomed, accepted and necessary in contributing their gifts to parish life.”

To fulfill its mission, the group meets monthly and has been compiling a list of needs, expectations and gifts that they and their disabled family members can bring to the Church. Jones noted of the discussions, “Most of us were not aware of the unique challenges for people and their families who are carrying these kinds of crosses until our own lives were impacted by severe mental illness, autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, hearing impairment, physical and intellectual disabilities, just to name a few.”

She added, “We pray that our mission will impact individuals with disabilities or special needs’ faith life by allowing them to participate more fully in their parish life and thus bringing them closer to Jesus.”

Thirty years of reconciliation: The Dismas House

Dismas House, located at 521 S. St Joseph St., South Bend, has been a home to over 1,000 men and women coming from incarceration for 30 years.By Jennifer Miller

SOUTH BEND — It is 6:30 p.m. Everyone at the Dismas House is called to dinner, residents, staff and guests alike. Whoever’s chore it was to set the table is responsible for saying grace. An atmosphere of respect and care abounds. Standing around the table, all heads bow to thank the Lord and another community meal, stemming and connecting people to the Eucharistic table, begins.

A seemingly simple event, dinnertime is actually a cornerstone and key community component in the lives of the residents of the Dismas House. In this beautiful, century-old home in downtown South Bend, ex-offenders are offered a second chance … and truly for some, a first chance at a stable, caring home environment as they re-enter the community after leaving prison or jail. Residents commit to a three-month to two-year stay, depending on their situation.

Begun in 1986, the Dismas House has served over 900 former offenders along with over 100 college students who live and serve at the home. The name comes from the “good thief” in the Gospel of Luke, in the Bible, who was crucified next to Jesus, contrite for his sins and was reconciled to God.

Begun by Father Jack Hickey, a Dominican Roman Catholic priest, in Nashville, Tennessee, as a re-entry for men and women who were once incarcerated, the Dismas House model was designed to “stand with those who struggle.” As Catholic chaplain at Vanderbilt University, he saw a similarity between university students and incarcerated men and women leaving prison, that they both were searching for their way in the world and could perhaps mutually aide one another.

For the last 30 years in South Bend, the Dismas House has done just that. One current resident was so grateful for the House. He said after leaving prison “it gave me some structure and someone to answer to. … And it was nice to have someone to watch over me.”

Maria Kaczmarek, executive director for the past 20 years, describes this transition time, from prison to everyday life in society, as “reconciliation. They get the support they need to develop into their full potential. … They become better people, better moms, better dads. Here they have a stable situation. … If there are problems, we can work it out together,” she said.

“I have seen transformations and changes from being depressed to having a purpose,” Maria explained as she described the Christian idea of forgiveness, central to the Dismas House. “Often they don’t know how to live in community. We focus on breaking bread together, offering a structured, middle class life.”

There is a fee, about $115 per week, for resident to live there. The cost also includes food, laundry, soap, Internet access and all of the programs and links to services needed. The programs range from finance to yoga, the idea being to help people with a lot of different issues all at one time. Overall though, she emphasized, “It is a place where human life is valued.”

Photo caption: Dismas House, located at 521 S. St Joseph St., South Bend, has been a home to over 1,000 men and women coming from incarceration for 30 years.

(For news from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, log on to the website of Today’s Catholic at www.todayscatholicnews.org)


Diocese of Gary

No news briefs are available this week


(For news from the Diocese of Gary, log on to the website of the Northwest Indiana Catholic at www.nwicatholic.com)


Diocese of Lafayette

‘The heart expands when we live out mercy’

Father Rick Nagel, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, was the guest speaker at this year’s day of renewal for parish staffs from across the Lafayette diocese. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)By Caroline B. Mooney

ZIONSVILLE — Father Rick Nagel considers this Year of Mercy to be one of the greatest gifts of his lifetime.

“It is a gift to all of us and a time to think about forgiveness in our lives,” he told parish staff members from across the Lafayette diocese, gathered for a day of renewal on March 1 at St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish.

“This is a year to look at and think about God’s loving mercy in our lives,” Father Nagel said. “St. John Paul II said a lot of amazing things, but one thing is so short and poignant that I want to use it as a theme: ‘Mercy is love’s second name.’ There is a lot of power in that. ... You can’t have mercy without love.”

The day included two presentations by Father Nagel and Mass celebrated by Bishop Timothy L. Doherty. The event was organized by the diocesan Pastoral Office for Catechesis.

Father Nagel, a Rensselaer native, is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church, Indianapolis, and campus minister at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.

“Mercy is that compassion of bringing people back into the fullness of their relationships with people and God,” Father Nagel said. “That can’t happen without love. Part of being Christian is to be people who are full of love and mercy.

“Why did Pope Francis call for a Year of Mercy? He said, ‘I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds ... and the ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all.’”

Ministers of mercy are those who are willing to enter into the pain and misery of people’s lives, touch their wounds and surprise them with tender, healing love, Father Nagel said.

“Pope Francis calls us to meet people where they are ... and journey with them,” he said. “He calls this a culture of encounter. It’s hard to do that as listeners. From our love for the Eucharist and devotions for the Church flows all our love and care for others — for the poor, families, communities, those who have broken their lives — all who need God’s mercy and love.

“As ministers of faith it’s a daily challenge to find merciful moments and enter into them,” he said. “Are we ourselves having a personal encounter with Christ? Are we continuing to be on fire? Ministers in the trenches can get in a rut and go through the motions. It’s a good check to say our Father is calling us back to that personal encounter with Jesus Christ. If we don’t have it, it’s tough to give it. If we don’t have it, it means we are lacking God’s love and mercy in our own lives and so it’s hard to be agents of that love and mercy for others.”

Photo caption: Father Rick Nagel, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, was the guest speaker at this year’s day of renewal for parish staffs from across the Lafayette diocese. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)

Historic Drexel Hall blessed at Saint Joseph’s College, Rensselaer

Father William Stang, CPPS, a faculty member at Saint Joseph’s College, prays during the blessing of Drexel Hall on March 3, the feast day of St. Katharine Drexel. (Photos by Kevin Cullen)By Kevin Cullen

RENSSELAER — It knew the footsteps of a saint, the shouts of Native American boys, the antics of college men and the words of the Holy Mass.

It is Drexel Hall — the former Saint Joseph’s Indian Normal School — the oldest building at Saint Joseph’s College. Once abandoned and near ruin, now partially restored, it stands across U.S. 231 from the main campus.

On March 3, approximately 50 people squeezed into the stairway and foyer for a blessing, followed by tours. The event was held on the feast day of St. Katharine Drexel, the Philadelphia heiress who helped fund its construction, and visited it, in 1888.

“We pray that ... the work begun by St. Katharine Drexel, which we renew here today, will contribute to the building up of (God’s) kingdom, and sustain us in our ministry of education,” said Father William Stang, CPPS, a member of the college faculty.

“Kate” Drexel was one of three sisters who inherited $15 million (more than $250 million in today’s dollars) when their father died in 1885. His firm evolved into Drexel Burnham Lambert, the powerhouse Wall Street brokerage.

Katharine Drexel became a nun in 1889, and in 1891 she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work with Indian and black people. She dedicated her life and fortune to the education of both minority groups by building more than 100 schools and founding Xavier University in New Orleans. She died in 1955 and was canonized in 2000.

The sisters and the Society of the Precious Blood – whose missionaries ran the “Indian School” and founded Saint Joseph’s College — were natural partners, devoted to serving the marginalized and disenfranchised, said college President Robert Pastoor.

“It is quite remarkable to think that an American saint – St. Katharine Drexel – walked among the missionaries here, in this building, in Rensselaer, Ind.,” he said at the ceremony. “To this day, all of us at Saint Joseph’s College continue to be called to serve those in need and to serve as missionaries all with whom we come in contact.”

Father Stang sprinkled the building with holy water and said words of blessing.

The brick and stone exterior has been restored, and the renovated first floor now houses the college’s Division of Institutional Advancement. College officials hope to raise money needed to renovate the second, third and fourth floors, which remain uninhabitable.

“We have to have faith that God will take our efforts, and make something of them,” Father Stang said. “God is our partner in this. Let’s keep in mind as we ask God to bless this building that we also are asking him to bless the efforts and the mission we have that is signified by this building.”

Saint Joseph’s Indian Normal School was among scores of “Indian schools” run under government contract for the education and assimilation of Native American boys.

Photo caption: Father William Stang, CPPS, a faculty member at Saint Joseph’s College, prays during the blessing of Drexel Hall on March 3, the feast day of St. Katharine Drexel. (Photos by Kevin Cullen)

(For news from the Diocese of Lafayette, log on to the website of The Catholic Moment at www.thecatholicmoment.org)

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