August 12, 2016

Catholic News Around Indiana

Compiled by Brandon A. Evans

Diocese of Evansville

A Golden Opportunity: Mater Dei Grad Manages Social Media For Rio Olympics

Rio Olympics 2016 logoBy Katelyn Klingler

Samantha Dewig, a 2009 graduate of Mater Dei High School, will serve as NBC’s Social Media Manager during the 2016 Summer Olympic, which open Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

After graduating from Mater Dei, Dewig attended Indiana University, earning a degree in Sports Communication in 2013.  She worked for IU and Georgia Tech before landing her current position as Interactive Media Manager for the Atlanta Hawks.  

Because it’s the off-season for basketball, when Dewig saw a posting for positions with NBC during the network’s Olympic coverage, she was able to apply while maintaining her job in Atlanta.  

Dewig said that her work as NBC’s Social Media Manager for the Olympics will contribute to an effort to amp up digital coverage of the games. The network has outsourced a lot of digital work, creating opportunities like that afforded to Dewig.  NBC is “pushing to be super digital this year,” she said.  “Their goal is to make this the biggest social media event in history.”

Dewig has been attending meetings in New York City to become acquainted with the rest of the media team and with NBC’s culture and personality – an essential part of her role since, as she says, “Every sport, every media company has a voice.”

During the games, Dewig will be at NBC’s offices in New York City. She will primarily work with advertisers to integrate advertising content into social media coverage in a sleek and seamless way.  In doing so, she will also interact with Olympic athletes over social media.  She will manage content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Since coverage begins at 7:30 each morning and will continue into late-night talk shows, Dewig’s days will be long; however, she happily trades an off-season of relaxation for one of such exciting opportunity.  In fact, Dewig said that the position is particularly opportune and fitting because it reminds her of why she chose a career in sports communication.  “When I first decided I wanted to work in sports, it was during the Beijing Olympics,” she said.  

While Dewig emphasizes that every job and environment has shaped and influenced her, she says that takes her Indiana roots and Midwestern friendliness with her wherever she goes.  They will serve her well.

(For news from the Diocese of Evansville, log on to the website of The Message at


Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Diocesan pilgrims jubilant at World Youth Day

Youth at World Youth Day 2016By Stephanie A. Patka

Traveling to Poland for the 31st World Youth Day with Pope Francis were 137 pilgrims from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The theme of World Youth Day during this Jubilee Year of Mercy was “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

It was so fitting to celebrate that theme in the country of Poland, which shared with the world two of the greatest saints of mercy, St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kolwaska. But the theme of mercy wasn’t limited to these two impactful figures of our Catholic heritage. It permeated the lives of all of the saints pilgrims were able to encounter along the way, including Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, St. Maximilian Kolbe and many others.

It’s difficult to encapsulate the entire WYD experience into a single article, video, picture or story. We offered intercessory prayers to Mary to join us as we pursued encounters with Jesus in both the large, glorious basilicas, and in small ways, alongside our friends and with relics of saints. There was laughter, song and jubilant fraternity through miles of walking. We also clung desperately to our rosaries as we prayed and mourned the dead of Auschwitz. Moments of quiet opened pathways for individual time with Jesus in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. And large Masses, Stations of the Cross and prayer vigils with not only our diocese, but millions of young people from all over the world, brought to life a new meaning of the phrase “universal church.”

It wasn’t until Krakow that we started to hear English spoken more frequently. Yet we stood alongside those from other countries as the Holy Mass was celebrated in other languages. We could see the physical bodies that make up the universal church speaking in different languages, yet professing the same faith. It produced an inescapable and almost indescribable joy.

Estimates are that 300,000 people attended the opening Mass in Blonia Park in Krakow. It was a sobering call to stand in solidarity and support for our brothers and sisters who are living in countries, unlike the United States, where they are at greater risk for practicing and keeping their faith.

Part of our journey included going to places of tragedy and struggle. We learned of ancient kings, queens and bishops who influenced Poland’s religious history: like St. Stanislaus, who was martyred while saying Mass, and St. Jadwiga, who helped convert Poland to Christianity. Out of those efforts was borne a culture of devotion to Mary and a patriotic duty to protect the faith. It was this history that formed the young man Karol Woylyta a crusader of God’s Divine Mercy. We felt a connection when we visited Wadowice, his birthplace and hometown. We celebrated Mass at his home parish where he was baptized, received his holy first Communion and was confirmed.

By stepping into these historical places of persons of such great faith, we experienced the shared history of Catholicism.

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


Diocese of Gary

Catechetical workshops energize young Catholics this summer

Emily Morton (center), a St. Patrick of Chesterton parishioner and Ball State University education major, instructs teen students during a session of Totus Tuus at St. Francis Xavier parish in Lake Station on June 22. Morton and three other teachers were trained earlier this summer in the youth-focused program named after St. Pope John Paul II's apostolic motto. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)By Marlene A. Zloza

At four Diocese of Gary parishes this summer, the Totus Tuus traveling road show rolled into town, headlined by instructors Emily Morton, Rachel Kwain, Bobby Maletta and Robert Ross. Serving as their own road crew, the four college students who trained for a week at an Iowa workshop unloaded their gear, moved in with host families and set up shop, hosting week-long workshops by day for youngsters in grades 1 to 6, and in the evening for teens in grades 7 to 12.

Their curriculum was the fourth pillar of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – the Lord’s Prayer  – and The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, and their methodology included everything from traditional classroom discussions to praying the Rosary aloud together to relay races that involved arranging flashcards featuring the verses of the Our Father in the correct order.

By all accounts, the reviews are glowing.

“It’s like vacation Bible school on steroids – that was our selling point,” said Father Thomas Tibbs, pastor, in describing the Totus Tuus catechetical program that came to St. Mary in Kouts for a week last month.

“It is delightful, the children are having a very good time. . .they are getting a very good experience with their religion, and sharing some fun, too,” Father Tibbs added.

For Melissa Canelo, a seventh-grader at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage who attended evening sessions at St. Francis Xavier in Lake Station in mid-June, the lessons were enjoyable and enlightening. “I like how they break things down for us, like the Our Father,” she said. “It’s a fun way to learn how we pray, and they explain a lot.”

Maureen Pinho, of Valparaiso, whose middle school sons Nicholas and Joseph attended evening sessions at St. Francis Xavier, said she is pleased that the workshop was built around the papal motto of St. Pope John Paul II, which translates into “Totally Yours” and speaks to “consecrating ourselves to Jesus and Mary.”

“I want my kids to have that traditional, orthodox Catholicism,” Pinho said. “I was glad my sons liked the first night and wanted to come back.”

In addition to lessons on Pentecost, contrition and thanksgiving, sessions for younger participants included the sacrament of reconciliation, daily Mass - including learning how to serve Mass and rehearsing hymns – games and lunch, with “Water Day” closing out the fun on Friday afternoons.

“I like games and church the best,” said 10-year-old Jocelyn Hall. “I’ve served Mass, and I like the games because we are always encouraging each other, whether we are on the same team or not.”

Photo caption: Emily Morton (center), a St. Patrick of Chesterton parishioner and Ball State University education major, instructs teen students during a session of Totus Tuus at St. Francis Xavier parish in Lake Station on June 22. Morton and three other teachers were trained earlier this summer in the youth-focused program named after St. Pope John Paul II's apostolic motto. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

(For news from the Diocese of Gary, log on to the website of the Northwest Indiana Catholic at


Diocese of Lafayette

Tiny parishioner of St. Maria Goretti, Westfield, receives papal blessing during pilgrimage to Italy

Pope Francis blesses Emma Frances Sumski after a papal audience in Rome on June 22. Emma and her family are parishioners of St. Maria Goretti Church in Westfield. (Photo provided)By Caroline B. Mooney

SHERIDAN — Emma Frances Sumski was destined to meet Pope Francis. That’s how it seems, after the little girl — then 4 months old — traveled to Rome with relatives and ended up receiving a papal blessing on June 22.

Garry and Jama Sumski took Emma and their son Dylan, 15, on a 13-day pilgrimage to Italy offered by St. Maria Goretti Parish, Westfield, for high school students and adult chaperones.

“Last summer, my mom called us on vacation and said if we wanted to go, it was time to put a deposit down,” Jama Sumski said. “We said, ‘Yes,’ ... then later found out we had a surprise pregnancy.”

The couple checked with their pastor, Father Kevin Haines, to be sure that an infant could join the pilgrimage.

Emma was born in February and was found to have Down syndrome. Shortly after her birth, doctors also found that she had two holes in her heart. Open-heart surgery was expected at six months, but pressures on the right side of her heart stabilized and surgery has been postponed until Emma is 2 or 3 years old.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, approximately half of all infants born with Down syndrome have heart defects.

“Father Kevin came to the hospital when she was born and started praying for her from that point,” Sumski said. “Somewhere along the line, he put in a request to see if we could get special seating at St. Peter’s during a papal audience while we were on the trip.”

Father Haines said that “in a time when 95 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, the Sumskis showed a real act of faith and trust in God and didn’t have tests done during Jama’s pregnancy.

“They wouldn’t have done anything about it if there were problems,” he said. “They trust God will take care of the situation and chose their family to have this special little girl.

“The Sumskis are certainly not the only parents to do that, but they said, ‘We’re going to take what God sends us,’” Father Haines said. “It’s a real witness to life when so many are terrified of a child with handicaps. We are aborting an entire section of society who have so much to teach us. We have several people with Down syndrome at our parish and they have such beautiful souls. I love to greet them when they come to Mass — they are so happy, nice and loving.”

Photo caption: Pope Francis blesses Emma Frances Sumski after a papal audience in Rome on June 22. Emma and her family are parishioners of St. Maria Goretti Church in Westfield. (Photo provided)

(For news from the Diocese of Lafayette, log on to the website of The Catholic Moment at

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