College visits bolster faith life

Catholic presence bolstered at Trine University

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass, had dinner and held a question-answer session with students at Trine University in Angola who are part of the Trine Newman Catholic Fellowship on Oct. 16. Bishop Rhoades is surrounded by members of Catholic fellowship. Shown at the left, back row, is Conventual Franciscan Father Fred Pasche, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Angola, where the group meets for Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Father Pasche is the fellowship’s chaplain.

ANGOLA — The Catholic presence at Trine University is growing with a core group of students who are excited about their faith and have a heart for evangelization and sharing the Good News.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades made a pastoral visit to the Trine Newman Catholic Fellowship community on Oct. 16. The evening included the celebration of Mass in the chapel at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Angola. The parish works closely with the Trine fellowship group and Conventual Franciscan Father Fred Pasche, pastor at St. Anthony, serves as the fellowship’s chaplain. Rosie Lahrman is the fellowship’s coordinator.

At the Mass, Bishop Rhoades reflected on the Pharisees and scholars in Luke 11:42-46, how they sought honor and greetings but forgot about the judgment and love for God. He encouraged the students to grow in knowledge and to never stop seeking the love of Christ in all that they do as they grow older.

The bishop also spoke about his personal prayer life — how he tries to imagine himself in the Scripture and to experience it silently in his heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to him.

Bishop Rhoades also spoke of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, whose feast day is Oct. 16. The French Visitandine mystic, who died in 1690, promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and first Friday devotion. She received the support of Blessed Claude La Colombiere, the community’s confessor for a time, who declared that the visions St. Margaret Mary received from Jesus were genuine.

During dinner and fellowship that followed in the parish hall, Bishop Rhoades offered a question-answer session. Students asked questions regarding the defense of marriage, the Apostles’ understanding of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the apostolic succession.

Nicholas Cooper, the treasurer of the Newman Catholic Fellowship who is from St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville and is studying electrical engineering, told Today’s Catholic, “It was a true blessing to have the bishop travel to Angola to spend time with the Catholic students at Trine University. As our group continues to grow, the visible support of the bishop along with his prayers and support of all young adults in the diocese is wonderful. I think I speak on behalf of all of the students present in saying that it was a truly unique experience to celebrate the Eucharist and share a meal with the bishop in such an intimate and personal setting.”

The Newman Catholic Fellowship at Trine University seeks to “provide students with opportunities that allow them to gain a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith, which will ultimately lead them closer to Christ,” Cooper said. “By empowering students with knowledge of the faith, we pray that the light of Christ will then shine forth on campus in conversations and interactions with friends, colleagues and faculty.”

On campus, Cooper said, “we provide opportunities to grow in our Catholic faith through Bible studies, Adoration and student Masses. Throughout the year, we also promote a variety of fellowship activities both on and off campus and events throughout the diocese for young adults. Annually, we also attend an inter-collegiate retreat in the fall hosted by the IPFW Newman group.”

Last weekend, about 40 Newman Catholic students from Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Trine University, Indiana Tech, Ivy Tech and Manchester University held a retreat at the St. Felix Catholic Center in Huntington.

The Trine fellowship is making its presence known on campus through organization fairs, community service events and social events. “We hope that as we continue to grow in number, our presence on campus will grow also,” Cooper said.

St. Anthony Parish in Angola has been a tremendous blessing to the group.

“Their outpouring of support through time, talent and treasure is truly a testament to the parish community and Christ’s love,” Cooper noted. “They have welcomed students to participate as lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, guests and participants of Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) and ARISE. The Knights of Columbus have also supported our group’s pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., for the March for Life. These are but a few of the ways in which the parish has made the Trine students feel at home in Angola.”

“Being part of the Trine NCF (Newman Catholic Fellowship) has had the greatest impression on me as a Catholic,” said Rob Bolka, a Trine University student and fellowship member.

“College is a time where we are most vulnerable and susceptible to the ploys of the enemy,” Bolka noted. “NCF offers students a solid foundation and a community of believers who can help one another grow in our faith. I pray this community of students continues to flower and grow long after I have gone.”

Bishop Rhoades speaks on charity, compassion at Goshen College

The Goshen College worship team leads the congregation in an ecumenical chapel service where Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades (standing in the pews) was the speaker. To the right of Bishop Rhoades are Goshen College President Jim Brenneman and Stephanie and Marc Green, parishioners at St. John the Evangelist, Goshen.

GOSHEN — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was invited to deliver the homily at a chapel service at Goshen College in Goshen on Friday, Oct. 18. Bishop Rhoades commented he was made to feel right at home.

The worship leaders at Goshen College began the chapel service with the “passing of the peace” and chose more traditionally Catholic songs including “Somos el Cuerpo” and “Make me a Channel of Your Peace” for the service. One of the worship leaders shared that Catholics are the second largest demographic at Goshen College.

Professor of Education and Philosophy and parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Goshen, Kevin Gary, introduced the bishop on his first visit to the college explaining to the students gathered that Bishop Rhoades’ personal motto is “Truth in Charity” from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Gary also shared the quote, “If there’s not peace among the religions there will not be peace in the world.”

Bishop Rhoades addressed the students, saying, “I am very grateful for the invitation to pray and speak with you today. I have heard many good things about Goshen College and I am especially grateful for the ecumenical spirit of this community. As you may know, there has been a fruitful ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Mennonites, between the Mennonite World Conference and the Vatican. It began in 1998. It seeks to promote better understanding of our respective teachings and also seeks to overcome some long-standing prejudices.”

He also spoke of the good ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Mennonites in the local community through Bridgeworks.

The bishop said the report from the international level talks, as revealed in a dialogue report entitled “Called Together to be Peacemakers,” has shown that “Catholics and Mennonites hold many convictions in common. We both understand that ‘reconciliation, nonviolence, and active peacemaking belong to the heart of the Gospel.’ This understanding has led to ever closer ties of friendship between the Catholic and Mennonite communities.”

In light of the campus ministry theme of “Sowing Compassion, Side by Side” Bishop Rhoades spoke on “our shared conviction regarding love and compassion for the poor. This is a theme that has been prominent in the teaching and ministry of Pope Francis.”

He reminded the congregation that the pope chose the name Francis — the first Pope Francis in 2,000 years — after a Brazilian cardinal encouraged him to “never forget the poor.” In a meeting shortly afterwards the newly-elected pope explained that he chose the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, speaking about how many poor people there still are suffering in the world.

“Then he added, ‘But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously.’ So Pope Francis’ outreach to the poor includes not only the materially poor, but also the spiritually poor, those who lack hope, those who are neglected, those who suffer from loneliness, etc.” Bishop Rhoades said.

Bishop Rhoades spoke of works of mercy, as presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, saying, “In the Catholic tradition we speak about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. … Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead.”

“I wish to encourage you to this imitation of the compassion of Christ. The theme for your campus ministries this year here at Goshen College is a great challenge: ‘Sowing Compassion.’ This is the Gospel. Think of the meaning of that word ‘compassion’ — from the Latin ‘cum-passio,’ to suffer with. This is what Jesus did. This is what St. Francis did. This is what Pope Francis is calling Christians to live today. True compassion! Not just externally helping our neighbor in need, but truly helping ‘from our hearts,’” Bishop Rhoades said.

He told the students in a speech this summer Pope Francis posed two questions: When you give alms do you look into the eyes of the man or woman to whom you give alms? And when you give alms do you touch the hand of the one to whom you give alms or do you toss the coin? He said Pope Benedict also stressed that every suffering person has even a greater need for “loving personal concern.”

He shared that when he was at St. Francis Church in Harrisburg, Pa., they fed 250 people a day, “But it had to be more than serving food, they had a greater need for loving personal concern. So it was important that we talk to them, that we share with them. That’s what makes Christian charity different than philanthropy.”

He concluded his talk by saying, “May the Lord help all of us to grow in true Christian charity and compassion! May God bless this community of Goshen College as you sow compassion.”

After the bishop’s talk, Goshen College President Jim Brenneman presented the bishop with a copy of a college student’s study Bible published by St. Mary’s Press in which he wrote an introduction.

Brenneman said, “I was humbled when asked to write the introduction — it was so generous of them to ask a Mennonite biblical theologian to write an introduction for a Catholic study Bible! I see you as a kindred spirit,” he told Bishop Rhoades, “May God bless your ministry.”

Bishop Rhoades gave the final benediction and spoke to a few students afterwards, including Isaiah Friesen, who said he wanted to personally greet the bishop.

“I was intrigued by what he had to say about Pope Francis and his teachings. I think the dialogue between Mennonites and Catholics is important and beneficial,” Friesen said. “So I really appreciate that he was here.”

Posted on October 22, 2013, to: