• By Denise Fedorow

    Visit the photo gallery for more.

    LaGrange — St. Joseph Church in LaGrange has the distinction of being the only Catholic Church in LaGrange County and reportedly the last county to get a Catholic Church; but that’s not the only thing that stands out about St. Joseph. It’s a vibrant parish and is in the midst of a building project.

    St. Joseph Parish, like Blessed Sacrament Parish in Albion, owes its founding to a meeting hosted by a Methodist minister in LaGrange in the 1930’s to help his congregation and others in the area to learn about Catholicism in a very anti-Catholic era.

    The Methodist minister invited a priest, Father William Ehrman from Kendallville to speak and reportedly there were 28 Catholics from Albion and LaGrange present who approached the priest afterwards about getting their parishes started, or in Albion’s case, restarted.

    Holy Cross Father J. Steele, who is pastor for both parishes, said there was a log chapel by the lake where, in frontier days, an occasional Mass was celebrated. After 1931, the original parish celebrated Mass in the Burr Hotel, which is still standing and Father Steele said descendents of the Burr family still attend St. Joseph. The original parish was just a handful of families and they built the first church on US Hwy 20 on the west side of town.

    They outgrew that church when an influx of Catholics came to the area. The current church was built in 1978. They expanded and built a social hall and gym in 1993. The current church building is all one connected building — the rectory, parish office, church sanctuary, social hall and gym.

    Father Steelee said the original plans called for a separate rectory but due to lack of funds, built it inside the church in space originally meant for classrooms.

    “So classroom space has always been tight here,” he said.

    St. Joseph had a lot of growth in the 1970’s and 1980’s and since 2000; a fairly large Hispanic community has come into the parish. Father Steelee, who came in 2012, said even the last couple of years the growth has been very rapid. When he came to St. Joseph there were 165 kids in religious education and now there are 225. That growth has created the need for new classroom space and they decided to complete some other work that has been planned for a while.

    Building Project

    There’s a big mound of dirt on the site of St. Joseph parish — the mound of dirt which will someday soon be the site of the new rectory. The new rectory is the first step in the multi-phased project for the parish.

    Father Steele said once the new rectory is built, the place he’s called home for the past four years will be converted into the classroom space it was originally intended to be.

    Next, they’ll be expanding the entryway to the church, which Father Steelee said now is more like a hallway and forces parishioners out into the parking lot.

    “We want it to be a bigger space so they can socialize after Mass,” he said.

    They’ll also be renovating the sanctuary, where they will be introducing classical elements. They’ll be adding three reredos above and against the wall of the central altar. There will be three new altars — one central altar, one for Mary and one for Joseph.

    An outdoor chapel for Our Lady of Guadalupe will also be built in the shape of a half octagon. The chapel will lean up against the sanctuary wall.

    Father Steele explained the significance of the placement of the chapel. “In some places in Latin America when the church is closed, people go and pray touching the tabernacle wall. In some places there are grooves worn into the ground from so many of the faithful,” he said.

    In the chapel, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the tabernacle will be back to back.

    Father Steele said there are several different aspects to the building project.

    “What’s really great is these building projects will be completed without debt,” he said. “In order to do all this construction without debt we are doing a lot of the work ourselves.”

    Some of the work being done by parishioners includes demolition, drywall work and all the finish work like carpeting, laying tile, etc. He said the altars are being built by a local craftsman, Barry Campbell of LaOtto. According to Father Steelee, Campbell does work for churches all over the country, but he hasn’t done a lot of work in the diocese.

    “I’m really pleased he’s building four altars for us; plus a new pulpit and Baptismal font in the old traditional octagonal style,” he said.

    People and ministries of St. Joseph

    There are approximately 360 families at St. Joseph and because it is the only Catholic Church in the county, parishioners come from as far away as Shipshewana and Topeka in Indiana and White Pigeon and Sturgis in Lower Michigan. Hispanic parishioners may come from even farther as there is no Spanish Sunday Mass in Steuben County.

    “We have a very vibrant Hispanic community with a newly developing charismatic movement,” Father Steele said.

    An overnight Eucharistic adoration was recently started from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and adorers all come as a group at 7 p.m. It is held every second Saturday of the month.

    “They love it — it’s very high-spirited. It’s very impressive,” Father Steele said.

    He said the Hispanic community also likes to put on dramas for Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations, Stations of the Cross and Christ’s passion. The parish just started a Corpus Christi procession.

    St. Joseph’s Youth Group is going to the Steubenville conferences at Franciscan University for the first time this summer. Father Steele said their youth group re-grouped and re-energized about two years ago and they have about 25 kids involved. The youth group meets the second and fourth Sundays of the month.

    They also have a seniors group that meets once a month. Father Steele said they hold potlucks and plan annual pilgrimages, among other things.

    Adult education programs held at St. Joseph in the past have been Arise, Symbolon, about which Father Steele said, “It’s an excellent resource, we’re now using it for RCIA.”

    They are currently doing a Bible study by Dr. John Bergsma — ‘Bible Basics for Catholics — a new picture of Salvation history.’ Father Steele “highly recommends” this program.

    St. Joseph’s has a large social hall and full gymnasium that; Father Steele said for many years, before the town had a youth center, was used by all the youth in LaGrange for playing basketball.

    “We have a tremendous facility but there’s a lot more to be done,” Father Steele said.

    St. Joseph preschool

    St. Joseph’s Parish also has a preschool that serves not only its parishioners, but many in the community.

    Father J. Steelee, pastor of St. Joseph, said their preschool was the leader in academic preschools in town, stating that St. Joseph’s preschool was a “pioneer” in offering an academic preschool.

    The preschool has been open about 12 years and has classes for three four-year-old and four five-year-old children. The children learn their letters, colors and shapes, have physical activities and they offer a light introduction to Bible stories and prayers.

    Father Steele said they have the children pray at the beginning of the day and before meals. He said although it is part of the parish, it’s not a Catholic pre-school but instead an Ecumenical one.

    “We emphasize the shared parts of our faith,” he said.

    Knights of Columbus

    The St. Joseph, LaGrange Knights of Columbus Council 13962 is an active group of men who’ve added some new projects in the last few years.

    Grand Knight Warren Patka said one of those new projects came about last Christmas when they decided to make plywood Nativity scenes. He said they made about eight or nine large scenes and three small ones last year. He said they didn’t really sell them, but would accept donations instead. If someone took a Nativity scene, they were asked to display it.

    “Our main goal was to get them out there and remind people to put Christ back in Christmas,” Patka said.

    The other project that started last year was hosting a social breakfast for the parish — they hosted two — one in the spring and one in the fall. Patka said about 100 people attended. There was no charge for the breakfast.

    The Knights sponsor two Red Cross Blood drives — one in the spring and one in the fall and around Thanksgiving they have a Turkey Bingo, where they give away about 20 turkeys and other prizes. They also host fish frys during Lent.

    This group of dedicated men is only about 15 strong. Patka said they originally had about 30 active members but lost several due to death and relocation. So they are always looking for more members. They connect with the Angola council for events where they attend in full regalia.

    Posted on June 22, 2016, to:

  • VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered prayers for the families of the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, and expressed hope that people would find ways to identify and uproot “the causes of such terrible and absurd violence.”

    A lone gunman, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, killed 49 people early June 12 at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Another 53 people were injured before the gunman, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, was killed by members of a police SWAT team.

    Police said Mateen, a private security guard, legally purchased the two guns he used in the shooting, which is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

    Describing the shooting as an expression of “homicidal folly and senseless hatred,” a Vatican statement said, “The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil.”

    “Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion,” said the statement released June 12. “Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort.

    “We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity,” the statement concluded.

    Posted on June 14, 2016, to:

  • Bishop Kevin Rhoades, carrying the monstrance holding the Eucharist, joined parishioners at Corpus Christi Parish Sunday in South Bend, in celebration of their patron feast day. Over a hundred faithful walked with the bishop and Corpus Christi pastor, Father Daryl Rybicki, for a prayerful and joy-filled procession in honor of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Altar servers Johnathon Zmyslo and T.J. Freeby carried the bishop’s crosier and the crucifix on a beautiful sun-kissed afternoon. The procession was followed by a parish picnic. — Diane Freeby


    Worldwide public adoration brings Jesus to the neighborhoods

    Father Andrew Budzinski reads devotional prayers from the porch of a parishioner where an altar which holds the monstrance was set up for a stop during the procession through the neighborhood of St. John the Baptist Church in Fort Wayne. — Jerry Kessens

    Procession leaving St. John the Baptist , Fort Wayne, to process through the neighborhood. Father Andrew Budzinski, Pastor, carries the monstrance holding the Eucharist. — Jerry Kessens

    The faithful make the final stop at the Mother Theodore Guerin Chapel at St. John the Baptist Church, Fort Wayne, at the conclusion of the procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the neighborhood.

    Bishop Rhoades prepares to lead the faithful of Corpus Christi Parish in a Eucharistic procession. Parishioners Bill Green, Dennis Zmyslo and Rodney Green are shown holding the canopy, with altar server Anthony Nemeti and Deacon Bob Garrow assisting the bishop. — Diane Freeby

    Following the procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the grounds of Corpus Christi Parish in South Bend, Bishop Kevin Rhoades leads the faithful in Benediction inside the church. He is flanked by altar server Zachary Zmyslo and Deacon Bob Garrow. — Diane Freeby

    Posted on June 1, 2016, to:

  • By Stephanie A. Patka

    For more photos visit the photo gallery.

    FORT WAYNE — Diocesan seminarians, Eric Burgener of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne and Dennis Di Benedetto of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne, were ordained to the diaconate Saturday, May 21, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.

    A nearly full cathedral included the celebrant Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, concelebrating diocesan priests and visiting priests, diocesan deacons and seminarians, Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and area Knights of Columbus. Also attending the joyful celebration were members of several religious congregations as well as parents, families and friends of the two candidates.

    The Rite of Ordination during the Mass begins after the Gospel, whereby each man is formally chosen for ordination. Father Andrew Budzinski, vocations director, publicly attested to the worthiness of each of the “elect” and presented both men to Bishop Rhoades.

    After the homily, Burgener and Di Benedetto declared their promises to assume the responsibility of the office of deacon. These promises included celibacy and respect and obedience to Bishop Rhoades and his successors. Cantors from the Cathedral Choir sang the litany of saints while the elect lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor of the cathedral in front of the altar.

    After the litany and in silence, Bishop Rhoades laid his hands on the head of each  of the elect in accordance with the apostolic tradition and then solemnly recited the Prayer of Ordination. Afterwards, each newly ordained deacon was vested with the diaconal stole and dalmatic. Bishop Rhoades then handed now Deacon Burgener and Deacon Di Benedetto the Book of the Gospels. The handing on of the Book of the Gospels symbolizes their task to proclaim the Gospel in liturgical celebrations and to preach the faith of the Church in word and deed.

    Bishop Rhoades then bestowed the traditional liturgical gesture known as the fraternal kiss of peace, and thereby welcomed the new deacons into their ministry. The other deacons present also welcomed the newly ordained in this fashion.

    In Bishop Rhoades’ homily, he recalled last Sunday’s celebration of the feast of Pentecost and likened the cathedral to the upper room in Jerusalem where the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. “Today at this ordination, a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit will take place as Dennis and Eric are strengthened by the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit for the faithful carrying out of the diaconal ministry.”

    Bishop Rhoades also spoke to the free will of Dennis and Eric as they promised celibacy, respect and obedience, which is “radically countercultural in society today.” He used the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, “‘We are fools for the sake of Christ.”  Paul wrote: “Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.’”

    Bishop Rhoades commended the motivation of love behind Eric and Dennis to follow this life. “True love can make one do things that seem crazy in the eyes of the world, like hang in agony on a cross. That’s Christianity!  Only love — love for Christ and His Church — can explain the free choice of celibacy and obedience.  And only this love can explain why Dennis and Eric give their lives today to the service of Christ and His Church.” The Bishop went on to say that the call to the diaconate was ambitious, but not in a sinful way. But rather in an authentically Christian way: ambitious to serve and be signs and instruments of Christ, who Himself came to serve.

    As deacons, Dennis and Eric are called to a threefold diakonia or service: that of the Word, of the altar, and of charity. Bishop Rhoades encouraged them to be “true evangelizers who speak of the God whom they themselves have come to know and are familiar with.” Deacons also serve as ministers of the altar by preparing the Eucharistic sacrifice and distributing the Lord’s Body and Blood to the faithful.  They preside over public prayer, administer Baptism, assist at and bless Marriages, bring Viaticum to the dying and conduct funeral rites.

    Finally, deacons are entrusted in a special way with the ministry of charity: the ministry that is at the origin of the institution of the diaconate. Bishop Rhoades emphasized the critical call that deacons have to “bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted, like the Good Samaritan, pouring the wine and oil of God’s merciful compassion into the wounds of those who lie beaten along the road of life today.” He continued, “Eric and Dennis, may your hearts, like the Sacred Heart of Jesus, have a special place for the poor and suffering!  Your diaconal ministry of charity is not optional.  It is an essential part of ordained ministry in the Church because it was an essential part of the ministry of Christ the deacon and priest.”

    Posted on May 25, 2016, to:

  • Redeemer Radio was visited by Al Kresta of Kresta-in-the-Afternoon who was covering an event at the University of Notre Dame. Kresta used the studio at the Little Flower Redeemer Radio location for this afternoon broadcast. Later he told his audience how he, “… enjoyed last week in South Bend, Indiana who had an outstanding radio station there. One of our great Catholic media outlets in America.”

    By Stephanie A. Patka

    For Catholic radio station Redeemer Radio, 2016 is a special year because it marks the 10th anniversary of the audio ministry. Through the work of its dedicated staff, hundreds of volunteers, board members and prayer, Redeemer Radio has been a labor of love to accomplish the mission of nurturing individuals towards greater Catholic discipleship. The leadership of Redeemer Radio seeks to carry out its mission in many ways including proclaiming the truth of the Catholic faith, by providing encouragement on how to live one’s life in accordance with the Catholic faith and by supporting the development of individuals as Catholic leaders.


    Redeemer Radio’s origins started with the name Fort Wayne Catholic Radio in December of 2005. Fort Wayne Catholic Radio began buying airtime on Fort Wayne’s WLYV AM 1450 and broadcasting Catholic Answers Live as early as December 2005 bringing full-time Catholic radio to Fort Wayne radio airwaves.

    It was on January 3, 2006 that the late Bishop John M. D’Arcy blessed the Redeemer Radio studio on Illinois Road. Three days later, on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th, the station was fully ready for operation.

    January 6, 2006 also officially marked the day that the station began its own branding.  It was at a meeting of the board of directors and advisors that the name “Redeemer Radio” was unanimously adopted. As a moniker that has served humanity for centuries, it was chosen for the apostolate because of the truth and beauty of its message.

    The staff of Redeemer Radio recall the extraordinary blessings which have befallen the apostolate during its time broadcasting the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith. For most of its 10 year history, the station depended on the 1450 AM signal. In February of 2014, the non-profit Redeemer Radio station received the gift of FM in exchange for its AM station when the Adams Group, who had purchased two local commercial stations to comply with FCC ownership rules, offered 106.3 FM for 1450 AM.  Remarkably, no cash was exchanged in the transaction between the Adams Group and Redeemer Radio. An FM signal meant new growth opportunities reaching thousands of new Northeast Indiana listeners 24 hours a day.

    To better reach all the Catholic faithful in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Redeemer Radio wanted to expand into the Michiana area. Four members of the St. Thomas More Foundation had joined the board of Redeemer Radio in 2010 to begin researching the process of acquiring a station in the northwest side of the diocese. During the last week of February 2014, then Board Chair, Michael Landrigan was made aware that the owners of 95.7 FM were offering to sell their station. By the end of March, under Landrigan’s leadership, the Board had received pledges for over half the amount required.\On May 14, 2014 an agreement to buy 95.7 FM was entered and in September Redeemer Radio began airing EWTN programming from its studio based at Little Flower parish in South Bend.


    Executives and board members at Redeemer Radio credit the extensive number of faithful listeners and volunteers. The support of prayers, time and financial contributions are nothing short of impressive. March 2006 was the date of the inaugural Shareathon, which was to grow to a two times a year appeal for listener donations.

    Current Board President, Jeremy Reidy shares his gratitude, “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of Redeemer Radio supporters. This Spring Sharathon turned out to be the most successful fundraising event in Redeemer Radio’s 10 year history.\But even more impressive was the amount of joy emanating from Redeemer Radio listeners, staff, volunteers, and visitors during the three-day celebration.”

    He continued, “The Redeemer Radio family was having fun — praying, laughing, hugging and smiling, while working hard to raise funds to support our apostolate. The funds raised during Sharathon will allow Redeemer Radio to continue its mission to evangelize the culture. We are grateful for the outpouring of time, talent, and treasure from supporters across the Diocese.”

    Each of Redeemer Radio’s stations have two on-air fundraisers a year. Sharathons, in the spring and fall, raise the necessary funds to continue its programming and local outreach.\\Over the course of six days (3 in Fort Wayne and 3 in South Bend) approximately 400 people, comprising of on-air guests, priests, religious, volunteers, staff and prayer warriors converge for the mission of listener-supported Redeemer Radio. \Sharathon broadcast hours are filled with area parishes, apostolates, and ministries that discuss how they share the Good News and how they extend the mercy of God to others whom they reach.


    Since the inception of the radio station, Redeemer has aired Catholic Answers Live from EWTN. In the summer of 2014, Redeemer Radio launched their two-hour weekday morning show, titled “Redeemer Mornings,”  and launched this program on 95.7 FM in greater Michiana in December.

    Originally hosted by Deacon Jim Tighe, Redeemer Mornings brings the joy of the faith to listeners with information and tips for living the faith in their daily lives. The morning show also highlights interviews covering a variety of topics from local events and diocesan ministries to catechesis and personal faith witness. This week marks the introduction of a new voice on Redeemer Mornings. Deacon Jim Tighe will be passing on the Morning torch to new Redeemer Radio voice, Kyle Heimann. Kyle comes with an extensive background in media, youth ministry and Catholic husband and father. He, his wife and three boys are parishioners at St. Mary of the Assumption parish in Decatur, IN. Deacon Jim isn’t going anywhere, however.  He will still be a part of the Redeemer Radio staff in a variety of forms.

    Redeemer Radio is thrilled to begin a partnership with Relevant Radio with their national headquarters located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Since December of 2000, Relevant Radio has been helping people bridge the gap between faith and everyday life through informative, entertaining, and interactive programming twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. Father Simon Says will be filling the 11 am slot, replacing Women of Grace.  While The Drew Mariani Show will be heard at 3 pm, previously held by EWTN Open Line.

    The weekday noon hour will now begin with Readings and Reflections, followed by Take 2 with Jerry and Debbie.  The Journey Home, which was previously heard at noon, will now be on Redeemer Radio at 8 pm.

    Another local favorite is Dr. Matthew Bunson with a weekly feature called “Faithworks.” Airing on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Faithworks is Redeemer Radio’s original, locally produced program that showcases prominent Catholic authors and leaders from across the world and the dedicated and talented people right here in the local diocesan Catholic community. Among Bunson’s guests have been George Weigel, Mike Aquilina, Cardinal John Foley and Cardinal Telesphore Toppo.

    The strength of programming on Redeemer Radio is that it contains the best of Catholic radio programming from across the country and also gives visibility to local catholic ministries and broadcasts live during important diocesan events. Redeemer Radio is  present at historic events like the installation of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as the 9th bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The station also airs live coverage of priest ordinations and local Catholic high school sports teams.

    Following Redeemer Mornings at 8 a.m. is a national morning show titled, “Morning Glory.” Then “Fathers Know Best” fill the 10 a.m. hour, which has teachings and talks from priest favorites Father Larry Richards, Father John Riccardo and Father Benedict Groeschel. The 2 p.m. hour features a live call-in show titled “Called to Communion,” with host Dr. David Anders as he talks with non-Catholics and fallen-away Catholics.

    Redeemer Radio also airs Al Kresta with Kresta-in-the-Afternoon. The station was actually visited by Kresta who was covering an event at the University of Notre Dame. Kresta used the studio at the Little Flower Redeemer Radio location for this afternoon broadcast. Later he told his audience how he, “…enjoyed last week in South Bend, Indiana who had an outstanding radio station there. One of our great Catholic media outlets in America.”

    Redeemer staff reflected, “It’s always exciting when an EWTN worldwide on-air personality finds Redeemer studios the solution as a base to keep on their schedules. Further it’s a testament to the confidence in Redeemer’s Technical Staff and volunteer corps.”

    New executive director, Cindy Black is excited about the future of the 10 year old radio station, “Our Redeemer Radio staff and volunteers gather daily to pray. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us in our mission as instruments heeding Pope Francis’ words: “It is urgently necessary to find new forms and new ways to ensure that God’s grace may touch the heart of every man and every woman and lead them to Him.” \Our listeners will notice some changes to our programming this week in response to that call,” she remarked. Black is confident that Redeemer Radio will continue its work to strengthen those already living the Catholic faith, but, she added, “we also need to reach beyond to those who do not yet know Christ and the power of His love.”

    Black continued, “One of my favorite things about Redeemer Radio is how many people are engaged in the mission. In addition to our professional, dedicated staff there are thousands of people who support us with their time, talent and treasure. We have engineers, voice talents, office help, committee members, a mail crew, people praying…all making it a family of faith and joy.” Black encourages the community to get involved in the ever growing and flourishing mission of the radio station. She invites, “If you would like to join the Redeemer family, set up a time to visit either station and we’d be happy to help discern how to use your gifts.”

    Posted on May 18, 2016, to: