• By Christopher Lushis

    SOUTH BEND — “At the end of the second millennium, the Church has once again become a Church of martyrs. … The witness to Christ borne even to the shedding of blood has become a common inheritance of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants.” These words from St. John Paul II, who experienced firsthand many of the violent atrocities committed during the 20th century, recalls the living witness of those who have courageously laid down their lives for the Gospel throughout the world. The examples seen on an almost daily basis of men, women and children choosing to stand firm in Christian faith, even at the expense of their own lives, has strengthened the Body of Christ and served as reminder that the kingdom of God is not of this world.

    The Community of Sant’Egidio, an international public lay association of the Church, understands this message well. Originally founded by Andrea Riccardi in 1968, with the purpose of encouraging laypeople to take seriously the call of the Gospel, the community now includes over 50,000 members dedicated to serving the Church in a variety of apostolates. As an organization dedicated to prayer, evangelization, ecumenism and friendship with the poor, they have sought to foster dialogue and unity among Christians around the globe, specifically seeking to bring healing, hope and peace to a world in suffering.

    In recognition of the countless Christian martyrs of the 20th century, in the year 2000, Pope John Paul II led a historic commemoration at the Roman Coliseum to honor these heroic men and women who testified to the Gospel with the offering of their lives. Afterwards, he commissioned Andrea Riccardi to write a book detailing the stories of many of these individuals, and officially dedicated the Basilica of St. Bartholomew in Rome to the Sant’Egidio Community as a perpetual memory of all recent Christian martyrs. This basilica includes many side altars, some of which are dedicated to Christians on specific continents, while others attest to the atrocities committed against Christians at the hands of Nazi and Communist regimes.

    Since 2000, the community has held prayer services at this basilica every Holy Week to celebrate the memory of those who in recent years have been called to testify to their faith with the offering of their life.

    In global solidarity, Sant’Egidio communities throughout the world each hold similar memorials to celebrate the lives of these martyrs.

    On Palm Sunday, through the efforts of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and local Sant’Egidio coordinators Richard LaSalvia and Daniel Philpott, the community will participate in this worldwide tribute with a special memorial led by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to acknowledge Christians of all denominations who have, in recent years, willingly laid down their lives for Christ. This service will be held at St. Matthew Cathedral at 7:15 p.m. on March 29 and is open to people of all faith traditions.

    LaSalvia shared that “one of the martyrs who will be recognized is Msgr. Oscar Romero, former archbishop of San Salvador, a man of peace in a country marked by injustice and civil war, who was killed on the altar while celebrating the Eucharist on March 24, 1980.” In January, the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes officially recognized Romero as a martyr and he will be beautified in El Salvador on May 23 of this year. “The Community of Sant’Egidio assisted Romero’s beautification cause through the efforts of the spiritual director Bishop Vincenzo Paglia,” LaSilvia said.

    LaSalvia, who has led and served with Sant’Egidio for over 10 years, primarily through organizing nursing home visits and weekly prayers with the sick and elderly, has helped bring much desired mercy and friendship to those often left feeling isolated and alone. He shared that the work of the community involves ministering to the various needs of the Church and walking in friendship with people of all ages.

    In explaining why the community seeks to unite Christians through this type of memorial event, he revealed, “From the beginning, we recognized that prayer was the first work of the community. Everything that we do starts with prayer. It is our essential and fundamental task as Christians, and in addition to educating ourselves about what is happening, it is our most important response! Prayer is the work of the whole Church, which is why Bishop Rhoades has invited the priests, religious, laity and other Christians of the diocese to participate in this prayer service.”

    He also recalled the various ways in which the community has responded to the violence so often inflicted upon Christians throughout the world. “We seek to come together through what Pope Benedict called and Pope Francis is now calling an “ecumenism of blood.” The 20th and 21st centuries have been periods of incredible persecution, especially in the Middle East. There, our founder, Andrea Riccardi is currently taking action to help Christians in Aleppo, Syria, one of the cities recently bombed by all sides and where many Christians have been killed. It was there that two Syrian Orthodox bishops, close friends of the Sant’Egidio community, were kidnapped. We are currently working to find them and return them home. Riccardi has also been working on opening a humanitarian corridor in Aleppo to bring out the innocent civilians currently in hiding.”

    Additionally, LaSalvia shared, “Riccardi, who also has good relations with the Coptic Church in Egypt, sent condolences to Coptic Patriarch Alexandria Tawadros II, following the brutal killing of the 21 Christians who were beheaded in Libya. He responded with grateful affection for the sympathetic words and prayed, “the Lord of Life protect us from hatred and intolerance.”

    LaSaliva further remarked that Pope Francis has been very supportive of the mission of the Sant’Egidio community, sharing that when he visited its members in Rome this past June, “He encouraged them to continue to remain vigilant in their prayer, to continue going to the peripheries and serving the marginalized, and to steadfastly work to achieving worldwide peace.”

    The prayer vigil is co-sponsored by the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and the Catholic Peace Fellowship.

    Posted on March 17, 2015, to:

  • FORT WAYNE — The bishops of the Indiana dioceses and archdiocese have released a pastoral statement examining the issues of poverty in the Hoosier State. Titled “Poverty at the Crossroads: The Church’s Response to Poverty in Indiana,” the pastoral is published in this week’s issue of Today’s Catholic, pages 7-10.

    The bishops write in the document: “We want to call attention to the poverty that exists right here within the state that calls itself the ‘Crossroads of America.’ We hope to help all of us better understand the many challenges facing our brothers and sisters here in Indiana and consider with you how our Church should respond.”

    The pastoral uses the formula, “See, Judge, Act,” to invite and challenge everyone, “beginning with ourselves, to be more attentive to the poor in our communities, to identify the systemic issues that keep individuals and families poor, and to take concrete steps to reduce the long-term impact of poverty in our state, even as we reach out and help those who, here and now, suffer from its devastating effects,” the pastoral states.

    Catholics in the five dioceses of Indiana remain committed to serving those who are in immediate need through charitable agencies, parishes, schools and health care organizations.

    The statement notes, “The generosity of our people is extraordinary and evident through thousands of hours of loving service every week across the length and breadth of our state. As bishops, we recognize the goodness of diverse people and institutions throughout Indiana, and we thank God for the love and compassion shown to so many of our brothers and sisters in their time of need.”

    “We believe it is essential that we make a prayerful, honest assessment of how we arrived at where we are today,” the pastoral adds. “If we truly are going to identify the causes and manifestations of poverty and create a pathway for positive, long-term, and sustainable change, we must strengthen the foundations upon which individuals and families build economic stability and realize their hopes for the future.”

    All priests, parish leaders, diocesan departments, Catholic schools and health care will receive an electronic version of the pastoral for careful reflection and study by not just Catholics but all Hoosiers. The pastoral is available in English as well as Spanish.

    “We do not advocate an empty academic exercise but rather a necessary step towards making decisions that will lead to substantive change,” the bishops say.

    The bishops’ pastoral offers some observations on family life, employment, education and health care.

    After reading the pastoral, and reflection, Catholic entities or individuals are encouraged to complete a survey of questions which will have a link from the diocesan website, diocesefwsb.org.

    Survey responses will be forwarded to the proper diocese by either choosing the diocese where one lives or by filling in one’s zip code. The survey will close May 1 and the results forwarded to the dioceses across the state.

    The bishops say, “We invite and challenge everyone, beginning with ourselves, to be more attentive to the poor in our communities, to identify the systemic issues that keep individuals and families poor, and to take concrete steps to reduce the long-term impact of poverty in our state, even as we reach out and help those who, here and now, suffer from its devastating effects.”

    Visit www.ReducePovertyIN.org to learn more about the Catholic Church’s efforts in Indiana to reduce poverty.

    Visit these links to read the Pastoral Statement on Poverty in Indiana

    Pastoral letter in English

    Pastoral letter in Spanish

    Visit these links to take the survey.

     

     

     

    Read

    Posted on March 10, 2015, to:

  • By Tim Johnson 

    FORT WAYNE — The Rite of Election of Catechumens and the Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates have been celebrated in the cathedrals of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, taking place in St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, on Feb. 15, and in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne on March 1.

    Catechumens are those unbaptized individuals who will be entering the Catholic Church by receiving all the sacraments of initiation — Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist — at the Easter Vigil on the night of April 4.

    Candidates are those who are already baptized and are now preparing to complete their initiation or enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

    The catechumens and candidates come from parishes throughout the diocese. During the liturgy, each catechumen and candidate, as well as his or her godparent or sponsor, was presented for recognition to Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

    Altogether, several hundred catechumens and candidates — along with their godparents, sponsors, families and guests — attended the liturgies.

    The catechumens inscribed their names within the “Book of the Elect,” which was presented for Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to sign in an event called the Enrollment of Names. After participating in the Rite of Election, the catechumens will be referred to as the “elect,” because they will have been officially declared ready to receive the Easter sacraments this year.

    In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of the wonder and gratitude he felt: “The wonder at the working’s of God’s grace that has led so many to the Catholic Church; gratitude for the gift of faith that you have received and opened yourselves to. I also feel joy — joy that you are becoming part of the family that is God’s Church, that you will soon be joining all of us, your brothers and sisters, at the Eucharistic table of the Lord.”

    Speaking of the second reading from St. Peter: “Come to the Lord, a living stone, … let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” the bishop told the catechumens that when they are baptized, “you will be consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. You will join us in offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

    “This means that you will be able to join in the offering of the Eucharist. Becoming part of the common priesthood, you will exercise that priesthood by receiving the sacraments, as well as by living lives of prayer, charity and holiness,” the bishop added.

    “This is how all of us live our vocations,” he said, “by making an offering of our daily lives to the Lord. This is what St. Peter calls ‘the royal priesthood.’ You will participate in the mission of this priesthood of Jesus, bearing witness to Him in the world. As St. Peter writes: this is ‘so that you may announce the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’”

    At the Rite of Election, the catechumens enter a period of purification and enlightenment.

    “During these weeks before Easter, you prepare more intensely for your Christian initiation,” Bishop Rhoades said. “At the Easter Vigil, the Easter fire will be lit and from it the Easter candle will be lit. You will enter into dark churches in parishes throughout our diocese. And the light of the Easter candle will spread throughout the churches. The darkness reminds us of the state of the world and of the human family before the coming of Christ. The new fire and the candle symbolize the light coming into the world.”

    “You and also the candidates here who have already been baptized, who will be entering into full communion in the Catholic Church — all of you have received the great gift brought by Jesus: the light of faith. It is this light that will illumine your lives,” Bishop Rhoades noted.

    Bishop Rhoades also spoke about the sacrament of Confirmation the catechumens and candidates will receive.

    “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and will dwell within you,” Bishop Rhoades said, “strengthening you along the journey of life, strengthening you with His gifts so that you will walk as children of the light, living your faith with conviction. Do not let your faith become lukewarm. The life of faith is a beautiful journey when we live it with conviction, intentionally, opening ourselves each day to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The life of faith is nourished by the great gift Jesus gave us on the night before He died: the sacrament of the Eucharist, His very Body and Blood.”

    “The Eucharist is the precious nourishment for our faith,” Bishop Rhoades said.

    The bishop also spoke about the covenant they would enter with the Lord.

    The catechumens would be making promises to God before they are baptized. “You will renounce Satan and profess the faith of the Church, faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” the bishop said.

    And candidates would renew those baptismal promises before they are confirmed.

    “At Easter, you will become members of the people of the new covenant, the Catholic Church,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The law of this new covenant is the new commandment to love as Christ has loved us. Our destiny as God’s holy people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, is the Kingdom of God.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted on March 4, 2015, to:

  • Haven’t Been to Confession in a While? 

    Interested, but worry you don’t remember how to give a good Confession? No problem. Simply click here for helpful guidance.

    Lenten Penance Services (will be updated as more become available)

    • Queen of Angels, 1500 W. State Blvd., Fort Wayne, March 18 at 7 p.m.

    • St. Anthony de Padua, 2114 E. Jefferson Blvd., South Bend, March 18 at 7 p.m.

    • Our Lady of Good Hope, 7215 Saint Joe Rd., Fort Wayne, March 24 at 7 p.m.

    • St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel, 11337 Old U.S. Hwy. 27 S, Fort Wayne, March 23 at 7 p.m.

    • Holy Cross, 1050 Wilber, and St. Stanislaus, South Bend, March 26 at 7 p.m. at Holy Cross

    • St. Jude, 19704 Johnson Rd., South Bend, March 24 at 7 p.m.

    • St. Anthony of Padua, 700 W. Maumee St., Angola, March 24 at 7 p.m.

    • St. Pius X, 52553 Fir Road, Granger, March 24 at 7:30 p.m.

    • St. Bernard, 207 North Cass St., Wabash, March 24 at 7 p.m.

    • St. Charles Borromeo, 4916 Trier Rd., Fort Wayne, March 25 at 7 p.m. in the church

    • St. Bavo, 502 West Seventh St., and St. Monica, Mishawaka, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Bavo

    • St. John the Baptist, 943 Powers St., New Haven, March 26 at 7 p.m.

    Read

    Posted on February 17, 2015, to:

  • Click here for more.

    Posted on February 10, 2015, to: