• FORT WAYNE — The 2014 Annual Bishop’s Appeal, “Let Us Love In Deed and Truth,” is another success.

    Harry Verhiley, Secretary for Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, told Today’s Catholic the goal for the 2014-15 Appeal was $5,048,769. “Because of the generosity of our families, we raised $6,502,645 which accounts for 129 percent of the goal,” he said.

    “When our diocese raises funds above the goal, 100 percent of the overage goes back to the respective over-goal parishes,” Verhiley said. “That means that the 2014 Bishop’s Appeal will return nearly $1.5 million back to our over-goal parishes, once collected. This is important, since these funds support ministries and services offered in our parishes.”

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told Today’s Catholic, “The faithful of our diocese are always generous to the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, as well as other parish and diocesan needs. I am so very grateful to all who gave to the 2014 Appeal.”

    “The Annual Bishop’s Appeal is an important funding source for the mission and ministries of our diocese,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Your generous support for the work of the Church is a faithful witness to the generous love of God. This witness is Christ-like, because Jesus gave Himself completely for our sake. I pray that God will continue to bless the work of our diocese and all the faithful who continue to contribute to this important work.”

    Posted on April 14, 2015, to:

  • Click here for more photos from Easter and Holy Week in the diocese.

    Posted on April 7, 2015, to:

  • The Chrism Mass is a sign of the unity and communion of the priests with their bishop. After the homily, the renewal of priestly promises takes place, in which the priests who are gathered publicly recommit themselves to serving Christ’s Church through their selfless presbyteral ministry, and particularly through the faithful celebration of the liturgy and through the office of teaching.

    By Tim Johnson

    For more photos from the Chrism Mass click here.

    SOUTH BEND — The faithful filled the cathedrals in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend as Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated the Chrism Masses.

    Some of the Church’s most ancient traditions and rituals are witnessed during Holy Week, including the preparation, blessing and distribution of oils central to the Catholic Church’s sacraments and rites. These holy oils are prepared and distributed to churches at the Chrism Mass.

    The South Bend Mass was celebrated Monday, March 30, at St. Matthew Cathedral, and the Fort Wayne Mass was Tuesday, March 31, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

    “Grace and strength! God’s grace and strength! That is what I think about at this Chrism Mass when I bless the oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick and when I consecrate the sacred chrism,” Bishop Rhoades noted as he began his homily.

    Virgin olive oil is used for the oil of the sick and oil of catechumens. To make the oil for the sacred chrism, it is mixed with a resin, balsam, giving it a sweet perfumed fragrance.

    Explaining the uses of the oils, Bishop Rhoades said, “I think of the grace and strength that God, in His love, communicates to those who will be anointed with these holy oils.”

    “Let us pray for all the adults and infants who, before they are baptized, will be anointed with the oil of catechumens,” he noted. “Let us pray for all the sick and the dying who will be spiritually strengthened through the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Let us pray for the beautiful babies who, after they are baptized, will be anointed on the crown of their heads with the chrism of salvation. Let us pray for the adults and many young teenagers who will be sealed with the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation through the anointing with the holy chrism. And let us pray for the young men whose hands will be anointed at their priestly ordination with the chrism that will be consecrated at this Mass.”

    The Chrism Mass is also a sign of the unity and communion of the priests with their bishop. After the homily, the renewal of priestly promises took place in which the priests who were gathered publicly recommitted themselves to serving Christ’s Church through their selfless presbyteral ministry, and particularly through the faithful celebration of the liturgy and through the office of teaching.

    Immediately after the renewal of promises of the priests, the various oils and the gifts of bread and wine were brought forward by over a dozen individuals, all of whom represented some element of service and activity in the local Church. They included representatives of religious orders, people in the healthcare field, teachers and students from the Catholic high schools.

    Having received these items, Bishop Rhoades blessed the oil of the sick and oil of catechumens, and then mixed in the balsam before consecrating the sacred chrism.

    In the homily, Bishop Rhoades related to the priests that Pope Francis says, “For bishops and priests, this anointing is their strength and their joy.”

    “My brothers in the Priesthood, you know this is true,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Without Christ, we are weak; apart from Him, we can do nothing. We know this from our experience of messing up sometimes, by our sins and mistakes.”

    “Through our anointing, we receive the strength to lead our people forward, like King David did, to help them and to live at their service,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The Lord and His anointing are our strength and also our joy. The Lord’s hand is always with us. His arm makes us strong. His faithfulness and mercy are with us.”

    To the lay and religious brothers and sisters, Bishop Rhoades said, “Our priests and I need your prayers and loving support just as you need us to lead you and serve you according to the heart of Christ.”

    “We need good, holy, and faithful bishops and priests,” Bishop Rhoades added. “That’s why we need your prayers. That’s why we need to renew our promises every year. That’s why, my brother priests, we need not only to pray each day, but also to go to Confession regularly. We need to pray like King David did: ‘Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness … cleanse me from my sin. … A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.’”

    The diocese and the parishes grow, Bishop Rhoades said, “when we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit who has anointed us to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed.”

    “The Church grows and flourishes only by God’s grace, by His anointing, and by the reception of that grace and anointing in those who answer the call to holiness,” Bishop Rhoades said. “I think today of the many holy bishops and priests of the Church who dedicated their entire lives to the service of their people. In the news, we usually only hear about the sins of priests and bishops for which we must repent. But let’s not forget the great number, mostly anonymous, who by their anointing gave their people strength, taught them the Gospel by their words and example, and administered the sacraments to them. How many good and faithful bishops and priests! They don’t make the news. We thank God for them and their anointing.”

    In a final word to the priests, Bishop Rhoades said, “We didn’t become priests to exalt ourselves, to get ahead, or to become famous. We’re reminded of this on Holy Thursday in the ceremony of the washing of the feet. That’s our life and ministry: the humble service of Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re anointed to do. We exist for others and for Christ. I pray that our union with Christ becomes ever deeper, so that through us Christ the Good Shepherd will tend and care for His flock.”

    Posted on March 31, 2015, to:

  • The Easter Triduum:
    The days of the Easter Triduum are the heart of the liturgical year. The Church invites us to share in the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. I invite you to participate in the beautiful liturgies of the Easter Triduum in your parish churches or in our cathedrals. The Triduum begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and ends with Evening Prayer (Vespers) on Easter Sunday.

    Holy Thursday Mass
    of the Lord’s Supper

    At this evening Mass, we commemorate the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood. At the Last Supper, Jesus anticipated the sacrifice of His death the next day. He changed the bread and wine into His Body and Blood, giving us the awesome gift of the sacrament of the Eucharist. He gave to the apostles the power to “do this in memory of me,” thus instituting the ministerial priesthood.

    At the Holy Thursday Mass, we not only hear the Gospel of the washing of the feet of the apostles by Jesus, this action is also re-enacted in many parishes. In this gesture, Jesus bequeathed His love to us as a new law. This act of humility, which anticipated His supreme sacrifice on Calvary, is an example for us of our call to serve others with the love and humility of Jesus.

    At the end of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession to a place of reposition. We are invited to spend some time in adoration before the Eucharist on Holy Thursday night. Some of the faithful visit different churches to pray in adoration on Holy Thursday night. This pious tradition is encouraged on the night of Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane. On the first Holy Thursday night, the disciples fell asleep in the garden, leaving Our Lord alone in His agony. We visit Our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament, not wanting to leave Him alone at this time.

    Good Friday

    On Good Friday, the Church commemorates the events between Christ’s condemnation to death and His crucifixion. Good Friday is a day of penance, fasting, and prayer. It is a day for us to meditate upon the sufferings of Our Lord, upon the evil and sin that oppresses humanity, and upon the salvation brought about by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus.

    The Church does not celebrate Mass on Good Friday. Instead, we gather in a special service to commemorate Our Lord’s Passion and Death. At this service every year, we hear Saint John’s account of the Passion. At this service, we address to God a long “prayer of the faithful” which includes all the needs of the Church and of the world. We then venerate or adore the cross. The liturgy ends with the reception of Holy Communion consecrated and reserved from the night before.

    Besides the Good Friday liturgy, in many places there are other expressions of popular devotions on Good Friday that are approved and encouraged by the Church. Stations of the Cross and penitential processions, for example, help us to interiorize the mystery of the Cross.

    Easter Vigil

    Holy Saturday is a day of great silence in which we are invited to wait in prayer, interiorly recollected, for the great event of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

    The solemn Easter Vigil begins at nightfall on Holy Saturday. It begins with the blessing of the new fire and the lighting of the paschal candle which symbolizes Christ our light and the light of the world. The great proclamation of the “Exsultet” rings out joyfully, followed by many Scripture readings tracing salvation history, culminating in the singing of joyful alleluias and the Gospel of the Resurrection of Jesus.

    At the heart of the Easter Vigil is the celebration of the sacraments of initiation. Those who have journeyed in preparation through the catechumenate receive the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and then join the community in the reception of the Holy Eucharist.

    The Easter Vigil is called “the mother of all vigils.” The proclamation of the Resurrection scatters the darkness of the night. We celebrate the victory of Jesus who conquered sin and death. This is not only a past event. It is a present reality. Christ’s love continues to defeat sin and death. This happens in the life of His Body, the Church, in our lives as His redeemed brothers and sisters.

    I encourage all to participate in the liturgies of the Easter Triduum and to relive the great mystery of our salvation through these rites of the Church. May you have a spiritually enriching celebration of Holy Week! May these celebrations deepen our conversion to Christ and our communion with Him in His Body, the Church!

    Jay Caponigro, director of Community Engagement at Notre Dame and facilitator for the Faculty Steering Committee with WEI, said, “We need to make sure we are offering rigorous academic courses that are at the standard of Notre Dame and Holy Cross, so if students want to apply to another institution when they leave the program to complete their bachelor’s degree, that they are prepared and have gotten the best academic training they could.”

    WEI became a reality when representatives from Bard College in New York, an institution that has achieved tremendous success in prison education, contacted Notre Dame to inquire about the potential interest of expanding to Indiana. Their program, which just honored its 12th class of graduates, recently welcomed Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York as commencement speaker. There he told the men, “I salute you this graduation morning because you have learned not only the lessons of books, library, classroom and professors, but the most sublime lesson of them all: that the essence of life, the core of living, is found within the human person, not without.”

    He further emphasized the importance of lifelong learning beginning at an early age, saying, “A solid education is perhaps the most valuable gift we can (and must) provide our young people. Better schools mean less poverty, violence, crime … and prisons!”

    Notre Dame and Holy Cross were immediately supportive of the Westville endeavor and, with support from BPI, were able to move forward and create the infrastructure required for a sustainable initiative. The IDOC has also been an essential partner of the program, though since budget cuts in 2011 has been unable to financially support publically funded college degree-granting programs.

    Holy Cross President Brother John Paige indicated that the schools were quick to jump on board because the program so aptly fits the mission of the Congregation of Holy Cross. “As our constitutions indicate, we have a preferential option for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. I see the Westville program as a systematic way that specifically fulfills our mission of education by serving one of the most marginalized groups in our society, namely prisoners, whom the culture often says we should lock up and then throw away the key. This initiative dovetails beautifully with Catholic social teaching and makes for a great partnership with BPI in their pursuit of social justice and also with the state, which has been willing to accommodate our efforts.”

    The benefits of this program for both those earning their degree and for society at large have been transformative. Caponigro said, “Of those who have earned degrees through BPI, the recidivism rate, the amount of people who go back into jail, is just 3 percent. That is what we are aiming to do; we want people to understand that they have alternatives and futures if they participate in this program.”

    Holy Cross Brother Jesus Alonso, director for educational outreach, further spoke about the program’s life-changing effects. He remarked, “None of the men who have taken part in the Westville program have returned to prison and conduct issues for these men are also significantly decreased. The inmates are happy to have this opportunity to grow in knowledge and those who operate the prisons are pleased to witness this improvement in behavior. It is for these and many other reasons that the leaders of this program are committed to its long term growth.”

    Alesha Seroczynski, Ph.D., WEI director of College Operations provided specifics on how she envisions this growth to occur. “We currently have 32 men participating in the program, with two earning their associate’s (degree) this spring. Over the next five years we are hoping to expand our enrollment to fill our dorm of 102 beds. Long term, we are hoping to include as many as 200 men in our program, but even reaching 100 students would make this one of the top college prison programs in the nation.”

    This program has provided many men with a new start and the ability to make positive improvements to their life. To summarize the fundamental importance of WEI, Caponigro emphasized, “The mission of Holy Cross and Notre Dame is to educate the heart and mind. In Westville, we want to bring that same spirit to the table. We do this by showing that we are truly about helping these men realize their fullest potential as children of God.”

    Posted on March 24, 2015, to:

  • 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: