By Denise Fedorow
GOSHEN — On the feast day of its patron saint, St. John the Evangelist Church in Goshen kicked off its celebration of the parish’s 175th anniversary with a special bi-lingual Mass and brunch on Dec. 27.
Father Anthony Steinacker welcomed the congregation and visitors with these words: “With praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God we have now begun our year of celebration of our 175th jubilee. From the earliest years of this great city, St. John has been a beacon of Christ’s light and has had a deep impact on the formation and founding of the city of Goshen and still does to this day.”
Among the visitors were Goshen’s Mayor Allan Kauffman and his wife Carol Miller and Goshen College President Jim Brenneman and his wife Dr. Terri Plank Brenneman.
During his homily, Father Steinacker said, “Nothing by coincidence; everything by Divine Providence that the Gospel passage on this day is John 20:2-9.” He said that even though John arrived at the tomb first, he waited until Peter entered; acknowledging the role Christ gave to Peter.
Father Steinacker encouraged the congregation, some with family members going back five or six generations to the beginnings of the church, to “think of those people who started this church — the great strife, persecution and sacrifice they endured as with great humility they built this church.”
“God has indeed blessed this parish for 175 years from its humble beginnings in the courthouse to the difficult war years. All that time one thing has remained constant — faith in Jesus Christ,” Father Steinacker said. “Let us continue to run that race, which is life.”
After Mass, two members of the 175th anniversary planning committee, Nancy Glon and Veronica Gouker read (in English and then Spanish) a proclamation received from Rep. Wes Culver stating the church’s place in the early history of the city of Goshen.
The proclamation read in part, “Whereas St. John the Evangelist has been a blessing to the community of Goshen by its humble and loving service — as a member of the 119th General Assembly of the House of Representatives I want to honor and congratulate St. John the Evangelist with thanks for its service to the residents and wish it many more years of outstanding service to the city of Goshen.”
St. John the Evangelist is the third oldest church in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. In 1840 St. John was made a mission church of St. Augustine (now the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception) in Fort Wayne. From 1840 to 1860, St. John was served by Holy Cross Father Alex Granger, and Holy Cross Father Edward Sorin, who came from the University of Notre Dame and Father Henry V. Schafer who came from Avilla to Goshen to offer Mass for the Catholics in the Goshen area. Mass was celebrated in the old Elkhart County Courthouse and sometimes in homes until Father Schafer organized the 30 devoted families to build the first church building in 1860.
A catered brunch followed the Mass in the Deacon Art Bleau Parish Center.
Other upcoming events planned during this yearlong celebration include Friday night fellowship dinners and a second annual bi-lingual Mass and parish picnic with a quilt raffle in August. The first all-parish outdoor Mass and picnic was held this past August and a family movie night and turkey bingo was held in November.
The official celebration with anniversary Mass and dinner will be held on June 7 with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. A commemorative Altar-Rosary Society parish cookbook has been printed and an updated church history and pictorial directory are scheduled to be ready by the June celebration.
By Trish Linner
MISHAWAKA — Christmas Mass at St. Monica Parish in Mishawaka was extra special this year as Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, pastor there, announced the beginning of the yearlong celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the parish.
The parish was originally founded by the Catholic families who lived on the north side of the St. Joseph River in Mishawaka. They had attempted to establish a church near their homes for many years, but had met with failure until 1915. St. Monica Parish was finally established on Sept. 4, 1915, when a Baptist church originally erected in 1868 was purchased. The church was immediately remodeled for Catholic worship.
Bishop Herman J. Alerding of the Diocese of Fort Wayne dedicated the remodeled church on Oct. 17 to serve 150 families. It became apparent from the immediate growth that a new church and school would be needed. On April 15, 1916, the purchasing committee secured several lots on the south side of Grove Street between Elizabeth and Ann streets for a chapel, school and parsonage. The chapel and school were formally dedicated on May 13, 1917, by Bishop Alerding.
Father Bleckmann served as the first priest of St. Monica until Nov. 26, 1917, when he met an untimely death during a massive influenza epidemic.
The continued growth of the parish led to a search for more ground near the first location. The current St. Monica’s Catholic Church, located on Mishawaka Avenue was designed in Italian Romanesque style with a seating capacity of 800. Individuals from the congregation donated stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross. The church was dedicated on Oct. 2, 1927.
St. Monica’s current pastor, Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, has shepherded the faithful at St. Monica’s since June of 2011.
In his homily at the Christmas Masses, Msgr. Piechocki noted that so much of the Christmas story involves listening. “When Gabriel arrives to bring Mary the news that she will bear a child … she listens. When the angel tells Joseph in his dreams what is about to happen … he listens. The shepherds listen when the angel announces the ‘good news of great joy.’ Christmas invites us to listen. Twenty centuries ago, shepherds listened, and told the world what they heard; God has no shepherds now but us. We are the ones chosen to hear His good news — and to pass it on. It is news of wonder and hope, of light breaking through darkness. God is with us. Emmanuel. God is one with us. I invite you to listen — with your ears and with your heart. Our salvation has been announced,” Msgr. Piechocki said.
St. Monica parishioners enjoyed the beautiful Christmas Mass and are excited about the future centennial celebration events. “The music was so nice, we often attend the 7:30 a.m. Mass, so we don’t get to hear our choir. They did an amazing job,” said Nancy Sacha, who along with her family, have been parishioners at St. Monica for 13 years. “It was wonderful to see the church so full of people on Christmas and we are looking forward to celebrating the anniversary year of our parish.”
Fellow parishioner Denise DeGennaro agreed saying, “We are truly blessed to a part of this community and we look forward to our continual spiritual growth and sharing with St. Monica’s Church.”
The parish will kick off its centennial celebration on Sunday, Jan. 4, at 4 p.m. with an Epiphany Candlelight Choral Festival at St. Monica’s Church. It will feature choirs from St. Joseph, St. Bavo, Queen of Peace Churches (all from Mishawaka) and St. Monica’s. A reception will follow. There is no charge for the event, but donations of canned goods for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry will be accepted.
This summer Bishop Kevin C. Rhodes will celebrate an anniversary Mass on Sunday, Aug. 30, at 1 p.m. followed by a dinner. Additional events are being planned that will include an all-classes reunion. Long-time parishioners James and Nancy Olsen are the coordinators of the parish Centennial Committee.
Msgr. Piechocki said, “I am humbled to be the pastor here at this time. Many of our parishioners come from families who were part of the parish at its founding 100 years ago. Although faced with numerous challenges, St. Monica’s people not only want to celebrate the past; they are embracing the future with faith in God and in each other.”
For more information about the anniversary celebration, visit www.stmonicamish.org.
By Chris Lushis
WARSAW — Hundreds of Catholic faithful were in attendance for a late Vigil Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Diocesan Shrine on the night of Dec. 11. Those at the parish in Warsaw rejoiced at hearing the words of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, “¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live the Virgin! Long live Christ the King!), to which they responded joyously, “¡Viva!”
The Mass, which was celebrated in Spanish, began with a special procession of a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe surrounded by a large wreath made of roses. This memorial was placed under the church’s signature painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which Bishop Rhoades venerated and crowned during the celebration. The special feast was also highlighted by traditional Mexican mariachi music and singing offering praise and honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades emphasized the connection of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the woman described in the Book of Revelation, “the woman who appeared in heaven, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head.”
Bishop Rhoades said, “The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared clothed with the sun, with a crescent moon under her feet and wearing garments sprinkled with stars.”
He continued, “Just as the woman in Revelation was with child, so is the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is wearing a maternity belt commonly used by pregnant Aztec women.”
“I think we can see in the image of Guadalupe the woman who gave birth to Jesus symbolically giving birth to a new people, to the Church here in America, when she appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico and through the amazing success of the evangelization of America which occurred in the years following Our Lady’s appearance,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We can say that Catholicism in America was born in Mary’s maternal arms.”
Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe began after her appearance to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill, Mexico, in 1531. During a time when pagan worship and human sacrifices were the ritual practices of the Aztec country, it was here that the Blessed Virgin Mary requested a church be built in her honor, where she promised to show love, compassion and protection to all those who believed in her. The Blessed Virgin instructed Juan Diego to bring roses he found miraculously growing in the middle of winter to the local bishop. When he opened his cloak, the roses spilled out, and a dazzling image of Our Lady remained for all to witness. As a result of the promotion of this apparition, millions of men and women converted to Catholicism and found safety under the mantle of the Blessed Mother.
Bishop Rhoades shared that the face of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which had so inspired the Mexican bishop, particularly moves him as well.
“It is tender and peaceful, sweet and serene,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The mother of the true God appeared with a mestizo face and spoke the language of the people. Her humble and compassionate gaze gave Juan Diego and the recently conquered native peoples true hope and consolation. Her presence and her words dispelled the darkness of superstition and fear. Our Lady of Guadalupe was God’s messenger, a messenger of the Gospel of her Son, who taught the people that the true God is a God of love and mercy. She wants us to spread the Gospel also today when so many have forgotten God or ignore Him and reject His Church.”
Bishop Rhoades also reminded the congregation of the battle described in Revelation between the dragon, Satan and the woman who has crushed his head. “We see this struggle between good and evil throughout the history of the world; it is one that all the disciples of Jesus must face in their lives,” the bishop said. “Pope Francis teaches us that we do not face this struggle alone, that ‘the Mother of Christ and of the Church is always with us. Mary walks with us always, accompanies us, struggles with us and sustains us in their fight against the forces of evil.’ In the end, she wins, not the dragon. Liberation and the hour of glory will come. Pope Benedict reminds us that the woman clothed with the sun is ‘the great sign of the victory of love, of the victory of goodness, of the victory of God.’ We are further encouraged by Pope Francis, who especially recommends praying the rosary to sustain us in this battle.”
Bishop Rhoades also celebrated a bi-lingual Mass at the University of Notre Dame on the evening of Dec. 12 for the feast. Students performed traditional Aztec tribal dances and hymns in honor of the Blessed Virgin. All those in attendance were invited at the end of Mass to process together with the bishop and lay roses at the feet of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart’s statue of the Madonna and Child.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, surrounded by priests and deacons from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, commemorated the 10th anniversary of ordination to the episcopacy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Monday, Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop Rhoades was ordained a bishop on Dec. 9, 2004 and ministered as bishop of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was installed the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on Jan. 13, 2010.