• By Chris Lushis

    For photos from more celebrations visit the photo gallery.

    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.

    Posted on December 16, 2014, to:

  • 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.

    Posted on December 10, 2014, to:

  • Saint Mary’s College President Carol Ann Mooney and Kristen Millar of the class of 2015 hand-deliver the “Voices of Young Catholic Women” project to Pope Francis on Wednesday, Nov. 26. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades introduced the contingent to Pope Francis.

    By Tim Johnson

    VATICAN CITY — Even cloudy skies and showers could not dampen the spirits of a Saint Mary’s College senior, a 2014 alumna, college President Carol Ann Mooney and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, as a handmade stole, art and letters collected by the college titled “Voices of Young Catholic Women” were presented to Pope Francis during his general audience on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

    Students, supported by Saint Mary’s Center for Spirituality (CFS) and the Campus Ministry office, organized a national letter-writing response to Pope Francis’s outreach to young people to encourage the Millennial Generation — those born between 1981-1995 — to write to the pope about their love for Catholic tradition and offer ideas on how the Church might better reach their demographic. CFS advertised the Voices project in America magazine and sent letters and posters to campus ministry offices at colleges and universities across the U.S.

    The women who took part in the project were instructed to send letters, prayers, poetry, art and other forms of creative expression to the CFS at Saint Mary’s.

    On Nov. 26, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades accompanied Saint Mary’s senior Kristen Millar of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, and recent graduate Grace Urankar of San Francisco as well as President Mooney and her husband George Efta to the general audience in St. Peter’s Square to make the presentation.

    Both Millar and Urankar worked on the Voices project.

    President Mooney described that she and Millar had reserved seats for those who would be able to speak with Pope Francis. The others had close seats and could see very well, she said.

    “Bishop Rhoades was able to join us when Pope Francis approached us,” Mooney related, “and the bishop introduced us. Kristen and I presented the stole and the letters.”

    “We told Pope Francis that the letters contained the joys and hope, grief and sorrows of our young women,” she shared. “The interchange was brief but truly moving. He asked us to pray for him, he said that he needs our prayers.”

    Kristen Millar said, “I am honored to be able to advocate on behalf of the women of the Millennial Generation and am hopeful that the pope will hear our message. It is truly wonderful to be an outspoken and truly inspired Saint Mary’s woman.”

    Millar added, “I am very blessed to be a part of a project as wonderful as this. This is not about me, but is truly about the Church and for all women struggling to maintain their Catholic identity in a time when religion is not deemed as necessary. I am here to give a voice.”

    Millar said she was thankful for all of the support in the project. “It has been much appreciated and it’s awesome to see everyone at home as excited as we are,” she said.

    Grace Urankar shared, “It was really incredible to be in St. Peter’s Square and so close to the pope himself. I’m sure anyone who goes to an audience would say this, but it was such a testament to the universal Church.”

    “Pilgrims from all over the world were present, and the pope’s reflection was summarized in at least 10 languages after he read it in Italian,” Urankar added.

    “I was really struck by what a small group we were in the presence of so many, but I had to focus on all the women we were representing,” Urankar emphasized. “I really hope the pope reads our letters and takes the concerns of young American Catholic women to heart.”

    Elizabeth Groppe, director of the Center for Spirituality, reported 225 contributions to the project, including 10 students and three alums from Saint Mary’s College. Fifteen other Catholic-affiliated organization, including Catholic and secular colleges and universities and Newman Catholic Communities from across the country, participated.

    There were also some letters from women with no affiliation with any particular school.

    One Saint Mary’s alumna sent a poem, “My Church, My Home.” She gave voice to the caring relationships and bonds of communion that flow from the worship of God and sharing of the sacrament of the Eucharist.

    Groppe related another woman had shared that she was sexually abused in high school and developed an eating disorder. In the aftermath of this, she attended a Kairos retreat that renewed her relationship with God and enabled her to discover her leadership abilities. Through the community of women in the Catholic campus ministry program at her college, she found hope, focus, meaning and direction. She recommends that the Catholic Church would provide all teenage women in parishes with the opportunity to have a woman mentor.

    Students at Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati hand made a stole as a gift for Pope Francis. Their letters spoke of some of the challenges teenage women face in the culture today, including media images of women that establish false ideals of beauty that are impossible to meet, degrading language about women in the lyrics of popular music, degrading and objectifying images of women in advertising, films and other media, assumptions that girls are inferior to boys, and social pressures related to drinking, sex and social media. In this context, one wrote, it is “difficult for me to accept myself as God’s good creation made in God’s divine image and likeness.” Some wrote about the lack of confidence, depression and eating disorders that many teenage women experience. They also made recommendations for ways in which the Catholic community can work to foster a culture of respect for women in the United States.

    November 26 marked Bishop Rhoades’ birthday and his second meeting with Pope Francis. Earlier in the week Bishop Rhoades concelebrated Mass with Pope Francis at Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the pope resides, and then greeted Pope Francis after Mass. The pope extended a blessing on the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.


    Posted on December 2, 2014, to:


    Click here for the downloadable PDF file.


    Posted on November 28, 2014, to:

  • Remembering the 10th anniversary of his episocopal ordination, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will celebrate Mass on Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne at 12:05 p.m. The faithful are invited to the Mass. He was ordained a bishop on Dec. 9, 2004, for the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was installed the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on Jan. 13, 2010.

    Posted on November 23, 2014, to: