Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades poses with the pro-life group from St. Anthony De Padua School in South Bend. The students were on hand for the dedication of Killilea home, a second location of Hannah’s House.
Ellen Reidy, 8, of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Fort Wayne a second-grade student at St. Charles Borromeo School, places flowers on the Blessed Mother statue at St. Mary Church in Fort Wayne. Father James Bromwich and Father Daniel Whelan of the Sons of St. Philip Neri organized a May Crowning that began with Mass and then a procession to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and back to St. Mary Church on Saturday, May 4. Mother’s Day is May 12.
FORT WAYNE — The number of laps didn’t matter, but the cause for this year’s major service project certainly did. On Friday, April 26, 750 students from St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne participated in a walk-a-thon to raise money for young boys in a distant land on a gloriously sunny, last day of the school week.
Excused from their normal uniforms, nearly everyone in grades K-8 paid a dollar to “dress down” and a penny to walk laps for a half hour in the school parking lot.
Even more impressive, the student body held contests all week long and competed to earn a free homework pass and root beer floats.
In the end, the sixth graders edged out the second graders collecting over $1,600 alone. In all, the Panthers raised $8,500.
One of the sixth-grade homeroom teachers, Becky Blevins, loved how her students took the project to heart, “We had students walking their neighborhoods collecting for the boys in the pouring rain. After tallying the results each day, the students did the ‘happy dance’ and I really saw spiritual growth throughout the week. ”
Assistant Principal Beth Kleber echoed her sentiments, “We never imagined the project making such an impact on the students. I had hoped we could raise $2,000 and can only explain the outpouring as the work of the Holy Spirit.”
The adopted facility houses over 75 homeless boys who would otherwise be on the streets suffering from tragedies caused by violence, death of loved ones, illness and poverty. Seeking the basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter and education, the mission was a perfect focus for St. Vincent this school year.
“Each year, we elect our student council in May. Over the summer months, they research and discern different charities then decide as a group during the fall ‘Care Week’ — a week which raises awareness for those in need,” explained Linda McCarthy, development director.
“We try to pick a group which matches our Catholic identity and one that may not always have another steady income stream,” Kleber added.
Cecelia Manning, mother of student council president Michael Manning, and grandmother Mary Cuney had heard Sister M. Germaine speak and were moved by her cause. They encouraged Michael to bring her before the student assembly.
At 83 years young, the spunky sister captivated her audience and easily swayed them to see the critical needs of the St. Joseph Home and partner with them. “She is great with young people,” vice-president Lizzy Roy detailed when she told how the contact attended the school carnival and played every game.
Aware that a mere $100 can cover the fees, food and clothing for one boy for one semester (three months), the Panthers sent the sisters $5,000 at Christmas time from their early efforts and now, thanks to the great success of the walk-a-thon, they plan to invite Sister M. Germaine to their year-end awards ceremony and present her with at least another $10,000 for the village home.
By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Bishop Dwenger High School is one of only 16 high schools in the U.S. to partner with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as a Global Neighbor School.
Through the iNeighbor initiative, “Catholic youth, parents, school administrators and faculty learn about the work of CRS around the world and co-create ways to actively live out Jesus’ love,” reported the website, http://ineighbor.crs.org. Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the U.S. bishops to assist the poor outside the U.S.
“CRS iNeighbor connects us with our global family,” the website stated. “By identifying with the needs and gifts of our global neighbor, we learn about ourselves.”
Last week, the Bishop Dwenger community focused on and encouraged a spirit of global solidarity among students, teachers, administrators and staff that culminated in a school prayer assembly on Friday, April 19.
At the assembly, Principal Jason Schiffli told the students that the program will hopefully be a springboard. The students will learn about the work of CRS and follow their services throughout their lives. And other schools will want to partner with the CRS iNeighbor initiative.
“We are here to serve,” noted Schiffli at the assembly, which Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades attended and offered a blessing.
During the week, “every class researched one assigned country where Catholic Relief Services works,” said Melissa Wheeler, Bishop Dwenger theology teacher who is also the diocesan director of Catholic Relief Services. The students “found statistics about the country — population, poverty rate, these kinds of things” — and the CRS programs in place.
The students designed posters with the information they learned. These posters are hanging on the classroom doors throughout the school and will be there through the end of the year.
Students also created flags representing 55 of the 100 countries where CRS has a presence. During the prayer assembly, Father Jacob Meyer, chaplain, sang a litany of saints that pertained to the patrons of the countries represented. One student carried the flag before the student body, while another student lit a candle. The flags were then placed in the cafeteria and will eventually be placed in the school.
At the assembly, the work of CRS was highlighted. Providing wells and sanitary water was emphasized as one of the services CRS provides. Building homes, providing medical supplies are other services provided by CRS.
Bishop Dwenger’s emphasis over the next three years is to concentrate on orphans and vulnerable children.
The CRS iNeighbor initiative is just in its second year, and Bishop Dwenger is one of the first high schools in the nation to partner with CRS.
At the Catholic Social Ministries gathering in Washington, D.C. — a gathering of all social ministry groups such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul and others — Bishop Dwenger was approached by CRS because of other CRS-related programs at Bishop Dwenger, such as the Fair Trade Sales, Food Fair CRS and Operation Rice Bowl.
“Next year, we’ll have another workshop with Catholic Relief Services with faculty and staff, and build throughout the year and implement more of the orphans and vulnerable children into culminating a week like this one,” Wheeler said, “but we want to get more students involved in these (eight) committees and get their input in the lesson planning, displays and school-wide action.”
Charles Ehinger, who teaches senior honors physics and coordinated the committee that planned the prayer assembly, said the ideas come from the students whose actions can range from raising funds or writing to elected representatives on issues to raising funds for a group to do mission work in another country.
“It becomes their project that the (teachers) help,” Wheeler added. “They become the primary engineers.”
One Bishop Dwenger senior, Jacob Malmstrom, spent 2011 in Haiti with his parents and the family working in medical missions. In his brief presentation at the assembly of the mission work he did in Haiti, he showed the need for medical care, housing and the plight of orphans and children left at the Mission of Hope Orphanage. Some of the children are placed there, he said, because the family can no longer financially support them.
He encouraged his fellow students to “feel blessed with what you have been given.”
Malmstrom plans to return to Haiti this summer with an internship program soon after he graduates in May.
Ehinger’s honors physics class studied Ethiopia. He explained that the class spent the first day learning the statistics and general information about the country — terrain, capitol, population, the climate and its droughts. CRS provides facts about all the countries they serve on their website.
Ehinger said he was able to incorporate lessons of the class with the situation, for example, of the drought issues in Ethiopia: “How can we solve this?” he asked the students.
Wheeler said, next year, perhaps the biology and chemistry teachers will participate in the iNeighbor program and the classes will partner with CRS who offer videoconferences to show how they work. Different lessons will be available in world languages, theology or social studies classes.
The second day, the students concentrated on the country’s history. That included the history of CRS’s work in that particular country.
The third day included studies for groups that partner with CRS and the fourth day served as CRS programs to explore and the type of relief that is going on in each country.
The idea is “global awareness,” Ehinger said. “As much as teenagers are sheltered, they don’t travel far, they’re not aware of what goes on in the world. So it’s more real to them and if it’s real to them they will want to get more involved.”
BRISTOL — They studied and prepared for two years — doing special projects, logging service hours — and all their work culminated in the blessing of the sacrament of Confirmation Saturday, April 13, at St. Mary of the Annunciation Church in Bristol.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades confirmed 37 candidates in all — 35 young people and two adults. As they practiced the night before, parents and students alike looked at this sacrament as a “rite of passage on their spiritual journey.”
Mike and Sara Jackowiak’s son Ryan was one of the candidates. When asked what it meant to them as parents, Mike replied, “It means he’s getting older and taking on the responsibility of full membership in the Church. He now has a better maturity and better idea of what’s expected of him and about what it means to be Catholic.”
The family members have been parishioners at St. Mary’s for approximately six years. Ryan is their second child to be confirmed. Mike was raised Catholic and Sara joined the Church. Sara said having two children go through the Confirmation program reinforced the things she learned in RCIA.
“As a family it’s made us all stronger Catholics,” Sara said.
“It’s an important thing to do to be a part of the Church and be more with God,” Mackenzie declared.
Raven said being confirmed meant, “I get to follow my faith more and know that now I’m really a part of the Catholic faith and follow in the Lord’s footsteps to be closer to God.”
One candidate, Johnny Riblet, was excited about being confirmed and about meeting the bishop. His sponsor, Dan Oakley, has known Johnny all his life and said, “This is a big milestone for him — being blessed by the Holy Spirit. Things are more challenging for him so this is a big step for him to be able to participate with his class.”
Johnny’s father, Jay Riblet, explained Johnny has cerebral palsy with global brain injury and he really enjoys going to religious education classes. Riblet said Johnny’s been involved in his faith since he was a small child. When he made his first Communion he said, “You probably won’t find someone who enjoys Sunday school as much as Johnny. Being able to participate with his class is a big deal.”
Teaching the students was Tony Finch, who taught seventh grade and is also a sponsor, and Deb Lytell, who has been a religious education teacher for 29 years, the last five in eighth grade preparing the students for Confirmation. Eleven students were recognized with a Holy Spirit pendant for completing every assignment and project on time and attending everything asked of them.
Lytell said, “They are all a great group of kids. We had a few others that were real close to turning everything in.” She said she felt the kids did understand the importance of the sacrament they were about to receive.
Their pastor Father Bob Van Kempen agreed. “Receiving the sacrament at this age really helps the young people to grow in their faith and be strengthened as Catholics as they do everything they need to do to prepare.”
“It’s nice that the bishop comes and administers the sacrament. It exposes them to the wonder and awe of the Catholic Church being in his presence; they don’t get that chance that often,” he said.
Bishop Rhoades arrives
As the choir and congregation finished singing the opening hymn, Bishop Rhoades said, “Come Holy Ghost, that is our prayer this morning as we are here to support these young people. What a beautiful day in their lives as they receive the Holy Spirit and an increase in faith.”
He told the congregation he always enjoys coming to St. Mary’s, “But especially today — to be here with these young people and administer the sacrament of the Holy Spirit and I pray they always live by the Holy Spirit.”
As their pastor and their teacher presented the group of candidates, Bishop Rhoades asked questions about the three sacraments of initiation, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. When one student rattled off the answer of the seven gifts, Bishop Rhoades told a story of how impressed he was in the past at another parish when a student did the same — until he turned around and saw banners hanging listing the seven gifts.
“Some people think Confirmation is the end, but it’s the exact opposite — it’s the beginning! It’s important to continue to study and learn your faith,” he said.
He advised that aside from having a Bible, every Catholic home should have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He said the catechism has four parts that explain the creed, how Catholics celebrate the faith, and how they live by faith and prayer life.
He told the candidates if someone asks them a question about Catholicism they can’t answer, they should go home and look it up in the catechism. And he said one of the important gifts of the Spirit is fortitude, which gives courage.
“We need courageous Catholics today, standing up for the sanctity of life and of marriage,” he said.
And he told them that in today’s society that’s not easy. “But the great thing is now you’re going to have the help of the Holy Spirit to fight peer pressure.”
Bishop Rhoades told them God didn’t give the Ten Commandments to make lives difficult. He wanted His people to have joy and the bishop said following Christ and being Catholic should bring inner joy.
“As you receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit I pray that you truly strive to live by the Spirit everyday as well as the extra grace received in the Eucharist. When you stay active in the faith, share and defend the faith, you will know the wonderful fruits of the Spirit,” Bishop Rhoades said.
After Mass, everyone was invited to share in a celebratory brunch in Annunciation Hall and have photos taken with Bishop Rhoades.