• By Kay Cozad

    A new season of ARISE Together in Christ is set to begin in early October and parishes across the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend are gearing up with open registration last weekend and this weekend. “We are the Good News,” is the fifth and final season in this three-year parish-centered process of spiritual renewal, evangelization and adult formation that has enabled its faithful members to develop a closer relationship with Christ, grow in community and reach out in service to others.

    The ARISE process, a Renew International initiative, has focused on establishing small Christian communities of eight to 12 members each who meet regularly in homes, parishes, youth groups and college campuses, to read and reflect on Scripture and Church teaching, share how it relates in their personal lives and encourage active service and discipleship.

    The five distinct six-week sessions that the process offers, which began in fall of 2012 in the diocese, have included, “Encountering Christ Today,” “Change Our Hearts,” “In the Footsteps of Christ,” “New Hearts, New Spirit,” and now “We Are the Good News!” Renew International provides coordinator and team leadership training prior to each season.

    Those who have participated in one or all of the past four seasons of ARISE speak of their deepening of faith and joy in service to others.

    As a coordinator of the process at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Fort Wayne, where 125 participants have met in 13 groups, Marianne treasures the building of community among its ARISE members. “I have gotten to know so many of the parishioners of the parish in a more personal and warm way. The team was so helpful and our leaders were very loyal and dedicated,” she says.

    Community building was important to another ARISE coordinator, Mary, at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Wayne as well. She says, “My blessing has been to get to know the heart and soul of others in our group.” From her participation as one of the 90 members of the nine ARISE groups there, Mary has found new hope in Reconciliation and she continues as a member of the social justice/action group that evolved from discipleship.

    Marcy, also from St. Joseph Parish, adds that her blessing as participant in a previous season of ARISE was being witness to other group members’ spiritual evolution. Seeing others “risk praying shared prayer, trusting each other with their sharing and bonding as a Christian community” brought a deeper awareness of Christ to her. With that awareness, Marcy has stepped out in faith to teach English as a second language (ESL) classes to those in need.

    Peggy, coordinator of ARISE at her parish, Most Precious Blood Parish in Fort Wayne, where 80 members in eight groups met, was gratified to see the diversity of those who participated. “Some had no ties to the parish, other than coming to Mass on the weekend, leaving quickly and never talking to anyone. Now I see lifelong relationships built with Church community and more importantly, Christ,” she says, adding that her participation in the ARISE process has lead to her commitment to the extraordinary minister of the homebound ministry. “They (the homebound) look forward to the Eucharist with such passion it has made me feel so much deeper for the gift of the Eucharist and the Mass,” she relates.

    Suzanne and Deb, two of the 65 participants in the seven groups that met at St. Joseph Parish, Roanoke, were enriched by the trust that developed during faith sharing. Deb now feels she is not alone in her faith journey with all its struggles and joys.

    St. Rose of Lima in Monroeville claimed four groups with 39 members, one of whom, Linda, was gratified to get to know her group on a personal level. That group prepared and served soup to their parish community during Lent last year and also led the rosary.

    Barbara of St. Patrick Parish in Fort Wayne, where 16 groups of 110 participants met in small ARISE communities, found the focus on forgiveness to be life changing for many. “This past season “New Heart, New Spirit,” with its theme of forgiveness and God’s loving mercy, led many of our participants to go back to the sacrament of Reconciliation after years of absence — and then the ability to receive the Holy Eucharist,” she affirms.

    The ARISE process begins the week of Oct. 5. Registration is now being accepted at participating parishes in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Those interested in participating in Season V, “We are the Good News,” need not have participated in previous seasons. For more information about registering for ARISE Season V contact your local parish.

    Posted on September 23, 2014, to:

  • Six Congregation of Holy Cross seminarians were ordained to the Order of Deacon on Sunday, Sept. 14, in Moreau Seminary Chapel by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. The six, standing with Bishop Rhoades are, Deacons David Halm, Daniel Ponisciak, Matthew Fase, Stephen Chase Pepper, Christopher Rehagen and Timothy Mouton. On Sept. 13, the six celebrated the final profession of vows at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.

    NOTRE DAME — With joy and thanksgiving, the Congregation of Holy Cross celebrated the final profession of vows of six men at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.

    Holy Cross Father Richard V. Warner, superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, celebrated the Mass and received the vows of Matthew E. Fase, David J. Halm, Timothy N. Mouton, Stephen C. Pepper, Daniel M. Ponisciak and Christopher M. Rehagen.

    The six — the largest class of Holy Cross deacons in more than a decade — took vows of chastity, poverty and obedience according to the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross. For the past several years, they have been in a period of temporary vows, which they renewed annually. On Sept. 13, they commited their lives and work to the communal life and ministry of Holy Cross.

    They were ordained to the Order of the Deacon at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, in the Moreau Seminary Chapel by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

    A Grand Rapids, Michigan, native, Matthew Fase is the second youngest of five children of Steve and Patty Fase of Rockford, Michigan. Fase entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2006 as an Old Collegian.

    During his formation, Fase served in religious education at Christ the King Parish, South Bend (2007-2008); as a tutor in the South Bend juvenile correctional facility (2009); RCIA team member at Christ the King (2009-2010); at Our Lady of the Road Drop-in Center, South Bend (2011-2012); marriage preparation, St. Pius X Catholic Church, Granger, (2012-2013); and as a grief counselor for Notre Dame Campus ministry (2013-2014).

    David Halm is the only son of the four children of Deborah Kuns and John Halm of Clyde, Ohio. He entered Holy Cross in August 2000 in the Old College Undergraduate Seminary.

    During his formation in Old College, Halm was a fifth-grade religious education teacher at Sacred Heart Church in Lakeville (2000-2001); he participated in the Notre Dame study abroad program in Rome (2001-2002); and he assisted with freshmen retreats for Campus Ministry (2002-2003). As part of the candidate program (2003-2004), Halm ministered to the sick at St. Joseph Parish, South Bend. Halm was a counselor at Stone Soup Center, South Bend (2005-2006).

    Halm served in marriage preparation at St. Pius X Catholic Church (2011-2012); in grief ministry for Notre Dame Campus Ministry (2012-2013); and as assistant rector and rector of Fisher Hall at the university (2013-2014).

    Being a Holy Cross priest could be in Tim Mouton’s blood. He has two uncles, Father Jeffrey Allison and Father Daniel Panchot, who are both Holy Cross priests.

    During his formation, Mouton served in Bible study at Holy Cross Parish, South Bend (2009-2010); as a youth mentor at Rise Up Academy in South Bend (2011-2012); in marriage preparation at St. Joseph Parish, South Bend (2012-2013); and as a student teacher at Saint Joseph High School, South Bend (2013-2014).

    Stephen Chase Pepper is the oldest of two sons of Barry K. and Lorrie S. Pepper of Huntsville, Alabama.

    Pepper served his postulant year in adult faith formation/Bible study at Christ the King Parish. During the following summer, he served at St. Joseph Parish, South Bend. As a first-year professed seminarian, Chase served at the Catholic Worker drop-in center in South Bend. During his final two years as a professed seminarian, Chase served in the marriage prep ministry at Notre Dame.

    Daniel Ponisciak, born in Philadelphia, is the middle of three boys of Dorothy and Michael Ponisciak of Fox Chase Manor, Pennsylvania.

    Ponisciak served in the adult Bible study program at Christ the King Parish as a postulant. During his first year of temporary vows, Ponisciak served in homeless ministry at HOPE Ministries, South Bend. During his second year in temporary vows, Ponisciak worked in marriage preparation ministry at Christ the King Parish. In his final year as a seminarian, Ponisciak coordinated preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation at Notre Dame.

    Christopher Rehagen is a native of Jefferson City, Missouri, a twin and the oldest of the four sons of Mark and Susan Rehagen.

    He will serve as a deacon at Christ the King Parish, South Bend.

    During his formation, Rehagen served as a team member for the Notre Dame Confirmation program (2009-2010); at Stone Soup Community in South Bend (2011-2012); RCIA team member at Christ the King Parish (2012-2013); and as assistant director in the Old College Undergraduate Seminary at Notre Dame (2013-2014).

    Posted on September 16, 2014, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrates Mass on Thursday, Sept. 4, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Marian High School in Mishawaka. Shown with Bishop Rhoades is Benedictine Father Jonathan Fassero, a graduate of the class of 1968 and Father Christopher Lapp, chaplain.

    By Christopher Lushis

    Click here for more photos from the event

    MISHAWAKA — “Put out into the deep! Do not be afraid to live your faith!” announced Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to the Marian High School community during their golden anniversary Mass on Sept. 4. This joyous occasion commemorated the completion of the endeavor undertaken by former bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Bishop Leo A. Pursley to construct a second Catholic high school to serve the needs of the South Bend area in 1964.

    Present for this special Mass were Benedictine Father Jonathan Fassero, a member of the first graduating class of 1968 from Marian, and Msgr. Michael Heintz, rector of St. Matthew Cathedral and a 1985 graduate. Also in attendance were priests from St. Jude, St. Anthony de Padua, St. Bavo, St. Matthew and St. Thomas Parishes, as well as priests and brothers of the Conventual Franciscans, based in Mishawaka.

    “Living our faith is about trusting Jesus when He comes to us, asking us to lower our nets and to not be afraid,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily. “He invites us to join that adventure of discipleship, filling our nets and satisfying every desire of our heart. We need to let him into our boats, into our lives, by going out of our own little world to experience friendship and solidarity with God and our brothers and sisters. In doing so, we become fishers of men, witnessing to Christ with joy and helping build a civilization of love.”

    Witnessing to the truth of the Gospel can take many forms. Bishop Rhoades called to mind the example of those dying for their faith at the hands of Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East, “Those Christians put out into the deep to the point where they were ready to be martyred for Christ. They would not reject Jesus!”

    And while not everyone may be called to physically give up their life for the faith, every person is commissioned to overcome the obstacles of the world and walk with Christ as intimately as possible to understand His will for their lives.

    The founders of Marian High School shared this vision to lead students to Christ, even though initially they faced challenges and setbacks.

    Bishop Rhoades explained, “Bishop Pursley sought to build new Catholic high schools on each end of the diocese. It wasn’t easy to start a new school, but they trusted in Jesus; they got into the boat. They initially raised a lot of money, but not quite enough. The benefactors who truly pushed the project over the top, by donating over 36 acres of land for the construction of the facility were the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.”

    Bishop Rhoades and all in attendance offered their support and gratitude for the heartfelt generosity of the sisters.

    Bishop Rhoades continued, “Initially, bad weather delayed the opening until the fall of 1964.  But once its construction was completed, Bishop Pursley came to bless the cornerstone of the school on Aug. 9, and then, on this day, Sept. 4, the school opened with its first class with 230 freshmen, some of whom are present with us today.”

    “At its origins, Marian was almost completely staffed by Salvatorian priests and brothers, and religious sisters,” Bishop Rhoades noted.

    Since then, the school has cast its net to help cultivate the minds and hearts of thousands of students.

    “For 50 years, Marian has provided excellent Catholic education to students from throughout Mishawaka, South Bend, Elkhart and beyond,” Bishop Rhaodes said. “You have a proud half century of history here. But there is history yet to be made, and you are part of that! I pray that you also will be fishers of men like first disciples, and the pioneers of Marian, reaching out to others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ — teaching, living and witnessing to the truth, beauty and power of the Catholic faith.”

    Bishop Rhoades also prayed for the school community to become further entrusted to Our Lady of Lourdes, the recently declared Marian patron of the school, “so that she who was never afraid to put out into the deep, as the most perfect disciple of her Son, may continue to intercede for you in your holy mission here at Marian High School,” the bishop said.

    Before the conclusion of the Mass, school officials presented Bishop Rhoades with a unique painting of St. Mother Theodore Guérin, Indiana’s lone canonized saint, as a gift to the diocese.  The portrait was a combined effort by Marian art teacher Kitty Gunty and former student Sara Holderbaum who have consistently strived to use their artistic talents to give back to both Marian High School and the diocesan community.

    Those in attendance from the original class were offered a tour through the school to explore new additions, old favorite places, and to meet current faculty and students. The celebration was a warmly received tribute by all in attendance and it called to mind past memories of happiness and hospitality.

    John Ferrettie, who graduated with the original class in 1968 and served as a teacher, coach and assistant principal during his tenure, shared the joy of his experiences and thankfulness to have been at Marian. “I have so many memories as a student and staff member here. This has been such a wonderful community,” he said. “I really look back to the people here and relationships I have had with them. Some of the best years of my adult life were spent at Marian.”

    Upholding the focus on Christ is a vital aspect to maintaining and cultivating the faith in others, and Marian’s commitment to an authentic Christian environment is evident in the statements of both past and present leadership.

    Cyril Devliegher, principal from 1972-82, remarked that he “took over during a period of uncertainty and transition, which was also the state of the Church as a whole after Vatican II. But by having as our primary goals to remain optimistic, to uphold fiscal responsibility and to promote orthodoxy theology, the school began to thrive and eventually grew into the flourishing community we have today.”

    Current Principal Mark Kirzeder remarked, “It’s great to have the bishop’s support. It’s a confirmation that he understands and appreciates that Marian High School continues to contribute within diocese. This school is only successful if we remain true to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and I think that we really are trying to do that on a daily basis with our students. We are always trying to live by example, to refocus our energies and all of our programs to constantly reevaluate whether we really are fulfilling our proclaimed mission to spread the Gospel to make Christ known, loved and served. I feel as long as we are doing that, then the Lord will continue to bless us here for the next 50 years.”

    Posted on September 10, 2014, to:

  • By Tim Johnson

    The faithful — nearly 2,000 in numbers — attended the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption with the diocesan consecration to the Blessed Mother on Friday, Aug. 15, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. The congregation filled the church to capacity and the plaza and lawn areas of the cathedral grounds. The faithful kneel making their individual consecration to the Blessed Mother.

    For more images click here.

    FORT WAYNE — Over 12,000 men and women of all ages throughout the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend entrusted their lives to Mary on the solemnity of Our Lady’s Assumption, Aug. 15. And many of those making that consecration gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne for the 6 p.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. At the Mass, Bishop Rhoades rededicated the diocese to Mary.

    The faithful not only filled the pews and narthex of the cathedral, but brought chairs and blankets and assembled on the plaza and lawn of the cathedral where large screens and a sound system brought the Mass outdoors to the overflow. Nearly 2,000 faithful assembled for the Mass.

    “Like the Apostle John, we welcome the Mother of Christ into our home, into our hearts,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily.

    He said the Marian consecration is “our saying ‘yes’ to the beautiful gift Jesus gave us from the cross when He said to John: ‘Behold your mother.’ We are responding with faith to Our Lord’s gift of love, the gift of His mother, and to our Mother’s love.”

    “She wants to act in our lives, to share with us the joy of her faith, to help us to know and follow her Son,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “She invites us, as she invited the servants at the wedding feast of Cana, to do whatever Jesus tells us. She wants to lead us to know the height and depth … of Christ’s love for us. And she wants us to be with her in the glory of heaven, in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity. Today we say ‘yes’ to her. We say ‘yes’ to the truths of our baptismal promises.”

    The bishop said, “We say with her: ‘Behold the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your Word.’ And so we are able to rejoice with her in God our Savior and to repeat her words in the Magnificat: ‘the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His Name.’”

    Those preparing for the consecration used “33 Days to Morning Glory” written by Father Michael E. Gaitley, a priest of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. The faithful participated by reflecting upon daily readings and some gathered in groups at their parishes to discuss and reflect upon the readings.

    “In these past 33 days, we have been united in our prayers of preparation for today, for our Marian consecration, guided by the wisdom of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II,” Bishop Rhoades said.

    “These spiritual giants, heroes of our faith, reached the heights of holiness, powerfully aided by their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” he said. “They learned from Mary, and they teach us to learn from Mary, the way of perfection. They learned from Mary’s example to be faithful disciples of Jesus, to be steadfast in faith, persevering in hope and abounding in love. They learned, in a word, to follow Jesus. They learned to be authentic Christians, to be saints.”

    “That’s what Mary teaches us,” Bishop Rhoades said. “And she not only teaches us, she helps us. Through her prayers, she fills our hearts with the light of Christ’s holiness.”

    The beauty of Mary’s virtue and holiness came from the Holy Spirit, the bishop said. She was adorned with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mary was present in the upper room with the Apostles at Pentecost, praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had already descended upon Mary at the Annunciation, when she conceived the Son of God by His power, when she became the Mother of God. At Pentecost, that outpouring of the Holy Spirit was repeated and reinforced in her because of the new motherhood she had received at the foot of the cross. At Pentecost, she received a renewed gift of the Spirit for the fruitfulness of her new motherhood as Mother of the Church, as our Mother.

    Bishop Rhoades said, “Just as Mary prayed for the disciples in the upper room, she also prays for us today. She prays that we too will open our hearts to the seven-fold gift of the Holy Spirit. In her motherly love, she implores the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide us in the way of her Son.”

    After the homily, while the faithful knelt in prayer, Bishop Rhoades also entrusted the Diocese of FortWayne-South Bend to Mary’s intercession “so that the Holy Spirit may descend in abundance upon us, filling the hearts of all the faithful and enkindling in us the fire of His love.”

    As the bishop continued his homily, he invited the faithful to think about the “woman clothed with the sun” in the Book of Revelation.

    This woman, the bishop said, represents both Mary and the Church. The moon is the “image of death and mortality.” On her head is a crown of 12 stars that represent the people of God — the 12 tribes of Israel and the Church founded on the Twelve Apostles. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, wanting to devour her child, but he couldn’t. “Her child was caught up to God and His throne” and “the woman fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.”

    The dragon, Satan, evil, is present throughout human history, the bishop noted.

    “The struggle between the woman and the dragon, between God and the evil one, between the Church and the enemy, is perennial,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We see it in the world and world events. St. Maximilian Kolbe saw it dramatically in Auschwitz. Pope John Paul experienced it when he was shot in St. Peter’s Square.”

    “We see it today in wars, violence, persecution, hatred and destruction of innocent human life,” the bishop continued. “The struggle between good and evil is one that we as disciples of Jesus must also confront, in our own lives and even in our own hearts. All the disciples of Jesus must face this struggle. 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. She walks with us always, she is with us. … Mary has of course already entered, once and for all, into heavenly glory’ — that’s what we celebrate on today’s feast of the Assumption — ‘but this does not mean that she is distant or detached from us; rather Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil.’ Pope Francis especially recommends the holy rosary to sustain us in this battle.”

    “The Marian consecration is a powerful way for us to be on the winning side in this battle,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In Mary, Christ’s victory over Satan shines.”

    The woman who escaped the dragon fled into the desert, the wilderness. “We live in that desert, that wilderness,” he said. “This time on earth is a like the desert, a time of anguish, persecution and trial. But it is not an indefinite time. Liberation and the hour of glory will come. And during this time in the desert of the world, God nourishes us with the bread of His Word and of the Holy Eucharist. And He has given us the help of His mother.”

    The solemnity of the Assumption celebrates the joy that Mary is free from any shadow of death and totally filled with life. “She shares in her Son’s victory. And she deeply desires that we do too,” Bishop Rhoades said.

    The faithful participating in the “33 Days to Morning Glory” made their individual consecration after the homily.

    After Communion, Bishop Rhoades bestowed the papal blessing with a plenary indulgence.

    Stanley Liponoga IV, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne, told Today’s Catholic he has a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and says a rosary almost every day. Reading about the consecration in Today’s Catholic he said motivated him to want to participate.

    Recently appointed the principal of Most Precious Blood School in Fort Wayne, Liponoga delivered “33 Days to Morning Glory” to the staff of the school in early summer.

    “I wanted to make sure we would do a summer read together,” he said, so he hand-delivered the book to each staff person’s home. Some of the staff met once a week, watched the DVD and had a small prayer group through the 33 days of the retreat preparation. Several of the teachers, the schoolchildren and their families were in attendance at the cathedral Mass.

    After Mass, led by the Knights of Columbus and the Franciscan Brothers Minor, many joined a Marian procession — totalling 1,200 faithful — through the downtown streets of Fort Wayne to Headwaters Park, where the Festival of Faith was launched with food, drinks and square dancing. Choir members from Bishop Luers High School and Bishop Dwenger High School and other musical groups from across the diocese led Marian hymns during the procession.

    Posted on August 15, 2014, to:

  • Gothic church building designed to teach and inspireBy Laurie Kiefaber

    For more photos visit the photo gallery.

    The first St. Bernard Church was dedicated in 1867 at 429 W. Maple Street in Wabash. The brick structure was later part of an exchange with the Methodists in Wabash for an unused church and house at Sinclair and Cass streets. In 1953, the building served as the garage for the Wabash Transit Lines, a local bus service. It is now privately owned.

    WABASH — St. Bernard Church, Wabash, parishioners and faithful will celebrate the parish’s sesquicentennial Aug. 24. However, the Catholic community will always be known for the priests who served there, those who remember them and the buildings they called home.

    Most current parishioners did not personally know the early church pastors, but they did hear about a few. Father Edmund Ley is well known in church history for opening the first Catholic school there in 1922. Current parishioner Ann Rowe said her mother, Elizabeth Rowe, and grandmother, Louisa Ratajc, cleaned his home.

    “He had a farm and pet squirrels he fed,” Rowe recalls her relatives saying.

    But Father Ley was not the only animal lover among St. Bernard’s pastors. Father Eugene Zimmerman kept parakeets in his home. The priest also enjoyed smoking cigars.

    “When you think of him the first thing you think of is his cigars,” said parishioner Janet Shoemaker. “Occasionally he would leave his lit cigar on the (stone) window sill of the church. Before we had air conditioning if the windows were open, it would be nothing for cigar smoke to be wafting into the church.”

    Shoemaker added Father Zimmerman was known for his singing. “I think he made St. Bernard a singing parish,” she said. “Father Zimmerman was going to sing all the verses to songs.”

    Father William Kummer served as pastor after Father Zimmerman.

    St. Bernard Church as it looks today at the corner of Cass and Sinclair streets in Wabash.

    Parishioner Caroline Biltz said under Father Kummer’s direction the parish council became an elected body (no longer appointed) and the front doors of the church were restored.

    Now administrator of St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel in Fort Wayne, Father Kummer remembers fondly the Wabash church being his first pastorate. He recalled Christmas in 1983.

    “Someone had brought in a live Christmas tree that took up about one-third of the sanctuary,” Father Kummer laughed. “On Christmas Eve the temperature dropped to 15 below zero and Bishop William McManus exempted people from attending church that day. That evening, a trumpeter got her lips stuck (on her instrument’s mouthpiece). At 5 p.m. the temperature was about 13 below.”

    Father Daniel E. Peil served as pastor following Father Kummer. Several parishioners remember Father Peil had acquired a simple wooden coffin, which he shipped from parish to parish when he was transferred. Parishioner Angel Shear had heard he was unafraid of death.

    “He kept it in the garage,” said parishioner Richard White.

    “He also was really extraordinarily good on visiting the sick,” White added. “Even when he was sick, he would go visit the sick. He visited my mother and she was not even a Catholic.”

    Father Tim Wrozek, who served after Father Peil, also had a good sense of humor.

    Father Wrozek initiated Christ Renews His Parish at St. Bernard, which increased parishioner involvement.

    “You can’t imagine what it did,” Rowe said. “It was a real spiritual awakening (for the parish).”

    Shoemaker appreciated Father Wrozek’s ability to connect with youth. “He was pastor when my children were teenagers,” she said. “He strengthened their faith, went with them to youth conferences and was there for the kids.”

    St. Bernard’s current pastor, Father Sextus Don, also connects with youth. “I love seeing my kids serve at Mass and how he interacts with them,” Shear said. “He’s a good influence and someone they can talk to and be comfortable around.”

    The late Bishop John M. D’Arcy assigned Father Don, an order priest from the Salesians of Don Bosco, to St. Bernard in 2001. Ordained in Sri Lanka in 1979, Father Don said he has enjoyed his time here and found the parishioners very welcoming.

    “What impressed me when I arrived were the church’s stained glass windows,” he said. “They’re so catechetical. They go from Genesis to Revelation! … We can use these windows for catechesis.”

    A great deal of thought went into designing the one-of-a-kind stained glass windows as well as the Gothic-style church and school. As new pastor in 1940, Father Leo Hoffmann saw the need for a new church and school and took on the building projects with help and direction from the parish council, Architect A.F. Moratz of Bloomington, Ill., and the James I. Barnes Construction Company in Logansport.

    In addition, relics from St. Donatus and St. Victoria are embedded in the marble altar.

    St. Bernard of Clairvaux had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so a rose window depicting scenes from her life was built in the south church wall in the choir loft. Church history states Erhard Stoetner, who received training in Munich, designed all stained glass windows in the church including the 15 x 10 foot window. The windows were manufactured by T.C. Esser Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

    In August, Father Hoffmann’s legacy will be celebrated by the current parish community as well as Fathers Kummer and Wrozek. Two former associate pastors also plan to attend the celebration: Father Adam Schmidt, now retired and residing at Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community and Msgr. John Suelzer, now pastor of  St. Charles Borromeo in Fort Wayne.

    Later this year, St. Bernard parishioner Mike Thompson will be publishing a book on church history. Other church members are planning a photo book showing the symbolism of the church and a cookbook is in the works.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    St. Bernard School continues rigorous
    education in academics and faith

    On Nov. 12, 1950 various diocesan officials gathered for the dedication of the cornerstone laying at St. Bernard School in Wabash. Pictured are Father Leo Hoffmann, pastor of St. Bernard Church, laying down mortar for the cornerstone while Msgr. T.E. Dillon, superintendent of Catholic schools and pastor of St. Mary Church in Huntington, looks on. Holding the cornerstone is T.H. Winkeljohn, parish councilman.

    WABASH — Religious Sisters no longer teach at St. Bernard School, but students are still challenged to do their best in a faith-filled environment.

    “We try to take students where they are and push them to their maximum capabilities spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially,” said Theresa Carroll, who will start her ninth year as principal at St. Bernard. Before becoming principal, Carroll taught at the school beginning in 1995. She holds degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University and Ball State University.

    Carroll said faith is just as important today in school as it was in 1900.

    “God is being removed from so much,” she said. “Catholic schools keep Him present; He’s our focal point.”

    St. Bernard School accepts all students, no matter what their faith background, Carroll said.

    “We have educated children from Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, other Christian faiths and students who have no faith life,” she said. “All are welcome here. Our students come from Wabash, Huntington and Miami counties and a few Manchester College professors have sent their children here.

    “Prayer is part of everything we do,” she continued. “We pray at the beginning of school, at the start of new classes, before and after we eat …”

    Angel Shear, who taught at St. Bernard from 1988 to 1993, remembers the faith-filled atmosphere.

    “We have a lot of kids go through who are not Catholic,” she said. “But they went to Mass and participated. Their parents wanted their kids to have an education from (St. Bernard) and that was part of it.”

    While about half of students are not Catholic, all of them learn about the Catholic faith including the rosary, sacraments, Stations of the Cross, the creed and more, Carroll said. Morality, modeling good behavior and maintaining a family environment also are stressed.

    “We tell students ‘You have to stand up for what’s right and set a good example for the younger ones,’” Carroll said. Oftentimes kindergartners will read books to fifth and sixth graders.

    Carroll said the Knights of Columbus do a tremendous job of fundraising for numerous causes and charities, including the school. “They are awesome!” she said.

    Students graduating from St. Bernard School tend to be confident, hard workers and hopefully “the kind of students who will get involved in sports, clubs or student government,” Carroll said. Alumni have moved on to become valedictorians, salutatorians and class and student council presidents.

    St. Bernard School history:

    • St. Bernard School opened for one year in 1900, but closed due to lack of support.

    • St. Bernard School reopened Sept. 5, 1922 with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Tipton as teachers for 40 children in six grades.

    • New school built and opened Sept. 4, 1951 with 141 students.

    • Second floor added to school in 1961.

    • Peak enrollment reached in 1965 with 251 students in eight grades.

    • School was in danger of closing in 1969 as Sisters of St. Joseph announced they were leaving Wabash due to personnel shortages. After numerous letters written by parents and parishioners to the sisters and bishop’s offices, sisters agreed to continue teaching at St. Bernard.

    • Enrollment is currently 75 students, pre-K through sixth grades. Previously grades 1-8 were taught and in the early 2000s pre-K through fourth grades were taught.

    • Early childhood education or pre-K added in late 1980s or early 1990s.

    • About 100 women religious and laywomen have taught students. Currently four full-time teachers, five part-time teachers and two aides or paraprofessionals are employed.

    • More than 9,000 students educated.

    • Curriculum includes Spanish for grades 1-6, language arts, math, science, social studies, religion and leadership classes, visual art, physical education and music with technology integrated into every subject. Participation in numerous local, state and national contests and competitions is encouraged.

    • Average student/teacher ratio: 9/1.

    Posted on August 5, 2014, to: