• The solemnity of the second scrutiny is seen on many of the faces of the 22 elect as St. Vincent de Paul Pastor Father Glenn Kohrman lays on hands and prays for them.

    By Karen Clifford

    ELKHART — It has been a pilgrimage of discovery for St. Vincent de Paul Religious Education Director Harry Palmer, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) Director Barbara Gropp, and the 18 children and 5 adults who will receive the sacraments of initiation in this year’s Easter Vigil on April 19 at the parish. Twenty-two will receive the sacrament of Baptism, with one candidate joining the rest of the group for the sacrament of Confirmation.

    Both Palmer and Gropp have been pleasantly surprised at the commitment of the group during the process. The children in religious education are catechumens/elect ages 8-14 and have impressed Palmer with their prayers and serious thought process in choosing their sponsors, and saint names.

    “The saint reports some of these younger children submitted are just amazing and rival the reports of our junior high Confirmation students,” says Palmer.

    With the help and guidance of their catechist, the religious education group has taken seriously the work of preparing themselves for entering the Church, Palmer notes.

    “This excites me because these children have an advanced inner faith and knowledge of the faith that should be with them for the rest of their lives,” he exclaims.

    Twelve-year-old catechumen/elect Roberto Chiquito’s initial exposure to Catholicism was from other family members. But during his time in religious education he discovered the beauty of the sacraments of the Church, with a special interest in Reconciliation. Aware of his shortcoming, he learned the blessings of Christ’s forgiveness. “Sometimes people say they cannot forgive, but God forgives. I want to be like God in that way,” he says.

    According to Gropp, this year’s RCIA participants are the youngest she has led with the average age of 22. She describes them as “one of the most inquisitive groups I have had the privilege to teach. Some of this year’s group have been particularly interested in learning more about various topics and have read extra books I have given them to fill that desire. Purposeful, profound, as well as practical inquiry, from such a young group gives so much hope for the future of our Church,” she explains.

    The importance of Lenten promises were encouraged through meaningful, achievable and realistic suggestions such as praying a decade or a whole rosary, reading and contemplating Scripture passages and reading spiritual literature. But says Gropp, “a few decided to really take the sacrifice up some notches and gave up meat or decided to try to translate canon law into layman’s terms!”

    Gropp emphasizes that each person comes to the RCIA process from a unique life journey. “One of the beautiful things about RCIA, is we are dealing with adults, some still in their teens, who are coming from so many different back grounds, not just faiths and sometimes no faiths, but also lifestyles and very heavy crosses. This year, again, has had the most amazing group of mainly young people who have walked different, but very rough roads,” Gropp recalls.

    Many in RCIA have shared personal life experiences, says Gropp. “The crosses they have bared, and, for some, continue to carry, are heart breaking, lonely and very heavy, and yet, they are with us, experiencing the Lord’s mercy and excited to come to His table and share in the hope for salvation. It is a glorious process of further conversion to witness throughout the year.”

    Adult catechumen/elect Lauren Burket says her pilgrimage to Catholicism has yielded many insights. She began her journey by attending Mass and “fell in love with it.” Watching the movie “The Passion of the Christ” gave her a clear understanding of Christ’s love for all mankind. Additionally, the RCIA process has given Burket insight into her personal relationship with Christ and His constant presence in her life.

    Juliane Tomes, another catechumen/elect from RCIA, is looking forward with great anticipation to the Easter Vigil and being baptized. “It is excitement, joy and such a blessed feeling all in one,” she says.

    But the Easter Vigil is not the end of a pilgrim’s spiritual journey. Gropp explains that involvement in stewardship is important as the neophytes (those newly received in the Church) go forward in the parish.

    St. Vincent de Paul pastor, Father Glenn Kohrman, adds that they also should come with, “a deep understanding of the Catholic’s obligation to pray for the world by coming to Mass and offering their prayers in union with the priest.” And lastly, having an understanding of their role in the New Evangelization is also key, says Father Kohrman.

    According to the United States Conference of Bishops website, the New Evangelization “calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize.”

     

    Posted on April 15, 2014, to:

  • Troy Cozad, a Huntington native, has spent more than 35 years as a professional communicator and currently is marketing coordinator at the Reimbold & Anderson financial advisory practice. He lives in Fort Wayne with his wife, Ann, and their dog, Peregrin Took. He joined the Catholic Church in 2012 and continues as an active member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.

    By Troy Cozad

    Something was missing.

    In middle age that is how I felt about my life. And what really bothered me was I could not quite put my finger on what it was. I had achieved reasonable success in my education and career and was financially comfortable. I enjoyed good health. I had traveled extensively and had far more than my share of unique and interesting experiences. I had a wonderful wife, family and circle of friends. I donated to selected charities and helped out my family and friends as best I thought I could. I wasn’t much into organized religion but in a vague way believed in God and the desirability to live as a good Christian. All in all, not a bad life really.

    Still, something was missing.

    Then I began attending St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fort Wayne. I admit at first it was largely to accompany my wife, a heart-felt cradle Catholic. Not that I had anything against Catholicism, but then I didn’t have much for it either. Yet the more I attended the more I began to discover that, frankly much to my surprise, a strong faith was that missing piece to my life. True, my path to faith was neither short or straight — I spent eight years attending Mass, took three years of catechism classes, went through nine months of RCIA formation and almost had to be led on a leash to my first Reconciliation — but two years ago at Easter I proudly entered full communion with the Church and experienced taking the Eucharist for the first time. My Catholic family members both rejoiced and joked (badly) that the real reason Pope Benedict resigned was he heard I finally had joined the Church and he figured his work was done because no greater miracle was possible.

    To me now a strong faith life has important meaning. It means seeking that inner peace Christ wished for us by being in good relationship with all around you — God, your family, your life priorities, indeed the entire world environment. It means thinking and acting outside yourself — focusing only on possessions, career, status, looks and other points of self-interest only serves to limit you. I also have learned some hard lessons that these self-centered pursuits are transitory and can quickly be washed away through the flood of time.

    Catholic writer Matthew Kelly has a great description of this — he says each person’s goal should be to become more holy in life, and that means “becoming the best version of yourself possible.”

    If you want to test yourself, read Mathew 25 and then search your heart to see if you are a sheep or a goat.

    It also means a desire to know and share your faith. Two old sayings come to mind — “when you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there” and “if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” As Christians and Catholics we have a great blueprint of where we should be going and what we stand for — yet too often we tend to ignore the sign posts on life’s journey.

    I am pleased to believe that, most of the time at least, I am no longer ignoring these sign posts. I try to work every day at becoming the best version of myself that I can. Certainly my involvement with the Church, and with the St. Elizabeth parish community especially, has become among the great joys of my life.

    For the past two years I have served on the RCIA facilitation team at St. Elizabeth, helping others on the same path to faith I so recently traveled. I admit it was somewhat intimidating at first — my fellow team members are highly experienced, knowledgeable, and extremely filled with faith beyond my level in every area — yet they welcomed me heartily and have helped me. Through RCIA activities such as leading “Breaking Open the Word” Holy Scripture studies, facilitating class table discussions and helping to provide an overview of our 2,000-year-old faith, it is exciting and rewarding to feel like you have even a small part in helping each candidate and catechumen to become the best version of themselves possible.

    I also participate in a variety of other activities at St. Elizabeth, from education programs to volunteering at the annual Setonfest each summer. Most recently, I spent a Friday night working the Knights of Columbus Lenten fish fry at the church. I can honestly say I have never felt more at home.

    It has been quite a journey. If you had told me 10 years ago that leading a “Breaking Open the Word” Holy Scripture lesson in an RCIA program would be the highlight of my week, I would have thought you totally crazy. Yet it has come to pass. It’s what was missing in my life.

    Posted on April 8, 2014, to:

  • Pueri Cantores Indiana Regional Mass and Choral Festival celebrated
    at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

    Photos available in the photo gallery.

    By Kay Cozad

    Angelic voices rose like incense in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne during Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. A select group of musically-gifted students combined as one choir to perform at the fourth annual Pueri Cantores Indiana Regional Mass and Choral Festival. Conducting the choir was Lee Gwozdz, director of music at Corpus Christi Cathedral in Corpus Christi, Texas.

    Pueri Cantores is a century-old practice started in the United States in 1953. Pueri Cantores (which is Latin for “young choristers” or “young singers”) is the official children’s choral organization of the Catholic Church and provides opportunities for school-aged youth choirs from all backgrounds to participate in liturgical music. Pueri Cantores aims to enhance the lives of young singers through this musical experience conducted within a nurturing environment. The event was sponsored by The American Federation Pueri Cantores along with Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

    Posted on April 1, 2014, to:

  • Bishop blesses restored St. Louis Besancon Church

    By Michelle Castleman

    Visit the photo gallery for more photos from the event.

    NEW HAVEN — The responsorial Psalm 84 proclaims, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!” And lovely indeed is the beautifully restored church at St. Louis Besancon.

    During the restoration process, this long-awaited day seemed like a distant dream, but on Sunday afternoon, March 23, an overflowing congregation gathered to create another page of history of the parish founded by French immigrants.

    “For many of us, the privilege of experiencing a historical event like this may only happen once in a lifetime,” explained pastor, Father Stephen Colchin.

    In the solemn liturgy, celebrant Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was joined by Father Colchin, Father Lourdino Fernandes of St. Rose of Lima, Monroeville, Father William Sullivan of St. John the Baptist, New Haven, and Father Kenneth Sarrazine, retired, second parish son who now resides at Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community in Fort Wayne.

    In the dimly lit setting, the bishop reminded the faithful that the Catholic Church is built upon the foundation of the Twelve Apostles. He continued, “St. Paul wrote in our second reading, that ‘we are members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Himself as the cornerstone.’ This is something we must always remember. We are the living stones of Christ’s Church. The apostles are the foundation stones. The Lord Jesus Christ is the cornerstone! In blessing the renovations of this church building dedicated to the worship of God, we are reminded of the divine constitution of Christ’s Church and that His Church is apostolic. We profess the faith handed down to us by the apostles and their successors, the same faith that was professed by the parishioners of St. Louis Besancon these past 167 years.”

    The bishop also prayed that the heavenly patron of the parish, St. Louis, King of France, would intercede for the people of Besancon as they work to extend God’s kingdom in this portion of the vineyard of the Lord.

    Bishop Rhoades summed up St. Louis’ character by quoting the final words that St. Louis gave his son before he died, “Love God, do justice and serve the poor,” and encouraged the parish to follow their patron’s example.

    After the homily, the entire ceremony that followed was full of rich tradition beginning with the Prayer of Dedication and sung litanies.

    During the Anointing of the Altar, Bishop Rhoades removed his chasuble and donning a linen gremial, the bishop poured chrism oil on the middle of the table of sacrifice and each of its four corners.

    He also anointed the walls at appointed locations of the freshly painted interior of the church. This was followed by the incensation of the altar and the church.

    After the incensation, the altar was wiped clean by specially chosen ministers, with special sacred cloths that were to be buried or burned, the altar was covered with fine linen, decorated with flowers and candles were arranged. As the candles were lit, the lights of the church were brightened. The Liturgy of the Eucharist followed when the bishop kissed the altar for the first time.

    In his closing remarks, Bishop Rhoades extended his sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Father Colchin for his vision and passion to see the project through. In turn, Father Colchin humbly thanked the bishop for his presence and then his congregation for their generous support of this huge and lengthy undertaking.

    Father Colchin continued, “This church restoration project has united our parish family to a deeper understanding and ownership, not only of this sacred space, but more importantly to what faith in God requires throughout our pilgrimage in life.”

    The St. Louis choir closed with “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” resounding from the newly blessed parish walls.

    Parishioner John Rorick said the song brought back memories of his youth. “All I could think about was walking out of Mass or Holy Hour as a young boy to the same tune,” he fondly recalled.

    Organist of nearly 50 years, Jane Lomont, could not have been more pleased with the choir at the celebration. “The newly tuned organ and acoustics are just heavenly,” she beamed.

    As Father Colchin and Bishop Rhoades greeted parishioners after Mass, the emotional comments of the breathtaking beauty of the building and moving celebration seemed to be unanimously positive from young and old alike.

    “I cried through the whole Mass,” admitted LuAnn Kennerk.

    Second-grader Ella Beery simply stated, “It was awesome!”

    Countless others echoed the same sentiments as they filed over to the parish hall for a potluck dinner. Hundreds gathered for food and fellowship in the same space that had served as their place of worship for the past nine months.

    When asked if he ever thought this day would come, Denny Miesle smiled and the man of faith said, “Of course, I did.” Among his many duties during the project, Miesle was the chief engineer for the new altar, trim master and cabinet builder. He spent 10-12 hour days in the church for months during the process.

    Not willing to take due credit, Miesle summarized, “We are each given gifts and talents. I was just happy to be able to share mine for His greater honor and glory.”

    Like many in attendance, 11-year old Maggie Castleman’s ancestors came to this country from Besancon, France. When asked about her favorite parts of the dedication Mass, she detailed, “I thought it was so cool when the bishop put on the apron and anointed the new altar and I loved how Mrs. Rita (Brueggeman) sang the whole Litany of the Saints.”

    All in all, it was a fitting finish for all to celebrate the completion of the historical project for the grand, little country church first built in 1871.

    Posted on March 25, 2014, to:

  • The Notre Dame Folk Choir sang at the St. Patrick’s Day Irish/English Mass held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

    By Ann Carey 

    NOTRE DAME — Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated at the University of Notre Dame at a 5:15 p.m. bi-lingual Irish/English Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as the celebrant. The Irish/English Mass is a tradition on St. Patrick’s Day when the University of Notre Dame is not on spring break during the feast, and this year’s event filled the basilica.

    The Notre Dame Folk Choir sang from its Irish repertoire with instrumental accompaniment that included uilleann pipes, the national bagpipe of Ireland. The Notre Dame Irish Dancers added to the Irish flavor of the celebration by leading the entrance processional and the recessional.

    The first reading was proclaimed in Irish, and the responsorial psalm was sung in Irish. The preparation hymn was the traditional “Bless the Corners of This House,” sung in both Irish and English. Other Irish hymns during the liturgy were “Jesus, Be in Our Hearts,” and “Song of Patrick,” both sung in Irish.

    In his homily, Bishop Rhoades noted that Notre Dame’s history, culture and traditions have an interesting mix of French and Irish elements. Notre Dame was founded by a French priest, Holy Cross Father Edward Sorin. The bishop pointed out that within a few decades of the school’s founding, the huge Irish immigration to this country brought Irish men to the Holy Cross order and many Irish students to Notre Dame. In the 1920s, the football team became known as the “Fighting Irish,” he noted.

    The bishop said that while everything Irish is celebrated in many countries on March 17, our primary focus should be St. Patrick, “the great missionary apostle of Ireland.” Patrick, like St. Peter, was called to be a fisher of men, he said, and Patrick succeeded in bringing the faith to the people of Ireland, always attributing his success to the Lord’s grace.

    “In the history of evangelization, St. Patrick stands out as a great example,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “It is amazing to consider what one man did that not only converted an entire people, but also brought great fruits to the rest of Europe for centuries after, through the missionary labors of Irish monks and others.”

    Bishop Rhoades added that Patrick was a model for what we now call “inculturation of the Gospel,” for he learned the Irish language and local customs to give new meaning to traditional Irish practices and customs. Even though he missed his family and the comforts of his home, Patrick felt “bound by the Spirit” to remain with the Irish people until his death, he said.

    The bishop noted that the first reading of the Mass from the Prophet Isaiah described well St. Patrick’s mission of bringing the Gospel of salvation to Ireland: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation.”

    Bishop Rhoades described St. Patrick as a model of a central theme of the first year of the papacy of Pope Francis: the Church’s missionary vocation.

    “The Holy Father speaks of the Church herself as a missionary disciple and also of each of us individually called to be not just disciples of Jesus, but missionary disciples,” the bishop said. “He’s calling us to go forth as a community of missionary disciples, to be a Church that goes forth, that is not self-referential. He is calling us to live and spread the joy of the Gospel, with the desire to show people God’s infinite mercy.”

    The bishop said that Francis especially calls us to go to the peripheries of society to offer everyone the life of Jesus, and “This is what St. Patrick did.”

    Bishop Rhoades also referenced the pope’s address to the Notre Dame trustees and administrators when they were in Rome for a January meeting. The pope told the university’s trustees that the commitment to missionary discipleship should be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities. The bishop cited the pope’s emphasis on the need for “uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching and the defense of her freedom.”

    He said that on the feast of the great missionary St. Patrick, it was appropriate to reflect on the pope’s challenging words to individuals and to the university.

    “The apostolate of the new evangelization is an apostolate of the whole Church and all her institutions,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Thanks be to God, there are many Spirit-filled missionary disciples here at Notre Dame.”

    The bishop quoted from Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which calls for universities to give “living institutional witness to Christ and His message.”

    In this age of secularism, he continued, Notre Dame’s institutional witness is especially needed. Likewise, he told the congregation: “We need the witness of each one of us to the joy of our own encounter with Christ, the joy of the Gospel.”

     

    Posted on March 18, 2014, to: