• About St. Michael School
    Principal: Amy Weidner
    Students: 162 grades K-8
    612 N. Center Street, Plymouth, IN 46563

    For more photos visit the photo gallery.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrates Mass at St. Michael Church, Plymouth, as he begins his pastoral visit to the school on Feb. 5.

    The Sisters of Holy Cross of St. Mary founded St. Michael’s Academy in 1861 on the corner of Center and Madison Street. The school now at 612 N. Center St., currently educates 162 students in grades kindergarten through eight.

    Alumnus Amy Weidner is the principal and said of the ever-growing diversity of the school, “I am most proud that over the course of our population changing our teachers maintain very high growth percentage rate for our students of high ability and students who need intense intervention.”

    Students are taught a core curriculum including religion, language arts, mathematics, music/band/choir, social studies, science/health, art, physical education, computer and Spanish. Interactive SMART boards are used in each classroom as well as computers available for student use. The school also has a computer lab and library. St. Michael’s also has a comprehensive speech program, including an annual speech competition and an annual spelling bee and science fair. The school has consistently received “A” grades for its exemplary academics.

    Other opportunities include taking part in all areas of the Mass, leading the All School Rosary, Advent Prayer Service and Stations of the Cross.

    St. Michael’s participates in the ICCL (Inter-City Catholic League), which serves 15 area Catholic grade schools. In grades 5-8, girls’ sports opportunities include soccer, volleyball, basketball, golf and cheerleading. Boys’ sports in grades 5-8 include soccer, basketball, baseball and golf.

    St. Michael’s students are also encouraged to participate in community service with nursing home visits, bake sales and food drives.

    Parents and staff members spoke about the benefits of St. Michael’s School.

    Amber Payne said her family is new to the parish having relocated from Ohio and said they’ve always been dedicated to Catholic education. “Catholic schools embody the whole child — they receive a great education and are really helped to become disciples. I believe they carry that with them. We’re happy to be here and we feel a part of the family.”

    Fifth-grade teacher Mary Beth Kolter also mentioned family. “I like that we all treat each other as family — we are one big family,” she said, adding, “We can teach them ways to love each other.”

    Principal Weidner said, “We desire for our students to learn, no matter what life lays in their path, they are never alone. God is always with them supporting and guiding them. Their daily conversations with God will build an eternal and enriched relationship with Him.”


    Bishop Rhoades awarded St. Michael’s Crusader of the Month

    By Denise Fedorow

    PLYMOUTH — St. Michael Principal Amy Weidner presented Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades with the Crusader of the Month Award at the conclusion of the celebration of the all-school Mass during his pastoral visit to St. Michael School on Feb. 5 in Plymouth.

    Principal Weidner welcomed Bishop Rhoades and said they were looking forward to his visit with the staff and children. She explained that St. Michael’s has a “long-standing tradition of Catholic education, which instills in children faith and morals to help them fulfill their roles in life.” She noted that students are involved in community service projects, food drives, visits to nursing homes, etc.

    “Our students shine with God’s love each day,” Principal Weidner said, explaining they are recognized at Friday’s all-school Mass for Student of the Week and Crusader of the Month. With thanks to Bishop Rhoades for his strong emphasis and passion for Catholic education she explained they were naming him St. Michael’s Crusader of the Month. “May God bless you forever,” she said.

    Bishop Rhoades said, “This is quite an honor and a big surprise. I feel proud to be an honorary Crusader.”

    During his homily at Mass that began his pastoral visit to the school, Bishop Rhoades spoke to the students and St. Michael parishioners about St. Agatha, whose feast day was being celebrated, and the Gospel about St. John the Baptist and how both were martyrs for the faith. He also spoke about the upcoming Lenten season, an opportunity to draw closer to Jesus through prayer and sacrifices. He told the students that he chose to be with them on the last day of Catholic Schools Week and how instrumental Catholic schools were for children to “grow in holiness.”

    After Mass there was an all-school presentation in the gym and representatives from each grade shared what they liked about St. Michael School, including going to Mass with classmates, wearing pajamas to school on designated days, and being able to pray and learn about God in school. Seventh-grader Andrew Schmalzoied shared his reason — being able to go to Church three times a week and “thankful through St. Michael’s School God gave me a second chance to save my faith.”

    Mary Beth Kolter’s fifth-grade students explained a top 10 list wasn’t sufficient so they came up with a top 30 favorite things about St. Michael’s. The fifth graders also demonstrated their sign language skills, and signed Happy Birthday to a surprised Today’s Catholic photographer, Kevin Haggenjos.

    The students presented Bishop Rhoades with a book of photos of the students and some of their remarks and a St. Michael’s sweatshirt.

    The bishop then visited each classroom. In kindergarten he was introduced to Mater and Fred, the class birds. The first-grade class was a “giant class of angels” according to their teacher and they prayed the Hail Mary with the bishop. In Marti Merrick’s second-grade class they spoke about their experience of first Reconciliation and one young man admitted it was “hard not to sin,” while another said she “felt like she was flying” after receiving the sacrament.

    The third graders impressed the bishop with their ability to correctly respond to his questions about the seven last words of Jesus on the cross. In Marlene Dolan’s fourth-grade class Bishop Rhoades shared with the students his experience of climbing Mount Sinai and sleeping in the desert for four days. In fifth grade the students were studying the bishop’s coat of arms and listened attentively to his explanation of why he chose the symbols. He said he chose the host because celebrating Mass is the center of his life, the first three letters of Jesus name in Greek for his Greek heritage, the flames of light represent Jesus as the Light of the World, the three roses his devotion to the Blessed Mother and his motto in Latin means “truth in charity.” The fifth graders also asked to take a “selfie” with the bishop and said they’d send it to St. Michael alum Thomas Flynn, a Navy pilot, for whom they’ve been praying. Bishop Rhoades prayed for him as well with the class.

    In the sixth-grade class Bishop Rhoades tried out their SMART board as he quizzed the class on the liturgical year and in seventh grade they discussed the two natures of Jesus — human and Divine. This year the eighth grade discussed the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    Bishop Rhoades gave the students the opportunity to ask him questions and following the class visits he concluded his visit by sharing lunch with the faculty.


    Posted on February 9, 2016, to:

  • Students, staff and visitors gather in the Bishop Luers gymnasium to attend a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, concelebrated by Father Ben Muhlenkamp, chaplain at Bishop Luers, and Father Dan Durkin, pastor of St. Henry Church, on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of schools. The Mass began Bishop Rhoades’ pastoral visit on Jan. 28.

    As God sees things

    FORT WAYNE — It was the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of Catholic schools, and a great day for Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to visit the students and staff of Bishop Luers High School on Fort Wayne’s south side.

    It was also a great day for six students of Bishop Luers. Alley Broom came into full Communion with the Church. Bishop Rhoades confirmed Simon Derloshon and Hannah Snyder. And three students from St. Patrick Parish, Fort Wayne — Chris Carranza, Jorge Barron and Ivan Gomez — were confirmed and received their first Communion.

    It as also day in which the Bishop Luers students were gifted by Bishop Rhoades “The Pocket Gospels and Psalms,” published by Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington. The gift comes with the encouragement of Pope Francis that people carry a pocketsize book of the Gospels — as they would a rosary — and to take it out for reading and meditation.

    In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of Thomas Aquinas, a saint with a brilliant intellect, yet who was humble. As a student, St. Thomas was rather quiet and didn’t speak much. Some of his classmates called him “the dumb ox.”

    Bishop Rhoades said, “Well, his teacher in Paris and later Cologne, St. Albert the Great, prophetically exclaimed: ‘You call Thomas the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world.’ And so it happened. The works of St. Thomas Aquinas have been studied and taught through the centuries. His thoughts and ideas on the mystery of God and the truths of the faith are the most profound and insightful ever written, with the exception of perhaps of St. Augustine.”

    St. Thomas Aquinas also had the gift of wisdom. Bishop Rhoades summarized wisdom as the “ability to see things as Good sees things.”

    He spoke about his recent visit to Haiti to see the work of Catholic Relief Services of which Bishop Rhoades serves on their board. “I saw the poverty and was thinking of how God must see and look upon the suffering of so many people,” Bishop Rhoades noted.

    He asked the students how they see a person who is suffering, migrants, the poor, violence, political choices, events in school, abortion.

    After Mass, Bishop Rhoades ate lunch with a newly formed group at the school, the Student Leadership Board — six juniors and six seniors — who work with the student council, National Honor Society, the athletic department and other leaders to make the school better. Service is a priority and the team members are helping to spearhead Sodalitas, which will devote a day of service to the community in April. Their plans are to sponsor a car wash, assist with a community garden, help at the soup kitchen, help at a nature preserve, build picnic tables and campaign to prevent teen suicide.

    Bishop Rhoades also encouraged participation in the CRS Rice Bowl during Lent and to examine the work of CRS in countries such as Haiti by visiting the website www.crs.org. Students then coaxed Bishop Luers Principal Tiffany Albertson for a dress-down day last Friday that would provide funds for CRS Rice Bowl.

    After lunch and on the way to Meg Hanlon’s Catholic Social Teaching Class, the bishop made a quick stop in the freshman Spanish classroom and spoke to the students in Spanish.

    While visiting the class of Meg Hanlon, a former college classmate of Bishop Rhoades, he learned about the seniors’ research projects — stewardship and the environment, embryonic and adult stem-cell research, pornography, in vitro fertilization.

    He then met with all of the Bishop Luers’ seniors in the gymnasium for a question-answer session, before meeting with the theology staff and Principal Albertson.

    For more photos visit the photo gallery.





    Posted on February 2, 2016, to:

  • By Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
    For more photos visit the photo gallery.

    From left, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, is shown with Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services and Irish Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent, the apostolic nuncio to Haiti, who hosted a dinner during Bishop Rhoades’ visit.

    As a board member of Catholic Relief Services, I participated last week in a five-day visit to Haiti. Accompanied by the CRS directors who work in Haiti, we visited several sites of CRS projects in Port-au-Prince as well as in the northern region of Haiti. Our delegation included the president and CEO of CRS, Dr. Carolyn Woo, who is from our diocese. She and her family are members of Saint Matthew Cathedral parish in South Bend. Dr. Woo is the former dean of the School of Business at Notre Dame. She has been doing an amazing job at CRS the last few years.

    I had always wanted to visit Haiti, a beautiful country known as the “Pearl of the Caribbean,” yet one that has been afflicted throughout its history by natural disasters, political instability, and extreme poverty. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with 80% of Haitians living on less than $2 a day. Despite so much adversity, the Haitian people seem to persevere with courage and hope, rooted in a strong and vibrant faith. The people of this traditionally Catholic country have shown tremendous resiliency in the face of so many tragedies and setbacks. It is undoubtedly their faith that sustains them to move forward and not give up.

    Catholic Relief Services has served in Haiti since 1954, so the agency is well-known and appreciated. This presence and experience in Haiti over so many years enabled CRS to respond to the 2010 earthquake immediately. CRS grew to over 700 staff after the earthquake to provide emergency assistance and to resettle displaced families with suitable housing, water, and sanitation. With this earthquake recovery program completed, CRS Haiti is now back to its normal staff of about 130. The work of CRS in Haiti continues since there are still many needs for ongoing and sustainable development. During our visit, we saw several projects aimed at addressing these needs in the areas of health care, education, urban renewal, and agriculture.

    In the cities of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien (in the north), we saw so many people living in over-crowded, unsanitary slums and dangerous tenements. Many of the roads and streets were in need of repair. There was terrible traffic congestion. I learned that crowded cities were a result of so many people moving from rural areas to the cities since they were unable to make a living in their traditional farming occupations. Also, many moved to the cities for better access to health care and education.

    In Cap Haitien, I was reminded of the words of Pope Francis: The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth (Laudato Si 21). I thought of these words while passing the city’s shoreline by the ocean where there were piles and piles of garbage and waste. I could not understand why people would dump their garbage there, thinking this could be an area of beautiful coastal scenery. I learned that the city did not have adequate waste removal and waste management. The people had no place to deposit their trash. Amid the mounds of garbage were dogs, pigs, and goats rummaging through the refuse. I thought about the likely dangers to health because of all this waste in the streets and on the shore.

    The undignified conditions of the cities made me realize the importance of giving priority to urban renewal. CRS is active in this area with its urban programming. In Port-au-Prince we visited a poor slum called Solino. There we met a Spiritan priest who works in the neighborhood and is supported by CRS. CRS helped in building a beautiful soccer field in the neighborhood which is like an oasis in the midst of a desert. Besides providing some green space in the midst of concrete tenements, the soccer field provides a place for recreation. There are not only soccer teams, but also training programs for youth that give hope for a brighter future. CRS helps provide peace-building programs that help young people to turn away from gangs and violence. Urban programming is one of the priorities of CRS in Haiti.

    In Port-au-Prince, we also visited the beautiful new San Francois de Sales Hospital, owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. The previous hospital was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. CRS and the US Catholic Health Association provided most of the funding for the reconstruction of the hospital and the provision of medical equipment. CRS is working with the archdiocese to organize the hospital services in order to serve more patients and improve the quality of care. CRS provides technical and strategic support for the Catholic health network in Haiti. There is still much work to be done as they work on strategic planning and organization so that the hospital will soon be in full operation.

    While in Port-au-Prince, we were somewhat affected by the political turmoil of the present time. As you may have seen in the news, Haiti was supposed to have presidential elections on Sunday, January 24th, but the elections have been postponed. This situation led to public demonstrations that sometimes turned violent in the streets of Port-au-Prince. This somewhat affected our movement around the city so as to avoid the areas of the demonstrations. One of the recurring problems and impediments to Haiti’s development has been the political instability there for many decades. The Catholic Church is now the major mediator between various opposing parties in Haiti. Too often political corruption and violence have impeded social development in Haiti. Real change is needed to address Haiti’s problems and to serve the common good of the people. The Church advocates for this change in a way that avoids the violent conflicts that bring even more misery to society.

    Another priority of CRS in Haiti is its agricultural programs and projects. This is an area of strong expertise of CRS in Africa and elsewhere. We visited one of these projects in northern Haiti: a cocoa cooperative supported by CRS. We met several of the local farmers who expressed gratitude for the help of CRS in improving production and engaging the market. It was great to see the progress of this cooperative program, the people’s pride in their work and the better quality cocoa product. CRS doesn’t just provide or distribute food in poor countries. It helps the local farmers with their methods, with access to the market, thus making agriculture a more secure and sustainable livelihood. This is especially important in Haiti to prevent more people needing to move to urban slums. It is also important given the environmental deterioration in rural areas caused by deforestation and climate change.

    Though we saw poverty and suffering everywhere, I was most impacted by our visit to the border town of Ouanaminthe. There we visited a shelter run by Jesuit Refugee Services and supported by CRS. In recent months, the Dominican Republic has expelled and deported thousands of Haitian migrant workers. These are truly “the poorest of the poor.” The Jesuit shelter provides immediate assistance and support to the migrants. I met and prayed with one of the migrant workers who was rescued at the border. A few months earlier, the Dominican authorities raided the factory where he and fellow Haitian migrants were working. Trying to run away, two of his friends were shot and killed. He was also shot in his thigh, but was able to escape. He found his way to the border. I spoke and prayed with him. He most likely would have died if not for the help of the Jesuit shelter where he is receiving food and medical care. Next week, he is scheduled to have the bullet in his thigh removed in surgery at the local Catholic hospital. I saw in this man’s eyes, which filled with tears from the love he experienced at the shelter, a new sense of his own dignity as a child of God, a dignity that he had probably not felt in a very long time. It is hard for me to put into words the feeling that I had and still have in meeting this man and seeing his suffering. I saw in his face and emaciated body the face and the body of Jesus in His passion. This is why CRS exists and why we must support its mission.

    In Ouanaminthe, we also visited a center run by the Sisters of Saint John the Evangelist from Colombia, supported by CRS. They care for migrant women and children while the Jesuits care for the larger number of men. The sisters also run an educational program called “Sowers of Peace” for the local youth. We met with a group of the young people who did a skit for us on the plight of trafficked children. Child labor and human trafficking are also problems in Haiti. I celebrated Mass with the sisters and children in English and Spanish and with translation by the Jesuit priest, in Creole as well. So it was a tri-lingual Mass. Of course, we had Mass every day in Haiti at different locations.

    Each evening during our visit, we shared dinner with various groups of CRS partners, including bishops, priests, and local education and health care leaders. I learned a great deal from the dinner discussions and the innovative ideas that were shared. One evening we met with members of the Catholic Episcopal Education Commission which supervises more than 2,300 Catholic schools in Haiti. I am glad that CRS partners with this Commission and our own University of Notre Dame to support teacher training and to improve early grade literacy and other priorities of Haiti’s Catholic schools.

    We were hosted for dinner one evening by the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Irish Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent. We were both surprised to discover that we had been classmates 36 years ago at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Another surprise for me was learning while visiting with the Archbishop of Cap Haitien that he was close friends with one of the permanent deacons in the Diocese of Harrisburg whom I knew very well, a Haitian-American doctor and surgeon in Hershey who founded and supports two Catholic schools in Gonaives, Haiti.

    I cannot finish this column without sharing the deep admiration I have for the CRS staff in Haiti, most of whom are Haitians. We met with the national office staff in Port-au-Prince on our last day in Haiti. Their great commitment to their people and to the Church was evident. Having completed massive earthquake recovery efforts, CRS in Haiti still has extremely important work to do, given future disaster risk and the huge development needs in Haiti. Much work in the areas of health care, education, agriculture, and urban life remains. There is also the relatively new emergency situation of the plight of the Haitian migrants returning from the Dominican Republic.

    I hope and pray that the relationship between the Church in the United States and the Church and people of Haiti will continue to be strong. I am proud of the work of CRS and grateful for the generosity of the people of our diocese in supporting CRS. I am especially happy that so many of our parishes and also our four high schools promote various programs of CRS, including Operation Rice Bowl during the Lenten season.

    Please remember in your prayers our CRS staff and all our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ. They are a resilient people, examples of faith and hope in the midst of the difficulties of life. May the Lord give them light and strength! And may Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the patroness of Haiti, intercede for them!

    CRS’ history in Haiti 

    Catholic Relief Services began working in Haiti in 1954 after Hurricane Hazel devastated the country and killed about 1,000 people. High population density, severe deforestation and decaying infrastructure make Haiti particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

    CRS Haiti continues its long-standing commitment to helping the Haitian people in many aspects of their lives, including sustainable development efforts after the 2010 earthquake. In Haiti, CRS responds to emergencies, provides agriculture assistance, supports education and works to enhance the health care system throughout the country.

    CRS, Celtic FC, and Solino community welcome new soccer facility

    Children play soccer at Celtic Park Haiti, which was facilitated by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Celtic FC Foundation.

    PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI — Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Celtic FC Foundation joined the community of Solino in Haiti for the opening of a new soccer facility, Celtic Park Haiti on Sept. 11, 2015.

    The park opened with a match of local community youth teams. This community recreational park includes a nearly regulation-size soccer field, basketball and handball courts, a stage for community events, bleachers, lavatories, lighting and new Celtic Park signage.

    “Solino is no longer in a red zone, it’s a green and white zone. We are so grateful to be a part of the launch and hope to see a Haitian wearing our Celtic colors in Scotland one day,” said Tony Hamilton, CEO of the Celtic FC Foundation who flew from Glasgow, Scotland, for the event.

    In 2010, the Haitian earthquake destroyed the Solino community. The grounds that once served as a community soccer field were turned into a camp to provide temporary housing to 700 families who lost their homes. In the months after the earthquake, CRS helped the Solino community clear drainage canals backed up with debris and garbage from other parts of the city, rebuild their homes and kick start families’ livelihoods.

    An American philanthropist, who wishes to remain anonymous, and Celtic FC fan saw firsthand the challenges faced by the people in Solino during a 2012 visit. He was moved to act.

    The spirit of the Solino community has touched a football club all the way in Scotland. “This has only been possible by a coming together of local government, the Spiritans and the private sector, to create a magnificent recreational facility for the community,” said Sean Callahan, chief operating officer for CRS.

    “The Spiritans have a long history in Solino and this is a dream come true for the community. The whole community is excited about this field,” said Father Serro Michel, of the Spiritan Community in Haiti.

    To download a PDF file of this three-page spread click here.


    Posted on January 27, 2016, to:

  • Today’s Catholic inaugurates new feature

    In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, we are all unique. From the urban cities to the rural farms, we each have a different Catholic story to tell. And yet — we are all One Diocese — One Catholic Church. “In MY diocese” is a monthly section of Today’s Catholic that will feature parishes and the Catholic community within a particular county. See when your county will be featured and how you can be involved at www.todayscatholicnews.org/advertising.

    Other stories In MY diocese include:

    Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters motherhouse resides in county

    St. Joseph Parish, Roanoke

    Our Sunday Visitor is headquartered in Huntington

    St. Felix Catholic Center

    Father Ron and the ministries of Ss. Peter and Paul

    More photos from the county can be found in the photo gallery.


    The Albertson family of St. Mary Church, Huntington, prepares the soup and meal to be delivered through the Open Door program on a recent Sunday morning.

    St. Mary Parish offers an Open Door to Huntington

    Oftentimes, members of St. Mary and Ss. Peter and Paul parishes combine efforts to minister to those of the community. The Open Door program is a perfect example. Originating first at the home of Joan McClure, then moving to Ss. Peter and Paul kitchenette before being housed at the St. Mary cafeteria, the program goes beyond the two parishes and welcomes volunteers from other churches in the community and even Huntington University students.

    “It allows quite a few people involved to feed those in need in Huntington County,” said Mary Ehinger, who with Leo Clor, is in charge of the kitchen.

    According to Dan Delagrange, pastoral associate at St. Mary, Open Door is for anyone who needs a meal in Huntington County. Families take turns in preparation of the meal, which usually includes a soup in the winter months and sandwiches in the warmer months. Parishioners bring in desserts.

    And then starting at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, meals are delivered to homes.

    “Last week we fed 457 people, one of the highest,” Ehinger reported.

    Open Door receives calls from those who would like to receive the Sunday meal. They leave a message with the number of meals they would like delivered. Often the meals go to the elderly, the sick or those recovering from illness.

    The food is delivered with “The Open Door Saint Note,” that tells about the menu, such as the St. Peter Canisius Minestrone Soup, the Blessed Jacopone da Todi yeast rolls, and the St. Stephen banana bars, as well as a brief description of the saints.

    Volunteers form 19 routes to deliver the meals.

    Traveling vocation chalice, Adoration mark a legacy  

    With the support of Father Stephen Colchin, pastor, St. Mary Parish has a chalice that travels to parishioners’ homes for a week to promote family prayer for vocations to the Priesthood and religious life.

    The late Dick Ehler, who helped begin Eucharistic Adoration at the parish 20 years ago, saw a similar program in his travels and was eager to bring the concept to St. Mary.

    Families sign up for the chalice. It is sent to the family with a commissioning blessing for the family with suggested daily prayers. The Traveling Chalice program has been successful for over 10 years at the parish.

    The faithful of St. Mary have logged in 40,000 hours through the history of Adoration according to Kathy Van Gilder, the St. Mary parishioner who records hours. She makes sure the chapel is opened and closed on Fridays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and ensures adorers present at all times.


    Posted on January 20, 2016, to:

  • By Tim Johnson

    Visit the photo gallery for more.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades offers a pocketsize book of the Gospels and Psalms to each student at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne. He encouraged the students to read from the book every day “to live life on a higher plane.” It was the bishop’s Christmas gift to the students as the Mass fell in the Christmas season on Jan. 8.

    FORT WAYNE — “Live life on a higher plane” was the overarching message offered by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to the 1,069 students plus staff and faculty of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne. The bishop made the first of four diocesan high school pastoral visits on Jan. 8.

    Bishop Rhoades used the crozier, on loan through the University of Notre Dame, that once belonged to Bishop Joseph Dwenger, second bishop of the diocese for whom the school is named.

    Still celebrating the Christmas season, which ended on Jan. 10 with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Bishop Rhoades presented a gift to the students — “The Pocket Gospels and Psalms,” which is published by Our Sunday Visitor. Pope Francis has urged the faithful to carry a pocket-sized book of the Gospels and to read it often to meditate on Jesus’ words and deeds.

    Bishop Rhoades encouraged the students to do the same — read and reflect on the Gospels and psalms daily. Bishop Rhoades said this gift, which he personally presented to each student after Mass, was a reminder to each to live life on a higher plain.

    To live life on a higher plain, Bishop Rhoades told the students not to live their lives superficially. He asked them to go deeper to experience the joy and happiness that God wills for them.

    Boredom and sadness, seeking pleasure in the wrong places were examples of living superficially, and trying to find happiness in things that really do not bring fulfillment can actually lead to harm and destruction.

    Rather, Bishop Rhoades told the student to “live life on a higher plain, live in the freedom of the Gospel,” he said.

    “When we live in union with the Lord, in His grace,” he said, “… we experience liberation, … we experience true happiness.”

    He said the school’s motto; “citizens of two worlds” was another way of saying living life on a higher plain. “In other words, we live not only as citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven,” the bishop said. “You live differently.”

    Living life on the higher plain is about doing good, doing the will of the Father, the bishop emphasized.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades walks to a classroom visit with Bishop Dwenger High School Principal Jason Schiffli.

    Relating to the day’s Gospel, the bishop said that “if we don’t want to live life superficially, we need to withdraw to a deserted place and pray, have that relationship with God.”

    To live life on a higher plain, there are two necessary things, the bishop noted: “acts of mercy and love, giving of oneself — and this flows from prayer, from our relationship with God, our relationship with Jesus.”

    The Mass served as a memorial Mass for the late Fred Tone, beloved past principal, coach and dear friend to Bishop Dwenger High School. Tone died on Dec. 29, surrounded by his family and was laid to rest on Jan. 3.

    Bishop Rhoades spoke how Tone lived his life on a higher plain. “His life was about his faith, and his family and Bishop Dwenger High School,” Bishop Rhoades said. Despite his struggles with fighting cancer, he still had joy. His witness at the recent celebration of the school’s state football title was about the Bishop Dwenger community. “He lived life on a higher plain even though his body was being ravaged by the disease of cancer. His goodness is giving of self, so what an example he is for all of us.”

    Prior to Tone’s death, Indiana State Representatives Bob Morris and Dennis Zent secured The Sagamore of the Wabash Award, Indiana highest award. At the conclusion of the Mass, Morris, Zent and Rep. Liz Brown on behalf of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence presented the award posthumously to Tone’s wife Sandy and son John, a physical education teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School.

    Also at the Mass, two students received the sacrament of Confirmation and one received her first Holy Communion. They included sophomores Brook Griffith, the candidate for full Communion in the Church, and Madeliene Barondeau who was confirmed.

    On his tour of the school, Bishop Rhoades visited the theology classes of Joseph Garcia where the students are studying the Great Thinkers of the Church and Jessica Hayes’ honors theology class.

    After lunch with the Student Council, Bishop Rhoades posed with council members, from left, Nick Houk, Sierra Tippmann, Lily Anderson, Kailyn Burns, Savannah Schenkel and Quinton Davis.

    Between the visit to the classes, Bishop Rhoades had lunch with the Bishop Dwenger Student Council members. He also met with the school’s theology teachers and administration.


    Posted on January 13, 2016, to: