• Please pray for the repose of the soul of Msgr. John N. Suelzer who passed away this morning, Wednesday, August 24th.

    Monsignor Suelzer, long-time pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Fort Wayne, has died. Last year he celebrated his 50th Anniversary as a priest of this diocese. Over the years
    Monsignor served in Wabash, Yoder, Mishawaka, Elkhart and at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, St. John the Baptist, New Haven, and St. Charles Borromeo, Fort Wayne. His sense of humor and friendliness will be deeply missed.

    The services for Monsignor Suelzer are as follows.

    Monday, August 29, 2016 
    St. Charles Borromeo Church, Fort Wayne
    Reception of the Body: 2 p.m.
    Visitation: 2 to 9 p.m.
    Rosary: 4:30 p.m.
    Vigil: 7 p.m.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016 
    St. Charles Borromeo Church, Fort Wayne
    Visitation: 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
    Mass of Christian Burial:  11 a.m.

    The Burial will be at Catholic Cemetery.

    Posted on August 24, 2016, to:

  • By Stephanie A. Patka

    Visit the photo gallery for more photos from the World Youth Day pilgrimage.

    Traveling to Poland for the 31st World Youth Day with Pope Francis were 137 pilgrims from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The theme of World Youth Day during this Jubilee Year of Mercy was “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

    It was so fitting to celebrate that theme in the country of Poland, which shared with the world two of the greatest saints of mercy, St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kolwaska. But the theme of mercy wasn’t limited to these two impactful figures of our Catholic heritage. It permeated the lives of all of the saints pilgrims were able to encounter along the way, including Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, St. Maximilian Kolbe and many others.

    It’s difficult to encapsulate the entire WYD experience into a single article, video, picture or story. We offered intercessory prayers to Mary to join us as we pursued encounters with Jesus in both the large, glorious basilicas, and in small ways, alongside our friends and with relics of saints. There was laughter, song and jubilant fraternity through miles of walking. We also clung desperately to our rosaries as we prayed and mourned the dead of Auschwitz. Moments of quiet opened pathways for individual time with Jesus in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. And large Masses, Stations of the Cross and prayer vigils with not only our diocese, but millions of young people from all over the world, brought to life a new meaning of the phrase “universal church.”

    It wasn’t until Krakow that we started to hear English spoken more frequently. Yet we stood alongside those from other countries as the Holy Mass was celebrated in other languages. We could see the physical bodies that make up the universal church speaking in different languages, yet professing the same faith. It produced an inescapable and almost indescribable joy.

    Estimates are that 300,000 people attended the opening Mass in Blonia Park in Krakow. It was a sobering call to stand in solidarity and support for our brothers and sisters who are living in countries, unlike the United States, where they are at greater risk for practicing and keeping their faith.

    Part of our journey included going to places of tragedy and struggle. We learned of ancient kings, queens and bishops who influenced Poland’s religious history: like St. Stanislaus, who was martyred while saying Mass, and St. Jadwiga, who helped convert Poland to Christianity. Out of those efforts was borne a culture of devotion to Mary and a patriotic duty to protect the faith. It was this history that formed the young man Karol Woylyta a crusader of God’s Divine Mercy. We felt a connection when we visited Wadowice, his birthplace and hometown. We celebrated Mass at his home parish where he was baptized, received his holy first Communion and was confirmed.

    By stepping into these historical places of persons of such great faith, we experienced the shared history of Catholicism.

    One of the most difficult days to process was our visit to the concentration camps Aushwitz I and Aushwitz-Birkenau. We walked the very same roads and paths that millions of people shuffled down before their torture, starvation and death during World War II. Despite the sun on that day, the air was heavy. The only palatable response was silence as we prayed and walked through the camps.

    Aushwitz-Birkenau was the perfection of a Nazi murder and torture factory. Yet, along the way we heard stories of how people risked their lives in order to show mercy in this horrific place, including St. Maximillian Kolbe, the Jewish uprising in the camps; and Oscar Schindler, who gave Jews work in his factory so that they could avoid the gas chambers.

    At the end of the day, with very heavy hearts, our group traveled to Divine Mercy Sanctuary. We celebrated a beautiful Mass with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who reminded us that while we had just seen the culture of death that is Auschwitz, we can trust that there is hope in the culture of life that is the Divine Mercy.

    Americans see so few architectural structures that can compare to the centuries-old Polish churches and shrines. Many of the cathedrals, churches and basilicas that we walked into literally take your breath away because of the intricacy of architecture, adornment of the altars, statuesque figures and pictures that point in the direction of the tabernacle. Their beauty draws us into a reverent state of mind and reminds us that the glorious nature of the physical elements are not even close to comparing with the beauty and glorious nature of God our Father. As Catholics, we believe that God is truly present in the Eucharist in the tabernacle and therefore it is fitting for us to have a place of beauty for our Savior and King.

    As pilgrims, we had the opportunity to receive the sacraments of confession and the holy Mass. Spending that intentional time in prayer helped to shape and guide our days around what is important — focusing our eyes towards Heaven. Emboldened with the joy that comes from knowing that we are so desperately loved by our merciful God, we are called to bring that joy and that light to the darkness that seems to infiltrate our world at every turn.

    It was so important for the young people of our diocese to fully enter into this pilgrimage, to see the powerful things they saw, because it is a part of our story. St. John Paul II isn’t just a part of Poland’s history, and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati doesn’t just belong to Italy. They belong to the church and to all of us.

    The fraternity and authentic friendship from within our diocese and from all over the world was evident during this pilgrimage. All those pilgrims gathering together in peace and joy, and celebrating our faith in Jesus Christ with our Holy Father and all of the angels and saints, was powerful. The joy that was brought to Krakow from different countries and young people living the faith is something our young people can bring back home.

    On this trip we witnessed places of great beauty that lifted our hearts to the glory of God. We saw and heard stories of young men and women who achieved sainthood through the blessing of God’s mercy in their lives. It serves as a call to all of us to embrace that challenge and that call to sainthood.

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    Youthful face of mercy can change the world, pope says

    By Junno Arocho Esteves

    KRAKOW, Poland (CNS) — The youthful face of God’s mercy can change the hearts of people who have lost hope, Pope Francis said.

    A young person who is touched by Christ is “capable of truly great things,” the pope told thousands of young men and women July 28 at the welcoming ceremony of World Youth Day in Krakow.

    “Today the church — and I would add, the world — looks to you and wants to learn from you, to be reassured that the father’s mercy has an ever-youthful face and constantly invites us to be part of his kingdom,” the pope said.

    Arriving at Blonia Park in his popemobile, Pope Francis was enveloped in a sea of red, yellow and blue as pilgrims donned brightly colored parkas to shield them from the rain.

    Taking his seat on the main stage, the pope was welcomed by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow and six young men and women representing Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Australia.

    After presenting him with a custom pilgrim’s book bag, a group of young performers from around the world entertained the pope and the crowd by dancing traditional dances. The dances ranged from a young Indian woman swaying to the tune of sitar to a couple masterfully dancing to tango music.

    Following the Gospel reading, the pope thanked the youth for their presence, greeting them warmly saying, “At last, we are together.”

    Encouraging them to cheer for St. John Paul II, the pope thanked his predecessor for initiating World Youth Day.

    “From heaven, he is with us, and he sees all of you: So many young people from such a variety of nations, cultures and languages, but with one goal: that of rejoicing that Jesus is in our midst,” he said.

    The pope noted the festive atmosphere of World Youth Day and praised the “enthusiasm, dedication, zeal and energy” of the young men and women who make God’s love palpable to the world.

    However, while extolling the virtues of a young, merciful heart, the pope also lamented young people “who seem to have opted for ‘early retirement.’”

    “It worries me to see young people who have ‘thrown in the towel’ before the game has even begun, who are defeated even before they begin to play, who walk around glumly as if life has no meaning,” he said.

    Deep down, he added, “young people like this are bored and are boring.”

    The celebration in Poland, the pope continued, offers an opportunity for young men and women to help each other and “not be robbed of the best of ourselves.”

    Pope Francis encouraged the youths to look to Jesus to receive a “true passion for life” and to “give the very best of ourselves.”

    “Are you looking for empty thrills in life, or do you want to feel a power that can give you a lasting sense of life and fulfillment? Which one do you want: empty thrills or the power of grace? To find fulfillment, to gain new strength, there is a way. It cannot be sold, it cannot be bought, it is not a thing, nor an object. It is a person: His name is Jesus Christ,” the pope said.

    He also invited them to dedicate their time in Poland to listening to Jesus and to each other in order to live a full life and to embark “on the adventure of mercy.”

    “Here we are, Lord! Send us to share your merciful love,” Pope Francis prayed. “We want to affirm that our lives are fulfilled when they are shaped by mercy, for that is the better part and it will never be taken from us.”

    Posted on August 3, 2016, to:

  • Father Ben Muhlenkamp talks to a College Crew attendee during the social hour at the June 28 session at St. John the Baptist Church in Fort Wayne.

    By Lauren Caggiano

    The weekly College Crew program provides an outlet for diocesan college students to connect and learn about their faith in a casual environment in the summer months.

    Seminarian Mark Hellinger, who’s going into his third year of study, is one of the organizers.

    “The whole premise of College Crew is to bring college students together while back home and see other students living faith,” he said, adding that, “it’s a community building activity.”

    According to Hellinger, College Crew is Father Benjamin Muhlenkamp’s brainchild, and the specifics vary each week. In general, there is always social time, devotion and a talk to conclude the evening. On June 28, the program was held from 7-9 p.m. at St. John the Baptist parish in Fort Wayne.

    Hellinger said the program is open to both current college students, as well as recent high school and college graduates. Students come from several parishes, including St. John, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Louis Besancon in New Haven.

    On average about 50 students attend. There are a few regular attendees and a sense of comradery. But the most important aspect is the spiritual one.

    “During these college years, life can get confusing and we want to promote an event in which young Catholics can be strengthened in their faith,” said Father Mulenkamp.

    Sometimes faith can be pushed to the periphery in college, especially when youth don’t attend a Catholic institution. That’s why the communal nature of College Crew is so important.

    “It’s critical that young people are around other young people who share the faith so they’re not alone in discipleship,” he said. It also gives the confidence to witness faith and fall more deeply in love with Christ.

    Chris Stuck is one young person who has felt welcomed by the College Crew community. A recent graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, he attends St. Vincent de Paul. A former Lutheran, he found the Catholic faith and it really “spoke” to him, as he put it. He met some friends at IPFW who identified as Catholic, which affirmed his faith. “They really spoke to what the (Catholic) Church is,” he said.

    Phillip Litchfield, a junior at IPFW, has also found College Crew to be gratifying. He said he appreciates the community aspect, as the group is full of “a lot of young people full of life” and deep in faith.

    Father Royce Gregersen lectures on the spiritual aspect of voting and the need for an informed approach.

    Following social time and adoration on June 28, Father Royce Gregerson was invited to speak about the challenges of voting as a Catholic. The current parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo and chaplin at IPFW, Father Gregerson recently returned from studying in Rome.

    Voting is something Catholics ought to take seriously and approach with prayerful consideration. There is a certain power that rests in each one of us that needs to be acknowledged, he said.  As Catholics, we can’t close ourselves off from the outside world. Rather “we have to be engaged in the process,” he said. That can be voting or running for office. To that end, he said there’s a need for “good, committed, Catholic leaders.”

    Speaking of good, he provided an explanation of the Catholic concept of the common good and how it should enter the equation when evaluating political candidates.

    “The Church is not a group within society,” he said. “All people are destined to the Church. The good of the Church is the common good.”

    He cautioned against a utilitarian approach. The common good is not to be confused with the greatest good for the greatest number of people, citing the Church’s teaching on the preferential option for the poor.

    Making an informed decision in the voting box is hard enough, and when you add faith into the mix it can be a contentious one. According to Father Gregerson, Catholics should avoid glorifying one political party over another.

    “A true Catholic shouldn’t feel at home in either of the major American political parties,” he said. “Each holds positions contrary to Church teachings.”

    His advice: Don’t vote on a whim or because of party affiliation. Do it as a Catholic and with Catholic teaching in mind. For further reference, he recommends the Catholicism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

    For more information about future College Crew events, follow the Diocese of Fort Wayne- South Bend’s College Crew Facebook page.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted on July 20, 2016, to:

  • Photos available in the photo gallery.

     

     

    Posted on July 6, 2016, to:

  • By Denise Fedorow

    Visit the photo gallery for more.

    LaGrange — St. Joseph Church in LaGrange has the distinction of being the only Catholic Church in LaGrange County and reportedly the last county to get a Catholic Church; but that’s not the only thing that stands out about St. Joseph. It’s a vibrant parish and is in the midst of a building project.

    St. Joseph Parish, like Blessed Sacrament Parish in Albion, owes its founding to a meeting hosted by a Methodist minister in LaGrange in the 1930’s to help his congregation and others in the area to learn about Catholicism in a very anti-Catholic era.

    The Methodist minister invited a priest, Father William Ehrman from Kendallville to speak and reportedly there were 28 Catholics from Albion and LaGrange present who approached the priest afterwards about getting their parishes started, or in Albion’s case, restarted.

    Holy Cross Father J. Steele, who is pastor for both parishes, said there was a log chapel by the lake where, in frontier days, an occasional Mass was celebrated. After 1931, the original parish celebrated Mass in the Burr Hotel, which is still standing and Father Steele said descendents of the Burr family still attend St. Joseph. The original parish was just a handful of families and they built the first church on US Hwy 20 on the west side of town.

    They outgrew that church when an influx of Catholics came to the area. The current church was built in 1978. They expanded and built a social hall and gym in 1993. The current church building is all one connected building — the rectory, parish office, church sanctuary, social hall and gym.

    Father Steelee said the original plans called for a separate rectory but due to lack of funds, built it inside the church in space originally meant for classrooms.

    “So classroom space has always been tight here,” he said.

    St. Joseph had a lot of growth in the 1970’s and 1980’s and since 2000; a fairly large Hispanic community has come into the parish. Father Steelee, who came in 2012, said even the last couple of years the growth has been very rapid. When he came to St. Joseph there were 165 kids in religious education and now there are 225. That growth has created the need for new classroom space and they decided to complete some other work that has been planned for a while.

    Building Project

    There’s a big mound of dirt on the site of St. Joseph parish — the mound of dirt which will someday soon be the site of the new rectory. The new rectory is the first step in the multi-phased project for the parish.

    Father Steele said once the new rectory is built, the place he’s called home for the past four years will be converted into the classroom space it was originally intended to be.

    Next, they’ll be expanding the entryway to the church, which Father Steelee said now is more like a hallway and forces parishioners out into the parking lot.

    “We want it to be a bigger space so they can socialize after Mass,” he said.

    They’ll also be renovating the sanctuary, where they will be introducing classical elements. They’ll be adding three reredos above and against the wall of the central altar. There will be three new altars — one central altar, one for Mary and one for Joseph.

    An outdoor chapel for Our Lady of Guadalupe will also be built in the shape of a half octagon. The chapel will lean up against the sanctuary wall.

    Father Steele explained the significance of the placement of the chapel. “In some places in Latin America when the church is closed, people go and pray touching the tabernacle wall. In some places there are grooves worn into the ground from so many of the faithful,” he said.

    In the chapel, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the tabernacle will be back to back.

    Father Steele said there are several different aspects to the building project.

    “What’s really great is these building projects will be completed without debt,” he said. “In order to do all this construction without debt we are doing a lot of the work ourselves.”

    Some of the work being done by parishioners includes demolition, drywall work and all the finish work like carpeting, laying tile, etc. He said the altars are being built by a local craftsman, Barry Campbell of LaOtto. According to Father Steelee, Campbell does work for churches all over the country, but he hasn’t done a lot of work in the diocese.

    “I’m really pleased he’s building four altars for us; plus a new pulpit and Baptismal font in the old traditional octagonal style,” he said.

    People and ministries of St. Joseph

    There are approximately 360 families at St. Joseph and because it is the only Catholic Church in the county, parishioners come from as far away as Shipshewana and Topeka in Indiana and White Pigeon and Sturgis in Lower Michigan. Hispanic parishioners may come from even farther as there is no Spanish Sunday Mass in Steuben County.

    “We have a very vibrant Hispanic community with a newly developing charismatic movement,” Father Steele said.

    An overnight Eucharistic adoration was recently started from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and adorers all come as a group at 7 p.m. It is held every second Saturday of the month.

    “They love it — it’s very high-spirited. It’s very impressive,” Father Steele said.

    He said the Hispanic community also likes to put on dramas for Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations, Stations of the Cross and Christ’s passion. The parish just started a Corpus Christi procession.

    St. Joseph’s Youth Group is going to the Steubenville conferences at Franciscan University for the first time this summer. Father Steele said their youth group re-grouped and re-energized about two years ago and they have about 25 kids involved. The youth group meets the second and fourth Sundays of the month.

    They also have a seniors group that meets once a month. Father Steele said they hold potlucks and plan annual pilgrimages, among other things.

    Adult education programs held at St. Joseph in the past have been Arise, Symbolon, about which Father Steele said, “It’s an excellent resource, we’re now using it for RCIA.”

    They are currently doing a Bible study by Dr. John Bergsma — ‘Bible Basics for Catholics — a new picture of Salvation history.’ Father Steele “highly recommends” this program.

    St. Joseph’s has a large social hall and full gymnasium that; Father Steele said for many years, before the town had a youth center, was used by all the youth in LaGrange for playing basketball.

    “We have a tremendous facility but there’s a lot more to be done,” Father Steele said.

    St. Joseph preschool

    St. Joseph’s Parish also has a preschool that serves not only its parishioners, but many in the community.

    Father J. Steelee, pastor of St. Joseph, said their preschool was the leader in academic preschools in town, stating that St. Joseph’s preschool was a “pioneer” in offering an academic preschool.

    The preschool has been open about 12 years and has classes for three four-year-old and four five-year-old children. The children learn their letters, colors and shapes, have physical activities and they offer a light introduction to Bible stories and prayers.

    Father Steele said they have the children pray at the beginning of the day and before meals. He said although it is part of the parish, it’s not a Catholic pre-school but instead an Ecumenical one.

    “We emphasize the shared parts of our faith,” he said.

    Knights of Columbus

    The St. Joseph, LaGrange Knights of Columbus Council 13962 is an active group of men who’ve added some new projects in the last few years.

    Grand Knight Warren Patka said one of those new projects came about last Christmas when they decided to make plywood Nativity scenes. He said they made about eight or nine large scenes and three small ones last year. He said they didn’t really sell them, but would accept donations instead. If someone took a Nativity scene, they were asked to display it.

    “Our main goal was to get them out there and remind people to put Christ back in Christmas,” Patka said.

    The other project that started last year was hosting a social breakfast for the parish — they hosted two — one in the spring and one in the fall. Patka said about 100 people attended. There was no charge for the breakfast.

    The Knights sponsor two Red Cross Blood drives — one in the spring and one in the fall and around Thanksgiving they have a Turkey Bingo, where they give away about 20 turkeys and other prizes. They also host fish frys during Lent.

    This group of dedicated men is only about 15 strong. Patka said they originally had about 30 active members but lost several due to death and relocation. So they are always looking for more members. They connect with the Angola council for events where they attend in full regalia.

    Posted on June 22, 2016, to: