• The Franciscan Brothers Minor carry a statue of Mary to lead 1,200 faithful who participated in the Marian procession from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception through the streets of downtown Fort Wayne to Headwaters Park. The brothers work closely with the Knights of Columbus on the implementation of events.

    By Tim Johnson

    For more photos visit the photo gallery

    FORT WAYNE — Twenty-two councils of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Knights of Columbus combined their talents to sponsor and coordinate the Festival of Faith to celebrate the Catholic faith and family. The third annual event was held at Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne Aug. 15-16.

    The festival opened on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated a 6 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in which he rededicated the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to Mary. The Knights, in collaboration with the diocese, encouraged the faithful to prepare for individual consecration to Mary by using the “33 Days to Morning Glory” retreat prepared by Father Micheal E. Gaitley, a priest of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Diocesan wide, over 12,000 faithful made an individual consecration to the Blessed Mother either at the cathedral, home parishes or individually. At Mass, nearly 2,000 faithful attended and the congregation flowed outside to the cathedral’s plaza and lawn areas. At the Mass, Bishop Rhoades blessed brown scapulars to be distributed at the festival.

    A large Marian procession — with 1,200 participants — walked through the streets of downtown Fort Wayne to Headwaters Park followed the Mass. The rich ethnicity and religious communities of the diocese were well represented in the procession that was led by high school choirs, Franciscan brothers and the Knights of Columbus. Vietnamese Catholics of St. Patrick Parish, Fort Wayne, dressed in ethnic garb, carried another statue of the Blessed Mother. The Hispanic communities of St. Patrick and St. John the Evangelist, Goshen, and other parishes sang hymns to Our Lady in Spanish. The streets were filled with devotional hymns to the Blessed Mother as bystanders watched from cafes and along the sidewalks.

    At Headwaters Park, the faithful assembled and Bishop Rhoades led the Litany to the Blessed Mother and sang “Immaculate Mary.” The festival was kicked off with prayer followed by food, drinks and a square dance.

    The Festival of Faith offered many elements to add to the fruits of consecration. On Saturday at the festival, area priests heard Confessions, the rosary was prayed and the Knights of Columbus’ Shroud of Turin replica and video were displayed.

    At the tables, a flyer published by Our Sunday Visitor called “Living the Beatitudes: The Path to a Happy Life” and brown scapulars with literature were distributed as well as a bumper sticker encouraging the recitation of the rosary for the nation.

    Dr. Ray Guarendi, the popular Catholic radio host of “The Doctor is In” encouraged the hearts of parents when he spoke of “Laughter: The Sanity of Family” and later in the evening, “Why Be Catholic?” During the evening talk he spoke about ways to be certain that the faith and teachings of the Catholic Church represent the true Christian faith.

    The Franciscan Brothers Minor of Fort Wayne provided children’s games, rides and give-aways for families. In the afternoon, the brothers judged the pie-baking contest.

    Dr. Ray Guarandi gave two talks at the Festival of Faith on Aug. 16.

    Franciscan Father David Mary Engo, the minister general of the Franciscan Brothers Minor, spoke at the festival about the Shroud of Turin.

    The festivities also included a Family 5K race, pancake and sausage breakfast, table displays from area nonprofits, musical performances by the Fort Wayne Area Community Band, Emma MacDonald, a teen singer-songwriter who sings about her faith and pro-life mission, the Franciscan Brothers Minor and the Smith Family Singers of Fort Wayne.

    Mark Michuda, chairman of the Festival of Faith Planning Committee, told Today’s Catholic the vision and purpose of the festival is to bring every mission in the diocese together “to celebrate our faith publicly.” Because the Knights of Columbus are integrated through many parishes in the diocese, they are in a good position to get that work done. He said the public event is a method of evangelization and an opportunity to fortify the faith.

    Fourteen Knights of Columbus councils offered financial support and nearly 300 volunteers, including the Knights, Redeemer Radio and diocesan staff, were all part of the organization and labor of the festival.

    “These councils come and work together because of this festival,” Michuda said, and the visibility of this helps enhance the awareness of the Knights’ mission and membership numbers.

    Posted on August 19, 2014, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades greeted the youngsters after Mass celebrated in the stone chapel at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford on Friday, July 25. Children in fourth through sixth grades camped from July 20-25.

    By Denise Federow

    MILFORD — Young people in grades 4-6 and representing 23 parishes across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend connected with each other, nature and the Lord when they attended Catholic Youth Summer Camp, held this year at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford on the shores of Lake Waubee, July 20-25.

    The theme for the camp was “Were Not Our Hearts Burning?” based on Luke 24:32. Dave and Jan Torma, the camp directors, reported 55 campers and 15 all-volunteer staff participated in the fourth annual weeklong camp.

    “It’s been a wonderful blessing,” Jan said. “The children get a typical camp experience with activities like canoeing, archery, campfires and crafts, and we also integrate our Catholic faith within the camp experience.”

    Campers attended daily Mass before lunch, celebrated by priests that included Fathers Bob Lengerich, Daryl Rybicki, Daniel Scheidt and Terry Coonan. Campers raised the flag each morning to honor their country, learned about the saint of the day, memorized Scripture, and ended each night with a campfire.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades claps along to a song with the fourth through sixth graders participating in the fourth annual Catholic Youth Summer Camp on Friday, July 25. Camp coordinators Jan Torma, standing left, and Dave Torma, seated far right. Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass and stayed for a musical performance and picnic lunch by the lake. Sean Scott and Zane Langenbrunner led the young people’s music ministry during the week. Fifty-five campers and 15 adult volunteers participated in the camp held this year at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford.

    Campers participated in Eucharistic Adoration on Thursday afternoon. Fathers Bob Lengerich, Christopher Lapp, Daniel Whelan and James Bromwich offered the sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Torma said the campers had the opportunity to sand and decorate Ashiko drums that they played to one of their theme songs, “This Beating Heart” and performed for Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades when he celebrated Mass on Friday, the last day of camp.

    Bishop’s visit

    Bishop Rhoades thanked the campers for inviting him and told them he’d been looking forward to visiting them.

    “To have a camp where you can also pray, have a lot of fun, but also deepen your faith is a beautiful thing,” Bishop Rhoades said.

    He commented on how beautiful it was to look out at the lake while celebrating Mass in a stone chapel. He told the children that it was the feast day of St. James the Apostle and any apostle’s feast day is always special to him because “a bishop is a successor to the apostles, called to lead the Church.”

    He asked the children if they’d gone fishing while at camp and reminded them that St. James and his brother John were fishermen. The bishop spoke of how the apostles followed Jesus and reminded the youth that being a follower of Christ is not about power, but about service.

    Jan and Dave Torma have been the directors for the Catholic Youth Summer Camp for the past four years. They both speak of what a blessing the camp is for them as well as for the campers. In the background is the outdoor stone chapel where the campers celebrated daily Mass. The camp was held at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford this year but has been held in two other locations as well.

    “If we want to be great, we should be humble like Jesus,” he said. “I’m sure this week at camp you learned a lot about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, to serve Him and each other. …”

    “All of you are to be friends of Jesus; to be by His side, to talk to Him. How privileged we are to receive His Body and Blood,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The teaching of the Apostles has gone out to all the world. Our job also is to help spread the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit.”

    At the conclusion of Mass prayer cards were passed out and the bishop invited the children to pray with him a prayer to Mary, Untier of Knots, one of Pope Francis’ favorite devotions. The obstacle course Dave Torma developed for the campers involved untying a knot at one of the stations. The bishop was invited to a picnic lunch by the lake with the campers and to hear them perform a couple of songs.

    Campers’ experiences

    Campers were excited to share their favorite experiences from the week at camp. Olivia Warden, first time camper from St. John the Baptist in New Haven said she liked “everything.”

    “Meeting new friends — all the fun activities,” she said. Warden would definitely recommend attending the camp to others who, like her, have not gone before.

    Several of the campers mentioned doing the Emmaus Walk as a favorite, including Elizabeth Stureman from St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne.

    Colin Stahl from St. Pius X Parish in Granger said campers were challenged to track seven miles with their counselors walking the Emmaus Walk and back and he tracked 15 miles. “We also went fishing two times — that was really fun.”

    Dave Torma explained that the Emmaus Walk was a one mile walk along a wooded path to a natural “cross” tree in the woods and back to the starting point. Scripture said it was seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, so he challenged the campers to walk the seven miles, and 98 percent of the campers met that challenge.

    “Four Sisters (of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration) came and talked to us about their stories,” said McKenna Kleinrichert from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne. “That was neat — and we got journals to write in and bracelet rosaries.”

    The sisters who visited — Sister Lissetta, Sister Mary Grace, Sister Maria Kolbe and Sister Lucia — not only shared their vocation stories, but stayed to play knockout basketball, eat dinner and enjoy the campfire. Later, they led the girls in night prayer.

    The camp facilities were shared with a deaf camp that week and one of their counselors taught them a sign language blessing that they shared with Bishop Rhoades before their picnic lunch. He in turn taught them the blessing over food in Spanish.

    The adults were having as much fun as the kids. Mary Ann Sobieralski, known as “Grandma S,” parishioner at St. Jude, South Bend, has volunteered all four years and said she has a passion for children. “I get more blessings than the children do,” she said, “and for those kids who’ve come each year, I watch them grow not only physically but also spiritually.”

    For more photos visit the photo gallery.

    Posted on August 5, 2014, to:

  • Building solidarity at Bishop Dwenger through immersion experience

    By Kay Cozad

    Melissa Wheeler, second from left in front, theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne and the diocesan representative for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) appointed by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, and Bishop Dwenger Principal Jason Schiffli, back center, join CRS workers and members of the delegation who met with the Queen Mother, right of Schiffli, the leadership of the Samini Tribe, during their immersion experience in Ghana, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services to promote global solidarity.

    FORT WAYNE — Bishop Dwenger High School has recently partnered with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in an innovative initiative to help raise awareness of global issues right in the Fort Wayne community. The CRS: Global High School program, formally known as iNeighbor, began in 2011 when six specially chosen high schools from around the country were invited to join its initiative to build global solidarity. Each invited school completed an application for participation approval and was required to send one administrator and one faculty member to participate in international immersion experiences to see firsthand how CRS’s programs are changing lives. Currently the CRS: Global High School program has grown to include 15 schools.

    Bishop Dwenger began their partnership with a workshop on social justice given by a CRS representative. This year Bishop Dwenger Principal Jason Schiffli and theology teacher Melissa Wheeler, who is also the diocesan representative for CRS appointed by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, traveled as part of a 10-person delegation to Ghana July 7-16. Their mission, said Schiffli, was to visit remote villages in Ghana, one of the 100 countries around the world where CRS programs are successfully promoting health and hygiene programs for the people there.

    Following a visit with the Queen Mother of the Samini tribe, the natives presented the delegation with two live guinea fowl for dinner and one live rooster for a wake up call. Pictured is Jason Schiffli, principal of Bishop Dwenger in Fort Wayne, accepting the live gifts.

    “It was not a mission team,” says Schiffli. “We didn’t build or dig. It was a delegation to see the programs and how they were organized and planned.” The successful programs are changing lives and communities, he reports, adding that the purpose of the trip was to bring information back to the school community to raise awareness.

    An initial training was held in Baltimore, the location of CRS headquarters, for Schiffli, Wheeler and the other four high school representatives, two from Philadelphia and two from New Orleans, prior to their travels to Ghana. “Chris West, CRS community organizer, built a support group there to communicate throughout the year,” says Schiffli, who plans to expand their communication as the action plan for global solidarity at Bishop Dwenger develops.

    The delegation arrived in Accra, the capital of Ghana, then traveled to northern Tamale where more “traditional communities” comprised of villages with chiefs were located. In the adobe-hut-lined villages the team found water supplies or boreholes shared by more than one village with women transporting water baskets on their heads, sometimes for miles.

    A visitor washes her hands alongside a native of a remote village near Tamale, Ghana with a tippy tap, a jug of water connected to a foot lever to ensure sanitation for the area. CRS has helped the people there implement hygiene and sanitation methods that have reduced infant mortality.

    To assist the villagers with a better, healthier quality of life, CRS works with the leadership of each village to determine its basic needs. The programs to meet those needs are then planned, organized and implemented by the villagers with the support of CRS. “It becomes their own development project. CRS oversees,” says Wheeler.

    One program, Eppics, involved building more health care facilities with adjacent boreholes to provide clean water for midwives to use during deliveries. Another project involved teaching new mothers to nurse their infants rather than feed them tainted water from overused supplies. These areas have seen a dramatic decline in infant mortality with the implementation of these initiatives.

    The delegation team witnessed a reenactment of a motorized cart driven to carry an expectant mother to a nearby health facility. “Before they had the carts, they would put these women on the front of a bike or carry her in (to a health facility),” says Schiffli, adding that the roads were simply rutted and obscure trails. These community carts are another successful addition to the higher quality of life these villagers now enjoy.

    Another remarkable program, I-shine, works to bring sanitation to these remote villages. “In one village we visited, the health of the people was better within three months into having latrines,” says Schiffli.

    The trip, Schiffli says, has broadened his appreciation of the work CRS does across the globe. “I was so impressed with how these programs change lives. … The size and its success give me a greater appreciation for the organization. I was moved to help,” he says passionately.

    In the coming 2014-2015 academic year CRS will focus on food security for the communities they serve, and as Schiffli and Wheeler present their experience to the Bishop Dwenger community they plan to incorporate the theme of food security in school lessons and events.

    With Bishop Dwenger’s action plan in the initial stages, Schiffli and Wheeler are enthusiastic about their challenge. “I want to instill passion in our kids. I want to help. Our school has much potential to help,” says Schiffli, who hopes to involve the parents as well.

    Wheeler says, “I hope the kids learn and experience enough to make this part of what they do. … Fundraising is important but an internal change is needed.”

    “It’s academic, intellectual and spiritual. There are so many venues, something for everyone. We can empower these kids. … A transformation of mind and heart will take place,” Schiffli says.

    The two hope to actively participate in fair trade with coffee houses after school, form a student social justice club with emphasis on CRS initiatives and have CRS initiatives in all four Catholic high schools in the future.

    “People are people wherever you go. … We want to build a sense of solidarity in our community — which leads to action,” says Schiffli.

    Posted on August 5, 2014, to:

  • Wednesday night Mass was a “barefoot Mass,” before which each student washed the feet of another, emphasizing common discipleship, then all attended Mass barefoot.

    By Christopher Lushis

    NOTRE DAME — High school students from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend joyfully came together for the annual bcX Retreat, July 22-25, to participate in liturgical celebrations and community outreach, learning how to effectively “be Christ to others” and “see Christ in others” throughout the world.

    The retreat, held at Holy Cross College, encouraged these teens to engage more deeply in their faith and experience Christ in a profoundly transformational way. Grounded in the understanding that the sacraments provide the heart and soul of Christian life, each day the retreatants were offered the opportunity to gain a greater awareness and appreciation of God’s love by receiving Holy Communion at Mass. This Eucharistic foundation then propelled them to live out their call of missionary discipleship through service to the community and enhanced relationship with one another.

    “One of the most important parts of being sent on mission is being closely united with the One who sends us,” remarked Megan Swaim, director of youth ministry at St. Pius X, Granger. “We have to remain close to Jesus through prayer and the sacraments so that we can be His hands and His feet. If we are not connected to Him through prayer and the sacraments, then the work becomes our work, instead of His work.”

    Retreatants work in the Unity Garden, which provides the opportunity for people to come together and share in food grown locally.

    The group of 45 committed students included parishioners from both St. Vincent de Paul and Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne, as well as from St. Pius X in Granger. Participation on the retreat was made possible by the financial support of the parishes as well as through a generous grant from the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.  Retreatants were led by adult team members and college-aged volunteers, several of whom participated in bcX as teens themselves, to serve alongside ministries in the South Bend community.

    Each day, separate squads ventured to assist at outreach sites including the Center for the Homeless, Women’s Care Center, Better World Books, Catholic Worker House, Northern Indiana Food Bank, Downtown Soup Kitchen, Unity Gardens, Healthwin Rehabilitation, St. Margaret’s House, Holy Cross Parish and St. Stanislaus Parish.

    Sarah Hill, director of youth ministry at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Fort Wayne, remarked that the students demonstrated tremendous passion, courage and understanding throughout their service work.

    “It was truly beautiful to see the outpouring of love the students displayed in imitation of Christ’s self-sacrifice,” she said. “I was proud and overjoyed to witness their dedicated efforts to touch the lives of others through this service.”

    Students help with projects at the Our Lady of the Road Catholic Worker Drop-In Center.

    After each day of hard work, the teens returned to Holy Cross College to relax before listening to powerful witness talks on authentic faith, steadfast hope and selfless love. Holy Cross College staff and students as well as youth ministry leaders from around the diocese gave the talks. Touching on the themes “Love Unleashed” and “Being Christ to Others,” the presentations allowed each member of the retreat to reflect more intensely on what takes place in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and through the actions of unselfish charity and service. In both cases, the giver becomes the true gift, becoming poured out for the creation of a new and beautiful reality in the world.


    Posted on August 5, 2014, to:

  • Aaron Seng

    MISHAWAKA — Aaron Seng has been appointed the director of youth ministry for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

    The secretariat for the youth ministry office has been restructured. “In order to allow for closer collaboration amongst the Catholic Schools Office, the Office of Catechesis, and youth ministry, we have been brought together in one secretariat,” said Carl Loesch, Secretariat for Catholic Education. “We are looking forward to working with Aaron to support the catechetical needs of our parish youth ministry programs, our high school campus ministry departments and the diocese as a whole.”

    “Aaron brings great passion and zeal to this position,” Loesch said. “Any time I am around Aaron, it is hard not to be encouraged by his enthusiasm for sharing the faith. He will be a great asset to the parish youth ministers and the young people of our diocese.”

    Seng has worked with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for the past year.

    “My work with the diocese involved serving in youth, young adult and men’s ministry,” he said. “This included speaking engagements at parishes and schools, planning and work on retreats and other events, small team formation, ministry trainings, communications consulting and more.”

    “I have been blessed to work with many outstanding people along the way and look forward to now being able to focus specifically on serving those in youth ministry,” he added.

    After a year of valuable insight into the many good things happening in the diocese, Seng said, “I was honored at Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’s invitation to come into direct service of the many parents, pastors, volunteers, parish and school staff looking to effectively engage teens in the life and mission of the Church. I pray the Lord continues to bless this work.”

    More than ever before, Seng said teens today are in need of vibrant and consistent witness to the joy and beauty of knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ.

    He said, “What’s more, they need this witness from their parents and other adults who will invest in their lives and mentor them in the journey of discipleship.”

    “Young people at times feel unchallenged by a Christianity lived around them in a way that is anything but heroic,” he said. “Yet we are all called to holiness; and true holiness is always powerful, transformative and attractive.”

    Seng is a native of South Bend. He and his wife Hayley and eight-month-old daughter Gianna-Marie attend St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. Seng has a Bachelor of Arts in catechetics and theology from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. He worked for the university’s Offices of Evangelization and Missionary Outreach while completing his graduate studies in theology and Christian ministry.

    “Ever since a life-changing conversion to Christ in high school, I have held a great desire to serve the Lord and His Church in a radical way,” Seng said. “From that time on, I have been involved in the work of evangelization and equipping others for ministry. And the Church’s mission to and with teens and young adults has remained at the forefront of that work.”

    His top goal is to serve the youth, he said, “Forming, equipping, supporting and networking the gifted men and women of our diocese who are in active ministry to and with teens will be an effective and sustainable way to reach as many young people as possible with the joy and beauty of the Gospel.”

    An early project that will
    launch in this regard will be a new website, which will serve as a platform for offering a wide array of resources, social media integration, idea-sharing forums, monthly newsletters, an event calendar and other tools that should be helpful in the field.

    “This page will go live at www.fwsbYM.com on the day of our diocesan consecration (this August 15th), so be sure to take a look,” he said.

    Posted on August 5, 2014, to: