• From Sept. 8-11, individuals and families of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will have an opportunity to go on a four-day pilgrimage with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

    Titled “A Pilgrimage of Faith: A Diocesan Pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., and Emmitsburg,” participants will visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the National Shrine of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, both in Emmitsburg, Md.

    The price per person includes motor coach transportation — from Fort Wayne or South Bend — lodging, most meals and travel insurance. The rates are: $425 per person for quadruple hotel occupancy, $475 per person for triple occupancy and $525 per person for double occupancy. A single occupancy rate is available upon request. A $20 per person discount is available for a cash or check payment in full.

    For more information about the pilgrimage, visit diocesefwsb.org To register, contact Jeff Krudop at (260) 434-6660 or jkrudop@travlead.com. A deposit of $100 per person is due at registration. Final payment must be made on or before July 22. No money will be refunded after July 22, unless the spot(s) can be filled. Pilgrims under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

    Brief itinerary (unless stated otherwise, cost included in price of pilgrimage):

    Thursday, Sept. 8:
    • Depart Diocese, times and locations to be announced
    • Box lunch served en route
    • Arrival at hotel in Frederick, MD
    • Welcome dinner

    Friday, Sept. 9:
    • Breakfast at hotel
    • Visit Basilica of National Shrine of Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
    • Lunch at Shrine (cost at about $10 per person not included)
    • Mass in Crypt Church with Bishop Rhoades
    • Depart Washington, D.C.
    • Dinner

    Saturday, Sept. 10:
    • Breakfast at hotel
    • Visit Basilica of National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg
    • Mass in Basilica with Bishop Rhoades
    • Lunch at Mount St. Mary University
    • Visit National Shrine of Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg
    • Closing Dinner
    • Depart Emmitsburg

    Sunday, Sept. 11
    • Breakfast at hotel
    • Depart hotel
    • Mass with Bishop Rhoades (location to be determined)
    • Box lunch served en route
    • Arrive in diocese

    Additional details and information about the “Pilgrimage of Faith” will appear in subsequent issues of Today’s Catholic, bulletin inserts, posters, and interviews and promotional spots on Redeemer — Catholic Radio AM 1450, Fort Wayne.

    Sponsors of the event include the Office of Spiritual Development and Evangelization, Redeemer Catholic Radio and Travel Leaders.

    Posted on April 6, 2011, to:

  • Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana superintendent of Public Instruction, discussed the merits of the education reform legislation during a March 30 school choice rally at the statehouse. Dr. Bennett is surrounded by charter school students from across the state.

    School choice measure passes House

    INDIANAPOLIS — “School Choice Now! School Choice Now! School Choice Now!”

    This chant, which echoed repeatedly throughout the statehouse, was generated by a crowd estimated at 800, some of whom were school children, during a March 30 rally at the statehouse.

    Following the rally, House lawmakers passed the school scholarship bill HB 1003, 56-42, which allows eligible families to use public dollars to attend a private school of their choice. The Indiana Catholic Conference supports the bill.

    Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett, addressing rally participants, said, “In all the time I spent coaching basketball, I have never enjoyed this time of year as much as I am enjoying this year, when we turn around education.

    “Frequently, when I travel around the state I get this question,” said Bennett. ‘Tony Bennett, you are the superintendent of Public Instruction. Why do you support charter schools, private schools, home schools, if you are the superintendent of public schools?’ I want you to have this answer galvanized in your heart. I want you to look at the children standing all around me, and all the children standing up above in the balcony and all around you in this room. Ladies and gentleman, my public is these children. Your public is these children. Our future is these children.”

    Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis said, “This is about our constitutional obligation to give every student the most educational opportunities that they can receive. This legislation is about options. We are going to see it though until the job is done.”

    Sen. Earline Rodgers, D-Gary, said, “As a former teacher, I can never get away from asking a question. What takes time, pressure and heat?” The answer from the crowd was “a diamond.”

    Rodgers drew an analogy between a diamond and charter schools. “It will take time, pressure and heat for charter schools to show their beauty,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure for schools to achieve. I think they (charter schools) can withstand the pressure and heat and contribute to the development of children so that they can compete in the global economy.”

    Former chancellor of Washington, D.C. Public Schools, Michelle Rhee, and founder and CEO of Students First, an education reform advocacy group said, “We have the opportunity in Indiana today for this state to be leading the charge for education reform. We can not make this issue about partisan politics. We have a Republican governor and a Democrat President who support school choice. I’m a Democrat.”

    Rhee said she was not a supporter of school choice until she was responsible for 25,000 students in the Washington, D.C., school system.

    Rhee said she had mothers coming to her every day asking for a choice. “I was sending my own children to a private school because I could,” said Rhee. But for those who could not afford it, Rhee said, “Who am I, as chancellor of public schools, to deny these children a $7,500 voucher so they could go to the school of their choice. I could not look these mothers and their children in the eye and tell them, ‘give it five years for the school to improve.’

    “Children can’t vote or contribute to campaigns, so they are voiceless,” said Rhee. She said that when these courageous Hoosier lawmakers take heat back in their districts for going against the status quo of the education establishment, they should remember they are representing “the next generation of constituents and voters.”

    Gov. Mitch Daniels addressed the crowd on a big screen television. “We have a tremendous opportunity to move public education forward. We want to ensure a top quality teacher in every classroom. We want to increase the number of charter schools that are bringing great innovations to the classroom. We want to move in and turn around schools that are the worst performing,” he said. “I want to thank you so profoundly for coming to show your support, for our kids and their futures. The special interest groups who oppose any change of any kind do not represent, thank goodness, the majority of Hoosiers and they certainly do not represent the interests of children.”

    Sen. President Pro Tempore, David C. Long (R-Fort Wayne) noted the striking difference between this rally and previous rallies this year. “It’s so nice to see a crowd ‘for something’ rather than ‘against everything.’”

    Long said, “Good education is the key to success. The goal of the education reform legislation is to give our kids the educational opportunities that each of our kids need. Tell your neighbors that the education reform work we are doing here is very important. It is not against public teachers, but for giving children the best educational fit for them.”

    House Bill 1003 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

    Posted on April 6, 2011, to:

  • NOTRE DAME — Sister Mary Scullion, a Sister of Mercy, and Joan McConnon, co-founders of Project H.O.M.E., an organization devoted to ending homelessness in Philadelphia, will jointly receive the University of Notre Dame’s 2011 Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics, at Notre Dame’s 166th University Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 22.

    “In their work for the homeless of Philadelphia, Sister Scullion and Joan McConnon have splendidly answered the Gospel summons to brotherly love,” said Notre Dame’s president, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins. “Serving the unsheltered Lord on the streets of their hometown, they have provided an example for others to serve likewise in cities worldwide.”

    The daughter of Irish immigrants, Sister Scullion, executive director of Project H.O.M.E., was graduated from St. Joseph’s University and entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1976. She earned a master’s degree in social work from Temple University in 1986.

    Joan McConnon, associate executive director and chief financial officer of Project H.O.M.E., is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University who earned a master’s degree in taxation from Drexel University in 1989. Before returning to Philadelphia to work for the homeless, she worked for six years as an accountant at GTE and Corning Glass.

    Sister Scullion and McConnon, both Philadelphia natives, founded Project H.O.M.E. (an acronym for Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, and Education) in 1989, first providing emergency shelter for some 50 homeless men, then forming a community and establishing more permanent supportive residences for chronically homeless men and women who sought food, clothing, medical care, employment and a sense of dignity.

    The project has grown dramatically, now including 480 units of housing and two businesses which provide employment to formerly homeless people. Recognized as a national model, Project H.O.M.E. also engages in community development in a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood, including renovation of inner city vacant lots, economic development, home-ownership initiatives for working poor families, and education and employment programs for youth and adults. Of the homeless people participating in its programs, 95 percent have not returned to the streets, and it is widely credited for having reduced Philadelphia’s homeless population by half.

    The Laetare (pronounced Lay-tah-ray) Medal is so named because its recipient is announced each year in celebration of Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent on the Church calendar. “Laetare,” the Latin word for “rejoice,” is the first word in the entrance antiphon of the Mass that Sunday, which ritually anticipates the celebration of Easter. The medal bears the Latin inscription, “Magna estveritas et prevalebit” (“Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail”).

    Established at Notre Dame in 1883, the Laetare Medal was conceived as an American counterpart of the Golden Rose, a papal honor which antedates the 11th century. The medal has been awarded annually at Notre Dame to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

    Among the 133 previous recipients of the Laetare Medal are Civil War Gen. William Rosecrans, operatic tenor John McCormack, President John F. Kennedy, Catholic Worker foundress Dorothy Day, novelist Walker Percy, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, labor activist Msgr. George G. Higgins, and jazz composer Dave Brubeck.

    Posted on April 6, 2011, to:

  • Sister Joan Hastreiter, a Sister of St. Joseph, and Sacred Heart parishioners place names of those inactive Catholics they are praying for in the prayer bowl during the Lenten Mission. The theme for the mission was “Falling in Love with God” and Wednesday night’s speaker, Msgr. Bernard Galic, pastor of St. Aloysius, Yoder, spoke on faith in God.

    By Laurie Kiefaber

    WARSAW— Over the years Catholics have left the Church for various reasons, including those needing an annulment and misunderstandings with priests. Sacred Heart Church in Warsaw started the Catholics Returning Home Ministry (CRHM) last year and it’s bringing people back.

    This is the second year for the program and the third session of the ministry. Linda Nycz, William Landrigan and Shirley Waldschmidt are members of the ministry committee and organize six meetings to discuss different topics. These include changes since Vatican II, a walkthrough of the Mass, the sacrament of Penance and “The Creed: What Catholics Believe.”

    During sessions, people have relayed many reasons why they left the Church. Waldschmidt said a number of people are under the false impression they cannot apply for an annulment.
    “As soon as they got divorced, they thought they were out of the Church,” she said.

    Some have been intimidated by the process of annulment and worry about being “interrogated,” Waldschmidt said.

    Landrigan said many of the Protestant faiths have not helped matters either.

    “There’s the liberalization of Protestant religions and various churches with a lively message,” he said. “They appeal to Catholics who have not been catechized sufficiently. They’re impressed by the entertainment and don’t know enough about sacramental life.”

    However, some Catholics don’t attend any church after they leave.

    “They say they’re Catholic even though they’re not attending,” said Waldschmidt.

    Session participants fill out an anonymous questionnaire, describing why they are attending, hopes and expectations, fears and apprehensions, feelings about Church and God and questions they would like answered. Those attending also discuss their faith and share faith stories.

    “Some have talked about contraception or abortion,” Nycz said.

    Committee members say they have heard various complaints about the Catholic Church such as on clerical abuse, the Mass being “boring,” “not being fed,” not wanting to go to confession, the unavailability of the priest and not having a personal relationship with Jesus. It’s also likely some people stopped learning about their faith and growing after Confirmation.

    Other faith stories illuminate a lack of communication.

    “Events like Adoration,” Waldschmidt said. “We went, but it wasn’t explained.”

    Before CRHM sessions begin, Sacred Heart celebrates a Mass where people are invited to drop names of fallen-away Catholics in a bowl and pray for them. CRHM committee members never know how many people will attend the sessions ahead of time, but there have been plenty of names in the bowl.

    “If one comes, it’s successful,” Landrigan said. “If one person needed to be redeemed, Jesus would have come. … We put out the welcome mat.”

    Nycz said the first session had about 10 participants, while the second had only three.

    “For some, it may take a couple years (before participants feel comfortable at Mass again),” Nycz said. “Everyone is welcome to come to every session if they want.”
    The sessions have been popular and many attendees didn’t want to stop after six sessions, Nycz said.

    “It’s kind of like once you dip your toe in the water, you want more,” she said. “… Shirley and I have had to delve into information because we try to give correct answers.”
    CRHM committee members saw many people transform through the program, which is confidential and nonjudgmental.

    “In one man I could see the stirring of the spirit,” Landrigan said. “He wrestled with his own personality. … The Holy Spirit was working.”
    “It’s like a relief or a breath of fresh air (for them),” Nycz said.

    “It’s a catharsis experience,” Landrigan added.

    For more information, contact Sacred Heart Catholic Church at (574) 267-5842. Sessions are held on Wednesdays from 7- 8:30 p.m. beginning April 27.

    Posted on April 6, 2011, to:

  • By Lisa Everett

    SOUTH BEND — For each of the past 50 years, Knights of Columbus Council 553 in downtown South Bend has sponsored an all-expense paid pilgrimage to Lourdes for someone who is suffering from an illness or injury. Ranging in age from small children to the elderly, these pilgrims have experienced not only the healing power of the Lourdes baths but also the spiritual fruits of this famous shrine which attracts over 5 million visitors annually.

    Besides seeking donations to cover the cost of the yearly pilgrimage, Council 553 hosts an annual Lourdes Dinner Dance and silent auction. This year’s event will be held on Saturday evening, May 7, at the Knights of Columbus Clubrooms, 553 E. Washington St., in downtown South Bend.

    The most recent beneficiary of this annual fundraiser was Michael (Mick) Linsdell, who traveled to Lourdes this past September along with his wife, Erika. Mick, himself a member of Council 553, spent all of May 2010 and most of June in the hospital with recurrent mini-strokes. Physicians found a blockage in his brain and he underwent surgery to insert a stent. One of his fellow Knights submitted Mick’s name to the Lourdes’ selection committee, and he was chosen. Erika recalls how weak Mick was, physically and mentally, when they began their pilgrimage. He was unsteady on his feet, and his speech was still slurred. Once in Lourdes, however, Erika realized that he was being supported by a strength that was not his own.

    “I went there with no expectations,” Mick remembers. “It was a wonderful experience. I found it very moving. There was definitely a spiritual feeling about the place. There seemed to be a peace there, despite so many people.” The candlelight processions in the evenings were particularly beautiful, Mick noted. One night he and Erika walked up to St. Bernadette’s Church for a bird’s-eye view. As long a climb as it was, it did not tire him like he expected — he literally felt lifted up.

    One of the highlights of the trip for both of them was a morning jaunt by train up the mountain Pic Du Jur near the village of Lourdes. “It was breathtaking to see the surrounding area and the Pyrenees mountains,” Erika remembers. “Being up there felt like you were being filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    Another highlight was making the Stations of the Cross, which Erika describes as “absolutely amazing, walking up and down along the path, almost as if you were following Christ’s footsteps.”

    Then there was the Anointing of the Sick, the Eucharist processions, the wall of candles representing so many prayer intentions of pilgrims like themselves, and of course, the long wait for the baths, which have become the hallmark of the famous shrine. While Mick is reluctant to think himself the recipient of a cure, the fact is that he has not had any relapses since he returned from Lourdes, and feels good. “I feel I was totally blessed,” he comments. “I was blessed by the Knights to be sent, and it was phenomenal.”

    Reservations for this year’s Lourdes Dinner Dance can be made by calling chairpersons John and Judy Lehner at (574) 236-7642 by April 29. The evening begins with a wine and hors d’oeuvres social and silent auction from 5:30-6:30 p.m., followed by dinner catered by Fiddler’s Hearth. Afterwards there will be dancing to the music of Mike Vaszari and his band. The cost of the dinner dance is $30 per person, $60 per couple.

    Posted on April 6, 2011, to: