• The Annual Bishop’s Appeal of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend includes a funding program to assist less affluent parishes. A Parishes-in-Need Fund Committee met recently to review parish requests for “needy” projects. The committee recommended a total of $195,112 be granted to 11 parishes for 20 essential projects, enabling them a more stable existence. The grants were approved by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

    “Obviously, we can’t meet every request submitted by the parishes,” said Msgr. Robert C. Schulte, vicar general/chancellor of the diocese. “We have to consider the nature of each request in light of the total needs and financial resources of the parish as well as the other parishes in the diocese requesting funding assistance,” he continued. A total amount of $312,773 in requests were submitted this year.

    “If all or part of a request cannot be met, often the committee will recommend the parish apply to another fund of financial resource in the diocese or community, or seek other alternatives,” Msgr. Schulte added.

    Some funds usually remain in the account for use throughout the year by parishes when a new need arises, Msgr. Schulte indicated. If all the money is not used in 2011, however, it will be carried over and allocated to next year’s Parishes-in-Need fund, he explained.

    “Hopefully, this money will strengthen these parishes financially, increase their outreach and improve their ability to do the work of Christ,” said Bishop Rhoades.
    This year’s allocation of Parishes-in-Need funds brings to $5,043,947 the amount granted from the Annual Bishop’s Appeal to parishes in need during the 24 years of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal.

    This year’s primary parish projects include:
    Fort Wayne

    • St. Henry — a $2,000 parish subsidy
    • Queen of Angels — $15,000 for two new air conditioning units for the church and $15,000 for new windows and doors for the rectory
    • St. Therese — $19,000 to replace aluminum siding, replace windows and install additional insulation, $8,000 to resurface parking lots used by both the parish and school, and $5,000 to have all floors in the school professionally stripped
    Fort Wayne area
    • St. Mary of the Assumption, Avilla — $32,000 to repair west end of the church roof, repair or replace gutters, tuck-pointing and repair interior wall due to water damage
    • St. Patrick, Ligonier — $20,000 to repair cracks in floor and ceiling, remove carpet and floor tile, purchase, paint and install steel beams and columns
    South Bend
    • Holy Cross — $6,357 to repair stained-glass window in the church due to snow causing damage
    • Holy Family — $15,000 to replace 20 sets of windows in school
    • Our Lady of Hungary — $5,500 for replacement of three-inch Honeywell Steam valve and main heating control valve, $2,325 to survey boiler building control system, and replace thermostats and radiators, and $1,700 for plaster repair in entryways and resource teacher’s classroom
    • St. Augustine — $5,000 for parish subsidy and $2,000 to hire someone to put parish data on ParishSoft
    • St. John the Baptist — $5,680 to replace windows on the rectory and $550 for roofing repairs
    South Bend Area
    • St. Monica, Mishawaka — $15,000 to upgrade and repair electrical wiring and lighting in church, $10,000 to replace sidewalk surrounding church to school and $10,000 to replace church bell tower roof.

    Percent of Donor Participation
    Blessed Sacrament, Albion 94.1
    St. Louis, Besancon 84.8
    St. Rose of Lima, Monroeville 73.9
    St. Catherine, Nix Settlement 70.4
    Immaculate Conception, Ege 68.4
    St. Joseph, Roanoke 68.1
    St. Joseph, Hessen Cassel 66.8
    St. Hedwig, South Bend 63.0
    St. Thomas the Apostle, Elkhart 59.7
    St. Aloysius, Yoder 59.2
    St. Joseph, South Bend 59.0
    St. Francis Xavier, Pierceton 58.7
    Sacred Heart, Fort Wayne 58.2
    St. Mary of the Presentation, Geneva 58.2
    Immaculate Conception, Auburn 57.2
    St. Michael the Archangel, Waterloo 56.4
    St. Robert Bellarmine, N. Manchester 55.1
    St. John Bosco, Churubusco 53.3
    St. Joseph, Bluffton 52.4
    St. Anthony de Padua, South Bend 52.3
    St. Mary of the Assumption, Avilla 52.2
    St. Gaspar del Bufalo, Rome City 52.1
    Immaculate Conception, Kendallville 52.1
    St. Patrick, Ligonier 50.9
    St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne 50.3
    St. Patrick, South Bend 50.2
    St. Jude, Fort Wayne 50.1
    St. Stanislaus, New Carlisle 50.0
    St. Stanislaus (South Bend) 49.5
    St. Vincent de Paul, Fort Wayne 48.3
    St. Catherine of Siena, South Bend 47.7
    St. Patrick, Arcola 47.0
    Little Flower, South Bend 46.1
    St. Henry, Fort Wayne 45.7
    St. Mary of the Angels, Big Long Lake 45.3
    St. Mary of the Assumption, Decatur 45.3
    St. Joseph, LaGrange 45.2
    St. Charles Borromeo, Fort Wayne 45.1
    St. Paul of the Cross, Columbia City 45.0
    Queen of Angels, Fort Wayne 45.0
    Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Wayne 43.7
    St. Therese, Fort Wayne 42.4
    Christ the King, South Bend 42.2
    Corpus Christi, South Bend 41.2
    St. Pius X, Granger 41.1
    St. Monica, Mishawaka 40.8
    St. John the Baptist, South Bend 40.3
    St. Joseph, Garrett 39.7
    St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne 39.6
    St. Mary, Fort Wayne 39.6
    St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend 39.4
    St. John the Baptist, New Haven 39.3
    Holy Cross, South Bend 39.2
    St. Mary of the Annunciation, Bristol 38.7
    St. Patrick, Fort Wayne 38.6
    Sacred Heart, Notre Dame 38.4
    St. Peter, Fort Wayne 38.3
    Holy Family, South Bend 38.0
    St. Paul Chapel, Clear Lake 37.3
    St. Patrick, Walkerton 35.9
    St. Bernard, Wabash 35.8
    Our Lady of Hungary, South Bend 34.8
    St. Mary of the Lake, Culver 33.3
    St. Casimir, South Bend 33.3
    Most Precious Blood, Fort Wayne 32.9
    St. Mary, Huntington 32.6
    Our Lady of Guadalupe, Warsaw 31.8
    St. Martin de Porres, Syracuse 31.3
    St. Augustine, South Bend 31.3
    Queen of Peace, Mishawaka 30.7
    Cathedral/Conception, Fort Wayne 30.5
    St. Anthony of Padua, Angola 30.2
    St. Dominic, Bremen 29.9
    Ss. Peter and Paul, Huntington 29.5
    Sacred Heart, Warsaw 28.6
    St. Joseph, Mishawaka 27.2
    St. Vincent de Paul, Elkhart 26.8
    St. John the Evangelist, Goshen 25.6
    St. Michael, Plymouth 24.9
    St. Bavo, Mishawaka 24.8
    St. Joseph, Fort Wayne 23.1
    St. Adalbert, South Bend 15.8

    Percent of Goal Reached
    St. Anthony de Padua, South Bend 237.5
    Blessed Sacrament, Albion 218.5
    St. Thomas the Apostle, Elkhart 204.0
    St. John the Baptist, Fort Wayne 183.3
    St. Rose of Lima, Monroeville 180.8
    St. Francis Xavier, Pierceton 178.0
    St. Patrick, Ligonier 176.6
    Immaculate Conception, Kendallville 172.0
    St. Pius X, Granger 170.4
    St. Michael the Archangel, Waterloo 169.4
    Our Lady of Guadalupe, Warsaw 168.7
    Most Precious Blood, Fort Wayne 162.1
    St. Paul Chapel, Clear Lake 156.9
    Immaculate Conception, Auburn 153.1
    St. Mary of the Assumption, Decatur 153.1
    St. Louis, Besancon 152.7
    St. Joseph, Garrett 152.4
    St. Joseph, South Bend 150.8
    St. Dominic, Bremen 150.7
    St. Vincent de Paul, Fort Wayne 145.0
    Christ the King, South Bend 144.7
    St. Mary of the Annunciation, Bristol 143.8
    St. Michael, Plymouth 143.6
    St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend 143.2
    Sacred Heart, Notre Dame 142.2
    St. Aloysius, Yoder 140.3
    St. John the Baptist, New Haven 138.9
    St. Patrick, Arcola 136.6
    St. Monica, Mishawaka 135.6
    St. Adalbert, South Bend 134.5
    Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Wayne 134.2
    St. Mary of the Assumption, Avilla 133.9
    St. Vincent de Paul, Elkhart 133.3
    Our Lady of Hungary, South Bend 132.8
    St. Bernard, Wabash 132.1
    St. Charles Borromeo, Fort Wayne 131.6
    St. Jude, Fort Wayne 130.9
    St. Gaspar del Bufalo, Rome City 130.8
    St. Mary of the Presentation, Geneva 130.3
    St. Joseph, Bluffton 130.1
    St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne 129.6
    St. Patrick, South Bend 128.3
    Immaculate Conception, Ege 126.3
    St. Catherine of Siena, South Bend 125.4
    St. Mary, Huntington 125.2
    St. Robert Bellarmine, North Manchester 124.5
    St. Mary of the Angels, Big Long Lake 123.9
    St. Catherine, Nix Settlement 123.9
    Holy Cross, South Bend 123.8
    St. Joseph, LaGrange 121.3
    St. John the Baptist, South Bend 121.3
    St. Anthony of Padua, Angola 120.2
    St. Stanislaus, New Carlisle 119.4
    Queen of Angels, Fort Wayne 117.7
    St. Joseph, Hessen Cassel 117.0
    St. Joseph, Roanoke 115.4
    Queen of Peace, Mishawaka 115.1
    St. Paul of the Cross, Columbia City 114.9
    St. Augustine, South Bend 113.9
    St. Martin de Porres, Syracuse 112.7
    St. Peter, Fort Wayne 112.7
    St. John Bosco, Churubusco 112.3
    Ss. Peter and Paul, Huntington 110.4
    Cathedral/Conception, Fort Wayne 110.0
    St. Joseph, Mishawaka 109.7
    St. Mary, Fort Wayne 109.4
    Sacred Heart, Fort Wayne 109.0
    Sacred Heart, Warsaw 108.1
    St. Patrick, Walkerton 107.8
    St. Joseph, Fort Wayne 106.4
    Holy Family, South Bend 106.2
    St. Patrick, Fort Wayne 106.0
    St. Henry, Fort Wayne 105.1
    St. Bavo, Mishawaka 104.6
    St. Casimir, South Bend 101.9
    St. Stanislaus, South Bend 101.4
    Corpus Christi, South Bend 100.0
    St. Mary of the Lake, Culver 100.0
    St. Therese, Fort Wayne 100.0
    St. John the Evangelist, Goshen 100.0
    St. Hedwig, South Bend 100.0
    Little Flower, South Bend 100.0

    Posted on March 30, 2011, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades signs the Books of the Elect at the Rite of Election held Sunday, March 20, at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend.

    Posted on March 23, 2011, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades got acquainted with the youngest resident of Hannah’s House on his first visit to the “Maternity Home with a Heart,” on March 18.

    By Ann Carey

    MISHAWAKA — Each of the young women who come to Hannah’s House has her own unique story, but they also have much in common: Each is pregnant and choosing life for her baby, and each woman needs a safe place to live during her pregnancy and for a few weeks after giving birth. Hannah’s House, known as “The Maternity Home with a Heart,” fills that need in a cheerful and roomy house in Mishawaka.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades visited Hannah’s House for the first time on March 18 at the invitation of Karen DeLucenay, executive director. Before taking the “grand tour” of the house, the bishop chatted with the seven current residents, who sat in the sun-filled living room and talked about their different paths to Hannah’s House, about the babies they were expecting or had just delivered, and about their future plans to complete their education, find work and live independently.

    The residents praised Hannah’s House as a safe haven in the storm, a place that welcomed them and provides a family environment during their pregnancies and for up two months after they give birth. The women also explained that the house mothers and counselors at Hannah’s House encourage them to stay in school or work toward their GED if they lack a high-school diploma, and the staff assists the women with job leads and learning how to apply for a job.

    Parenting skills also are taught, and residents who choose adoption for their babies are helped to connect with appropriate agencies. The residents all have household assignments, including cooking, cleaning and laundry, and the women learn how to prepare nutritious food for themselves and their babies.

    Staff “house mothers” take turns providing 24-hour mentoring to the residents, and trained counselors provide onsite counseling. Residents also are helped to connect with community resources for medical care, education, employment and parenting support.

    Hannah’s House has certain expectations for the women who choose to live there: The women should remain drug-free, participate in regular prenatal and postnatal care, attend a church or synagogue of their choice on weekends, participate in daily devotions and mealtime prayers, participate in weekly goal setting and individual and group counseling, and help with household duties.

    Residents earn “points” by meeting expectations, and the women use those “points” to “buy” items for their babies, clothing or personal items for themselves, or household items for their future apartments from the Hannah’s House “store.” The “store” is stocked by baby showers hosted by area churches and by various benefactors. Even past residents can continue to earn “points” for the “store” through “Learn and Earn” by coming to the house and reading parenting articles.

    Some past residents have been asked to leave because they did not abide by the house rules, executive director DeLucenay told Bishop Rhoades. However, most of the young women embrace the opportunity to improve their lives, she said, and the staff works to empower the women to take control of their lives. Indeed, a spirit of cooperation, camaraderie and encouragement showed in the interactions of the residents and in their rapport with the bishop.

    “It’s like a community here; there’s a family feeling here in the house,” Bishop Rhoades told the residents, observing that the women must feel like sisters.

    Twins Shayne, left, and Hayla, right, are thriving in the loving care of mother Rebecca at Hannah’s House.

    Also on hand for the bishop’s visit were Matt Marien, president of the Hannah’s House board of directors, Sister Agnes Marie Regan, a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration and a member of the board, and Tamara Griffin, business manager for Hannah’s House. Marien and Sister Agnes Marie explained to Bishop Rhoades that it is crucial to support young women who want to choose life for their babies, for some of these women have no family support system, and no where else to turn. With room for seven mothers at a time, Hannah’s House always has a waiting list.

    Hannah’s House, named after the Biblical Hannah who longed to be a mother, is an independent entity that is funded solely by gifts and donations. Its main partners are the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, the Women’s Care Center, Bethel College and Gurley Leep Automotive Family. Hannah’s House also runs several fundraisers during the year, and generous individuals support the ministry through donations.

    Volunteers also help Hannah’s House operate smoothly by planning and organizing events for the residents such as movie or game nights; providing clerical assistance; doing public relations and fundraising; helping with home repair and lawn care; and helping with the monthly parent support group meetings for past Hannah’s House residents and the dads who are in their children’s life.

    Clearly impressed with this “Maternity Home with a Heart,” Bishop Rhoades told executive director DeLucenay to let him know if the ministry ever needed anything.

    “We certainly will; we know where you live,” DeLucenay replied.

    Posted on March 23, 2011, to:

  • Jim and Carol Tosconi provide quilts to students who attend the Gibault School in Terre Haute. The quilts were blessed Sunday, March 20, at Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Wayne by Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, pastor, and then delivered to Terre Haute.

    By Mary Kinder

    FORT WAYNE — Comfort comes in a variety of forms. For students facing a tough path, it comes by having something to call their own — a simple item to put their name on and take with them as their journey continues. For a mother facing an extraordinary loss, comfort comes from giving to others, creating something beautiful to honor loved ones lost. For both, the source of their comfort is a simple, handmade quilt.

    Last year, Jim and Carol Tosconi of Fort Wayne were visiting the Gibault School in Terre Haute as part of the Knights of Columbus convention. Jim Tosconi serves as the financial secretary for Council 122417, Knights of Our Lady of Good Hope. Gibault has long been a faith-based project for the Knights of Columbus.

    Founded in 1921 by the Indiana Knights of Columbus, Gibault was originally a home for wayward boys. But over the years, it has evolved to meet the needs of troubled kids in a variety of ways. Today, Gibault serves boys and girls and has provided life-changing opportunities for more than 8,600 children and their families.

    The Gibault School serves as refuge to students who are dealing with a variety of issues, from behavior and social troubles to substance abuse and more. Through a variety of services provided in a Christian environment, Gibault makes a real difference in the lives of young people struggling to fit in. The school’s mission is to provide life-changing opportunities for children, adults, families and communities.

    While speaking to a staff member, Carol Tosconi was struck when she was told the children don’t take any of the donated items with them when they leave Gibault. Everything stays at the facility to help care for other children.

    She immediately had an idea. She asked if she could make quilts for the students, and if they could keep the quilts when they left. “I thought it was important for them to have something that no one could take away,” she said.

    The staff thought it was an excellent idea, but it would be a big undertaking. There are roughly 100 students at Gibault at any one time. Carol was up to the challenge and began excitedly making plans for the project.

    But while returning from their trip, Jim and Carol received a phone call that would change their lives forever. Their daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Doug Hake, had been killed in a traffic accident in Alabama. Sadly, they left behind four children: Benjamin, 12; Sydnee, 17; Zachary, 19; and Christopher, 21.

    “It’s something you never get over,” Jim Tosconi says of the loss.

    After the initial shock began to subside, Carol Tosconi thought of the quilts. Rather than abandon her project, she now saw it as an opportunity to honor the lives of Jennifer and Doug. In addition, the project became part of the healing process.

    Jim explains that it gave Carol an outlet for her grief, “Something to do with her hands” he says, looking at his wife with soft, caring eyes.

    A quilter for more than 12 years, Carol did much of the work herself. But, as the project grew, she got help from a variety of sources, including the Knights of Columbus. As the quilts were finished, the Knights helped by tying tiny bows on them. Of course it wasn’t one of their usual duties, but they were happy to be of service. Carol also is quick to thank her Thursday night Women’s Bible Study group for their generous help.

    Making 100 quilts comes with a large financial cost, as well. While local fabric stores were very helpful, selling material at sale prices to Carol, the couple estimates that they have spent more than $5,000 on fabric and materials. Initially, they were taking the costs on themselves, but eventually, the Knights of Columbus and others stepped in to help.

    While speaking with Jim and Carol, who will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary next month, it is easy to see that their faith has helped them get through this difficult time, along with support from family and friends. They are now legal guardians of their grandchildren. Benjamin attends St. Vincent dePaul School and Sydnee attends Bishop Dwenger High School. They both say having the children has been a blessing amid the tragedy.

    The colorful quilts were recently displayed throughout Our Lady of Good Hope Church where they were blessed by Msgr. Bruce Piechocki before being taken to Gibault. The Tosconis were there, along with their four grandchildren, the Knights and many of their friends.

    Carol says she plans to continue this mission for as long as there is a need. She will make sure each new student receives a quilt of their own soon after arriving. And while each quilt is unique, every one has an identical tag sewn into the corner which says, “Made with love for (blank space) in honor of Jennifer and Doug Hake.” In that blank space, students can write their names, and take comfort in the knowledge that someone believes they deserve something of their very own.

    Those interested in helping in Carol’s ministry may contact Our Lady of Good Hope at (260) 485-9615.

    Posted on March 23, 2011, to:

  • The Wheelchair Ramp Builders group of Fort Wayne were the recipients of the Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award, which was presented at St. Mary Church on Thursday, March 17, by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. With Bishop Rhoades and representing the ramp builders are Steve Weissner, left, and David Kelley, crew chief, right.

    By Vince LaBarbera

    FORT WAYNE — The Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award committee honored the volunteers of the Wheelchair Ramp Builders group at a ceremony at St. Mary Church in Fort Wayne on March 17 hosted by Father Phillip A. Widmann, pastor, and Parishioner Andrea Thomas. The award, in the category of diversity and inclusiveness, was presented by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.

    Created in 2006 by St. Mary Church in cooperation with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the award honors individuals whose faith and activities exemplify the type of servant leadership for which Father Tom O’Connor was known during his years as a priest in Fort Wayne. Nominations are open to persons of all faiths.

    While diversity and inclusiveness often are thought of in terms of racial or ethnic issues, physical disability is another kind of diversity. The Wheelchair Ramp Builders have volunteered their time and talent for more than 21 years to build up-to-code residential access ramps, which allow individuals with differing physical abilities to leave their homes and be included in the broader fabric of society.

    The group was nominated by Nancy Lourraine, executive director of Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities. In her nomination letter, Lourraine noted that the group has, since its inception in 1992, built more than 1,000 ramps and that 87 percent of those ramps have been for individuals who live at or below the federal poverty level.

    The 24 volunteers themselves are diverse on several levels. Many are Presbyterian — the first ramp was built after a call went out during a citywide gathering of representatives from local Presbyterian congregations — but they soon became spiritually diverse, with volunteers coming from many different faith families, including Catholic and Lutheran. Their paying jobs also run the gamut from active and retired teachers and engineers to service and construction workers, and include an attorney and a Presbyterian pastor. On weekends, in all types of weather, the group builds wheelchair ramps that help to restore independence and self-sufficiency to individuals.

    Crew Chief David Kelley and Steve Weissner, a ramp builder, accepted the award on behalf of the group. The Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award carries with it a cash gift of $1,000 given to the charity, project or program of the winner’s choice. The check this year was awarded to the Turnstone Center Residential Ramp Building Program to purchase building materials.

    Previous Father Tom Award winners include Cliff Kindy, 2007, for his work in peace and justice; Sister Janet Gildea, M.D., 2008, for her dedication to cultural diversity; William Critell, 2009, for his efforts in education among disadvantaged students; and University of Saint Francis student Danielle Theresa Collins, 2010, for her campus and community leadership, and volunteer work to promote justice for the disadvantaged. 

    Father Tom, who died on March 17, 2004, at the age of 74, served as pastor of St. Mary Parish for 34 years. Many consider the humble priest to be a model of Catholic faith in action in both justice and charity. He was instrumental in the creation of the St. Mary Soup Kitchen, which has operated nonstop since opening on Jan. 22, 1975, and serves nearly 1,500 bowls of soup to hungry people every day. He also is credited for beginning the Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic, St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Day dinner for the hungry and the annual Christmas box distribution which assists more than 500 families yearly.

    Because Father Tom always said his work was rooted in his Catholic faith, in the Scriptures and in his priestly vocation, local “Light of Christ” Award nominees also must be firmly rooted in their own faith tradition.

    Posted on March 23, 2011, to: