The Light is On For You is being championed as another success in parishes across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Still, priests encourage the faithful and those who have fallen away from the sacrament of Reconciliation that the welcome extends through the Lenten season and beyond.
Father John Delaney, the pastor of St. Jude Parish in South Bend, told Today’s Catholic that he felt the evening offering was a success and he was busy the entire time with 15 to 16 penitents.
He said all were “very good Confessions — thoughtful and prepared, conscientious, sometimes tearful, but all good.”
Father Glenn Kohrman, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Elkhart, noted that he and Father Matthew Coonan, parochial vicar, had people coming for almost the whole period.
Father Dave Ruppert, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish, South Bend, said, “More people definitely came this year than last year. I believe people are more familiar with the Light Is On For You this year after beginning it last year. I’d say we had at least twice as many people.”
Conventual Franciscan Father Fred Pasche, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Angola, said, “The most encouraging aspect about the Light Is On For You was the number of people who took advantage of the opportunity for Reconciliation. Out of the two hours, I had about 10 minutes free.”
But Father Pasche and other priests want Catholics still interested in receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation to know that Reconciliation is still available for them.
Father Delaney noted, “Our Lord doesn’t wait for the (USCCB or the diocese) to have a special evening planned in order to be the ‘God who waits for our return.’ Come anytime!”
Father Glenn Kohrman commented, “The great gift that Confession is — on the authority of the Bible John 20:19 and almost 2,000 years of apostolic tradition — God gave us the gift to hear, ‘I absolve you from your sins,’ as humans, and it helps us greatly to avail ourselves to the grace of the sacrament.”
Lent is “a 40-day-plus season and there are penance services going on all over the city,” Father Delaney reminded the faithful, “and a call to any parish will tell you when theirs is, or a phone call to any parish will also tell you when their usual times are and you can put it into your own schedule with ease.”
Father Ruppert noted many parishes still have Penance services scheduled with a number of priests present all at once. “It can make it easier to come to a communal penance service with a number of people due to some anonymity as well as strength in numbers, in realizing that you’re not the only sinner out there,” he said.
To those who have stopped practicing their faith, Father Delaney noted, “For all the criticisms people have as to why they may have fallen away, that’s just part of the human element within the Church or anywhere else that serves us as humans, no matter what organization.”
He said, “Put that aside and go for all the right reasons, which are many, and the benefits far outweighing any shortcomings of the few.”
Some of those benefits are “community, regularly scheduled opportunities to hear the Word proclaimed and explained, extending your family, making good friends who strive after the same values you do, (and) certainly the special graces and ways in which Our Lord Himself wanted to nourish us along our journey in life, and much more,” Father Delaney said. “Those are always there for you no matter what one individual or ‘rule’ or teaching is in place that you may not like or understand or agree with. You may learn that you don’t have all the right answers and that there is a reason that is beyond you as to why a teaching is in place.”
“Open yourself to it,” Father Delaney encouraged. “It has to do with a journey with God, so it cannot help but be rewarding.”
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated the Rite of Election and Call of Candidates to Continuing Conversion on March 9 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. During his homily, the bishop spoke about the unique faith journeys of each, “Catechumens, men and women, who have been moved by God’s grace to embrace the Christian life. Candidates, men and women, also moved by God’s grace, to enter into full communion with the Church Jesus founded, the Church built on the foundation of the apostles. At Easter, you, our catechumens and candidates, will receive the fruits of the Paschal Mystery through the sacraments, actions of the Holy Spirit at work in Christ’s Body, the Church.”
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades signs the Books of Elect presented by each parish in the Fort Wayne area during the Rite of Election of Catechumens. The catechumens were presented, affirmed by their godparents and the assembly, and invited to enroll
By Joe Kozinski
MISHAWAKA — Old man Winter could not and would not cancel out the traditional rivalry between the top teams of Fort Wayne’s CYO and St. Joseph County’s Inter-City Catholic League as they matched up in the final contests of the year at Marian High School.
During the course of this season plagued by inclement weather, teams from both leagues fought for their prospective championships and added icing to the cake by representing their league for diocesan boasting rights.
The first contest was a consolation matchup between the visiting Eagles of St. John the Baptist of Fort Wayne and coincidentally the Eagles of South Bend St. Joseph.
The game couldn’t have been any closer as both squads fought tooth and nail. St. John’s dynamic duo of Carston Fritz and Tyreeon Hambright both contributed double-digit scoring, but the big man in the middle from St. Joseph, Josh De St. Jean’s 20 points were too much to overcome as the host Eagles drew first blood of the day holding on to win a 38-36 squeaker.
The perennial powerhouse, the Squires of St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel, wanted to represent with pride and even the score as they squared off against Christ the King in the second contest of the afternoon.
It seemed that the Squires always punch a ticket west for the ICCL-CYO Invitational and this year would be no exception as they came ready to play and matched up with the Kings who had been peaking at just the right time.
The Kings tied and retied the game behind their scoring leader Michael Dunkelberger until premiere players Dashan Bussel and Abram Beard of the Squires, who scored 21 and 18 points respectively, finished them off, 49-41.
That would leave the two big dogs from each league to settle the score in the traditional matchups.
The Panthers from St. Vincent would represent the CYO and the mighty Lions of St. Pius X the ICCL in the battle of champions.
The Panthers started the scoring early and the Lions counter punched their way back in the game to hold a 14-13 lead after one.
Again the game went back and forth, both teams matching the other’s intensity and resolve leaving a slight two-point margin at the half for the host Lions.
Both teams raced to their perspective locker rooms optimistic that the season would end with the grand prize of the diocesan championship in their grasp.
The answer to the $64 thousand question would be in the form of one player — Walter Ellis — as the lengthy eighth grader sliced, diced, dished, rebounded and scored as the Lions blew out the game and went on a 16-4 run in the third quarter.
As Ellis lead all scorers with 13, he also lead both teams in assists and rebounds as the Lions coasted home with a 53-42 championship.
The efforts of Isaac Kino’s 10 points, and Mitchell Campbell’s nine points paced the Eastern Champion Panthers during the hotly-contested game. The Lions’ Michael Godfrey and Reese Jackowiak aided St. Pius X on the scoreboard as they tallied 11 and nine respectively.
By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Ash Wednesday of 2014 will always be a special day for siblings Zachary and Cassidy Blackburn. Zachary is a freshman at Bishop Luers and his sister Cassidy is a junior.
On March 5 the two made their first Communion at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who made his pastoral visit to the school that day after two other scheduled visits were cancelled due to winter weather school closings. The Blackburns were also among six Bishop Luers students — including Luis Munoz, Shayna Coy, Shelby Gillenwater and Samantha Falk — who were also confirmed that day by Bishop Rhoades.
Although the Blackburns are from St. Jude Parish in Fort Wayne, they have attended other churches, changed schools and did not make their first Communion in second grade like most of their peers at Bishop Luers.
Meg Hanlon, theology teacher at Bishop Luers, had announced earlier in the school year that she was offering classes to prepare students interested in receiving the sacraments.
Hanlon explained that last year at his pastoral visit, Bishop Rhoades encouraged the school community to a seek out young people who had been baptized Catholic as infants but had not received the other sacraments of initiation. He also gave permission to begin a RCIA-type program at Luers.
“At the end of last school year, we asked all of our students, through theology classes if they needed Confirmation or Eucharist and, if they were non-Catholic, if they were interested in learning more about the Catholic faith,” Hanlon told Today’s Catholic. “We had a very positive response.”
“This year we invited all who had showed interest to meet and see how we could serve their specific needs,” she added. “We had 11 students who had been baptized as infants but needed the other sacraments of initiation. Six students committed to the sacramental preparation meetings.”
Hanlon said the meetings were held after school and involved the theology of the sacrament and a close look at the specific sacramental rite.
“It is our hope that the witness of the six young people this past week will encourage others the ‘come and see,’” Hanlon said.
“In our initial survey, we had also had some non-Catholic and unbaptized students express interest in becoming Catholic,” she noted. “Two students, baptized non-Catholics, responded to our invitation and we will be meeting with them and help them discern if they desire to become Catholic.”
“We try to bring all of our students into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ,” Hanlon said. “This opportunity, begun with Bishop Rhoades’ encouragement, will be a wonderful way to accomplish that goal.”
Zachary and Cassidy were eager to sign up for the meetings.
On the morning of the sacraments, Zachary, spoke to Today’s Catholic about receiving his first Communion later that morning. His freshman theology teacher Ann Isch, who served as a proxy Confirmation sponsor for Zachary’s uncle, joined him.
“It means a lot to me,” Zachary said. “It’s nice to be able to receive a blessing,” at Communion time, he said, but he was excited to be “receiving Holy Communion every time I go to Mass,” he added.
Zachary said he was nervous, “but it is wonderful to receive Communion.”
He came with the strong backing of Ann Isch, who said, “You can really see the Spirit is moving in him today.”
After the Mass, Cassidy echoed her brother’s words and said of her first Communion, “It was very exciting.”
When Mrs. Hanlon began talking about sacramental preparation classes, “I just really wanted to do it. I wanted to feel like everyone else in the school and be able to receive Communion,” Cassidy told Today’s Catholic.
Cassidy is known as an optimistic student in the hardest of circumstances, noted English teacher Eileen Brodmerkel.
Cassidy said going through the sacramental preparation with her brother Zachary made the experience a bit “less nerve-wracking. But I was nervous.”
The two talked about the sacramental preparation on the side to make sure they understood the instruction.
Cassidy spoke about receiving first Communion as a teen. “The second graders look cute and stuff,” she said, “but I think I understood it more than what the younger students would.”
Madison Smith, Cassidy’s close friend and mentor, served as Cassidy’s Confirmation sponsor.
Zachary and Cassidy’s mom, Tammy, sat near her children at the first Communion and Confirmation and has been supportive of bringing the children into full participation in the Church.
Next up, Cassidy said she looks forward to graduating from high school next year and then plans to go to college and study speech pathology.