• Matt Forsey, left, and Jack Buckey pose at the 2012 Easter Vigil.

    By Karen Clifford

    GRANGER — Many of the decisions we make in life as children are made or influenced by our parents. That is why it is remarkable that two young men who responded to the call to become Catholic, did not come from this faith background.

    In the fall of 2011, sixth grader Matt Forsey, and eighth grader Jack Buckey, both students at St. Pius X Catholic School, began their extraordinary faith journey, which led to receiving the sacraments of initiation at the 2012 Easter Vigil.

    Matt is currently a seventh-grade student at St. Pius X, and Jack is now a freshman at Saint  Joseph High School in South Bend.

    Today’s Catholic recently spoke with these young men, their parents, sponsors, the director of religious education and parish priest in recalling the milestones and memories of their catechetical process.

    Matt Forsey

    For Matt Forsey, the twice weekly Mass offered by St. Pius X School was a turning point in his journey to Catholicism. “I knew I wanted to become Catholic during the Eucharistic Prayer, watching the priest’s reverence in the Transubstantiation of the Body and Blood of Christ,” he recalls.

    Eucharistic Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament was another way for Matt to connect with Christ, he emphasized. Besides reciting the rosary, chaplets and other prayers during his visit at Eucharistic Adoration, Matt would read books such as “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis De Sales and “Divine Mercy in My Soul” by St. Faustina.

    Since his Confirmation in the Catholic Church, Matt’s frequent use of the sacrament of Reconciliation has been a source of strengthening his faith. When giving a stewardship talk at parish Masses, Matt attested to the power of regular Confession.

    “Confession really is a gift from God. We get the sins we confess forgiven, the ones we forget forgiven, the guilt that we feel from doing something wrong removed, and the grace to stop sinning,” Matt explains.

    Jack Buckey

    Toward the end of seventh grade at St. Pius X School, Jack Buckey attended Easter Mass with a friend and it had a lasting impact on the young man. “It was a beautiful Mass and seeing all of it made me want to be a part of it,” Jack remembers.

    Jack also recalls that the religious education director of St. Pius X, Dan Allen, was instrumental in discussions of the Catholic catechism. Because of Jack’s football practice after school, Dan volunteered to stay after practice concluded and discuss with Jack what he had missed in class.

    Says Dan, “Jack came to our classes eager to learn. He and I did stay late together after he arrived from football practice in the fall to discuss what he had missed during the regular class time. This never seemed like a burden for him, and he was truly engaged and interested in the process.”

    “Being my first year teaching the class, it was actually a pleasant surprise to have someone so engaged. While Jack did not always ask as many questions as some other students, he would listen attentively, and when he did speak, I could tell that he was prayerfully processing the lessons,” Dan adds.

    Matt Forsey, left, celebrates with Father Terry Coonan and Pam Forsey at the 2012 Easter Vigil.

    The sponsors

    Both Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC) sponsors of the two young men recall wonderful milestones of Jack and Matt’s faith journey.

    Mary O’Hannigan, who was Matt’s sponsor, recalls his desire for learning about the Catholic faith.

    “Matt’s enthusiasm and heart for the Catholic faith is inspiring. He is always questioning, to the point that I was often tempted to swing by the rectory and pick up Father Bill or Father Terry for our daily car rides home from school. Matt’s curiosity about all things Catholic is insatiable. So I did my very best to answer his questions, but there were few times I would respond, ‘I don’t know. Let me find out and get back with you on that one!’” says Mary.

    Preparing for the Triduum was a high point for both Matt and Mary.

    “When we were approaching the Triduum, Matt was planning out his schedule to attend as many events as possible. Wanting to be a good sponsor and knowing he was eager to attend every event, we decided to attend most everything with him. This included the Good Friday service, which I have always avoided because I cry easily and didn’t want to embarrass myself, or embarrass my family! So there we sat, in a packed church on Good Friday,” Mary remembers.

    She continues, “When it came time to approach the Crucifix, which was now lying on the altar instead of hanging above it, I was a wreck. Thankfully, my husband Joe always keeps tissue handy. It was powerful, joyful, sorrowful and there was Matt with our family. His parents have raised a fine son, and I am honored when people ask if he is ours.”

    Jack’s sponsor, Kevin Danahey, believes that Jack’s faith journey began prior to RCIC.

    “I truly believe Jack was called to attend St. Pius X Grade School and through his experiences in school, he was called further and deeper into the Church. Jack transferred to St. Pius X Grade School at an unusual time. He entered in the seventh grade. This was a challenge as most of the students in his grade had been together since the fifth grade. Making new friends and building new relationships might be intimidating for many young men, but Jack knew he was meant to be there,” says Kevin.

    Kevin recalls a story that Jack’s mother Laura shared with him.

    “On Jack’s very first day of school at St. Pius, during morning drop off and as the students got out of their cars, they were greeted by some of the staff, including Principal Elaine Holmes. Since it was the first day, Father Bill Schooler happened to be out welcoming the students back for a new year. After Jack got out of the car, he walked up to Father Bill, and extended his hand to introduce himself. Instead of a handshake, Father Bill welcomed him with an embrace. Jack’s mom Laura was deeply touched and from that very moment, she knew Jack was in the right place,” Kevin notes.

    Kevin adds, “His personal development and desire to grow deeper in his faith started from the first day in school and continued over his next two years. He thrived academically, in sports, and was the lead in the St. Pius musical in eighth grade. He also thrived spiritually during these two years and felt he wanted to be something more than a student, but something much greater, a member of our faith.”

    Msgr. Bill Schooler and Jack Buckey are all smiles at the 2012 Easter Vigil.

    The parents

    Jack and Pam Forsey say that they feel a connection to the Catholic Church through Matt’s faith journey.

    “When he was going through the RCIC process, one or both of us went every week last year,” Pam says. “We have learned a lot about Catholicism in the process, because he is always telling us about the saints and history of the Catholic Church.”

    Pam also recalls that on a recent trip to the Museum of Art in Chicago, Matt shared with his parents the Catholic symbolism in some of the paintings of famous artists. “There were people standing around us and they were listening as Matt spoke,” Pam explains.

    Laura and Scott Buckey are equally supportive in Jack’s choice to become Catholic.

    “We are encouraging Jack to use his faith in good times and bad. Faith is very important to our family,” says Scott.

    “We encourage him to be our spiritual guide in our house and Jack says the prayers at dinner in our home,” Laura emphasizes. “It is nice to see that Jack has taken this as a priority for himself,” Scott adds.

    The Parish

    St. Pius X director of religious education Dan Allen and pastor Msgr. Bill Schooler both attest to seeing the wonderful growth in faith of these young men in the past two years.

    “It seemed like the Holy Spirit blessed me in a special way sending Jack and Matt during my first year teaching the RCIC. It was such an inspiration to me, a lifelong Catholic, to meet two young men so ready, willing and eager to be Catholic,” says Dan. “I keep them in my prayers still as they continue to develop and change, and they give me hope for the future of the Church, renewing my confidence that the Gospel of Christ still touches human hearts in every age.”

    And “Father” Bill, as he is affectionately referred to by his congregation, concludes, “When we opened our Catholic school, we had hoped that the school would help with evangelizing. Although the vast majority of our students are Catholic, those few who are not Catholic come to Mass and take religion classes. It was the contact with the Eucharist that first drew Jack and Matt, along with the catechesis they received in class. I am very proud of those young men!”

     

    Posted on March 26, 2013, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass with students of Saint Joseph High School on March 19 as part of a pastoral visit.

    By Lisa Kochanowski

    SOUTH BEND — “Every year I look forward to coming here to Saint Joseph High School to celebrate the feast of St. Joseph,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during his recent celebration at the new high school.

    The visit began with Mass in the new gymnasium with over 1,000 students, visitors, faculty, staff and parents. Bishop Rhoades started his homily talking about the new chapel and inviting the students to visit the new worship space.

    “Joseph is such a great example of faith and faith in God’s word,” said Bishop Rhoades to the crowd. At the end of the Gospel it says that Joseph woke up and did what the angel told him to do and he believed even though he did not understand.

    Before heading to the high school, Bishop Rhoades had the chance to watch a portion of the first Mass of Pope Francis.

    “What a great day for the pope to begin his ministry on the feast of St. Joseph,” said Bishop Rhoades. He was impressed with the homily and the pope’s love for the people.

    “The pope talked about Joseph’s great faith and of his vocation to be the protector and guardian of Mary and Jesus,” said Bishop Rhoades. It is this role that makes him the perfect patron saint of the universal Church and someone to look up to and pray to for protection.

    Bishop Rhoades noted the pope’s homily focused on the importance of our vocation as Christians to protect others and the world around us. He cited examples of how the Church has a duty to protect people, parents have the duty to protect their children and when parents get older the children become the protectors.

    “We also have to protect ourselves from hatred, envy and pride. Evil intentions come from the heart and we have to protect ourselves from this evil,” said Bishop Rhoades.

    At the end of his homily, Bishop Rhoades told the crowd, “My prayer is that this community reigns Christ’s love in the wider community of South Bend.”

    “Listening to bishop’s homily was inspiring and connected our school community to the homily given by Pope Francis at his installation earlier in the day in Rome,” said Principal Susan Richter. “Bishop’s homily told the story of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the universal Church and our patron saint. I will always remember the message Bishop Rhoades shared with our school — illustrating how we are one Church, bound together in prayer and worship. Bishop is always masterful at teaching the faith to his flock.”

    After Mass the students were invited to participate in a question-and-answer session. Many questions started with a hug, ended with a hug and covered a variety of different topics.

    “Who do you think will win in basketball?” asked Tim McNamara. Bishop Rhoades responded Gonzaga and a wager was made between the two men with an agreement that if Bishop Rhoades won McNamara would wash his car, and if McNamara won, Bishop Rhoades would pay for a meal at a good restaurant of choice.

    “What is your favorite Bible passage,” inquired Dominic Kucela.

    “My favorite Bible passage is the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, Chapter 8. I especially like the end of the passage that says ‘Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,’” said Bishop Rhoades.

    The bishop had the chance to spend the afternoon with students talking about their studies, watch them enjoy the new building and get the chance to know the community.

    “A memorable moment was later in the day when bishop spoke with seven of our students who had recently lost a parent. Bishop consoled these young people and prayed with them. His prayer was powerful. He promised to continue prayer for the deceased parents and families. He explained that he has a chapel in his home, and that he would take the list given to him by the students and remember them and their families in his intentions and prayers. This simple pastoral act speaks volumes of bishop’s love for the young people in his diocese,” said Richter.

    Bishop Rhoades was presented with gifts during his visit, including a book at St. Kateri Tekakwitha, a painting of St. Kateri and a piece of Saint Joseph High School spirit wear with the new school logo.

    “My hope is that Bishop Rhoades believes that Saint Joe students are faith-filled young people committed to serving others in need, as well as being academically excellent. I hope bishop enjoyed his day at Saint Joseph High School. He seemed to appreciate and delight in his conversations during his visit to a theology class, with our student leaders during lunch, and later when the students took bishop on a short tour of the new school. Bishop Rhoades was able to witness our mission being fulfilled; our students being educated in heart and mind,” said Richter.

     

    Posted on March 26, 2013, to:

  • Amanda Pedro was named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact for her fundraising efforts for a Haitian orphanage. Pedro is also a graduate of Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne.

    FORT WAYNE — University of Saint Francis (USF) senior nursing major Amanda Pedro has been named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact in recognition of her demonstrated investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities.

    Campus Compact is the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement. It promotes public and community service that develops students’ citizenship skills, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships and provides resources and training for faculty seeking to integrate civic and community-based learning into the curriculum.

    Newman Civic Fellows are nominated by college and university presidents to acknowledge their motivation and ability in public leadership. USF President Sister M. Elise Kriss, a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, nominated Pedro on the basis of her pivotal role in raising funds for the construction of the first permanent residential home for the orphans at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage in Haiti.

    In 2011, Pedro, a successful student-athlete, responded to an invitation to travel to Haiti with Formula for Life, a student philanthropic group at USF. Since 2009, this group has coordinated a campus 5K run/walk to raise money to provide nutritional support to Haitian children.

    Upon returning to USF, Pedro became a Formula for Life leader, and her passion and compassion for the children of Haiti has motivated the community to respond generously. The April 2012 Formula for Life 5K run/walk was the most successful to date, with $11,000 raised.

    Pedro returned to Haiti with the Formula for Life faculty adviser and another student team member to present Father Andre of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage the money raised through the event. During the visit, she heard Father Andre recount an incident in which a baby girl was turned away because the living space could not accommodate her. After he explained his vision to expand the orphanage from a small rental to a permanent campus on 15 acres of farmland, Pedro told her Formula for Life adviser, “We are going to get father on his new land. We are the ones who are supposed to do it.”

    Within six months, the construction campaign led by Pedro, who is a Bishop Luers High School graduate, and other Formula for Life members garnered over $75,000 in monetary contributions and in-kind construction donations for the orphanage-building project. She remained committed to her mission upon her return to Indiana, despite the distance and the distractions in the life of a U.S. college student.

    “Amanda is an excellent student, a talented athlete and true campus leader,” President Sister Kriss said. “She communicated the orphans’ plight, reminded us of our blessings, and created the momentum for a campaign to build an earthquake- and hurricane-resistant home for those children. It will be interesting to see what her future holds and how she shapes her nursing career and advocacy for Haitian children into a life plan. Asked about her role in the orphanage project following graduation, she replied, ‘You know — I’m not done yet.’”

    Posted on March 26, 2013, to:

  • By Brigid Curtis Ayers

    INDIANAPOLIS — Should people who are convicted of a crime be marked for life even if they have served their sentence and reformed their lives? State Rep. Jud McMillin, (R-Brookfield) author of a bill to address the problem, believes some individuals deserve a second chance at living a productive life. And Church officials agree.

    McMillin’s bill, House Bill 1492, as proposed would allow expungement of some misdemeanor and nonviolent felony records after a 10 year period of no criminal activity.

    The proposal passed the House 82-17. During a March 20, meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, panel members heard testimony, but held the bill over another week to consider additional amendments.

    McMillin, the bill’s author said, “What the bill would allow is for certain felonies, excluding sexual offenses and felonies where people are harmed, to be expunged 10 years after the date of conviction. It does provide for prosecutors to reopen an expunged record for purposes of subsequent convictions.”

    McMillin said the bill was “the final step” in recognizing that it might not be the best public policy to label people as felons for life, and not give them the opportunity to become productive members of society. “Especially when they have demonstrated that they have cleaned-up their act and are ready to get back to being tax paying members of society,” said McMillin.

    State Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, said he worked for eight years with Rep. Bill Crawford to get a bill passed to seal the records of persons whom committed Class D felonies, or misdemeanor, nonsexual and nonviolent offenders, and who had no further convictions. Eight years after they had completed all their sentencing, their records could be sealed.

    Turner said he’s had “countless individuals” contact him and Rep. Crawford to say “thank you” for giving them the opportunity to provide for their families. “These crimes should not be a life time sentence. We do have crimes that should be for life, but not these,” said Turner. “These individuals have made a determined effort to put what’s in the past, in the past, and provide for their families. I don’t think we can ask any more of them.”

    State Rep. Matt Ubelhor, R-Bloomfield, said, “Having had the opportunity to hire many, many people throughout my career. I’ve turned down incredibly good people because a prior record was not revealed until it was time to do the (permanent) hiring and background check.” No background check would be done for temporary workers.

    Ubelhor, who had an accountant working for him as a temp for months and was ready to hire him. He couldn’t hire him. Ubelhor said, “In tears, the 32-year old man told me ‘Matt, I was 19-years-old and I drove the getaway car for one of my buddies who hit-up a 7-11 store.’ Ubelhor said the man did 18-months in jail, then got a degree from Purdue, is married with two kids. He worked for Ubelhor as an accountant for $15 an hour. “Best paying job he’d ever had, and he did a hell of job, performed flawlessly, but I had to tell him, I’m not hiring you because you are not good enough. He did the crime, did the time, and paid the dime, and now still can’t get past it,” said Ubelhor. “This bill is remarkable for these kinds of individuals.”

    State Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, raised concerns with House colleagues during the floor debate saying his position on the bill has been “very clear and consistent. The bill falls on the side of the offender and not on the side of victims or potential victims.” Eberhart said he was not a callous person, that he hired a person who was a convicted felon, but did so with full disclosure, and was concerned that if criminal records were expunged businesses owners would not have that knowledge and should.

    State Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, disagrees, saying that the bill does not prevent employers from calling the county jail finding out about arrest records, and employers do this all the time. “You want a jobs bill? This is a jobs bill,” said Mahan. “An engineer, 45-years-old told me as a young person he got an OWI (operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated). Less than five years later, while at Purdue, he got another one. That raises it to a Class D felony. He’s spent the rest of his life paying for that mistake. He can’t even chaperone at one of his kids’ field trips.” Another man told Mahan at age 24 he lifted a pack of smokes, a Class D felony. “He can’t even get a job at McDonalds,” said Mahan. “You want a jobs bill. This is a jobs bill.”

    Glenn Tebbe, Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) executive director, who testified in support of the bill in the House and Senate said, “The persons addressed in this bill have repented, offered satisfaction for their crime and demonstrated good character and behavior. They deserve a second chance.”

    Posted on March 26, 2013, to:

  • Bishop Rhoades blesses, dedicates Women’s Care Center Chapel

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blesses the new chapel in the Women’s Care Center located on Notre Dame Avenue in South Bend.

    By Diane Freeby

    FORT WAYNE — It’s fitting that a Women’s Care Center idea conceived nine months ago joyfully came to fruition amidst prayer and a celebration of the Holy Eucharist Saturday morning at the Notre Dame Avenue location.

    “What a beautiful chapel!” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, referring to the sacred space he dedicated and blessed. “You who work or volunteer at this place are called to be instruments of the Lord, providing refuge to women — the refuge of love and compassion and support.”

    A small space designed for one or two people to kneel in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and for about 12 to gather for Mass, was packed beyond that for the first Mass on March 16.

    A small wooden altar was built from old pews from St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend by a parishioner. Because of the chapel’s small size, Bishop Rhoades celebrated the Eucharist with his back to the people, reminiscent of the Latin rite. But he directly addressed the Women’s Care Center family gathered before him as he reflected in his homily on Psalm 7.

    “The psalmist prayed to God to save and rescue him, lest he become like a lion’s prey, torn to pieces, with no one to rescue him,” recalled Bishop Rhoades. “He was innocent and asked God to let the malice of the wicked come to an end. I thought how this prayer of the innocent psalmist could be the prayer of the innocent unborn if they had the capacity to pray.”

    “But we do have the capacity to pray and we have the capacity to rescue the innocent,” Bishop Rhoades added. “Of course, this is part of the mission of the Women’s Care Center whose work indeed rescues so many innocent babies from being torn to pieces like lion’s prey. And now this center will have this chapel, a sacred place to pray with the psalmist, to pray for life, to pray for the unborn.”

    Ann Manion, volunteer president of Women’s Care Center, and longtime supporter Kitty Fulnecky helped dress the altar after Bishop Rhoades sprinkled the chapel with holy water before later incensing the altar itself.

    Manion spearheaded the chapel project along with foundation director Bobby Williams.

    “I think this will bring amazing blessings for us,” said Manion. “I plan to visit this chapel every day and I know a lot of the counselors will, Bobby will. It’s just great to have the Holy Spirit with us as we minister to these women. This is the most trafficked center of any in Indiana. About 25 percent of the pregnant women in St. Joseph County come to the Notre Dame Avenue location for some reason. We serve more abortion-minded women here than at any other center. It just seems really appropriate to have this extra help.”

    Williams thanked Bishop Rhoades for approving their petition to build the chapel. In addition to Msgr. Michael Heintz, rector of St. Matthew Cathedral, Williams thanked Kathy Miller for making the altar cloth, Brian MacMichael and Deacon Jim Fitzpatrick for their guidance, and chapel custodian Tim Fulnecky and his wife Kitty, referring to them as “Mr. and Mrs. Women’s Care Center.

    “On behalf of Ann Manion, myself, Ellen Sommer — our 20 year counselor at Women’s Care Center — on behalf of the over 20,000 women we see, who make over 87,000 visits to one of our centers, thank you Bishop Rhoades for being our good shepherd and being on our board … we love you! Thank you very much!”

    Sommer, who serves as director of counseling, oversees training for all newly hired counselors at the 22 Women’s Care Center locations now scattered throughout seven states. She says it’s important for those on the front lines to be nourished spiritually.

    “I’m feeling very blessed,” smiled Sommer. “I think this chapel is so beautiful to have here at the Women’s Care Center. Staff can go in there to pray and spend time with the Eucharist and we can feel confident that God will help us in our work here to reach out to these moms and babies, to help them choose life. I’m feeling very blessed and very humbled to be present at the Mass today.”

    Manion says they will celebrate Mass at the chapel at least twice a month, with plans to bring in various groups. She invites anyone who would like to come for Mass to email her at annmanion1@hotmail.com. Board members Msgr. Heintz, Msgr. Bill Schooler of St. Pius X in Granger and Father Bill Sullivan of St. Thomas in Elkhart are among the priests committed to celebrating Mass at the Women’s Care Center.

    “I pray that having Our Lord here in this chapel will bring many more abundant blessings to this center,” added Bishop Rhoades during the final blessing. “Let us continue to pray for and work for the Gospel of life.”

    Posted on March 19, 2013, to: