• Fundraiser planned oct. 15 to support the kitchen

    FORT WAYNE — St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen is feeding the hungry in greater numbers than ever before in its history, having served more than 100,000 meals already this year.

    Pastoral associate Tony Henry says the situation is “real serious right now.” People are already strug- gling financially in the current economy and with winter approaching, he fears that things will get “pretty desperate.”

    Henry notes that a visit to the soup kitchen often provides the only food a needy person receives each day so it is a vital way station for the poor.

    The ministry began on a small scale in 1975 when St. Mary’s then-pastor, the late Father Tom O’Connor, began serving soup to the poor from the back porch of his rectory. Today it is a huge operation run out of a large commercial kitch- en at the parish under the direction of cook Diane Day and dozens of volunteers.

    Each morning Day prepares at least two 60-gallon containers of soup for lunch. Lately, however, the numbers of those requesting food have risen dramatically and usually a third 60-gallon container is needed. It is served carry-out style in a 16-ounce styrofoam cup with bread and milk and sometimes sweets like pie, cake or donuts. The kitchen is open every day and people begin lining up early. One thousand to

    1,200 lunches are distributed daily. “They get a good meal,” says Henry. The soup kitchen has always

    served primarily single men, the unemployed and the homeless.

    Lately, Henry says, “The face of the poor is changing … we are seeing more homeless, no question about that,” but also families, the mentally ill and the working poor.

    However, Henry applauds the pragmatic manner in which the working poor use the soup kitchen to make their money stretch so they can buy gas in order to reach those jobs.

    Carolyn Ransom, who works in the kitchen, also reports a dramatic increase in those seeking assistance.

    “We’re seeing more families than ever before,” Ransom says. And the numbers are especially high at the end of the month when people’s paychecks and food stamps run out.

    She points out that the soup kitchen is supported 100 percent by the community and no government funding is involved.

    “I’m always amazed when people donate,” Ransom says.

    Area farmers and gardeners often bring in their produce — tomatoes, potatoes and onions are plentiful now. Donations of pasta, noodles, rice and barley are always welcome. Generous merchants like Meijer, Kroger and Wal-Mart help keep food costs down with their donations and St. Vincent and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishes often have food drives to help the kitchen.

    Henry says, “We love our soup kitchen” and to show gratitude for the community’s support, St. Mary’s is doing its part by planning a fundraiser for Saturday, Oct. 15, from 7-11:30 p.m. in Oechtering Hall at the parish.

    Parishioners Dottie Carpenter and Val Vorndran are co-chairmen of the upcoming event, which will feature Spike and the Bulldogs, a popular local band with a huge following. Food will be available, along with a cash bar, a 50-50 drawing and a silent auction. Vorndran says tickets are $10 a piece and may be purchased at the door, or a table of eight can be guaranteed and reserved in advance for $120.

    The Knights of Columbus will donate and prepare the food, the band is performing free of charge, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the operation of the soup kitchen.

    Carpenter points out that the cost of maintaining the ministry is high and that all donations are wel- come. Time, talent and treasure are all needed.

    Ransom says volunteers are always welcome in the kitchen and those interested may call her at (260) 750-8373. “It’s a fun environment to work in,” she says.

    Monetary contributions may be mailed to St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1101 Lafayette St., P.O. Box 11383, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

    Christ calls us to feed the hungry, Henry says, and calls the ministry of the soup kitchen “grace-filled.”

    Posted on September 14, 2011, to:

  • Mishawaka Catholic students enter St. Joseph Parish for an all-school Mass.

    Bishop Rhoades visits the newly-consolidated Mishawaka Catholic School

    By Karen Clifford

    For more photos visit the photo gallery.

    MISHAWAKA — “It’s a historic time for the Church in Mishawaka to have a new consolidated Catholic school,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades exclaimed as he greeted third- through eighth-grade students during Mass at St. Joseph Church in Mishawaka on Aug. 26.

    Bishop Rhoades was on hand to visit Mishawaka Catholic inter-parochial school, which consists of three campuses — the St. Bavo campus for preschoolers and kindergarten through second grade, the St. Joseph campus with grades 3-5, and the St. Monica campus which houses grades 6-8.

    During his homily at Mass, Bishop Rhoades spoke of ways that students, teachers and parents could do God’s will in their lives. He reminded all that St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, taught that God wants us to become holy. He asked everyone to repeat the words with him, “This is the will of God — your holiness.”

    He then urged those in attendance to become holy by participating in the many graces that God gives through sacraments such as the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and the need for daily prayer.

    “Prayer helps us to become holy,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We need to love God with all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. And we need to love one another as Jesus has loved us.”

    He asked that prayers for former St. Monica principal, Sister Pat Gavin, who is very ill, be included in the congregation’s daily worship.

    Following Mass, Bishop Rhoades met with students, teachers, parents and those who helped to shape the direction of Mishawaka Catholic.

    Father Terry Fisher, executive pastor of Mishawaka Catholic, described the spirit of the new school.

    “The teachers are organized and the kids are excited,” Father Fisher said. “The parents were happy to see which classrooms their children would be in during the open house we had. We have waiting lists for pre-k and eighth grade and are excited about the whole thing.”

    Mishawaka Catholic School board president Mike Burmeister added, “It was a long time in coming and many people worked hard to put this together. But we are off to a great start.”

    Mishawaka Catholic Principal Vikki Wojcik is committed to keeping the traditions of each of the campuses.

    “We definitely want to preserve the K-8 feeling in our school,” Wojcik told Today’s Catholic. “In order to do that we will need to be creative in how we structure learning opportunities across grades and across campuses.”

    Events and programs that will intersect across grades and campuses include all-school Mass, Faith Families, science fair, reading experiences, an oratorical event, and a health day with a food fair and exercise, as examples.

    Wojcik stressed that the faculty and staff are looking forward to examining what and how students learn, and taking the results and applying them in a variety of ways.

    Two programs that Wojcik wants to apply new learning methods include art and music classes offered at the school.

    Art teacher Cindie Weldy explained the methods of teaching and curriculum she will incorporate in her classes.

    “I use the Discipline-Based Art Education Approach that combines art production, art criticism, art history, and aesthetics,” Weldy said. “Electives in the middle school will include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, weaving and collage.”

    Jeanette Dripps, a music teacher for both Mishawaka Catholic and Marian High School, will offer middle school students a music elective course that is unique to Mishawaka Catholic.

    “The students will participate in drumming and singing from cultures all over the world,” Dripps said. “We have ordered a classroom set of African drums and other instruments. Some were even made in Ghana, West Africa.”

    “Through drumming circles, students will develop the ability to express themselves through playing and composition,” she added.

    Wojcik acknowledges the success of any school is dependent on parental participation.

    “We partner with parents in the most important work — raising children to be disciples of Christ,” Wojcik stressed. “When we have a shared vision of the work we are trying to accomplish, which is helping each child of God reach his or her potential. We are truly community.”

    Before Bishop Rhoades’ visit to Mishawaka Catholic concluded, he met with kindergarten through second graders at the St. Bavo campus. During his interaction with students there, he proclaimed that his favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees; which prompted some disapproval from the audience.

    Bishop Rhoades afterwards redeemed himself with the students when he proclaimed the University of Notre Dame to be his favorite football team.

    Mishawaka Catholic School Statistics

    Executive Pastor — Father Terry Fisher

    Principal — Vikki Wojcik

    Faculty members — 34

    Preschool enrollment for 2011-2012 — 52

    Kindergarten through eighth grade enrollment for 2011-2012 — 368

    Web address — http://mishawakacatholicschool.org

    Posted on September 7, 2011, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades greets guests at the blessing of the new St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County. The facility located at 520 Crescent Ave. in South Bend, was blessed Aug. 28.

    By May Lee Johnson

    SOUTH BEND — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told hundreds of guests gathered for the blessing of the new St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County’s building, “May this be a place where you will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give counsel and advice to those who need it.”

    The bishop was on hand Sunday, Aug. 28, to officially bless and dedicate the new facility, located at 520 Crescent Ave., in South Bend, the site formerly known as Madison Center’s Sunshine Clubhouse.

    Remarking on the new building, Bishop Rhoades noted that “By the great works that will be done for the poor and underprivileged you will further the mission of Jesus Christ and bring His people closer to Him.”

    Bishop Rhoades then walked though the building blessing each room, person and the garden.

    Charlie Thompson, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County, was pleased that Bishop Rhoades provided the blessing and said, “We are honored to have Bishop Rhoades at the open house and providing this special blessing for our new facility. His presence is symbolic of the society’s mission and vision to serve as the voice of the poor in our ongoing efforts to reduce poverty in our area.

    The new building houses the society’s administrative offices and programs, and provides space for meetings, retreats, liturgies, training and social functions. Many of the offices, which will be used for counseling and other services, are decorated with soft lighting and comfortable furniture to make visitors feel at ease.

    “I think this building is a gift from God,” said Mary Primson of Mishawaka. “I had to call on the St. Vincent de Paul Society a few times last year and they were very nice. So I thought it would be nice to come over and see their new place. I just love the garden out back and when the bishop blessed it, I cried. I’m so happy I was able to be here today.”

    The St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County is a Catholic lay organization with a long history of service to neighbors in need. It offers support such as food, clothing and household necessities, as well as emotional and spiritual support through one-on-one interactions with those who are suffering.

    The St. Vincent de Paul Society provides support by making home visits. During these visits the members provide emergency food, clothing and financial assistance. More importantly, they offer friendship and compassion. Vincentians serve families throughout St. Joseph County.

    Among the client services offered at the new site are the food pantry and direct assistance from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. During that time, clients may apply for food, clothing and miscellaneous material assistance. They also may call the office at (574) 234-6211 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to request assistance. The St. Vincent de Paul Society will continue to partner with Stone Soup Community to provide financial assistance.

    Posted on September 7, 2011, to:

  • By Theresa Thomas

    SOUTH BEND — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades received the eremitic vows of Mary Elizabeth Kloska of Elkhart, during a Mass at St. Hedwig Parish in South Bend on Saturday, Aug. 27, in the presence of three priests, a master of ceremonies and immediate family members, their spouses and children. Having taken temporary (three year) eremitic vows, Kloska is now a professed hermit, the first ever in diocesan history.

    “We have great reason to rejoice,” said Bishop Rhoades in his homily at the Mass of the Rite of Public Profession of the Evangelical Counsels for a Person Following the Eremitic Life, “for Mary becomes the first professed hermit in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The consecrated life of a hermit goes back to the early years of the Church. … Today, Mary embraces a station of life where she separates in some ways from the world to be more united with the Lord Jesus.”

    Encouraging her assembled family he continued, “Be assured we can still talk to her, but most of her day will be spent in prayer.”

    According to definition, a hermit withdraws from the world, and spends most of the day in seclusion and silence, praying and fasting. A hermit publicly professes the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, and follows a rule of life that the local bishop has approved. Kloska’s specific rule and vows reflect her vocation of being a hermit of “crucified love,” which means her “plan of life” is centered on Christ crucified.

    Because Kloska’s vows reflected her dedication to the crucified Christ, the priest’s vestments during the rite were red, signifying the blood of Christ or martyrdom.

    Bishop Rhoades, in his homily, said that St. Paul wrote that many in the culture think those following Christ are strange or foolish. But, he pointed out, “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” — 1 Cor. 1:25

    Bishop Rhoades also stated that the Blessed Mother stood at the foot of the cross and is a role model for Kloska as she seeks to live out her vocation. Since Kloska made her vows on the feast of St. Monica, Bishop Rhoades reminded Kloska that St. Monica, too, can be a role model for her, as she demonstrated steadfastness and a prayerful life.

    Kloska studied languages and theology at the University of Notre Dame, where she also played a role in starting Eucharistic Adoration on campus and a prayer group on the vocation of women. She graduated in 1999 and spent five months in a hermitage to discern her life’s work. She then contacted a priest she knew who was preparing to found a mission in Eastern Siberia. He spoke to his order’s founder and received permission for Kloska to accompany him and a religious sister the following year into Siberia, Russia.

    During this time, Kloska stated that her particular vocation became very clear — “Jesus was calling me to live a spirituality of littleness, spousal love and the Cross,” she said.

    From 2003 to the spring of 2011, Kloska lived as what she calls a “pilgrim hermit,” dividing her time between praying and serving the poor in missions and spending time of solitude in hermitages.

    While in mission work she worked with the local bishop and lived within a parish or religious community that had invited her. Mission work varied greatly and included serving some of the more than 200,000 people living in trash dumps in the Philippines, caring for sick and orphaned babies in Tanzania and orphaned children in South Africa, giving retreats in Eastern and Western Europe, weeding gardens, visiting prostitutes and working on prayer teams.

    Kloska insists that her most important work is prayer, and she sometimes spends up to seven or eight hours daily praying or in the presence of the Holy Eucharist.

    In the spring of 2011 Kloska felt strongly that God was calling her to “somehow be buried even deeper in the Church.”

    “Jesus had been showing me clearly over time how the greatest way I could touch and serve all those suffering … in the world is through more intensified prayer and less travel to physical missions,” she said.

    She met with the bishop then to discuss her vocation.

    The hermit’s life of silence and solitude is not absolute. Kloska will follow a plan of life daily including times of complete silence/solitude, but also allowing for times of “work,” which can include manual labor, language study, works of mercy if a dire need arises, personal spiritual growth, spiritual correspondence/direction with people seeking help, as well as occasionally giving retreats or talks, all under the direction of the bishop.

    Bishop Rhoades summed up Kloska’s vocation: “(Mary) offers her life as bride and spouse of Jesus and as a prayer for others, as a prayer for the Church, for her family, for priests and for her spiritual children and all intentions the Lord places on her heart. I for one am going to be counting on her prayers.”

    Posted on September 7, 2011, to:

  • FORT WAYNE — The Angel Gabriel, who transmitted the greatest news — that Mary would be the mother of God — is also the patron saint of Catholic radio. When Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed the new chapel, tabernacle and altar at Redeemer Radio on Aug. 29, it was only appropriate for it to be named the St. Gabriel Chapel.

    The small chapel seated just four people for the blessing. Other patrons, volunteers and staff sat throughout the Redeemer Radio studio and offices as Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass.

    The St. Gabriel Chapel was dedicated to the memory of Larry Hoffman, one of Redeemer Radio’s first volunteers. He died of leukemia in 2007.

    His widow, Louise, was at the blessing. She and volunteers Retta Kohrman, Susie Wilhelm and Janice Scher were invited to be seated in the new chapel during the blessing.

    “It’s absolutely wonderful,” Louise told Today’s Catholic. “It’s what Larry would have wanted.”

    She said Larry would have been most pleased that the Eucharist would be reserved in the chapel.

    “The Blessed Sacrament will be reserved here,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily. “The Lord will be in your midst.”

    “It is truly a privilege to have a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament reserved,” Bishop Rhoades said as the apostolate serves the Church and the Church’s mission to share the good news.

    The on site chapel, across the hall from the studios, will allow staff and volunteers to pray for listeners and benefactors of Redeemer Radio.

    Dave Stevens, executive director of Redeemer Radio, reported that several pastors and volunteers donated items for the chapel. Father Phillip Widmann donated the chalice, ciborium, paten and candlesticks.

    Father Cyril Fernandes donated the crucifix hanging on the chapel wall and the brass tabernacle candle.

    Redeemer Radio volunteer Joe Pottoff used his carpentry expertise to build the tabernacle and tabernacle candle stand. Father James Shafer donated the tabernacle door.

    The altar was once used by Msgr. Leo Hoffman. When he was no longer able to live independently, he gave his private altar to Warren and Susie Wilhelm who originally had it built for him. The Wilhelms have been supporters of Redeemer Radio and donated the altar. Warren Wilhelm died on Aug. 15.

    Stevens said, “Redeemer Radio is an apostolate that is largely volunteer driven. There are over 300 volunteers who give of their time and talents to keep us on the air.”

    Posted on September 7, 2011, to: