• Seminary student Bill Meininger shows his approval for the Adopt-a-Seminarian program started at St. Pius X, Granger, this year.

    GRANGER — When Deacon Jacob Meyer comes home from Pontifical College Josephinum during school breaks, he often brings fellow students with him. Kurt and Julie Meyer, Deacon Meyer’s parents, observed that some of his fellow seminarians don’t always get to travel home because of distance and travel costs.

    After getting to know the seminarians, the Meyers recognized their need for spiritual and financial support.

    “Seminarians have no job for income,” said Julie. “They are committed to discerning their vocation, studies and serving their parish on breaks and summers. Their needs are simple: financial support for little things like laundry supplies, stamps and travel expenses.”

    After the Meyers discussed their concern with their son, Deacon Meyer went to St. Pius X pastor Msgr. Bill Schooler to consider a program at the parish that would spotlight the needs of these young men. The Adopt-a-Seminarian program was developed to encourage financial and spiritual support for all Fort Wayne-South Bend seminarians.

    Msgr. Schooler thought it was a great idea because “it connects young men studying for the priesthood with our parishioners and it is a good way to promote vocations within our parish.”

    Betsy Quinn, director of Evangelization and Stewardship at St. Pius, invited the Meyers to become a part of a committee, which would oversee the program. During two weekends in February, multiple copies of information sheets for each diocesan seminary student were distributed to interested parishioners after every Mass.

    Each information sheet included the seminary student’s picture, home parish, birthday, year in seminary and anticipated graduation date. The sheets also communicated some of the student’s favorite things such as treats, sporting team, stores and needs such as laundry and toiletry items. Parishioners were also given a prayer card for vocations to read throughout the year for each seminarian’s spiritual needs.

    Seminary student Bill Meininger, who is spending his pastoral year at St. Pius X, emphasized the Adopt-a-Seminarian program provides the opportunity for a greater feeling of connection for the student with the home diocese while away.

    “Knowing that we have so many people praying for us and supporting us in other ways is very encouraging and at the same time humbling, as we are reminded that we aren’t going through these years of study and formation for ourselves, but for the faithful of the diocese,” noted Meininger.

    “With so much talk of the priest shortage in the Church today, the Adopt-a-Seminarian program is a wonderful way for the laity to get involved and, in a very real way, support the vocations we do have and encourage and pray that more men are willing to answer the call,” Meininger added.

    Committee members Angie and John Miller expressed excitement about the development of the program at St. Pius X going forward.

    “While the intent in phase one of this program was to initiate a simple exchange of a gift from a family to an individual seminarian, our long-term goal is to have a more ongoing and enduring relationship where the family is in touch on a more regular basis with letters, Facebook posts, You Tube videos, etc,” John emphasized. “We also hope that we can expand into the classrooms of St. Pius X School next year and get all the kids involved to further extend the bond.”

    Angie adds, “Our hope is also that classrooms will respond in some way so our students can look to the seminarians as healthy role models.”

    Out of town guests from Indianapolis who attended Mass during the Adopt-a-Seminarian kickoff were intrigued by the program’s concept and asked for contact information to start a similar program in their parish, the Meyers noted.

    At least one St. Pius X family decided to deliver their gifts to their adopted seminarian in person. The Scott Null family, on vacation in Rome during this year’s spring break, met seminarian Royce Gregerson and presented him with a duffel bag full of gifts. Gregerson is currently studying in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

    Kurt Meyer summed up the importance of parish support of vocations. “Parishioners are always looking to help. Impressed with the faith, determination and sacrifice of these young men the Adopt-a-Seminarian program seemed like a nice way to help them with basic needs during school. They represent the future of our Church, and this program can be a significant blessing to each of these young men.”

    Posted on April 25, 2012, to:

  • National Catholic company hosts open house May 5, 2012

    HUNTINGTON — Our Sunday Visitor is celebrating its centennial in 2012, starting with an open house at its Huntington headquarters 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The company serves millions of Catholics worldwide through its publishing, offertory, curriculum and communication services.

    Established in 1912 by a local parish priest, Our Sunday Visitor has grown into the nation’s largest supplier of offering envelopes, online giving, websites, parish and diocesan mailings, books, periodicals, curriculum and stewardship services. Our Sunday Visitor is a not-for-profit organization, returning a portion of net earnings back to the Catholic community through the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

    “Catechetically, formationally, Our Sunday Visitor is a great treasure trove,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C. “I think there is something wholesome about Our Sunday Visitor. It doesn’t apologize for what we believe. It simply presents it clearly and in a refreshing manner.”

    The date of the open house was chosen to coincide with the first publication of the Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly. Our Sunday Visitor’s founder, Father John Francis Noll, who eventually became archbishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne, published the national newsweekly in Huntington on May 5, 1912. It was one of the most visible tools he used to express the mission of the company, which still drives the company today, “to serve the Church.”

    “Father Noll recognized a great need in the immigrant-based Catholic Church in the early 1900s to understand what the Church teaches and why, in order to defend themselves against the many anti-Catholic movements of the day,” said Kyle Hamilton, president of Our Sunday Visitor’s Offertory Solutions Division. “Father Noll was a charismatic entrepreneur who developed simple, effective resources that helped Catholics grow in faith and spirit. “

    “What we are about these days is the same as what Archbishop Noll was about,” said Greg Erlandson, president and publisher of the Publishing Division of Our Sunday Visitor. “We are about responding to people’s needs. We are about helping them to bring their Catholic faith to life. We are about helping them to see what is real and important in this life, and how it will connect them to the next.”

    Today, Our Sunday Visitor operates in two divisions: Publishing and Offertory Solutions. The company’s chairman of the board is always the standing bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, but the organization is independent from the diocese itself.

    The divisions are housed in a 220,000-square-foot plant in northeastern Indiana, with more than 300 on staff in its Huntington facility and dozens more at their facilities in Orlando, Fla., and Boardman, Ohio. It has grown steadily through its history, serving as one of the largest and most stable employers in Huntington. The organization has tripled in size within the last 10 years through new product development and acquisitions.

    “Pastors cannot do it alone,” said Father Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, Colo. “It is important that a company like Our Sunday Visitor partner with parishes and with their good will, their advice, their financial support through the institute. It has helped so many people get it. … There is something genuine and real that I am proud to be a part of.”

    The publishing division is one of the largest Catholic publishing companies in the world with a significant presence in periodicals, in retail, in consumer sales and web, in schools and in parishes. The division offers a full range of print and e-materials including, books, periodicals, pamphlets and other solutions. The division also includes full religious curriculum for pre-school, kindergarten through eighth grade and high school.

    “Our Sunday Visitor has always had that wonderful balance, bringing together sound doctrine, sound content, reliable and trustworthy, at the same time doing it in a creative way and in a way that reaches people in the language of today,” said Jem Sullivan, adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America and recent staff to the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Our Sunday Visitor has done tremendous work providing resources for families, young adults and teenagers, to shape, form and transform adults as they raise their children.”

    Our Sunday Visitor Offertory Solutions division is the largest offering envelope provider in the world. It also provides products and services that help Catholic organizations enhance offertory, improve communications to parishioners and build vibrant parish communities. The division’s offerings include web-based Online Giving, websites for parishes and dioceses, offering envelopes and increased offertory consulting and programs. Offertory Solutions converts and prints more than 600 million offering envelopes every year, as well as a variety of materials for stewardship, bishop’s appeals and seasonal communications.

    “Archbishop Noll was a man of vision, ready to explore all possibilities,” said Msgr. Jacques Plante of the Providence, R.I. diocese. “I think the organization really embodies that. I see its commitment. I keep telling everyone they have to walk through the plant. …The organization has always been true to his commitment, his priestly zeal, priestly concern and his priestly vision.

    “The other reason people should visit Huntington is it is a cheerful and happy place. It’s one of those places you walk through and you go, this must be a pretty nice place to work,” he added.

    About the open house

    The May 5 open house at Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza in Huntington, will begin with a welcome by local civic and Church officials, including Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. Our Sunday Visitor will open up its facility so that guests can tour the publishing division, the chapel, the envelope production area, the warehouse and more. A light lunch will be served, and there will be activities for children. It is the first open house held by the company in more than 20 years.

    Future plans for the celebration of Our Sunday Visitor’s 100th anniversary include a symposium on Sept. 28 at the Grand Wayne Center featuring Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Dr. Scott Hahn and Dr. Helen Alvare. It will be followed by a Mass of Thanksgiving and Rededication celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and a reception and dinner that will feature keynote speaker Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

    “It is an honor to be in this business,” said Erlandson. “It is an honor to be able to do work that matters. It is an honor to be able to hold ourselves accountable so that we can work together to build up the kingdom. And it is an honor to work with all of the incredible, dedicated, brilliant servants of the Lord in parishes, diocese and other Catholic organizations around the country and the world.

    “Together, we do God’s work,” he said. “And at day’s end — when we turn out our lights at Our Sunday Visitor — we then remind ourselves that this is God’s business, not ours. That little insight is the ultimate source of our optimism, the ultimate source of our faith in the future. He has been with us all these years, and He will be using our talents tomorrow to shape the future.”

    Posted on April 25, 2012, to:

  • A crowd of a different kind gathers outside Notre Dame stadium, processing with the Blessed Sacrament across campus to the Grotto. Father Daryl Rybicki, pastor of Corpus Christi in South Bend, has lead the faithful in prayer nearly every year the Medjugorje Conference has been held at Notre Dame.

    NOTRE DAME — “To Jesus through Mary” might well be the theme of each annual Medjugorje Conference held at the University of Notre Dame. Beginning with a Eucharistic rosary procession across campus to the grotto on the first evening, this three-day event is entering its 24th year and will be held May 11-13. Religious and lay speakers from many walks of life will share their experiences of Our Lady and her role in bringing them closer to Christ. Described by many as a retreat of sorts, daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and ample opportunity for Confession are also made available.

    While the speakers include a Franciscan priest from Bosnia-Hercegovina, a doctor from Chicago who converted from atheism and a world-class musician who founded the Faith and Family Foundation, the conference has a local flavor as well.

    Dr. Joseph Bagiackas, a member of Corpus Christi Parish in South Bend, has a doctorate in systematic theology from Catholic University of America. His talk is especially timely for those wishing to counter secular attacks from the media as well as from those who are just misinformed. Bagiackas will speak about loyalty to the Church and the importance of knowing our faith well in order to defend it.

    Cathy Nolan attends St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, and is co-founder (with her husband, Denis) of MaryTV, a lay apostolate dedicated to using modern communications technology to promote the call of Our Lady. MaryTV has streamed live video from Medjugorje.

    The Nolans are in their third year of praying the rosary, live, via the Internet, and consecrating that same Internet to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. They are joined in prayer by people from around the world using computers, iPads and all varieties of smart phones, no app required.

    “Judging from the emails we receive,” says Denis Nolan, “only the continent of Antarctica has no one praying with us!”

    He believes MaryTV is responding to an appeal made by Pope Benedict XVI three years ago: “Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for 2,000 years.”

    The Nolans plan to travel to Medjugorje this summer to work with technicians to get the long-awaited broadcast facility there operational. In addition to helping build a Catholic television station for Our Lady, Cathy Nolan is the mother of eight and for the past 13 years, writer of daily reflections based on the Blessed Mother’s messages.

    “Over the past 25 I have grown increasingly aware that Our Lady’s words are filled with the Holy Spirit,” says Cathy Nolan. “It is the Holy Spirit who makes those words fruitful. So that every time I think about, pray over, or write about those messages, the Holy Spirit shows me the abundant life that is flowing through them from Him. It is a gift from God for us in these days when the world seems to be falling deeper and deeper into darkness. It is light penetrating that darkness.”

    Deacon Brian Miller of St. Anthony de Padua in South Bend heads up Queen of Peace Ministries, and is the primary organizer of the conference. He says Friday evening’s rosary procession truly helps set the tone for the weekend.

    “It is a symbolic way of showing our honor of Mary who leads us to Christ,” explains Deacon Miller, emphasizing the Eucharistic element of the procession. This year, instead of candles, Deacon Miller says the hundreds of people expected to participate will carry flowers to the grotto to present to the Blessed Mother. Those flowers will also be placed near the altar for Sunday’s Mass in honor of Mother’s Day.

    Posted on April 25, 2012, to:

  • Professional Drummer Bill Nathan of Haiti performs prior to his remarks April 12 at the amphitheater outside the Pope John Paul II Center on the University of Saint Francis campus. Nathan, 25, performs at churches and universities in the United States to raise awareness of the needs in Haiti.

    By Vince LaBarbera

    FORT WAYNE — The University of Saint Francis and its Formula for Life fundraising event brought professional drummer and former Haitian slave child Bill Nathan to campus on April 12. He performed and told his story of becoming a musician while in slavery for a year as an orphaned child.

    His father died two months after Nathan’s birth. His mother moved to Hinche, a small town on the St. Joseph Plateau, to find work to support both Nathan and his older sister, Shela. After living in the streets, they were directed to a community of Catholic Sisters and met Sister Caroline, head of the congregation, who found them a house and some furniture. To pay back their generosity, Nathan’s mother worked in the garden and did chores for the sisters. Eventually, she found a job cooking, cleaning and ironing to pay the rent and schooling of her children.

    One night Nathan’s mother cried out that she was dying, even though she had not been sick. And while the three of them held hands, praying and singing, she died, leaving the children alone with no family or support.

    Fortunately, a neighbor told the sisters what happened. Sister Caroline arranged for the funeral and took in the children for a couple weeks while searching for a foster family. Two families agreed to take the children, but separately.

    “Sister Caroline made it very clear,” Nathan said, “that we were not to be treated as a ‘restavek,’ a French word meaning ‘slave child.’”

    Even though both families initially agreed to treat them as their own children, “everything changed,” he emphasized. Nathan was kicked out of the house at age 7 and made to sleep on a piece of cardboard in a summer kitchen. He was not allowed to attend school or play with the children. His only job was “to stay at the house and work.”

    Nathan could not eat at the same table as the family. “I was permitted the scraps from the plates if I did all my chores! Not only that,” he added, “for no reason I would get beat up with a whip made of cowhide.”

    Nathan’s main job was to get water for the family, filling a five-gallon bucket after walking miles to the water fountain. While he waited for water, he began drumming on the bottom of the bucket. “Oh Bill, you’re a good drummer!” many exclaimed. Encouraged by their support, he was last to fill his bucket and “late” getting back to the family. “That meant another beating,” he said, pointing to scars on his arm.

    “I knew one day God would get me out of that situation,” Nathan related. And at age 8, his mistreatment drew the attention of Sister Caroline. He was rescued from the house and sent to St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in Port-au-Prince where he lived in a family atmosphere with his own room and bed, eating together with orphans like himself.

    “I returned to my schooling where I achieved what I wanted to be,” he said. At age 21, Nathan became St. Joseph’s director.

    “St. Joseph is not only a place for kids who come from the street and have been in a ‘restavek’ situation,” Nathan related, “but it’s also a guest house. That’s how we generate income to support our home.”

    They also ran Wings of Hope, a facility for more than 50 physically- and mentally-handicapped children. In Haiti, many see these children as manifestations of evil and are rejected by society, explained Nathan. “Nobody wants to be involved,” he added. “They are like living pieces of furniture!”

    On Jan. 12, 2010 — at eight minutes to five in the afternoon — everything changed when a massive earthquake struck Haiti. Both buildings were lost.

    “The miracle thing is that none of our kids died,” Nathan exclaimed.

    On that day, he was on the roof of the seven-story St. Joseph’s building, urging children playing up there to go downstairs, finish their chores and come to chapel. Nathan was alone on the roof when he felt the building and ground begin to shake. As he held tightly to a railing, he prayed, “God, my life is in Your hands!” He fell 75 feet into a garden. An oak tree kept the building from falling directly upon him. Eventually, Nathan was airlifted to the United States where he spent three months recovering from broken ribs, cracked vertebrae and other internal injuries.

    Upon his return to Haiti, he discovered “not much had been done,” because machinery was too expensive to bring in. Nathan suggested that his “best friend” — the five-gallon bucket — be purchased to start collecting the rubble. “We took the rest of the building down, bucket by bucket,” he said.

    “It took us nine months, but we did it; now, a year later, we’re about to finish rebuilding our home. “This building is a sign of hope, so we painted it with many beautiful colors, like the sunrise. We put butterflies on it because it’s a sign of resurrection!”

    “Please, come to Haiti,” Nathan urged the listeners. “We are people full of joy who open their arms, welcoming people in. Our kids will love to take your hand and lead you to enjoy the ocean. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people. Haitians are resilient! In Haiti we do the best we can with what we have,” he concluded.

    The tragic story of Nathan’s life of abuse has been chronicled in the book, “A Crime so Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery.”

    Posted on April 25, 2012, to:

  • By Michelle Castleman

    The Monroeville Elementary School building was sold by East Allen County School to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for St. Rose Parish, Monroeville. St. Joseph School in Monroeville will relocate to the former Monroeville Elementary School in the fall with the fanfare of a ceremonial procession from the old school to the new led by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. St. Joseph School is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

    NEW HAVEN — The East Allen County Schools (EACS) Board of Trustees at the public meeting on April 17 unanimously voted to approve the sale of Monroeville Elementary School to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on behalf of St. Rose of Lima Church, Monroeville.

    St. Rose of Lima Church through the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend had submitted a purchase offer of $189,000 that met the initial price required by the East Allen County Schools’ school board.

    “The way is now paved for the St. Joseph School (SJS) to look forward to start their classes in the fall of 2012, the centenary year of SJS, in the new facility,” Father Lourdino Fernandes, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, reported in an email message to Today’s Catholic.

    “This was the ‘Dream Centenary Project’ adopted by St. Joseph Centennial Committee and bravely embraced by the parishioners of St. Rose of Lima,” he added.

    St. Joseph School (SJS) in Monroeville is celebrating 100 years of excellence in Catholic education this year.

    “The acquisition of a new building for St. Joseph’s in Monroeville could not be more timely,” said Dr. Mark Myers, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

    He added, “The continuation of an active Catholic school will be a great benefit for the entire community of Monroeville.”

    Psalm 118, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it,” has been St. Joseph School Principal Carolyn Kirkendall’s motto throughout centenary celebration. Now the retiring principal is moved beyond words as the purchase of a larger, updated building will make history for the school she has served for over a quarter of a century.

    “I truly believe the power of prayer has made this moment possible,” Kirkendall said.

    “Hallelujah, our prayers have been answered,” she added.

    To mark the historical event, Father Lourdino declared Thursday, April 19, a day of celebration for the St. Joseph School students.

    Kirkendall, along with the seventh- and eighth-grade students planned out the details of the day, which began with Holy Mass.

    “We have had prayers of petition for many months, now it is time for prayers of thanksgiving,” Kirkendall shared.

    “The parishioners were determined to look forward to building a confident future for SJS — one that would ensure that all their children had access to Catholic education of the highest quality,” Father Fernandes said.

    “The SJS Centenary Committee resolved that a fitting tribute to the SJS Centenary accomplishments would be to commit themselves to restore and preserve and take forward the rich legacy of SJS and make St. Joseph School a beacon of excellence in Catholic education for generations of students for the next 100 years,” Father Fernandes said.

    The committee felt the purchase of the Monroeville Elementary School would help St. Joseph School have appropriate facilities conducive to good education.

    “They strongly believed that ‘nothing would be more worthy of contribution and improvement than the means to encourage our children to achieve full development as creative, intellectual beings for the satisfaction of their own and mankind’s aspirations,’” Father Fernandes said. “The first step in a long journey has been accomplished. The long vigil is now ended. The real work begins.”

    Members of the parish, school and project campaign have had a prayerful and patient wait.

    In November of 2011, Dennis Castleman, whose three daughters attend St. Joseph School, was part of the original walk-through group of the Monroeville School building with Father Lourdino.

    Months and hundreds of thousands of pledge dollars later, he and several others nervously sat at the EACS board meeting hoping their bid would be accepted and their dream become a reality.

    Members of the committee prayed outside of the EACS administration building prior to the meeting on April 17. Then they joined back at the school grounds to ring the church bells and join again for prayers of thanksgiving and praise.

    Castleman admitted, “We were all very relieved when the sale finally came up on the agenda and was approved. It will be a lot of work, but well worth it.”

    Superintendent Myers said, “We could not be more pleased to see the faith-filled parishioners at St. Rose of Lima plan well for the next century of Catholic education. The children prayed daily for the intercession of St. Joseph in order to fulfill this goal to acquire the building.”

    Tim Johnson contributed to this story.

    Posted on April 18, 2012, to: