• Sister Joan Hastreiter, a Sister of St. Joseph, shares a farewell message to the people of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Diocesan Shrine in Warsaw on Sunday, June 17. Sister Joan will be ministering in Kalamazoo, Mich., with her community.

    WARSAW — Parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Warsaw had two reasons to celebrate on June 17 — Father’s Day and to say farewell to Sister Joan Hastreiter, a Sister of St. Joseph.

    Sister Joan, who served the Hispanic communities of Milford and Warsaw for many years, is taking a new assignment in Kalamazoo, Mich., to minister with her community.

    She asked Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish to continue to care for their shrine to Our Lady so future generations may continue growth in the faith.

    With the celebration falling on Father’s Day, Sister Joan thanked all of the fathers present at the Mass for sharing their day to be with family.

    Enid Roman from the Office for Hispanic Ministry spoke of Sister Joan’s arduous years of ministry for the Our Lady of Guadalupe community.

    Father Paul Bueter, a retired priest who worked alongside Sister Joan throughout the years, spoke of how grateful he is for her contribution and service to the people.

    Father Constantino Rocha, pastor, also thanked Sister Joan for her labor of love.

    Although Sister Joan is of German ancestry, she learned Spanish in Peru as she worked with Peruvian communities. Upon her return to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, she dedicated herself to love of God and neighbor.

    Also at the celebration, Father Constantino Rocha blessed all fathers to which the men responded with a renewal in their fatherly vocation.

    Posted on June 26, 2012, to:

  • Father Thomas J. O’Hara, CSC

    NOTRE DAME — Holy Cross Father Thomas J. O’Hara was elected as the new provincial superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers by the Provincial Chapter in Portland, Ore., on Friday, June 15, the feast day of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    Father O’Hara is the first elected provincial of the newly merged United States Province. The Eastern Province merged into the Indiana Province forming the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, which became effective on July 1, 2011.

    “I am both honored and humbled to be chosen to serve my fellow Holy Cross religious as Provincial of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers as we strive to serve the people of God,” said Father O’Hara after Friday’s election.

    As provincial superior, Father O’Hara will oversee the work and welfare of more than 500 priests, brothers and seminarians in the U.S. Province. He succeeds Holy Cross Father David T. Tyson, who served as provincial superior for nine years.

    The U.S. Province carries out the vision of founder Blessed Basil Moreau to make God known, loved and served through four institutions of higher education and 13 parishes in the United States and two in Mexico. In addition, the province has apostolates and missions in East Africa, Chile, Peru and Mexico.

    The Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross give the provincial superior authority over all members and houses in the Province. He is elected by at least two-thirds vote of the chapter and confirmed by the congregation’s superior general in Rome, Holy Cross Father Richard Warner. The term of the provincial superior is six years, but he may be elected to a consecutive term of three years.

    Father O’Hara was born on March 16, 1949, in Hazleton, Pa. He attended Moreau Seminary, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, from 1973 to 1975. He professed first vows on Aug. 3, 1974 and final vows on Sept. 3, 1977. He was ordained to the diaconate on Jan. 15, 1978, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1978. A 1971 graduate of King’s College with a bachelor’s in political science, Father O’Hara received his master’s in theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1977 and his doctorate in political science from The American University in Washington, D.C., in 1988.

    Father O’Hara’s first teaching assignment in 1975 was as professor of English at Notre Dame College in Dacca, Bangladesh, where he was assisting in relief work with Mother Theresa’s Missionary Sisters of Charity. He has worked in parish ministry in Brooklyn, N.Y., and served in the Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh and Uganda.

    He was a resident assistant at Notre Dame from 1976 to 1977; associate pastor at our Lady of Good Counsel from 1977 to 1982; chaplain at Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Md.; and chaplain to the Holy Cross Brothers at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Md., from 1982 to 1984, where he served on the high school’s board of directors. He was an adjunct professor teaching a religion and politics course at The American University (1987) and a priest-in-residence at St. Ann Parish, Washington, D.C., from 1984 to 1988.

    Father O’Hara joined the faculty of King’s in 1988 as assistant professor of government and politics and became the eighth president of his alma mater in 1999. He was the first King’s alumnus to be named president, as well as its second-longest serving president. He left the post in 2011 and has been on sabbatical for the past year. He also taught political science at King’s.

    He also served as professor of political science at the Philosophical Centre of Jinja in Uganda from 1994 until he returned to King’s in 1996 as a professor and associate vice president for academic affairs.

    Among his many awards, Father O’Hara was presented an honorary degree by The University of Scranton (Pa.) in 2008 and the University of Portland (Ore.) in 2012. He also was awarded the Exemplar Award from the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association, the New York State Award for Dedication to Youth (1982) and the King’s College All College Award for Faculty (1992) and Administrators (1998).

    Father O’Hara continues to serve on Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees, as well as that of St. Edward’s University. He has served on the boards of a number of educational, religious and nonprofit organizations throughout his career.

    Posted on June 26, 2012, to:

  • Msgr. Bill Schooler, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Granger, congratulates JR Grover, who is challenged with Angelman Syndrome, following the private Mass of JR’s First Communion.

    GRANGER — Mother Teresa said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” John Russell Grover, known by family and friends as JR, has a smile and a laugh that give pleasure to all who encounter him.

    Born on May 17, 2004, to St. Pius X parishioners John (JJ) and Marisa Grover, JR struggled to eat and sleep during the first two years of his life and was hospitalized several times in local hospitals. It was not until November of 2004 that neurologists at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis diagnosed JR’s condition as Angelman Syndrome.

    Angelman Syndrome is a rare neurogenetic abnormality with symptoms such as severe cognitive delay, lack of speech and sleeping and feeding difficulties. Marisa remarks that the best part of Angelman Syndrome is the characteristics of excessive happiness and laughter.

    While JR understands most of what his parents tell him, he has been unable to communicate verbally with those around him. Currently JR is learning sign language that has helped him express some of his needs.

    Marisa looks forward to the time when she and JR will finally be able to verbalize the love they have for one another. “One of my most comforting thoughts is that when we both enter heaven we are going to have a conversation that will last for years! I know one day I will hear his sweet voice speaking to me and then I will know I am in heaven,” Marisa says.

    One member of the Grover household that JR does not have difficulty communicating with is his 14-month-old brother Henry. “JR and Henry absolutely adore each other. It is like they have their own special unspoken language. They babble back and forth and it seems like they know what the other one is thinking,” beams Marisa.

    JJ and Marisa credit the St. Pius X community and especially the pastor, Msgr Bill Schooler, for their support in meeting the challenges that accompany a child with special needs.

    “My husband and I were both blessed to attend Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) retreats at St. Pius,” Marisa remarks. “We met so many wonderful men and women through CRHP and they have prayed us through some of the most difficult times in our journey so far.”

    Msgr. Schooler, who had a brother with Down syndrome, has been a source of comfort for the family while JR had been hospitalized and at the parish, Marisa emphasizes.

    “Father Bill has been the ultimate example of a loving father to our family,” she says. “Each Sunday JR leaps out of his pew and runs up to give Father Bill a giant hug.”

    She continues, “It makes us feel so at ease to know that we are in a parish where JR is fully accepted the way that he is. Father Bill has told us on many occasions that he doesn’t care if JR runs all around the church during Mass. He is one of God’s special children and has a special place in our church!”

    The Children of St. Angela de Merci, a catechetical program at St. Pius, is designed for students with special needs or disabilities and has been an important influence in JR’s faith formation.

    Teacher Maureen Hemmerling recalls the groundwork she and co-teacher Cathy Witucki developed for JR as he prepared for his First Communion.

    “Knowing what his parents wanted to accomplish, we loosely planned what we wanted to do. We used picture cards, music and repetition with JR to accomplish goals that were set for him. I felt honored to be part of this experience and so proud of him as he received Communion for the first time,” says Hemmerling.

    Because of the St. Angela de Merci program, the Grovers noticed a difference in JR’s demeanor at church.

    “He loves to sit right in the front row and watch every step that our priest makes. He looks straight at the crucifix as if Jesus is talking directly to him. I believe that Jesus does talk to him because he is our angel on earth,” says Marisa.

    One of the highlights of the last year for the Grover family was a private Mass for JR’s First Communion on May 19 in the parish chapel. Marisa recalls the event with appreciation, love and pride.

    “JR was glowing with pride,” she says. “I think I could almost see a halo around his little head and I am sure there were wings under his white gown.”

    Posted on June 26, 2012, to:

  • FORT WAYNE — The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Catholic Charities of the diocese, Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community, Franciscan Alliance, the University of Saint Francis and Our Sunday Visitor have filed a lawsuit against various government defendants, seeking justice from U.S. District Court (Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division). The University of Notre Dame has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court (Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division).

    Forty-three Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions filed suit in federal court Monday, May 21, at 11 a.m.

    At a news conference held Monday afternoon in the Archbishop Noll Catholic Center in Fort Wayne, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said, “(The U.S. bishops) have pursued various avenues to correct the problem of the overarching and overreaching mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services without litigation. Our efforts with the White House and with Congress have not succeeded, so now a number of our dioceses, Catholic schools and universities, Catholic health systems and Catholic charitable organizations are pursuing the judicial route.”

    The defendants named were the U.S. Department of Health and Human services (HHS), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Labor and their respective secretaries.

    The lawsuit stems from the recently enacted HHS mandate in which religious employers who do not qualify for a narrow exemption will be forced to provide to their employees abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptive products and services at no cost to employees.

    This mandate presents a clear and present danger to these Catholic entities’ ability to teach and live their faith, and would make them complicit in providing and facilitating products and services contrary to their clearly stated doctrines.

    The plaintiffs in this case believe the HHS mandate to be clearly unconstitutional and any accommodations previously made were substandard and unacceptable.

    “American history and tradition, embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Religious Freedom Restoration Act, protect religious entities from such overbearing and oppressive governmental action,” Bishop Rhoades said at the news conference. “Religious freedom, protected in the U.S. Constitution and other laws and statutes, is rooted in the dignity of every human person. It is inherent in our humanity, a God-given right. It is a cornerstone of basic human rights and is necessary for the flourishing of a just society. We are obliged to defend it for ourselves and for others. We are asking in this lawsuit that this right be respected by our government.”

    This lawsuit is about an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to provide and facilitate services that violate their religious beliefs.

    Bishop Rhoades said, “The government has no place defining ‘religious employer’ so narrowly that it only includes houses of worship. This reduces the freedom of religion to the freedom of worship. Religious liberty is about witness and action, as well as worship. The HHS exemption excludes most Catholic hospitals, schools, universities and social service providers. They are ‘not religious enough,’ according to the HHS mandate, to qualify for the exemption. Our diocese carries out our mission of service through our diocesan offices, parishes and schools, and through the work of our affiliated ministries. All of these institutions are guided by Catholic beliefs.”

    He added, “Today we ask people of all faith traditions, and all people of conscience to join us in our efforts to restore religious liberty to its rightful place; a cornerstone of our country, and our first, most cherished liberty.”

    The University of Notre Dame’s lawsuit charges that these components of the regulation are a violation of the religious liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other federal laws.

    The federal mandate requires the University of Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching. It also authorizes the government to determine which organizations are sufficiently “religious” to warrant an exemption from the requirement.

    “This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives,” Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, wrote in a message to members of the campus community. “For if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions.”

    “Our lawsuit raises two questions,” said Gregory Erlandson, president of the Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division: “Whether the government can use such criteria to define the religiousness of an organization, and whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to provide and facilitate services, which violate their religious beliefs.”
    Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., is a not-for-profit enterprise that is self-insured. It does not fund abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization or contraception.

    “We are concerned that these regulations, if not overturned, would force Our Sunday Visitor to provide such coverage even when the Catholic Church has consistently taught that they are wrong and a violation of Church teaching,” said Erlandson.

    In an editorial, Our Sunday Visitor said that it “stands proudly with our fellow Catholic apostolates and with our bishops in resisting this challenge.”

    The newspaper asked readers “to stand with us — in charity, praying first and foremost for conversions of heart; in civility, arguing the facts of this case without recourse to bitter partisanship or political rhetoric; and in solidarity, knowing that whatever sacrifices we bear and whatever challenges we endure, we are only doing what is our responsibility as American citizens practicing our faith in the public square.”

    A statement released by the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne said: “As a Catholic institution and in response to a request from Bishop Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, in which we serve, the University of Saint Francis has opted into the litigation to support the effort of the bishops to protect our religious freedom as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”

    Sean McBride, Tim Johnson of Today’s Catholic and Nancy Frazier O’Brien of Catholic News Service contributed to this article.

    Posted on June 12, 2012, to:

  • Nyein Chan, director of Resettlement, left, works with refugee case managers Cho Too, in back, and Karen Bender, center, and health advocate Thawng Takkon at Catholic Charities in Fort Wayne.

    FORT WAYNE — Catholic Charities celebrates its 90th anniversary this year as a mission-driven organization that serves the poor and vulnerable regardless of religion, ethnic background, age, gender or ability to pay. As an agency of the diocese, Catholic Charities’ programs are operated in conformity with Catholic social and moral teachings and, though a separate corporation, operates at the pleasure of the bishop, who serves as chairman of the board.

    Established in the Diocese of Fort Wayne by Bishop Herman J. Alerding in 1922, Associated Catholic Charities met the needs of the community following the Great War. Three years later the local agency adopted a constitution and by-laws as well as established a board of directors. It was at this time that Associated Catholic Charities became affiliated with the National Conference of Catholic Charities, now known as Catholic Charities USA.

    Over the past nine decades the agency has undergone countless changes, all to meet the changing needs of the community. Currently Catholic Charities, a state licensed, COA accredited social services agency, employs over 50 employees and hundreds of volunteers to staff the plethora of service programs available in 14 counties in Northeast Indiana that comprise the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

    Debbie Schmidt oversees the workings of this organization so vital to the life of the Church and the local community. Executive director since 2002, she says Catholic Charities’ client base is “very diverse,” and includes the poor, disabled, migrants, elderly and children.

    Catholic Charities Executive Director Debbie Schmidt, left, works with long-time volunteer Jan Moore sorting clothing donations for refugees and others in need in Fort Wayne.

    Services for this diverse population fall under four main areas within this charitable organization. Family Services offers pregnancy services, ECHO for teens, adoption services, post finalization services, Resource and Referral for meeting basic needs, food pantries, Hispanic Health Advocacy services and The Hardest Hit Fund Hoosier Corps Volunteer Service Program.

    The department of Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services offers refugee resettlement and placement, health services, the match grant program and immigration services. Older Adults Services include Villa of the Woods residential facility and Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP). Catholic Charities also offers employment services that include Senior AIDES program (Title V) and refugee job development.

    Director of Community Relations and long-time board member Kathy Denice is passionate about the dedicated staff and mission of the agency and says, “We are the social services arm of the Catholic Church. Our mission is to serve others as Christ would have us do.” And to continue their service education is the key. Denice says, “My goal is to educate the community on the charitable works of Catholic Charities.”

    The many programs and services provided by Catholic Charities are supported through a diverse range of funding including through the Church, the government, the United Way and of course, private donations. Ninety-one percent of the funds go directly to client services, with the remaining 9 percent supporting administrative costs. Schmidt says, “We do the best with the resources we have to serves the needs.”

    Catholic Charities is located at 315 E. Washington Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN 46802 and can be reached by calling (260) 422-5625. In South Bend offices are located at 1817 Miami St., 46613 and can be reached at (574) 234-3111.

    History of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

    1922  Bishop Herman J. Alerding established Associated Catholic Charities.

    1924  Associated Catholic Charities was one of 19 original members of the Community Chest now known as the United Way.

    1925  Constitution and by-laws were adopted. Board of directors was formed and CC became affiliated with National Conference of Catholic Charities (now known as Catholic Charities USA).

    1927  The Indiana State Department of Public Welfare licensed Associated Catholic Charities as a child-placing agency.

    1930-39    The Great Depression saw many changes both for the community and for Catholic Charities, who continued to provide children with milk, schoolbooks and supplies.

    1937  Father Edward Sweigart became the director of Associated Catholic Charities.

    1941-45    Catholic Charities assisted families of veterans, displaced persons and participated in a community-wide childcare center to meet the needs of working mothers.

    1947  St. Joseph County office opened, with pregnancy counseling, adoption services and individual and family counseling. Catholic Charities became a member of United Way.

    1952  Began placing Canadian children in adoptive homes.

    1954  Ladies of Charity volunteer group established in South Bend.

    1957 Msgr. John Reed was appointed Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc. was created and Catholic Social Service agencies in both Fort Wayne and South Bend were established.

    1960  Catholic Social Services of Fort Wayne and the Catholic Charities offices moved to the former St. Paul School located at 919 Fairfield Ave.

    1961 Resettlement program was established in Fort Wayne to meet the needs of refugees from Cuba.

    1964  Plans were developed for Saint Anne Home, a nursing care facility for the elderly.

    1965  The Catholic Charities Child Development Program began.

    1967 The first resident was admitted to Saint Anne Home. The Ten-O-Four Home for unwed mothers was established for pregnant girls.

    1970 An Independent Living Unit was established at Saint Anne Home.

    1972 John Martin was named the new Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities.

    1973 Retired Senior Volunteer Program sponsored by Catholic Charities. Children’s Cottage, a state licensed, Montessori certified, all day child care program opened.

    1974 A component of Harvest House, the Forever Learning Institute, was established.

    1975  The Refugee Resettlement program was established with staff persons in both Fort Wayne and South Bend to meet the needs of South Vietnamese refugees.

    1976 Villa of the Woods in Fort Wayne and Vincent House, in Elkhart were opened as congregate living facilities.

    1978 The Head Start program was established.

    1982 A Catholic Social Service office was opened in Elkhart.

    1985 The Home Visitor Program to provide support for homebound elderly and disabled was established.

    1990 The agency announced a restructuring of its administration whereby all services and programs operated from one administrative structure.

    1991 Rainbows program established.

    1992 Hispanic Outreach Program established.

    1993 Catholic Charities was chosen as a site for the resettlement of refugees from Bosnia.

    1994 Adoption program expanded to include children with special needs. Services to adult adoptees seeking information about their birth parents were also offered. Project Rachel was established.

    1995 Circle of Mercy Day Care Center in South Bend became a program of Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities also assumed administrative responsibility for Hannah’s House, a maternity home located in Mishawaka.

    1996 Mentoring program for pregnant and parenting young women, “Birthing the Vision” was established.

    1997 Salt & Light Program established. Catholic Charities assumed responsibility for the Foster Parent Training Program in Allen County and six surrounding counties.

    1998 A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the renovation/expansion of Children’s Cottage, a childcare center in Fort Wayne. Catholic Charities was awarded the contract for the Foster Parent Liaison position for the Allen County Office of Family and Children’s Services. Accreditation approved through the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, and Children’s Cottage was selected as a delegate agency for the Head Start Program.

    1999 Faith Based Initiative Program established. ECHO — Education Creates Hope and Opportunity — a teen parenting program begins. St. Hyacinth Community Center opened along with the Monsignor Lester Multi-Purpose Room.

    2001 A groundbreaking for the expansion and renovation of Villa of the Woods began. Immigration Program established and Match Grant Program begins under Refugee Services.

    2002 Catholic Charities Fort Wayne approved as recognized site for immigration services.

    2003 Senior AIDES program acquired. Brief and Emergency Services Program assists poor in West region.

    2004 Sponsors RSVP Program in St. Joseph County. RSVP and Busy Hands moved into the South Bend Catholic Charities’ newly renovated office.

    2005 Elkhart County RSVP sponsored. RSVP of DeKalb County opened a countywide food pantry.

    2006 Senior AIDES Program expanded to serve all 14 counties within the diocese.

    2008 Catholic Charities resettled 1,469 refugees, primarily from Burma. Catholic Charities Emergency Food Pantry opened in South Bend. Senior AIDES began offering GED courses.

    2009  Senior AIDES began providing extensive training courses in budgeting, finances and employment preparation. English as a Second Language/Citizenship Classes began in South Bend. RSVP of St. Joseph County and Elkhart County combined to become one project.

    2010   Catholic Charities was a partner with the City of Fort Wayne and competed for and won the All American City Award.

    2011   The Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives selected Catholic Charities to receive the Indiana Hardest Hit Fund Initiative Volunteer Service Program awards for Regions 2 and 3 (a total of 15 counties). This program is part of the Building Bridge to Recovery Foreclosure Prevention Program.

    Posted on June 12, 2012, to: