• St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Angola, ARISE Together In Christ participants Mary Jo Kreb, standing, who designed a car decal to promote the parish, is shown with Fran VanWagner, seated and to the right, Conventual Franciscan Father Bernie Zajdel, parochial vicar.

    ANGOLA — Teens, adults and families from St. Anthony of Padua Church in Angola came together during Season 3 of ARISE Together in Christ, forming 18 faith-sharing groups with over 180 participants. The focus this session involved learning more about Catholic social teaching and putting the work of social justice into action.

    Anne Ferguson, the ARISE coordinator at St. Anthony Parish, told Today’s Catholic that in response to the call for social justice, several actions were undertaken.

    “One group, determined to help combat the ‘culture of death’ that seems to come with drugs, decided to speak with government officials about supporting a law that makes pseudo-ephedrine (used in the making of crystal meth) into a drug requiring a prescription,” Ferguson said.

    Several families passed out cards with parish Mass times as a thank you at Halloween. Other groups gave monetary donations to Compassionate Pregnancy to honor life. Another contributed to a missionary trip to Haiti, accompanied by a group prayer.

    “Many groups contributed tangible goods, including nonperishable food to the Knights of Columbus’s food bank, paper products and cleaning supplies to the TLC (Transitional Living Center for women and children),” Ferguson noted, and gave “socks, towels and personal products to the Turning Point Homeless shelter and clothing to a needy student.”

    One small-faith group of ladies delivered a fully cooked Thanksgiving dinner to the TLC house on Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, and delivered a turkey and other staples for a family in need.

    Another St. Anthony ARISE group offered to assist Trine’s Newman Fellowship.

    Ferguson said, “Another gave ‘God’s Word Among Us’ to our RCIA members to grow in Catholic teachings, knowledge of God and their faith.”

    One lady from a small-faith sharing group designed and the group purchased and donated St. Anthony car decals to the parish.

    Raking leaves for the homebound was a project another group chose.

    “In the Christmas spirit,” Ferguson added, “groups combined to purchase big ticket items for needy families, and another group planned to send Christmas cards to service men and women with a religious card, prayer or Bible verse enclosed.”

    Many participants from ARISE are continuing to give their time, talents and treasure toward creating a Live Drive-Thru Nativity on the parish grounds on Sunday, Dec. 15, from 4-8 p.m. at 700 W. Maumee St.  The event will feature candle-lit biblical scenes with actors, music and live animals.

    A Mass of Thanksgiving concluded the season and was celebrated by the pastor, Conventual Franciscan Father Fred Pasche, on Tuesday, Dec. 3. During the offertory procession, nonperishable food was brought to the altar for those in need.

    A social gathering followed with appetizers, comic relief by the parochial vicar, Conventual Franciscan Father Bernie Zajdel and the kick off to “Catholicism: The New Evangelization,” a new DVD series by Father Robert Barron to begin January.

    Posted on December 10, 2013, to:

  • NOTRE DAME — The University of Notre Dame on Dec. 3 re-filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana for relief from a mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that, contrary to Catholic teaching, requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide through their insurance plans or third-party administrators contraceptives, sterilization procedures and drugs that some assert induce abortions.

    “Our abiding concern in both the original filing of May 21, 2012, and this re-filing has been Notre Dame’s freedom — and indeed the freedom of many religious organizations in this country — to live out a religious mission,” Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, the University of Notre Dame’s president, said. “We have sought neither to prevent women from having access to services, nor even to prevent the government from providing them.”

    Notre Dame and government administration officials have been in conversation for more than a year to resolve the matter.

    “We believe the participants undertook these discussions in good faith, and we are grateful to the administration for the time it gave to this matter and for its efforts to accommodate our concerns,” Father Jenkins said. “We have concluded, however, the government’s accommodations would require us to forfeit our rights, to facilitate and become entangled in a program inconsistent with Catholic teaching and to create the impression that the university cooperates with and condones activities incompatible with its mission. In these ways, we contend, the regulations compel us to violate our religious beliefs.”

    In a statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on Dec. 3, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said, “I am happy that Notre Dame remains in strong solidarity with the diocese and U.S. bishops in defending our religious liberty. I hope and pray that we are successful in our lawsuits opposing this government intrusion into our mission to serve the common good according to our teachings.”

    In its filing Tuesday, the university asked, among other things, that the court enter declaratory judgments that the HHS mandate violates Notre Dame’s rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that the court enjoin the government from enforcing the mandate. The lawsuit names as defendants Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and their respective departments.

    Citing the Nov. 13 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Special Message regarding the mandate, Father Jenkins said that “Notre Dame wholeheartedly supports, in accord with Catholic teaching and in union with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the effort to provide ‘accessible, life-affirming health care’ for everyone. It is deeply regrettable that rather than joining with the Catholic Church, which has long been a leader in providing such care, the Department of Health and Human Services through this mandate has created a conflict that has demanded time, energy and resources and distracted all parties involved from seeking ways to provide such care.”

    Father Jenkins added: “As I said regarding our original filing, because at its core this filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptive services. 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 will undermine those institutions. For if one presidential administration can override our religious purpose and use religious organizations to advance policies that undercut our values, then surely another administration will do the same for another very different set of policies, each time invoking some concept of popular will or the public good, with the result these religious organizations become mere tools for the exercise of government power, morally subservient to the state, and not free from its infringements. If that happens, it will be the end of genuinely religious organizations in all but name.”

    In an Interim Final Ruling issued Aug. 3, 2011, the federal government required employers to provide services that religious organizations found objectionable. A narrow exemption was given to religious institutions, such as houses of worship, that serve and employ primarily members of their own faith, but, departing from a long tradition in federal law, organizations like Notre Dame — schools, universities, hospitals and charitable organizations that serve and employ people of all faiths and none — were granted no exemption, but instead were made subject to the law to the same extent as any secular organization.

    On Sept. 28, 2011, Father Jenkins submitted a formal comment encouraging the administration to follow precedent and adopt a broader exemption. Despite some positive indications, the administration announced on Jan. 20, 2012, that its interim rule would be adopted as final without change. After an outcry from across the political spectrum, President Barack Obama announced on Feb. 10, 2012, that his administration would attempt to accommodate the concerns of religious organizations. Encouraged by the announcement, Notre Dame engaged in conversations with administration officials to find an acceptable resolution. Regrettably, the HHS Advanced Notification of Proposed Rulemaking on preventive services policy, issued on March 16, 2012, provided little in the way of a specific, substantive proposal or a definite timeline for resolution.

    Consequently, Notre Dame filed suit May 21, 2012, challenging the regulation as an infringement of the university’s religious freedom. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana dismissed the initial suit, indicating that the regulation was not sufficiently final, or “ripe,” for judicial review. Again the university engaged in discussions with the administration, urging adoption of a rule that would fully respect the right of religious organizations to live according to their beliefs. These discussions continued until the adoption of the final regulation on June 28, 2013. Now, against the threat of punitive fines, Notre Dame’s third-party administrator, Meritain, is required to notify all females of child-bearing age among the university’s employees and their dependents of the availability of the objectionable services. As this notice must be given by Jan. 1, 2014, the university has re-filed its suit, seeking relief from the courts.

    Notre Dame, with 5,200 employees, is the largest employer in St. Joseph County. About 4,600 employees use its self-insured health plan — 11,000 in all when dependents are factored in. About 2,600 of the university’s 11,000 students get health insurance through Notre Dame’s plan with Aetna, with about 100 dependents also covered.

    Posted on December 10, 2013, to:

  • Volunteers from the Catholic Charities food pantry in South Bend fill clients’ request forms for food and personal care items.

    By Karen Clifford

    Click here for the Catholic Charities Christmas Message

    SOUTH BEND — It has been a decade since Catholic Charities began offering emergency food assistance to a few people in the South Bend area. Long-time staff member Barbara Burlingham, who is currently Catholic Charities West Region assistant administrator, recalls about five families per week coming to the office seeking food assistance in 2003.

    The need for food assistance grew exponentially during the following 10 years. In the last fiscal year, Catholic Charities Food Pantry served 3,479 households made up of 11,943 individuals. Just over 40 percent of the individuals served were children and senior citizens. Of the households served, 1,007 were new to the service, according to Catholic Charities West Region Director Claire Coleman.

    The food pantry is a walk-in pantry, open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon and 5-7 p.m. Residents of St. Joseph County whose income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive food assistance once every four weeks, if needed.

    At each visit, the family will receive a packet of food made up of 10-15 items as selected by the client. A typical packet of food may contain one meat item, three to four canned items, three to four dried good items and two to four additional items as available.

    Coleman says, “Catholic Charities tries very hard to include meat every week and fresh items such as fruit, vegetables, eggs, butter, cheese or yogurt as often as possible. When available, personal care items are distributed to clients. Periodically, the food pantry will include informational fliers about community services, nutritional brochures and healthy recipes.”

    Other than the commonality of struggling with food insecurity, there is not a typical profile of the clients served at the pantry. “Some are unemployed and needing help for the first time. Others are seniors or disabled members of the community living on small pensions or social security,” explains Coleman.

    She continues, “A few clients are working in lower wage jobs or part-time jobs which may not pay enough to meet the family’s needs, especially if there is an unexpected expense. And some clients visit the pantry regularly throughout the year, while others visit only once or twice as may be needed.”

    Volunteers who operate the food pantry each week are vital to the success of its operation, notes Coleman. The weekly food pantry volunteers help with signing folks in for service and helping with paperwork, as well as filling the food bags and distributing them to clients. Volunteers also organize food stock and sort personal care item donations

    Catholic Charities welcomes both monetary and food donations to help meet the increasing need of families for food assistance. “Some of the most needed items include frozen or canned meat, peanut butter, pasta, rice, oatmeal and cereal. Personal care and household care items such as laundry detergent, dish soap and deodorant are always appreciated by clients,” Coleman concludes.


    Posted on December 10, 2013, to:

  • MISHAWAKA — The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will be conducting a 20 question online survey of Catholics through Dec. 16

    This survey is part of a questionnaire sent to all the national bishops’ conferences of the world in preparation for an extraordinary synod of bishops that will take place in Rome in October of 2014.

    The main focus of this special synod will be on pastoral issues dealing with the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life. All the pastors of the diocese will be receiving a more extensive survey dealing with many of the same issues.

    It was only this past October that Pope Francis called for the third extraordinary synod to be held since Pope Paul VI reinstituted synods in 1965 to periodically advise him on specific topics. Extraordinary synods are defined in canon law as intended to “deal with matters which require a speedy solution.” Synod participants will primarily be presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic Churches and the heads of major Vatican offices, totaling about 150 people, according to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

    Unfortunately, due to the short timespan for preparing for this extraordinary synod next year, there is not much time to conduct these diocesan surveys. The Holy See is asking that episcopal conferences send in their responses by the end of this coming January. This, in turn, means that dioceses across the country need to send in a report to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the end of this month. Consequently, a mid-December deadline has been established for our diocesan surveys in order to properly prepare this report.

    Catholics interested in participating may access the survey through Dec. 16 at the homepage of the diocesan website (www.diocesefwsb.org). There will be a Spanish version of the survey as well.

    Posted on December 3, 2013, to:

  • Celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 at various parishes around the diocese this year will enlighten the hearts and minds of the historical event that took place many years ago in Mexico, a series of apparitions that motivated Blessed Pope John Paul II to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Sanctuary more than once in Mexico City.

    Isabel Jakob, a native of San Salvador and former professor at the University of Notre Dame, shares the story at the end of this article.

    In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, on the South Bend side, the Guadeloupians began at a Hungarian parish at the former St. Stephen Church. To have this solemn and festive day filled with the original “fiesta” environment, the Guadeloupians would gather to decorate the church with colorful paper mache flowers around Our Lady of Guadalupe’s statue. Banners for the procession during the liturgy were prepared, proclaimers of the Word practiced, all people and things related to this special Mass, including the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, made their preparations, a tradition that continues today.

    The “Guadalupanas” women gather in homes to prepare meals after the Mass to be sure all those attending would have a traditional meal with tamales, “champurion” (a hot tea with cinnamon sticks, cloves, fruit and other ingredients) rice, frijoles and delicious pastries.

    Colorful costumes would be sewn to depict the story through plays about the miraculous event that took place at Tepeyac, Mexico.

    Typically for this special day, mariachis are chosen for the music. In at least one of the diocesan parishes, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Warsaw, mariachis sing many songs of honor to Our Lady all through the evening before, Dec. 11, and will be there early in the morning Dec. 12, to sing the “mañanitas” to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a song of honor to the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. At least 13 parishes prepare events honoring Mother Mary for this feast day.

    Parish celebrations:

    Our Lady of Hungary, South Bend

    On the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades will celebrate Mass at Our Lady of Hungary. A play will begin at 6 p.m. and Mass will be celebrated at 7 p.m. with a celebration following Mass.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Warsaw

    Dec. 11, 8-10 p.m. — Danzantes (Dancers); 10-11 p.m. — Rosary; 11 p.m. — Mass; 12 a.m. midnight — Mañanitas/Seranade and Celebration

    Dec. 12, 6 p.m. — Mass

    St. Michael Parish, Plymouth

    Dec. 12, 4 p.m. — Procession from the Knights of Columbus to St. Michael Church; 5 p.m. — Mass

    St. Vincent de Paul, Elkhart

    Dec. 7, 4 a.m. — Rosary and Mañanitas followed by breakfast

    Dec. 8, 2 p.m. — Procession from St. Thomas Parish, Elkhart, to St. Vincent, Elkhart; 3:30 p.m. — Mass

    Dec. 12, 7 p.m. — Mass

    St. Patrick Parish, Fort Wayne

    Dec. 3-11, 7 p.m. — Novena at the Church

    Dec. 12, 4:30 a.m. — Mañanitas; 6 a.m. — Mass; 6 p.m. — Mass

    Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. — Depiction of the Our Lady of Guadalupe event

    Dec. 15, 12:30 p.m. — Mass with a procession celebration after the Mass.

    Celebrations throughout the diocese to call for more information:

    • St. Dominic, Bremen, (574) 546-3601

    • St. Joseph, Fort Wayne, (260) 432-5113

    • Immaculate Conception, Kendallville, (260) 347-4045

    • St. Joseph, LaGrange, (260) 463-3472

    • St. Patrick, Ligonier, (260) 894-4946

    • St. Adalbert, South Bend, (574) 288-5708.

    The Apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe 

    Juan Diego, a very poor Indian man, left his home one morning on Dec. 9, 1531, in order to go to Mass in a town near Mexico City. He was walking by the hill of Tepeyac, a barren place where nothing grew, when he heard heavenly music. At the same time he saw a rainbow with a bright light shining from its center. A beautiful lady approached the man and greeted him with a beautiful voice. She told him that she was the Virgin Mary and sent him to see the bishop of Mexico and ask him to have a church built on the same place they were speaking.

    The Indian man went to speak with the bishop, but the bishop did not believe the story. He asked Juan Diego for some proof. That is the reason Juan Diego went back to Tepeyac, in order to speak once more with the Virgin Mary. She told him to come back the next day in order to get proof. But the next day Juan Diego’s uncle became very ill.

    On Dec. 12 he went for a priest. He did not want to see the Virgin Mary so he took another road, but she appeared once more and asked what was the matter.

    The Indian man explained that his uncle was very ill and that he was going to get a priest. The Virgin told him that his uncle was doing fine and that he should visit the bishop once more. This was the time Juan Diego asked for proof of the miracle that was occurring.

    The Virgin sent him to climb a hill in order to gather some flowers. This surprised the man since he knew that nothing grew in that barren land. Nevertheless, he found a beautiful rose garden. He picked some of the roses, and took them in his shawl to the bishop. When he dropped the roses on the floor, everyone saw the Image of the Virgin Mary painted with full colors in the shawl. All cried, “A miracle!”

    Immediately they built a church on the same place the miracle took place. They named the town on the hill “Guadalupe.” In 1532, during a solemn procession, they took Juan Diego’s shawl with the Image of the Virgin to the altar of the church. On the 12th of December during the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, people from all over the republic come to worship their mother whose original image remains in a new basilica built at the same site.


    La aparición de la Virgen de Guadalupe

    Juan Diego, un indio muy pobre, salió de su casa la mañana del nueve de diciembre de 1531, para oír misa en un pueblo que estaba cerca de la capital de México. Pasaba por la colina de Tepeyac, sitio árido donde nada crecía, cuando oyó música que parecía venir del cielo. Al mismo tiempo vio un arco iris y en el centro una luz brillante. Una señora muy hermosa se acercó al indio y le saludó con una voz muy dulce. Ella le dijo que era la Virgen María y le mandó ir al obispo de México a decirle que debía construir una iglesia en aquel mismo sitio.

    Juan Diego fue a hablar con el obispo, pero éste no le creyó una palabra de lo que decía. Por eso Juan Diego tuvo que ir a Tepeyac para hablar otra vez con la Virgen. Ella le mandó volver al día siguiente para recibir las palabras. Pero al día siguiente el tío de Juan Diego, que estaba enfermo, se puso peor. Sin embargo, el día doce el indio fue a llamar a un cura. Quería evitar encontrarse con la Virgen y tomó otro camino, pero ella apareció otra vez y le preguntó por qué iba por allí. El indio explicó que su tío estaba muy enfermo y que iba por un cura. En ese momento la Virgen le dijo que su tío ya estaba bueno y que podía visitar al obispo otra vez. Entonces Juan Diego le pidió a la Virgen una prueba del milagro.

    La Virgen le mandó subir la colina para escoger allí algunas flores, lo que sorprendió mucho al indio porque sabía que nada crecía en aquella tierra árida. Sin embargo, encontró un jardín de rosas muy hermosas. Recogió algunas y las llevó en su manta al obispo. Cundo las dejó caer al suelo a los pies del obispo, todos vieron que la imagen de la Virgen estaba estampada en la manta en colores brillantes. Todos gritaron: ¡Milagro!

    Inmediatamente construyeron una iglesia en el sitio del milagro y dieron el nombre de Guadalupe al pueblo que estaba al pie de la colina. En 1532, en una procesión muy solemne, llevaron la manta de Juan Diego, con la imagen de la Virgen, hasta el altar de la iglesia. El doce de diciembre es la fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe y de toda la república vienen hombres y mujeres a venerar a su santa patrona, cuya imagen todavía está en la basílica.


    Posted on December 3, 2013, to: