• The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, with the approval of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, has joined forces with RENEW International to introduce a new initiative — ARISE Together in Christ — focused on spiritual renewal and evangelization for faith seekers in the diocese.

    ARISE Together in Christ offers a “three-year parish centered process of spiritual renewal, evangelization and adult formation that enables members to develop a closer relationship with Christ, grow in community and reach out in service to others.”

    Natalie Kohrman, director of the Office of Evangelization, says the process will focus on establishing small Christian communities of eight to 12 members each who will meet regularly to read and reflect on Scripture and Church teaching, share how it relates in their personal lives and encourage active service and discipleship. The effort she hopes will stimulate “active and continual parish renewal.”

    The difference the Catholic community will see in comparison to other faith-sharing programs, such as Disciples in Mission, she says, is “that ARISE will focus on topics of five seasons.”

    The seasons Kohrman refers to indicate the five distinct six-week sessions that the process offers. They include “Encountering Christ Today,” “Change Our Hearts,” “In the Footsteps of Christ,” “New Hearts, New Spirit,” and “We Are the Good News!” The first of the five seasons will begin in September of this year, following information gathering meetings already underway and training for facilitators of the small Christian communities to be developed. Each season offers materials that will guide the faith-sharing group through various styles of prayer, Scripture reading, reflection, faith sharing, creative action and socialization.

    The dynamic process is designed to begin in the fall with session one, followed by session two that will lead the participants through Lent. Each of the two subsequent years will follow the same time sequence, with sessions three and four the second year, and session five completed in the fall of the third year. (Calendar year: Season I — fall 2012, Seasons 2 and 3 — Lent and fall 2013, Seasons 4 and 5 — Lent and fall 2014.)

    Kohrman says ARISE is designed to appeal to “various people and ages,” and adds, “It is available in Spanish and Vietnamese” and in several other languages with a large-print edition for the visually impaired.

    ARISE small Christian communities will meet regularly in homes, parishes, youth groups and on college campuses, says Kohrman. Facilitators will be provided with seasonal information to prepare for each session utilizing the well-organized materials and available training. In addition to ongoing support and online resources, the RENEW International organization will provide specific training workshops for facilitators and parish leaders for each season. “Renew,” says Kohrman, “is with us every step of the way.”

    According to the RENEW website, “RENEW International is a canonically-recognized Catholic organization based in Plainfield, N.J., in the Archdiocese of Newark. RENEW International has more than 30 years of experience revitalizing parish life and fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life, deepen and share faith, and connect faith with action.”

    The establishment of the small Christian communities of ARISE appropriately follows on the heels of the diocesan-wide Catholic Come Home campaign, which has brought many non-practicing Catholics back into the Church family.

    “It’s a logical conclusion to invite people to be part of ARISE and to continue their own faith formation,” says Kohrman.

    Though the diocese is aware that there exists previously established, year-round small Christian communities, the ARISE process has been adopted not to dissolve those existing communities but to ensure that all parishes, particularly the smaller ones, have an equal opportunity to establish their own small Christian communities.

    “It will be a more concerted effort across parishes,” says Kohrman.

    In addition to the intriguing opportunity to grow deeper in faith, ARISE is designed to benefit all who participate.

    Kohrman reports, “This is a regular parish initiative, but you can invite non-Catholics too. The catechetical elements are Catholic, but the faith-sharing aspect can be beneficial to anyone. It would be a great way to evangelize in a non-threatening way.”

    Posted on February 1, 2012, to:

  • March participants are shown at Friday’s march in South Bend.

    SOUTH BEND — The struggle to overturn Roe v. Wade and convert the hearts of enough Americans to do it is now entering its 40th year. Total deaths by abortion in the United States alone are estimated at 53 million and for St. Joseph County, between 35,000 and 41,000, based on available statistics and trends.

    Undaunted, St. Joseph County Right to Life held its annual march around the South Bend Federal Court House Jan. 20.

    Tom Gill, the St. Joseph County Right to Life president, said, “I think we are making progress not only here but all across the country.”

    He cited that more pro-life bills are being passed in state legislatures.

    “That indicates that people are starting to turn our direction,”  Gill said.

    Another good sign, Gill added, is that “We are finding more people that are interested in volunteering, and contributing and doing something and coming forward and saying, ‘What can I do to help?’”

    Gill credits the 40 Days for Life prayer movement has having an impact in reducing abortions. “It points out to so many more people that there’s something wrong with abortion and any time you have that many people standing in front of a place and praying it’s just going to have an impact,”  he said.

    St. Joseph County Right to Life is “kind of switching from the protesting kind of approach to a more ‘let’s be more prayerful’ and try to open our hearts and minds to the women and men who have experienced abortion … and that’s really getting through to people too when they realize we’re not out here to condemn … we’re here to convert them and change their hearts and minds and improve their lives by doing that.”

    During the march Holy Family parishioner George Brenner donned a large wooden rosary to call attention to the need to ask Our Lady’s intercession. Brenner lamented the 53 million children “that are now not part of our world,” and said he would be willing to adopt a child to save it from abortion.

    Posted on January 25, 2012, to:

  • St. Joseph School

    By Michelle Castleman

    MONROEVILLE — One hundred years after opening its doors, St. Joseph Catholic School in Monroeville is planning a full year of celebration. The milestone will be marked with numerous events planned by a committee comprised of Pastor Father Lourdino Fernandes, Principal Carolyn Kirkendall and various members of the school staff, parents (past and present) and parish members.

    Along with the development committee, they have been busy preparing ways to utilize the centenary celebrations to express their gratitude and to pay tribute to all the brave pioneers who came before them and have made the school what it is today. It is their hope that the year will be full of opportunities to celebrate 100 years of dedication, academic excellence, training men and women of character and of love being passed down to children from generation to generation.

    Kirkendall, who has been at the helm for the past 27 years, is proud to have played a vital role in the school’s illustrious history. “It is neat to see my former students now in a parent role. They want what they received from SJS for their own children,” she said, adding, “It is exciting to be celebrating something so positive. One hundred years is a long time to be in our community. And it is even more exciting to be revitalizing after 100 years instead of dying off.”

    A commencement thanksgiving Mass at St. Rose of Lima Church has been set for March 18, to kick off the birthday celebrations with a closing Mass slated for March 17, 2013. Both dates are near the feast day of the school’s patron, St. Joseph, on March 19. Other events in the works include bimonthly nostalgia days for alumni and an ongoing collection of donations to be permanently recognized on a “wall of fame.”

    Sixth-grader Erica Renninger greets Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during his first visit last year.

    In the fall of 1912, St. Joseph School opened under the title of St. Rose Academy. It enrolled 27 girls and 42 boys that first term. Father Norbert Feldon was pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish at the time and Dennis Fletter served as the original lay principal. Feldon helped to construct the first school with generous contributions from the early parishioners. The Sisters of St. Joseph, Convent of Milwaukee, Wis., taught in the school for 60 years before withdrawing in 1972.

    The school was re-named St. Joseph School (SJS) after Father Charles Marr, who served as pastor from 1909-1922, sought the intercession of St. Joseph to help defray debt incurred by modernization and establishment of a commercial school. Over the last century, countless others have contributed blood, sweat and tears, along with their time, talent and treasure to ensure an excellent, quality Catholic education to all who have entered the doors of SJS.

    The institution has responded to the changing times by updating many times and in many ways over the past 100 years to maintain its enviable reputation and rich legacy in the community and across the diocese.

    The theme for the 12-months of activities is “The SJS Centenary: Celebrating the Past, Building for the Future.” While focusing on the achievements and past successes of SJS, the planning committee is also determined to look forward to a confident future ensuring all of their children have access to a high quality Catholic education for the next 100 years.

    Considering that the current building is in need of substantial repairs and upgrading, a unique opportunity is being considered to purchase a facility in the community to build for the upcoming generations.

    “The investment would be a most worthy centenary project,” firmly agreed Father Fernandes. The enrollment of the school has significantly increased from a year ago to 87 students. Kirkendall attributes the growth to the hard work and dedicated efforts of the marketing committee over the years.

    “Their recruitment efforts have been focused on getting new students in our doors at the start of the educational career,” she said. SJS boasts a record-size kindergarten class from years past. Kirkendall also noted that the school added a few additional students in the upper grades thanks to both the newly implemented voucher system and 2010 closure of the nearby public elementary school. Father Fernandes has set a personal goal of 100 students for the upcoming school year during the 100th year celebration.

    Students in the third- and fourth- grade classroom at St. Joseph School are shown doing a play for Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during his first visit to their school last year.

    When asked what she is looking forward to most about the upcoming year, Kirkendall quickly replied, “Retirement!”  Kirkendall will be passing on the torch at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

    Also, active in the planning for the upcoming festivities, the principal explained, “I feel it is an ideal time to go ahead with my plans to retire.”

    Alumnus Joan Bultemeier, whose mother, children and now grandchildren have attended SJS, has been a teacher at the school for the past quarter century. She serves as a joint associate chair on the committee and marveled, “I have been amazed at the way our parish has rallied together to plan the celebration.”

    Posted on January 25, 2012, to:

  • INDIANAPOLIS — It could be a dream come true for Catholic school families — access to the choice scholarship program, also known as a state-funded voucher.

    Three state lawmakers are offering proposals to be considered by the Indiana General Assembly this year to expand eligibility for school choice options to families with children currently enrolled in a non-public school.

    Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, is proposing the most expansive of the three school choice bills this year. Eckerty’s proposal, SB 198, would remove the eligibility requirement that a student must attend a public school two semesters prior to receiving the scholarship. If families meet income requirements, children currently enrolled in a non-public school would be eligible for the scholarships.

    Eckerty says his bill is primarily “corrective” in nature to the education reforms passed last year.

    “Under the current program, before a child can qualify for the school choice scholarship, the student must be enrolled in a public school for two semesters prior,” said Eckerty. There isn’t any reason or logic behind that. If you already have a child in a non-public school and qualify for the scholarship otherwise, the family should be able to receive the scholarship,”

    “It becomes problematic for the family and the child to be pulled from the non-public school and placed in a public school when the student is doing fine in the non-public school,” said Eckerty. “But to a single mother, or a family struggling to make ends meet, a parent may do this to qualify for the scholarship.

    “Parental choice is what it’s all about. It is the decision of the parent, not anyone else, to decide what’s best for their children,” said Eckerty.

    In addition, Eckerty said the legislation has a cost benefit to the state. Eckerty said it roughly costs the state an average of $5,500 to educate a student in public school. The voucher is only $4,500.

    “So do the math,” said Eckerty. “It saves the state about $1,000 per student. The bill is a positive for the parents and a positive for the state.”

    Catholic lawmaker Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, also is proposing legislation to assist current non-public school families. Leising’s proposal, SB 296, would give students, who are currently enrolled in a non-public school, an opportunity to qualify for the scholarship tax credit (STC) in grade eight. Once eligible for the STC, students could be eligible for a voucher for high school. Present law prohibits current non-public students, not previously receiving a STC scholarship, from being eligible for the voucher.

    Sen. Leising explained that under the current STC guidelines, kindergartners who meet the income requirements that are eligible for the STC then would be eligible for a state-funded voucher in first grade.

    “So what I’m trying to do is allow eighth graders to be eligible for a scholarship tax credit, which could allow them to be eligible potentially to receive a school voucher for ninth grade and the rest of their high school years,” said Leising.

    “I think it would be really helpful for parents, who want to keep their kids in a private school but aren’t sure how to do so financially,” said Leising. “This bill gives parents who are trying to do what’s best for their children a little bit of relief.”

    “People interested in this issue could be very helpful in getting this passed by giving their senators a little nudge,” said Leising. “I would encourage parents to contact their senators and ask them to support SB 296.”

    Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Bremen, is authoring a bill, SB 331, which would provide eligibility for siblings in families who receive a voucher.

    “What I’m trying to do in this bill is to help families out that are already receiving vouchers,” said Yoder. “It’s unfair to ask families who are receiving a voucher for an older child to require their younger sibling to start at a public school first, but that’s what the law requires.”

    Yoder said he’s heard from many of his constituents that this is really a problem for families.

    “It’s not fair to split up the siblings especially when they meet the income requirements to qualify for the voucher,” said Yoder. “It puts an unnecessary burden on parents to have children in two different schools.

    “I don’t think families should have to try out the public school for each child especially when they have other children who are having success in the non-public school,” said Yoder.

    Glenn Tebbe, Indiana Catholic Conference executive director, said, “The Church is supportive of school choice and these measures to expand eligibility. Many of our school families with low to moderate incomes could benefit greatly from these measures, and I’m hopeful they will pass this year.”

    Members of the Senate Education Committee will review the bills during their scheduled hearing Jan. 25. Testimony will be given on the bills. If the bills pass committee, they will move to the Senate floor for a second reading.

    Choice scholarships-Vouchers

    (Source — Legislative Services Agency Fiscal Analysis SB 198)

    There are 3,919 students currently receiving choice scholarships (vouchers). With 3,382 of the students who attended public schools the prior year and 537 students who received a scholarship from a scholarship-granting organization the prior year.

    There are approximately 26,630 students attending private schools and were eligible for free or reduced lunch — who meet the income requirements to be eligible for the choice scholarship if SB 198 passes. The students would be eligible for a scholarship equal to 90 percent of the tuition support of the school corporation where the student resides, with a maximum scholarship of $4,500 for elementary schools.

    Posted on January 25, 2012, to:

  • Encouraging next generation of servant leaders

    FORT WAYNE — St. Mary Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, in cooperation with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, is now accepting nominations for the 2012 Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award. The award is presented each year to an individual or group whose work reflects the strong values exemplified by Father O’Connor during his many years as a priest.

    Father O’Connor, who died March 17, 2004, at the age of 74, served as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish for 34 years, and is considered by many to be an icon of Catholic faith in action.

    This year the award committee invites nominations of persons of faith, high school age or older, who volunteer their time in the educational realm. The award carries with it a monetary gift given in the name of the recipient to her or his designated project, school, faith community or nonprofit organization.

    Father Tom O’Connor Light of Christ Award nominations are open to persons of all faith traditions. Guidelines for nominations are available on the St. Mary’s website www.stmarysfw.org and from the St. Mary Church Office, (260) 424-8231.

    Previous award winners are Cliff Kindy, 2007, for his work in non-violence, Sister Janet Gildea, 2008, for her efforts among diverse cultures, William Critell 2009, for his dedication to education among the disadvantaged, University of Saint Francis student Danielle Collins, 2010, for her leadership and volunteer work to promote justice for the disadvantaged and the Volunteer Ramp Builders, 2011, for their efforts to expand the horizons of persons with physical disabilities.

    The deadline for nominations is Feb. 23, and additional information is available on the St. Mary’s website, www.stmarysfw.org.

    How to apply

    1. Nominations must be made by someone who knows the nominee well.

    2. Nominees, of any faith, must come from a strong faith background and be of good character.

    3. The nomination must include the following information in the order listed:

    • Nominee’s name

    • Contact information

    • Age and school or occupation

    • Faith affiliation

    • Where the monetary award is to be directed, should the nominee receive the award

    • Name and contact information of the person submitting the nomination

    • Names and contact information of three references

    • A brief narrative no more than two pages in length explaining why the nominee should be considered for this award.

    4. Email submissions (Word document attachment) are preferred and should be sent to jan.stmarys@frontier.com. Email nominations must be received no later than noon Feb. 23.

    5. Letters of nomination may also be mailed to Father Tom O’Connor Award Committee, St. Mary Catholic Church, PO Box 11383, Fort Wayne, IN  46857-1383, and must be received no later than Feb. 23.

    Posted on January 25, 2012, to: