• Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin sits for the first time in the cathedra of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during the Dec. 3 Mass in which he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. Applauding Archbishop Tobin is Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis.

    By Sean Gallagher

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — In the ancient Mediterranean world and in medieval Europe, a chair was the symbol of a teacher. In those cultures, teachers sat in chairs and their students sat at their feet to learn from them.

    The Catholic Church continues this traditional symbol in the cathedra, the seat of a diocesan bishop in a local Church’s cathedral.

    When Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin sat for the first time in the cathedra at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Dec. 3, he did so to teach Catholics of central and southern Indiana how to love and respond to Christ’s love for them.

    In his homily during the Mass in which he was installed as the sixth shepherd of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Archbishop Tobin reflected on how St. Paul saw himself as obligated to preach the Gospel because Christ loved him first.

    “And so, for us Catholics of central and southern Indiana, if someone asks us, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ it’s not simply because we’re obeying rules,” Archbishop Tobin said. “In fact, on at least four different occasions, I heard Pope Benedict XVI say that the Gospel cannot be presented first and foremost as a list of moral obligations.

    “It is rather an encounter with a person, someone who has loved us first and someone who asks us to continue His loving presence in the world. And so all of us who belong to this particular Church are under an obligation — the obligation of love.”

    Archbishop Tobin said that he and all the Catholics of the archdiocese are to express that love with the passion that drove St. Francis Xavier, a patron saint of the archdiocese whose feast day was Dec. 3, to preach the Gospel in India — halfway around the world from his home in Spain.

    “What we will do together as a Church, we will do with passion, the passion that characterized our patron saint, Francis Xavier,” Archbishop Tobin said. “And we will do whatever the Lord asks us to do in bringing the good news, especially to those who have the least chance of hearing it, for those who live on the margin of things, for those who have been hurt by the Church, for those who feel themselves to be forgotten.”

    The archbishop, former secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, paid tribute to his predecessors in Indiana, starting with Bishop Simon Brute, a candidate for sainthood and the first bishop of Vincennes — which covered all of Indiana and a portion of Illinois when it was established in 1834.

    Archbishop Tobin also honored his immediate predecessor, retired Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, who attended the installation Mass.

    In remarks at the end of Mass, Archbishop Tobin thanked Archbishop Buechlein “for laying a firm foundation and of being so gracious to me in our conversations and for his promise to be always a cellphone call away when I run up against implacable problems.”

    Before the Mass, Archbishop Buechlein told The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper, that he was looking forward to witnessing the installation of his successor.

    “I’m excited, and I’m grateful,” Archbishop Buechlein said. “I’m grateful to the Holy Father for giving us Archbishop Tobin, grateful for Archbishop Tobin for his saying, ‘Yes.’ He’s a good man.”

    Archbishop Buechlein is the first retired shepherd of the Church in central and southern Indiana to be alive to witness the installation of his successor since Archbishop Paul C. Schulte attended the installation of Archbishop George J. Biskup Jan. 3, 1970.

    Before the start of Mass, more than a hundred priests and two dozen bishops processed into SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, which was filled with more than 1,000 worshippers. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, was the principal celebrant.

    The central ritual of the installation Mass was Archbishop Tobin taking his place in the cathedra, then representatives of various groups in archdiocese came up to greet him. They included a priest, a deacon and his wife, religious, a married couple, youths and young adults, representatives of the Hispanic community and people with special needs.

    Also greeting Archbishop Tobin were a representative of the Indianapolis-based Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), an imam, a rabbi and various civic officials, including Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard, who is Catholic.

    At the conclusion of the Mass, Archbishop Tobin thanked Pope Benedict, who appointed him to Indianapolis Oct. 18, and Archbishop Buechlein and Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, other archdiocesan leaders and the Catholics of central and southern Indiana who have been praying for a new archbishop for months now.

    “I thank you for those prayers,” Archbishop Tobin said. “And I ask that they continue.”

    He also thanked his mother, Marie Tobin, and his 12 siblings. Archbishop Tobin then thanked his Redemptorist family. He first professed vows in 1973 in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, whose members are called Redemptorists.

    He was the congregation’s superior general of the congregation, whose 5,300 members minister in 78 countries from 1997 to 2009.

    “My brothers here know the full story. I trust that they’re not going to tell it,” said Archbishop Tobin with a smile. “But I thank you for teaching me to love the poor, and to assure that the Gospel is preached in season and out.”

    Finally, Archbishop Tobin noted that, while he could not predict what would happen “in this great adventure of being the archbishop of Indianapolis. … Whatever the Lord holds for me, that’s fine. But I’m sure that I’m going to enjoy life with you, my brothers and sisters.”

    - – -

    Gallagher is a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese.

    Posted on December 12, 2012, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed the new addition that offers a gathering space at Immaculate Conception Church in Auburn on Dec. 8.

    By Bonnie Elberson

    AUBURN — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades made the short drive north to Immaculate Conception Church in Auburn last Saturday to celebrate the evening Mass with parishioners there and bless a recently completed addition to the church.

    As is his custom, Bishop Rhoades greeted the assembly warmly. “What a joy it is to be with you this evening,” he said. And he noted how appropriate it was to be present for the special event on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in a church of the same name.

    Parishioner Sarah Speer, chair of the communications committee, called the new addition a project that had been under discussion for “years and years” and that finally came to fruition just this year.

    There had long been concern that the church community lacked a sense of togetherness because after attending Mass, parishioners immediately left for home because there was no sheltered area outside the main body of the church where people could congregate. There was a need for a protected gathering area where parishioners could assemble and a covered entryway to provide better access for the elderly and handicapped.

    Then three years ago Father Derrick Sneyd arrived on the scene and took charge. “It was great to have someone say, ‘Let’s just do it,’” said Speer, describing Father Derrick’s approach to the long-standing issue.

    The pastor himself said it came down to a “new thinking track” and a discussion of what the parish really required. As well as a gathering area, the parish needed more space for religious education for children and adults. Father Sneyd also anticipates that the area will become a liturgical and church history center for DeKalb, Noble and Steuben counties and looks forward to serving the larger Catholic community as well. “Anything we do is helping the universal Church,” he pointed out.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blesses the baptismal font at Immaculate Conception Church in Auburn.

    The building and finance committees immediately went to work on the fundraising effort with a “one-time ask” approach to the project. Father said firmly, “I did not ask twice.” Parishioners were contacted and requested to do whatever they could to help meet the goal. Committee members David Hefty and Tom Bendinger worked especially hard on the campaign, said Speer, and “we had a generous response from everyone in the parish.” Father Derrick noted with pride that $420,000 came in on the initial request, with the remainder pledged and due in the next 18 months to meet the $600,000 construction cost.

    The work began as soon as funds were secured and was fully completed just a week ago, though the pastor kept the new addition under wraps until its official unveiling. Parishioner and church usher Orville Rolston said, “Father didn’t want it used until it was blessed,” so as parishioners arrived for the Mass and dedication, they were seen to peer around the corner of the church for a glimpse of the new construction.

    As Immaculate Conception parishioners assembled in the new gathering area after Mass, Bishop Rhoades said to them, “I inaugurate and bless this new parish addition … where many will come to know one another.” He prayed, “Send blessings on your people who will gather here.” The evening concluded appropriately with a social hour in celebration of the event.


    Posted on December 12, 2012, to:

  • Bishop John M.D’Arcy, bishop emeritus, and Kathy Denice of Catholic Charities volunteer some time at the South Bend Food Pantry.

    By Lisa Kochanowski

    While many families are wrestling with trying to find money to buy their child the latest Xbox, Wii or iPhone, Catholic Charities is working hard to collect food donations to give out hearty and healthy food baskets to their clients for the holidays. Catholic Charities operates food pantries in South Bend and Auburn.

    “We have a different menu each week made up of 15-20 pounds of food based upon family size. This usually includes about 15 items or enough food for four meals,” said Claire Coleman, the West Region administrator at Catholic Charities. “This might include two canned vegetables, one canned fruit, one canned meat such as tuna, canned beans, peanut butter and jelly, bread, frozen meat, pancake mix, boxed milk or dried goods, pasta or rice, pasta sauce and one or two fresh items such as vegetables, fruit, eggs, yogurt and cheese. We also will distribute personal care items such as toilet paper, shampoo and toothpaste when we have it available.”

    Items inside the food pantry come from a variety of different sources. In South Bend, the pantry receives support through the United Way of St. Joseph County, PGE “People Gotta Eat” Initiative and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. In Auburn, the agency is a member of the Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana and receives USDA commodities to supplement food donated by local community partners. Both agencies also rely on food drives from area churches, schools and businesses.

    According to Patti Sheppard, RSVP director who works with the food pantry at the Catholic Charities office in Auburn, the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in their area donates fresh produce weekly. Items like salad bowls, chicken Caesar salad bowls, organic salads, potatoes, miniature cupcakes and stew meat have been donated.

    “We are extremely fortunate to have great donations from active volunteers and organizations,” said Sheppard. Recently, an anonymous donor purchased fresh meat from a butcher and had it delivered to the food pantry.

    Auburn also runs two unique programs through their food pantry: A winter coat distribution project and backpack distribution before school starts. Donations of coats, hats, mittens and scarves are given to needy families. Currently 552 coats, 319 hats, 449 pairs of mittens and 31 scarves have been distributed.

    Everyone has a wish list and items like fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, butter, yogurt and cheese are a few items Coleman would love to be able to add to food baskets. Sheppard would like to see paper products and toiletries.

    “These items are more expensive than purchasing canned goods but we feel it is important to include more nutritious foods in our menu so we try to always include what we can of fresh items,” said Coleman. Items like crackers, a cake mix and pudding are all treats the clients seem to enjoy receiving. Seniors enjoy getting coffee and tea. Cooking oil, sugar, flour and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, syrup and salad dressing are also popular items.

    As families journey through the Advent season of giving and faith, it is important to remember those people hit by the hard economic times in the country. A person does not have to give hundreds of dollars; a simple collection of food around the neighborhood can help a family in need.

    “We would love it if school, church or community groups would sponsor a food drive to benefit the clients of the Catholic Charities’ Food Pantry at any point throughout the year. Of course, we welcome and appreciate individual donations in support of the food pantry as well,” Coleman said.

    “If you’re out shopping, get an extra bar of soap or bottle of shampoo,” said Sheppard. “Our clients are going out on job interviews and want to look their best, but can’t buy those simple items with food stamps.”


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  • On her last visit to Haiti, USF junior Rachel Bornhorst holds three-year-old Snide Christie Vilmar. Her parents died, her grandmother tried to care for Christie but did not have the means and her aunt did not want to care for her. An uncle took her away and gave Christie to Father Andre’s orphanage.

    By Vince LaBarbera

    FORT WAYNE — The headlines read, “Deadly Hurricane Katrina strikes Haiti, Gulf region” in 2005 and “Port-au-Prince, capital, largest city, struck by catastrophic earthquake” in 2010. The aftershock of all that devastation is still being felt by tens of thousands of citizens of that poor Caribbean country.

    One particular location called Robillard, Haiti, located in a rural area about a six-hour drive north of Port-au-Prince, holds a special place in the hearts of many University of Saint Francis students in Fort Wayne and their faculty advisor, Dr. Amy Obringer. That’s because it’s the rented home of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage and its beloved founder, Father Andre Sylvestre.

    The small orphanage is housed in a modest ranch-style home with 27 children, three “moms” and a male guardian all living under one roof. The children sleep in double bunk beds and each bedroom is at full capacity. There’s no room for any more orphans. (The moms do not cook or clean, but are hired by Father Andre to give love and compassion, and sit with the children).

    “We feel ‘called’ to help this orphanage,” said Obringer. Two students have traveled there twice at their own expense, given a number of presentations and held fundraisers, she related. “For the past two years, we’ve been Father Andre’s most consistent and main supporter.”

    Campaign to raise funds

    Currently, a fall campaign is underway to raise $50,000 by Feb. 1, 2013, for a new orphanage on 15 acres of land owned by Father Andre to house 40 children. It’s the first phase of the diocesan priest’s dream for a long-term orphanage complex providing a home for more than 100 orphans along with a vocational school, library, health clinic, chapel, adult literacy center, community room and a home for a congregation of sisters who eventually would manage the orphanage after Father Andre is gone.

    The new orphanage would be a place “where the orphans can have the privilege to feel loved, to have access to education and healthcare, to hear the Good News of the Gospel, to learn how to shape their own destiny,” said Father Andre. “In short, I would like to give them a safe place where they can develop all the dimensions of their lives,” he said. “It’s the only family these kids will ever know,” added Obringer. “None of the children can ever be adopted.”

    “Pre-school teachers are hired to teach the children in the garage area of the home,” said Rachael Bornhorst, a junior at USF. “The older children are driven to and from an elementary school less than a mile away.”

    Father Andre now pays $5,000 a year for rent. The contract ends this coming February and he is negotiating renting for another six months hoping the new residential unit will be completed by June or July. Architectural plans and cost estimations have been completed. Construction to withstand earthquake and hurricane forces will be supervised by an architect with experience building in Haiti.

    “Realistically, we do not anticipate making our goal by Feb. 1 by our own efforts,” said Obringer, estimating the campaign has raised about $37,000 to date. “We need the help of foundations, corporations and individuals who believe in our mission and are willing to provide ideas, construction items and financial support,” she related. Anyone interested in more information, attending a presentation, getting involved, making an in-kind donation or even traveling to Haiti in March or May next year, is asked to contact Obringer at aobringer@sf.edu or (260) 399-7700, ext. 8210. “Monetary donations can be accepted at any time with the money simply wired to Haiti for the orphanage project,” said Obringer. And if readers would like to follow activities they can “like” Formula for Life on Facebook.

    Origins of Formula for Life

    But let’s start at the beginning with Cortney Shepard, a biology major who returned from a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2007. While there she cared for a young mother whose infant was starving because the mother could only afford to feed the child two crackers a day. Upon her return, Shepard told Obringer she was struggling to resume her “comfortable life with everything she needs” knowing there are babies starving. Obringer asked, “Why don’t you do something about it?” Shepard founded what she called “Formula for Life” at USF — a 5K walk/run and silent auction to raise funds.

    “Since it’s been difficult to find contacts in the Dominican and with the awareness of Haiti and Father Andre, Formula for Life now dedicates nearly all of its fundraising efforts to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage,” Obringer explained. This year’s event drew 400 registrations and raised more than $11,000.

    “We arrived with suitcases filled with canned foods, powdered milk, vitamins and infant formula,” Obringer said, “and money for drilling a well for clean water.” The student-led project has become the orphanage’s financial mainstay in terms of nutritional funds. Shepard, a 2009 USF graduate and currently enrolled in her second year as a Chicago osteopathic medicine student, returns annually to start the 5K walk/run. The next Formula for Life event will be April 14, 2013.

    Formula for Life will continue to provide funding for nutritional support for the orphanage until it reaches its goal of self-sufficiency. This fall’s campaign is to raise money strictly for the new orphanage.

    Father Andre’s ministries

    Obringer said, “To give you an idea of how amazing Father Andre is, he probably is in his middle 60’s, he has his own parish, oversees an elementary school with more than 500 children, has his own counseling practice because he very much wants to make healthier Haitian families and he does a lot of marital counseling — all this while in the back of his mind he felt he was being called to start an orphanage.”

    That “calling” came when four-year-old orphan, Deluxon, came to him asking for food about two or three weeks after the 2010 earthquake. He led the priest behind a dumpster to where he and his two sisters were living beneath a piece of tin — a two-year old with an HIV infection and an infant, who subsequently died of malnutrition. At that moment Father Andre “got the message” that it was time to start his orphanage, Obringer related.

    Deluxon became the first of Father Andre’s orphans. (His surviving sister is in another orphanage because of her medical needs). Each child has a survival story similar to Deluxon’s — children who have lost both parents to disease, starvation, natural disasters and abandonment, or they have escaped from a “restavek” (childhood slavery) situation. For every child rescued, more await salvation. “And now he has to turn kids away,” Obringer stressed.

    “All the kids are extremely cute and it melts your heart when you see them,” said Bornhorst. “I would love to spend more than 10 days with them, maybe on the medical side where I could help provide for their medical needs.”

    “It’s more than building a new orphanage for these kids,” added Obringer. “It’s an opportunity to just truly give. They can’t give us anything in return other than their affection, saying ‘thank you’ and praying for us. And even though we’re providing this structure for them, they’re changing us! We’re growing in compassion and the courage to try and get them help as well as the skills we’re learning about fundraising,” she concluded.

    Posted on December 12, 2012, to:

  • SOUTH BEND (CNS) — The University of Notre Dame released a pastoral plan “grounded in the Catholic mission” of the university that will expand support and services for students “who identify” as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and those “questioning” their own sexual orientation.

    The plan, released Dec. 5, is titled “Beloved Friends and Allies: A Pastoral Plan for the Support and Holistic Development of GLBTQ and Heterosexual Students at the University of Notre Dame.”

    Following a five-month review, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame president, accepted the recommendations from the university’s Office of Student Affairs.

    The plan calls for Notre Dame to establish a “new support and service student organization for GLBTQ students and their allies,” as well as a new advisory committee and to create a full-time student development staff position focused on issues of concern to these students.

    “I appreciate the careful and thoughtful work of this review that considered both the needs of our students and the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Father Jenkins said in a statement.

    The plan reiterates Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

    Quoting the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2006 document, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Orientation: Guidelines for Pastoral Care,” it says the university “endorses the emphatic pastoral teachings … that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected.”

    “At the same time, the university also adheres to the Church’s teaching concerning homosexual actions, that ‘homosexual persons are called to chastity’ and to ‘friendship,’ and should cultivate ‘the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom,” it continues. “Indeed, each and every student at Notre Dame is called to nothing less. All Notre Dame students are urged to understand and live the teachings of the Church relative to their lives and expressions of sexual intimacy.”

    As the Church teaches, sex outside of marriage “is essentially contrary to its purpose,” the plan says.

    Since the 1990s, Notre Dame has had a student standing committee, most recently called the Core Council, to advise the vice president for student affairs on issues with regard to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and “questioning” students.

    In an interview with The Observer, the campus newspaper, Father Jenkins said Notre Dame has “made real progress” over the years serving these students, but he asked Erin Hoffmann Harding, the current student affairs vice president, and her office to conduct a comprehensive review of “everything we do, all the support structures, and find out how we can do things better.”

    Harding said the review had three main elements.

    “The first one was consultation with Church teaching,” she told The Observer. “The parameter for this solution needed to serve our students well but be grounded fundamentally in our Catholic mission as a university. So we’ve spent time with theologians and members, in particular, of our faculty, who have given us advice on this matter and on Church teaching — that’s activity number one.”

    Secondly, there were “extensive conversations” with undergraduate and graduate students, she said, and the third element was a look at “the breadth of structures” other Catholic institutions have in place.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend said that Notre Dame in its pastoral plan “clearly affirms its fidelity to Catholic Church teaching on human sexuality by affirming that ‘sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman’ and that the fulfillment and proper context of human sexual love is to be found in the marital covenant.”

    It also affirms that “men and women who have homosexual tendencies ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,’” he said in a Dec. 6 statement.

    Bishop Rhoades called it “vitally important” the plan’s foundations and Notre Dame’s fidelity to Catholic teaching “inform and guide” the plan’s implementation, including the new student organization’s “vision, programs and activities.”

    “It is my hope and prayer that the rich Catholic teaching on sexuality, teaching that serves the true good and happiness of the human person,” he said, “will be embraced by the students and all involved” in carrying out the pastoral plan.

    He added he hoped the new campus organization would provide the support students need to prevent them from feeling isolated and alienated, which are “risk factors for an unhealthy life, including unchaste behaviors.” The plan should be a help to all students live “a chaste and holy life,” he said.

    The plan’s implementation calls for several actions, including:

    • Training of student leaders and staff and faculty, and the education of all students, “so as to create and sustain a safe and supportive environment for all members of the Notre Dame community.”— Support for “out or questioning students” within programs and initiatives coming from multiple units on campus, such as the Gender Relations Center, campus ministry and the Institute for Church Life; and relevant student groups. Initiatives will include conferences, retreats and support groups.

    • Opportunities intended to assist all members of the Notre Dame community “in their ongoing exploration of and conversation concerning a Catholic understanding of sexual intimacy and the calls to chastity and holiness of life.”

    Posted on December 12, 2012, to: