• A  new website has recently been launched by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend that focuses on the burden of infertility. Infertilitycross.com premiered appropriately on June 24, the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, who was conceived after many years of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s infertility.

    The website, two years in the making, provides a safe and hope-filled resource for those who carry the cross of infertility, says Cindy Black, director of Adult Faith Formation, and member of the team who created the site. “It provides community with others who share their suffering, and offers suggestions for prayer and other possible paths,” she says.

    The site’s content, first developed by Natalie Kohrman, past director of the Office of Spiritual Development and Evangelization, and later Megan Swaim, past associate director of Youth Ministry and Black, is specific to the challenges faced by couples that are dealing with infertility. “…This website exists to let couples who are facing infertility know that the Church understands their desire for a child and is here to help them in their struggle. It aims to introduce and explain Church-approved methods for identifying and attempting to treat infertility,” says Kohrman.

    Nate Proulx, diocesan media specialist, was instrumental in the technical creation of the videos and the website development. Co-directors of the Office of Family Life Fred and Lisa Everett conducted a final review of the website content, including all of the recommended resources, in the spring before the official launch in June. Lisa says, “Our hope is that this website will help those who struggle with infertility to feel the motherly love of the Church reaching out to them in their suffering.”

    Website visitors can find not only an extensive list of recommended resources that include prayers, articles, Church documents, blogs, audio files, links to other websites and books, but also stories of hope from couples who have faced infertility, answers to frequently asked questions and a page specifically designed as a resource for friends and family who want to support a couple dealing with infertility.

    The featured resources offer the Church’s teaching on infertility, natural family planning, NaproTechnology, miscarriage, adoption, dealing with suffering and strengthening marriage and more. These teachings are not arbitrary rules, says Black. “Rather, the Church upholds the dignity of every life to be co-created with God in the way He intended — through the one flesh union of husband and wife. As my morality professor taught: human persons in the image of God are to be begotten, not made.” Kohrman agrees, adding that having a child is not a right but a gift from God.

    Black says the website sprang from a pastoral need and a hope that couples who have suffered in silence will find that they are not alone. “We recognized that it’s not enough to just inform people of the Church’s teaching on reproductive technologies, we need to show love and compassion to those who long to conceive a child, but are struggling to and may not be able to,” she says, adding, “Infertility is a heavy burden, but Jesus wants to help us carry that cross and even grow closer to Him through it.”

    The creative, pastoral team’s hope for the visitors of the site? “I hope that this website is just the beginning of an increase in pastoral outreach and care to couples experiencing infertility,” says Swaim. Korhman agrees saying, “I truly hope that many people will find comfort in times of grief and strength in times of difficulty.”

    “My hope is that couples find loving assurance that they can persevere with this cross and even grow closer to Jesus through it. Those who cannot conceive, and do NOT go to any means possible to conceive, are the truest witnesses that babies are a gift, not a right. Children are a gratuitous gift, not a reward,” Black concludes, adding, “In less than 24 hours, I’ve received many messages thanking us for the site, an offer to help in an infertility ministry and a couple wanting to add their story to the site. This tells me that it is a much needed outreach.”

    To view the website visit Infertilitycross.com.

     

     

     

    Posted on July 8, 2014, to:

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades has recently announced that he will renew the consecration of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to the Blessed Mother during the 6 p.m. Mass on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. The Mass will be followed by a Marian procession, organized by the Knights of Columbus, from the cathedral to Headwaters Park, which will mark the beginning of the third annual summer Festival of Faith.

    The bishop has invited all to join him and many others in the consecration to Jesus through Mary and proposes following the 33 days of preparation written by Father Michael Gaitley, a priest with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. The guidebook, entitled “33 Days to Morning Glory,” includes prayers and meditations for each day, using the writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II, who were all deeply devoted to Mary.

    St. Louis Marie de Montfort set forth the traditional method of Marian consecration, which seeks a deeper union with both Jesus and Mary for those who participate.

    In a recent interview, Father Gaitley explained, “St. Louis was the first to take all the threads of Marian consecration, popularize them and synthesize them. The way I look at it, ‘33 Days to Morning Glory’ is written in the same spirit, meant to combine and promote the main streams of Marian devotion that have come since St. Louis’ model. The way it is written also provides an easier to use and updated version from the traditional method.”

    The book is to be read a few pages each day, which “allows for deeper reflection as you ponder the teachings of the saints, leading you to formally acknowledging and accepting Mary as your spiritual Mother,” said Father Gaitley, adding that the consecration may be done individually or as part of a group. As a guide to make the consecration the Hearts Afire program offers a DVD set, retreat companion guide and group discussion manual for group use.

    Father Gaitley explains the purpose of making a Marian consecration: ““Mary brings us to a personal relationship with Jesus, Jesus then brings us to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity in turn brings us closer to others. Transforming community with Christ is our goal, because when we enter into deeper intimacy with Christ we take on His heart and His thirst for souls.”

    In a specially produced video about the consecration found at www.diocesefwsb.org, Bishop Rhoades shares his earliest recollections of his grandmother’s and mother’s devotion to the Blessed Mother and how he first learned about consecration to Jesus through Mary as a seminarian with the prayers developed by St. Louis Marie de Montfort.

    The consecration, the bishop says, “helps us to live our Baptismal consecration. By entrusting ourselves to her she helps us as our loving mother. She encourages us even in suffering to have faith and hope in her Son.” He continues, “We are entrusting ourselves to her so as to be faithful to God, faithful to our baptismal vows on our journey to heaven.”

    Four weekly podcasts on the consecration to Jesus through Mary by Bishop Rhoades will be available at www. todayscatholicnews.org and www.diocesefwsb.org.

    In hopes of joining Bishop Rhoades in inviting others to participate in the consecration Franciscan Father David Mary Engo spoke at the Theology on Tap Catholic Young adult event in Fort Wayne on June 19 on Marian devotions and the 33-day spiritual renewal process explored in “33 Days of Morning Glory” by Father Gaitley. Father Engo will introduce the “33 Days of Morning Glory” devotional on July 12, at 7 p.m. at the social hall of St. Therese Little Flower Parish in South Bend as well.

    To complete the 33 days of preparation participants will begin on July 13 to be ready for the consecration on Aug. 15. Individuals and parishes are invited to participate in the consecration in a way that best suits their needs and may include meeting once a week for six weeks as a small faith group to watch Father Gaitley’s DVD and discuss the daily readings with the aid of a companion manual, meeting as a group without the companion manual, or reading and pondering the daily meditations individually. Those who wish to participate may contact their parish to see if it is providing the group format or if they will participate on their own. To participate individually contact Marian specialist, Ida List, idalist@gmail.com or at 574-453-3143 (evenings) or 574-376-0046 (cell) for questions and to order a book.

    Those unable to attend the Mass and rededication on Aug. 15 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception may watch a live video stream of the Mass on computer at www.diocesefwsb.org or listen to the live broadcast on Redeemer Radio 106.3 FM.

    To find out more information on the Total Consecration to Mary, visit www.diocesefwsb.org/special-ministries.

    Posted on July 8, 2014, to:

  • The emotions that the artist, Mickey Wells, designed into Christ’s face as he journeyed the Way of the Cross are depicted here as Jesus accepts Simon’s help carrying the cross. This Station of the Cross is located in the Shrine of Christ’s Passion, St. John, Ind.

    ST. JOHN, Ind. — For pilgrims looking for an uplifting place to visit with their family this summer or for a peaceful spiritual retreat, a few hours’ drive northwest to St. John, Ind., will bring one to two beautiful places —The Shrine of Christ’s Passion and St. John the Evangelist Church.

    The Shrine of Christ’s Passion opened in 2007 and consists of 40 life-size bronze figures depicting the way of the cross — from the Last Supper to the Resurrection. The shrine sits on 15 acres of property and 3,000 trees and bushes make up the half-mile prayer path that contains the stations.

    The Stations of the Cross are set into alcoves intentionally so that when visiting one, the next is not visible. Eighty-eight semi-loads of rocks were brought in from Wisconsin to create the path. Mickey Wells is the bronze artist who constructed the figures and had people model as he designed the statues. The expressions portrayed on the statue’s faces and attention to detail creates a very real experience for visitors.

    The shrine is nonprofit and non-denominational and was commissioned by the Schilling family to be built. According to a guide at the shrine when the Schillings first conceived of creating a Stations of the Cross prayer path they envisioned just having plaques with the stations. But following a visit to Amarillo, Texas, where another Shrine of Christ’s Passion is located and he saw Mickey Wells’s work Schilling returned knowing he wanted to create a similar experience.

    Every aspect of the shrine was created to give visitors an authentic feeling of journeying with Christ along the way. The landscape design of shrubs and rocks is similar to that found in Jerusalem. Music plays softly along the prayer path, composed by two local men — one Christian, the other Jewish — to represent the time and place, and to set the mood.

    From the beginning of the journey at the Last Supper visitors are invited to join Jesus and sit at the table with Him. Pilgrims are encouraged to get close to the figures of Christ and His followers, to touch the statues and to look into their eyes. The path itself is a peaceful place where guided tours are offered and encouraged for large groups, but individuals can also take a self-guided tour as there is a recorded story at each station.

    The Crucifixion of Christ is depicted here as part of the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, Ind. The towers of the new St. John the Evangelist Church are shown in the background.

    The gates in the Garden of Gethsemane came from the old St. John cemetery and the donated red cedar wood of the crosses weigh 175 pounds each.

    Located next to the shrine is the 40-foot tall statue of Our Lady of the Millennium, which faces U.S. Highway 41. Our Lady of the Millennium replaced the original Blessed Mother statue first built in 1954 by a local family dedicated to Mary. The original donor sent to Italy for Carrara marble to build the 20-foot statue with no intent of starting a shrine, but cars began stopping along the highway and it grew into a Marian shrine. The original statue was moved up the hill to the new St. John the Evangelist Church.

    Although located close to the church and commissioned by parishioners, the shrine is not part of the church. It is privately owned and operated and is maintained solely by donations and proceeds from the large two story gift shop.

    St. John the Evangelist Church

    ST. JOHN, Ind. — Hours for a guided tour of St. John the Evangelist Church are more limited then the Shrine of Christ’s Passion, but it is worth the time to discover not only its beauty, but how so many of its designs and construction elements were incorporated to represent and teach the faith.

    The parish is the oldest in the Gary diocese, originally built in 1837. The original log cabin church is now a Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Two other church buildings were built before the present church, which was dedicated in May of 2008.

    The property and the large rectory were donated by a local family. The Romanesque-style church building was constructed facing east, the direction traditionally symbolizing the second coming of Christ. The church has also always envisioned the risen, Glorified Christ as facing east when offering Eucharistic sacrifices. Parishioners were actively involved in all aspects of the construction of the church from fundraising to architectural design, as the architect of record is a parishioner, as well as construction aspects.

    Visitors first enter the Garden of Angels with 10 pillars displaying Michael the Archangel on one end and Gabriel the Archangel of the Annunciation on the other, representing the parish’s devotion to Mary. In front of the church and facing the statue of Mary is a bronze statue of the patron saint, John the Evangelist, designed especially for the parish by Mickey Wells of Texas, who also created the statues of the Shrine of Christ’s Passion.

    The curved ramps flanking the stairs are not only for accessibility but also represent “arms of welcome for all who enter this sacred place.”

    Russian artist Leonid Bodnia created the relief statues of St. Peter and St. Paul on the towers and like most of the art in the church, was created especially for this church. Inscribed into the doorpost are the Latin words, “ Ad Majoram Dei Gloriam” — “to the greater glory of God.” The guide explains that to glorify God is the reason parishioners sacrificed to build the $13 million church.

    The three entrances to the church represent the Trinity; the 12 doors in the entrances represent the Apostles, whose translucent images are etched into the glass of the doors. The seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual works of mercy are also etched into the glass by local artist Sharon Palazolo. The star cross, a predominant design of the old church has been incorporated into the design of the new church, starting with the star cross inlaid into the flooring in the narthex and continuing into the sanctuary in the stained glass window designs and in the almost 70 hand carved crosses, carved by a parishioner.

    Once inside the sanctuary, all the liturgical symbols are in ascending order, starting with the Baptismal and Holy Water fount. The woodwork throughout the church was created by several parishioners. The octagonal shape of the Baptismal font is reminiscent of the old church’s back altar. The octagon shape representing the eighth day is also incorporated into the 80-foot soaring ceiling above the altar where it frames the stained glass image of the Holy Spirit — a copy of the Bernini window in the Vatican.

    An impressive pipe organ is located behind the tabernacle. Circling the church are stained glass windows of saints, each with meaning to the parish and its parishioners. The parish received special permission to include St. John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa before they were canonized to represent contemporary witnesses of lives of holiness to which the parishioners hope to aspire.

    — Denise Fedorow

     

    Posted on July 8, 2014, to:

  • FORT WAYNE — The 27th Annual Bishop’s Appeal is being called another success.

    Harry Verhiley, Secretary for Stewardship and Development for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and director of the Annual Bishop’s Appeal, told Today’s Catholic the goal for the 2013-2014 appeal was $4,990,044. “We raised $6,185,704,” Verhiley said, which accounts for 124 percent of the goal.

    Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades told Today’s Catholic, “The faithful of our diocese are always so very generous in the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. I thank all the donors to the appeal for their donations, their witness of faith and goodness, and their evident love for the Lord and His Church. I pray that the Lord will bless all for their generosity and stewardship.”

    “The Annual Bishop’s Appeal is about funding mission and ministries of our Lord Jesus throughout the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend,” Verhiley said. “This is important work of the Church, such as: evangelization, seminarian support, religious education, Catholic school funding, youth ministry and works of charity are all means of witness to our Catholic faith.”

    “A successful Bishop’s Appeal also means that the work of Christ in our parishes remain strong, because this year we raised $1,195,660 over our $4.9 million goal and the parishes that went over goal will received their respective overage once it is collected,” Verhiley said.

    In a summary of statistics, 21,368 gifts were received for this appeal. Thirty seven percent of the 57,019 families of the diocese participated.

    Posted on July 8, 2014, to:

  • By Mark Weber

    FORT WAYNE — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades has accepted a recommendation by the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Consulting feasibility study to forgo a new junior-senior Catholic high school in the central part of the diocese.

    In an executive summary, it was noted, “it is the point of view of ACE Consulting that the central region of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend does not currently possess the density of population and some of the essential attributes necessary to establish a new 7-12 Catholic school that operates on a traditional model.”

    The report added, “We do not, however, believe that such an opportunity is permanently inaccessible.”

    Bishop Rhoades told Today’s Catholic, “I am grateful to all who participated in the feasibility study. While I had hoped that the proposed Catholic junior-senior high school in the central area of our diocese would be feasible, I think that the recommendations arising from the study will be very helpful for the future.”

    Bishop Rhoades added, “I think there must be more efforts to reach out to the large number of Hispanic families in the area with school-age children about the opportunities of Catholic education.”

    Bishop Rhoades had requested that ACE Consulting, based at the University of Notre Dame, provide recommendations as to the feasibility of opening a junior-senior high school in the greater Warsaw or Goshen area. ACE conducted the study between August 2013 and March 2014.

    “The parish and school families provided considerable breadth and depth to the feasibility study,” said Holy Cross Father Thomas Doyle, who led the study for ACE Consulting. “Families with students in Catholic schools as well as families without children in Catholic schools generously participated in focus groups that explored their perceptions, experience and priorities for Catholic education.”

    In addition, Father Doyle said more than 300 families responded to a comprehensive on-line survey. “The families were passionate about Catholic education and both their spoken and written contributions were honest, insightful, sober and hope-filled,” he said.

    “Our interviews and focus groups revealed a number of parents and community leaders who are true champions of Catholic education,” Father Doyle said. “The presence of these kinds of leaders will serve to galvanize the community and necessary support when there exists a sufficient number of families and students who are willing to capitalize on the extraordinary education and opportunities provided by a Catholic education.”

    “The pastors interviewed from the 12 parishes in the region are deeply committed to Catholic education,” Father Doyle said. “They expressed consistent willingness to ensure that families have access to excellent Catholic education.”

    Father Doyle said the parishes with Catholic schools are providing substantial financial support to their schools and making them affordable and accessible to private paying as well as school voucher paying families.

    Father Doyle also noted the Catholic school principals are ensuring that their schools are providing an excellent education for students, and the parents at Catholic schools are pleased with the education that their children are receiving. Principals are actively encouraging and recruiting students and families into their schools.

    The report noted, “However, all of the pastors expressed skepticism about the likelihood of their parish providing financial support to the school. A review of the parish income statements by ACE Consulting confirms that, for the most part, the parishes’ annual operating budgets did not produce material surpluses of net income.”

    The principals and the pastors identified the two most significant challenges for a new school were location and cost.

    The public high schools in the central part of the diocese have their own strong and separate identity.

    The report said, “Some interviewees admitted that, even if a Catholic high school were nearby, choosing not to be a part of the local public high school, particularly with regard to sports and extracurricular activities, would be a difficult decision to make.”

    The traditional small Catholic high school, the report said, serves grades 9-12 and operates at a scale of efficiency when it enrolls approximately 100 to 125 students per class, for a total of 450 students. The report said a school serving grades 7-12 “tends to be most efficient and effective with an enrollment of 500-700 students.”

    ACE Consulting’s “best estimate suggest that a new school located in the central part of the diocese will initially yield approximately 40-65 students per class.”

    Father Doyle said the low population density and wide geographical dispersion added the expense and travel time of student transportation. Busing students for regular school hours as well as for after school activities was calculated as part of the feasibility.

    “The most vibrant Catholic schools provide an educational environment with a robust Catholic culture and strong curriculum in a learning community that prepares graduates to live and lead in a nation marked by significant diversity,” Father Doyle said. “School choice vouchers help to ensure access and economic diversity in our Catholic schools.”

    “Trends of families utilizing the school vouchers were calculated in the feasibility study,” Father Doyle said. “One of best predictors of attendance in Catholic middle and high school is enrollment in Catholic primary school and participation in parish religious education. Currently some of the parish schools have capacity for additional students, which suggests that both private paying and voucher paying families are not yet taking full advantage of the excellent Catholic schools in the diocese.”

    “As the current Catholic schools fill their classes with private paying and school voucher paying students, it will reveal the readiness of the region for a Catholic middle and high school,” Father Doyle added. “Additionally, continued and expanded vibrancy in parish religious education will serve as natural feeders to a Catholic middle and high school.”

    “Even with the benefit of school choice vouchers and transportation, it did not appear that, at this time, sufficient numbers of students would enroll to create the appropriate social context and economic scale for an excellent Catholic middle and high school,” Father Doyle said.

    “The conclusion of our feasibility study was that the central region of the diocese was not yet positioned for a Catholic middle and high school,” Father Doyle said, but offered, “There were a number of factors that suggest a thriving Catholic middle and high school could be established in the not-too-distant future.”

    He concluded, “Ultimately, when a critical mass of parents make the faith-filled decision and sacrifices to provide their children with a Catholic education, a Catholic middle and high school will rise and provide the community, and generations of students, the extraordinary benefits of Catholic education.”

    Father Doyle said, “Our study suggests that it is not feasible at this time, but it is a real possibility within the community’s reach.”

    Posted on June 23, 2014, to: