December 13, 2023 // Bishop

2023: A Year in Review Around the Diocese

From its first day, when the Church and the world were reeling from the death of Pope Benedict XVI, the year 2023 has seen moments of deep tragedy as well as times of abundant joy. It was no different in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Below, the staff at Today’s Catholic has recapped the highs and the lows of the past 12 months. To read the full version of each article, visit the link below each story.

World Mourns Pope Benedict XVI

The year began with the news of the death of Pope Benedict XVI on New Year’s Eve. Bishop Rhoades remembered Pope Benedict as “one of the greatest theologians of modern times,” adding that his writings show not only an “amazing intellect” but the heart of a disciple who has deeply contemplated the Lord.

Pope Benedict: Eight Years as Pope Capped Long Ministry as Teacher of Faith

Eighteen Permanent Deacons Ordained

Bishop Rhoades ordained a class of 18 permanent deacons on January 7. In a first for diocesan high schools, two of these permanent deacons, Deacon Harry Verhiley and Deacon Andrew Oross, serve on the staff of Saint Joseph High School in South Bend. Principal John Kennedy presented both deacons with community awards, saying their new roles take “a tremendous abundance of dedication, time, effort, devotion, and prayer. They have each made a life commitment to be clergy in the Catholic Church, and this community now has two deacons in our theology department every day.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades Ordains 18 New Deacons to the Diocese

Ecumenical Dialogue Abounds in City of Churches

An ecumenical prayer room opened in January as part of the redeveloped Fort Wayne Electric Works complex, with numerous Catholic parishes and apostolates hosting the room for the city’s Christian community. The goal of the prayer room and the broader ecumenical movement in Fort Wayne is to make the “City of Churches” into the “City of the Church.” This was coupled with numerous opportunities for dialogue and common praise, including Unity Nights and the beginning of the “Common Table” series, hosted by the University of Saint Francis, which will continue through the next two years.

Prayer Room at Electric Works in Fort Wayne Seeks To Unite Christians

Diocese Remembers Bishop D’Arcy 10 Years After His Death

Numerous faithful gathered on February 3 for Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to remember Bishop John M. D’Arcy on the 10th anniversary of his death. In his homily, Father Mark Gurtner, Vicar General for the diocese, remarked that Bishop D’Arcy was passionate about helping people discover their vocations and to flourish in them. He also sought to ensure the culture of the priesthood remained healthy, even when that required making tough decisions.

Mass Celebrated in Remembrance of Bishop John D’Arcy on Tenth Anniversary of His Death

Holy Cross College Appoints First Lay President

Marco J. Clark made history when he became the first layperson installed as President of Holy Cross College at Notre Dame on March 25. Of his new job, he said, “After weathering some storms in recent years, this young college is poised for a bright future.”

History made at Holy Cross College at Notre Dame

Father Zane Langenbrunner Assists at Papal Easter Vigil

At Easter Vigil Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica, then-Deacon Zane Langenbrunner carried the Paschal candle and sang the Exsultet or Easter Proclamation. The solo piece, which takes up to 13 minutes to sing, lauds Jesus Christ’s triumph over sin and death. “Deacon Zane is a humble young man and exemplary seminarian,” Bishop Rhoades said, adding “the privilege of chanting the Exsultet” was “not an easy musical task.”

‘You Sing, and The Holy Spirit Does the Rest’

Dwenger Grad Drafted by New York Jets

In April, Bishop Dwenger High School graduate Joe Tippmann was drafted by the New York Jets after four seasons at the University of Wisconsin. Tippmann said that when he saw a New Jersey number pop up on his phone, he knew what was about to happen. Recalling how he felt in the moment, he said, “I’m just seeing the reactions on everyone’s faces; I’m tearing up myself — it was truly a breathtaking moment.”

Bishop Dwenger Grad Joe Tippmann Selected by New York Jets in NFL Draft

Cross-Diocesan Pilgrimage

Across eight days in June, Father Stephen Felicichia lead a procession of the Blessed Sacrament from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne to St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. The journey had a core group of four people, and as many as 80 people would join from time to time along the way. Some came to Mass at the beginning of the leg and walked a few miles, while others joined at different points of the route.

Celebration with Bishop Rhoades Ends Cross-Diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Seven Men Ordained to Priesthood, Two to Diaconate

Seven men were ordained to the priesthood in June, the second class of seven ordained in the diocese in the past two years. After Mass, John Krisch, father of Father Bobby Krisch, noted the impact that receiving Communion from his son had on him, and Bishop Rhoades asked for continued prayers for the newly ordained.

Seven Men Ordained to the Priesthood

Bishop Rhoades Visits Pope Regarding Eucharistic Revival

Several U.S. bishops, including Bishop Rhoades, met with Pope Francis in June about the National Eucharistic Revival as the country transitioned from the Diocesan Year to the Parish Year. Pope Francis blessed the monstrance that will be used as part of the national pilgrimage to Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress next summer.

Diocesan Pilgrims Join Bishop Rhoades for Audience with Pope Francis

Indiana Abortion Law Upheld by State Supreme Court

On June 30, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld a law that limits abortion up to 10 weeks’ gestation in instances of rape or incest, up to 20 weeks’ gestation in cases of lethal fetal anomalies, or when the mother’s life is in danger from specific medical issues. The law also requires that abortions take place at a hospital or a hospital-owned surgery center. The law went into effect on August 1.

Indiana Supreme Court Declares Law Restricting Abortion Constitutional

School Choice Extended to 97 Percent of Indiana Families

In July, legislation expanding the state’s School Choice program took effect in Indiana. Governor Eric Holcomb called the biennial budget one with “generational impact,” with around half of the budget supporting K-12 education statewide.

School Choice Expansion Nears Launch, Extends to Almost All Families

Carlo Acutis and Manuel Gonzalez Garcia Relics Tour Diocese

Relics of Blessed Carlo Acutis and Blessed Manuel González García toured the diocese earlier this year as part of the Diocesan Year of the National Eucharistic Revival. Both Blesseds are renowned for their devotion to the Eucharist. Months later, a relic of González García was donated to the diocese to be displayed at a yet-to-be-named parish with a large Hispanic population.

Celebration of the Eucharist Brings Relic to Diocese

Bishop Rhoades Celebrates 40 Years as a Priest

Bishop Rhoades celebrated his 40-year priesthood jubilee on July 9, saying, “It’s such a privilege to be a priest and a bishop,” and that “despite my own personal weaknesses, I hope that my service to the Lord and the Church has borne fruit and will continue to bear fruit.”

‘It’s Such a Privilege’: Bishop Rhoades Reflects on 40 Years of Priesthood

World Youth Day

Nearly 300 pilgrims from the diocese traveled to Portugal for World Youth Day at the end of July. Pilgrims visited apparition sites at Fatima and numerous historic sites, and they camped with 1.2 million fellow young Catholics from around the world. Reflecting on her pilgrimage, high school senior Elianna Noll said her “biggest takeaway is that there can be this peace within the world. It is possible: It just gives you a little taste of heaven. And it’s so beautiful.”

World Youth Day – By the Day

WYD Pilgrims Recall Highlights of Their Epic Journey


Divine Mercy Funeral Home Breaks Ground on Second Location

On September 8, ground was broken for a new Divine Mercy Funeral Home location to serve Fort Wayne’s growing northern suburbs. The new 17,000-square-foot facility, located in Huntertown, sits on diocesan-owned property that Bishop Rhoades said could eventually include another parish and school. The funeral home is expected to open in the spring of 2025.

Divine Mercy Funeral Home Breaks Ground on Second Location

Fort Wayne Hosts Order of the Holy Sepulchre

In September, Fort Wayne played host to the annual Investiture ceremony for the North Central Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives that are necessary to support Christians in the Holy Land. During its Investiture ceremony, which was followed by a memorial Mass, 12 candidates were named Knights, 11 were named Dames, and eight were named Priest Knights.

Fort Wayne Hosts Investiture for Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre

Redeemer Radio Transitions

After 17 years, Redeemer Radio sold its two stations to the national Relevant Radio network as the organization transitioned into podcast company Spoke Street because of changes in its target demographic. At a Mass during the transition, Father Tom Shoemaker said the station brought people to the Church, inspired people to live a deeper faith, and brought people to the sacraments.

With Sale of Stations, Redeemer Radio Opens New Chapter

Diocesan Pilgrims Return Safely after Hamas Attack

On October 7, Hamas launched a deadly surprise attack on Israel, shocking the world. A tour group consisting of diocesan pilgrims visiting the Holy Land heard of the attack after Mass at Mount Tabor, near the West Bank. In an article for Today’s Catholic, pilgrim Andy Jacobs recounted feeling safe but witnessing growing tension in the region as the war began. “Returning to our hotel, we heard the airport in Tel Aviv had been closed because of the escalating fighting between Israel and Hamas. It was then we learned our tour company had made plans for us to return to the United States early.”

Local Holy Land Pilgrim Tells of Journey Cut Short Due to Hamas Attack on Israel

Notre Dame President Announces Resignation

Father John I. Jenkins, the longtime president of the University of Notre Dame, announced on October 13 that he will step down at the end of the current academic year to return to teaching and ministry at the school. Elected in 2005 as the university’s 17th president, Father Jenkins was most recently reelected by Notre Dame’s trustees to his fourth five-year term effective July 1, 2020. In early December, Notre Dame officials announced they had selected Holy Cross Father Robert Dowd to serve as its next president.

Notre Dame President to Step Down at End of Academic Year

Bishop Rhoades Participates in Synod

After being appointed to the Synod of Bishops on synodality by Pope Francis in July, Bishop Rhoades spent nearly all of October in Rome working with his fellow synod delegates on what synodality means to the mission of the Church. Bishop Rhoades reflected on the first session of the synod in an interview with Today’s Catholic upon his return, saying the pope “really wants synodality, which he says is constitutive of the life of the Church that must be practiced on every level.”

‘We’re All on a Journey Together:’ Bishop Rhoades on the Synod and the Mission of the Church

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