Just Some of the Stories That Made an Impact in 2022
In response to the Feb. 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades joined other bishops in consecrating both countries to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the request of Pope Francis on March 25. In mid-March, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would consecrate the two countries on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, a little more than one month after the Russian military invaded neighboring Ukraine. Many drew connections from the ongoing invasion and subsequent consecration to the July 13, 1917 Fatima apparition where Our Lady asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Bishop Rhoades has been vocal about supporting Ukraine and condemning the unjust invasion by Russia. He suggests members of the diocese who wish to help should do so through support of Catholic Relief Services.
Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse of indigenous children in Canadian residential schools in a July visit to the country. The pontiff called the trip a “penitential pilgrimage,” which included him returning two children’s moccasins. An acknowledgment of the Church’s failures makes “our desire for reconciliation” even stronger, he said. “Our presence here is a testimony to our commitment for one another and to each other.” Pope Francis gave each delegation a bronze olive branch as a sign of peace and reconciliation, according to the Canadian bishops’ conference.
The diocese kicked off the three-year Eucharistic revival in the U.S. with a grand Eucharistic Procession in Warsaw on the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 19. Thousands of Catholics, as well as those from other faith traditions, joined in public witness of our faith. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades led the procession, carrying the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance the entire 2.8 miles with one stop at Central Park. Various hymns floated in the air as priests raised their voices in age-old hymns at the head of the procession, while members of St. Augustine Parish sang African spirituals and Gospel songs farther down the line. Others prayed the rosary as they walked along or carried pictures of the Blessed Mother, icons, or crucifixes. Nearly every parish in the diocese, if not all parishes, seemed to be represented at the procession, sporting matching t-shirts or following their parish banner. Multicolored umbrellas bobbed above the heads of many in the vast crowd, not to protect people from rain, but to provide shade from the brilliant sunlight overhead. Age was no barrier to attendance either. Youths pushed the aged in wheelchairs, families with teenagers and infants processed in company, couples both young and elderly joined the throng. Aside from the priests and seminarians leading the procession, other clergy and religious men and women attended, including several Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Holy Cross priests and brothers, and more. Chris Langford, one of the main organizers of the event, professed his gratitude for those who attended and those who helped make the day possible. “We are especially grateful to the City of Warsaw for their outstanding support in hosting us. And we are tremendously thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who made the event so successful.”
Father Jacob Meyer became a lieutenant in the Navy Chaplain Corps on March 1. His “call within a call” will see him minister to those in the Navy for at least five years. Originally from South Bend, Father Meyer was ordained in 2012 and served as Parochial Vicar of St. Charles Borromeo and Chaplain to Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, until being assigned as Pastor of St. Monica, Mishawaka, in 2016. In that time, St. Monica’s has surmounted significant financial debt, nearly tripled parishioner enrollment, completed various capital improvements, and welcomed more than 100 individuals into the family of the Catholic Church. Around the time of his ordination, his brother Ryan, a Naval officer who served on the USS Makin Island, expressed his sadness that there were not enough priest chaplains in the military. At the time, Father Meyer’s own health prevented him from being able to seriously think about serving, but he remained aware of the reality that many in the military are unable to access the sacraments — sometimes for months or even a year — due to limited or no access to priests. After undergoing several surgeries which brought about a physical transformation, Father Meyer shared, “in prayer, I asked the Lord what His desire was for me in this new condition. Shortly afterwards, a desire to be a Navy chaplain was placed on my heart. But I spent a year ignoring that call before finally meeting with Bishop Rhoades to discuss the possibility. We spoke about it in October 2020, and he gave me permission to apply.”
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning the legislative process of abortion to the states for the first time in five decades. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito described Roe as “egregiously wrong from the start.” The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the decision a “historic day in the life of our country, one that stirs our thoughts, emotions, and prayers.” What the court did not do in Dobbs is end abortion. Abortion will remain legal in many, if not most, states — in some, right up to the moment of birth; in others, only in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. The court has made it possible once again for public discourse to focus on what really happens in an abortion, and why women seek to end the lives of their unborn children.
Crews demolished the historic St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne with the final section crumbling in November. Bishop John H. Luers had turned the building, which had previously been the Rockhill Hotel, into a hospital in the mid-19th Century. Bishop Luers contacted Sister Catherine Kasper, who had recently founded the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, to inquire if the congregation would be willing to staff the hospital. New wings and facilities were added through the decades that followed, and the final remnants of the nearly century-old hotel where the hospital was built were destroyed by expansion in 1929. The new 194,000-square-foot Lutheran Downtown Hospital opened across the street from St. Joseph in November of 2021 and includes 60 beds with room for future expansion. While the building disappeared, the legacy of the hospital will live on. The statue of St. Joseph holding carpenter’s tools that watched over patients who entered St. Joseph Hospital through the years was obtained by Divine Mercy Funeral Home on Lake Avenue, and plans are in the works to repurpose the statue, according to executive director Casey Miller.
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