Pastor honored with St. Brother Andre Medal
NOTRE DAME — One might say Father Jim Fenstermaker, CSC, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in South Bend, traveled back in time to receive an award not only honoring his life as a priest, but also paying tribute to a beloved saint.
Father Fenstermaker recently headed back to Long Island, where he grew up, and specifically to Holy Cross High School in the New York City borough of Queens. He was a member of the Class of 1974.
In mid-November, the school, which is operated by the Congregation of Holy Cross, as are other schools including the University of Notre Dame, invited Father Fenstermaker back for the bestowal of the St. Brother Andre Medal. The medal is awarded annually to “individuals who have exemplified the virtues of humility and service and have made, over many years, an enduring contribution to the mission of Holy Cross High School in making God known, loved, and served.”
The medal is named for Brother Andre Bessette, CSC, (1845-1937) who was canonized a saint in 2010. Brother Andre is known for his modest living as a doorkeeper and a deep faith in St. Joseph, whose intercession allowed him to perform many reported miracles for the poor and ill.
Father Fenstermaker accepted the medal as part of the high school’s awards gala for alumni Nov. 13. He said his education at the school was the launching point for his discernment of a priestly vocation.
His life has led him to varied service through the Congregation of Holy Cross, as a pastor in a Brooklyn parish plus other assignments “back east” and elsewhere. He served as vocations director for the Congregation. He returned to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 2018.
Holy Cross High School’s fundraising event was planned to take place in its gym until Hurricane Ida passed through. When the event was moved to the Inn at New Hyde Park, Father Fenstermaker’s geographical and chronological trek was made complete. New Hyde Park was the town where he grew up: He graduated from a grammar school there that bore the name of his parish — Notre Dame.
Come meet a sister
ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, invite all single, Catholic women ages 18-42 to join Sister Jessica Vitente, SP, Jan. 7, and Sister Arrianne Whittaker, SP, Jan. 14 for virtual mini-retreats dubbed “Hail Mary Full of Grace, Come Meet a Sister Face-to-Face.” Both events will take place from 6:30-7:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Sister Jessica and Sister Arrianne will share stories about their lives and their journey to become Sisters of Providence. There will also be a question-and-answer session.
Sisters of Providence Vocations director Sister Joni Luna, SP, said that during the congregation’s most recent Come and See Retreat, they conducted a survey with participants. The survey concluded that those women wanted to meet more younger Sisters of Providence.
“Our goal in these two mini-retreats is to introduce younger women in the congregation,” Sister Joni said. “We want to share that there are women still entering the congregation and we want them to share their vocation story.”
Sister Joni added that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the congregation has conducted many virtual events, which have been well received.
“COVID encouraged us to see the way we’re operating vocations with new eyes,” Sister Joni said. “We got together and developed new ways to connect with women discerning religious life and because of that, we have met and connected with many talented women seeking more in life.”
The congregation will continue the series Feb. 11 with a virtual event with Sister Denise Wilkinson, SP, and another discernment event in March with Father Terry Johnson. Then, the congregation’s spring Come and See Retreat will take place in person in April.
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