May 25, 2021 // Diocese

Around the Diocese: May 30, 2021

Pilgrimage company founder recognized with Forty under 40 honor

John Paul Lichon

SOUTH BEND — John Paul Lichon, founder and CEO of Catholic pilgrimage company Verso Ministries, has been named a 2021 Forty under 40 recipient. 

The Michiana Forty under 40 program shines a spotlight on 40 of the South Bend/Elkhart area’s most talented and dedicated young executives, leaders, professionals, employees and adults who demonstrate career success and community engagement, all before the age of 40. 

Lichon was nominated by his colleagues. This year marks the recognition of the program’s 15th class.

Lichon, 37, founded Verso Ministries in 2016 after hearing God’s call to start a pilgrimage company while attending World Youth Day in Kraków, Poland. Since its inception, Verso Ministries has completed 34 domestic and international departures, with over 650 total travelers. 

Lichon has served on the pastoral council of his South Bend parish, Holy Cross, since 2016. Through this position, he also sat on the Pastoral Planning Leadership Committee and is currently co-chairman of the parish’s Community Building Team. At the parish’s elementary, Holy Cross School, Lichon has volunteered at annual fundraising events, Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations, open houses and more. In addition, Lichon is a professional pianist and contributes his musical talents at Holy Cross, as well as on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Lichon graduated from Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in 2006, followed by a master’s in theology through the university’s Echo Graduate Service Program in 2009. He lives in South Bend with his wife, Katy, and their three young children.

Diocesan student earns master’s in theology

ST. MEINRAD, Ind. – Robert J. Leszczynski of Fort Wayne, a student in the Graduate Theology Program at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, was awarded a Master of Arts in theology Saturday, May 8. Graduates accepted their diplomas from retired Father Kurt Stasiak, OSB, archabbot of Saint Meinrad Archabbey and chairman of the school’s board of trustees.  

The Graduate Theology Program offers master’s degrees in theology to lay persons and permanent deacons. These studies provide a solid foundation in the Catholic tradition for those preparing for Church ministry or seeking personal growth.

The mission of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology is the initial and ongoing formation of priests, permanent deacons and laity to minister together effectively in the service and evangelization of the Roman Catholic Church and the world. Located in southern Indiana, Saint Meinrad fulfills this mission in the Benedictine tradition. by instilling a lifelong love of learning, a strong grounding in the tradition, a love of liturgy and a sense of hospitality that welcomes Christ in each person.  


Provided by Lois Widner
Father Stephen Felicichia gives a blessing to some of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School families who came and helped out with the Great American Cleanup May 8. The students and their families cleaned the grounds of the Fort Wayne school’s campus and the bike trail surrounding it.

Provided by Stacey Noem
A blessing and sending ceremony took place May 17 at Christ the King Church, South Bend, for lay students graduating this year from the University of Notre Dame Master of Divinity program. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades conducted the ceremony, and the students’ Congregation of Holy Cross classmates served as acolytes. From left are Brother Robert Ackerman, CSC; Brother James Walters, CSC; Mary Catherine McDonald; Sarah Gallagher; Colin Whitehead; Bishop Rhoades; Brother Jimmy Henke, CSC; Elizabeth Clarke; Kate Broadbent; Anna Cain; Alejandra Herrera; and Julian Druffner, CSC.

Provided by Susan Alwine
Almost two dozen homeless people in Michiana received a gift this spring of a handmade sleeping mat woven from “plarn,” or yarn made from plastic shopping bags. Each month, the Women in God’s Service group at St. Bavo Parish, Mishawaka, looks for a service project to help the local community: The ladies watched an instructional video on YouTube and then, with additional volunteers, cut, flattened, knotted and crocheted around 8,000 plastic grocery bags into 23 mats that were immediately and joyously received by clients of Our Lady of the Road Outreach, South Bend. Before they were delivered, the mats were blessed by pastor Father Peter Pacini, CSC.

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