October 2, 2023 // Diocese

Around the Diocese: October 1, 2023

Fort Wayne Christ Child Society Celebrates at Annual Mass, Dinner

On Tuesday, September 19, St. Joseph Church in Fort Wayne hosted the Christ Child Society of Fort Wayne’s annual Mass and Appreciation Dinner with Bishop Rhoades, who is the Spiritual Adviser for the Fort Wayne Chapter, as well as a huge supporter of the work the Christ Child Society. The Mass and dinner celebrated the accomplishments of the organization and was held in appreciation for all that the members and their husbands do for the love of the Christ Child.

Bishop Rhoades celebrated the Mass, and Father Kevin Bauman, Pastor at St. Joseph, assisted. Father Nathan Maskal served as Master of Ceremonies, and he was assisted by Deacon Orlando Miranda. Ken Jehle provided the music.

Photos provided by the Christ Child Society of Fort Wayne
Bishop Rhoades, above, receives the gifts of bread and wine during a Mass celebrating the Christ Child Society’s Fort Wayne Chapter at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Wayne on Tuesday, September 19. Following the Mass, Chapter President Lori Neumann, below, addresses attendees at the organization’s Appreciation Dinner, which took place in the gymnasium of St. Joseph School.

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades thanked the Christ Child members and their husbands for the work they do in caring for the needs of children. Bishop Rhoades spoke of the heart of the Christ Child members so filled with love that it moves their hands to do good work for children in need. 

“We are called to perform the works of mercy,” Bishop Rhoades said. “You provide wonderful help to poor and needy families and children, including such necessities as clothing and school supplies. You work hard with your hands – obtaining, packing, and delivering items for the children. But there is something that precedes your work with your hands. What you do starts in your hearts, then ends in your hands – the works of mercy. What starts in your hearts is love and compassion. You are moved in your hearts, like Jesus was moved in His heart and then performed the miracle. Jesus’ compassion led to His taking action. Pope Francis has said that mercy is a journey that goes from the heart to the hands.

“As disciples of Jesus, we have experienced Jesus’ love and compassion, His tenderness and mercy, in our lives. Our life in Christ involves taking on His interior sentiments, His love, tenderness, mercy, and compassion,” Bishop Rhoades continued. “And then, with truly Christian hearts, we do works that express our love and compassion for those who are poor and suffering. That’s our mission.  It’s the Church’s mission. And it’s the mission of the Christ Child Society. I am so grateful for your commitment to this mission, for all your hard work on behalf of the children and families you assist.”

Mass was followed by a dinner catered by Casa D’Angelo in the gym of St. Joseph School. Chapter President Lori Neumann welcomed and thanked everyone for all their amazing accomplishments. Neumann shared that, in 2022, the Fort Wayne Chapter touched the lives of 5,991 children in 2,860 families. Neumann told Today’s Catholic that 177 members of the Chapter completed 10,522 volunteer hours, during which they distributed more than 5,500 books and more than 46,000 diapers. The chapter gave out nearly $170,000 worth of clothing, baby items, and more – all made possible, Neumann said, because of the “generosity of our donors.”

Before the close of the celebration, Board Member Pat Spoltman stepped forward to share with those in attendance how successful the Baby Bottle fundraiser has been in the 10 years since it began. Spoltman thanked everyone for their work coordinating the Baby Bottle drop-off and pick-up at area parishes. Special thanks and recognition were given to Bishop Rhoades, who has been an instrumental supporter, encouraging parishes to welcome the Christ Child Baby Bottle fundraiser, Neumann said. Each year, Bishop Rhoades presents the Chapter with a Baby Bottle filled with coins. In thanks and recognition of his wholehearted support, Spoltman called Bishop Rhoades forward to present him with a baby bottle filled with Hershey Kisses. 

Neumann said the members of the Christ Child Society truly believe in the words of Mary Virginia Merrick, Founder of the Christ Child Society and a Servant of God: “Nothing is ever too much to do for a child.” The Christ Child Society of Fort Wayne is inspired by Mary Virginia’s call to “find a need and fill it.”

Jesters Program Awarded $50,000 Grant

The Jesters program at the University of Saint Francis gratefully received a $50,000 grant from AWS Foundation, a university spokesman announced on Monday, September 19.
The grant will be used to support the general operations of the Jesters, a performing group of people ages 8 and older with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Saint Francis has sponsored the Jesters since 1978.
“The Jesters program and the University of Saint Francis are always grateful for AWS Foundation’s grant support,” said Jesters Director Allison Ballard. “These funds help provide the staff, materials and opportunities needed to provide a quality experience for participants with intellectual/developmental disabilities, their families, and the community.”
The Jesters’ annual spring performance will take place at the Saint Francis North Auditorium on Saturday, March 9, at 6 p.m., and Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m. To learn more about the program, visit Facebook.com/USFJesters.

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