Scott Warden
February 20, 2024 // Bishop

Bishop Makes Pastoral Visit to Marian High School on Ash Wednesday

Scott Warden

For students throughout the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, it’s always a special day when Bishop Rhoades makes a pastoral visit to their school. But for four students at Marian High School in Mishawaka, his visit on Wednesday, February 14 – Ash Wednesday, and also the feast of St. Valentine – was especially sweet.

Bishop Rhoades joins the assembly at Marian High School in applauding for the four students who received the Sacrament of Confirmation during Mass. They are, from left to right, Jack Elliott, Kaydence Erlacher, Charlie Leinen, and Patrick Monnier.

During Mass, Bishop Rhoades confirmed Jack Elliott, Kaydence Erlacher, Charlie Leinen, and Patrick Monnier, with Elliott being brought into full communion with the Church, and he and Erlacher also receiving their first holy Communion.

Click here for more photos from the Bishop’s visit.

“It is rather unusual to celebrate the sacraments of initiation on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season, since normally these sacraments are received at Easter, at the end of the Lenten season,” Bishop Rhoades said during his homily. “But since my annual pastoral visit to Marian is today, we are celebrating the confirmations on Ash Wednesday.” Bishop noted that having these sacraments celebrated on Valentine’s Day “makes it easy for you in the future to remember the date of your confirmation, the date you were fully initiated in the Catholic Church. May the martyr, St. Valentine, intercede for you today!”

Photos by Scott Warden
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades urges students to use the 40 days of Lent to fight a battle over sin and temptaion.

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades urged the students at Marian to use the 40 days of Lent as a time of preparation to win the battle over sin and temptation, focusing especially on turning away from the capital sins. He reminded them: “If we find ourselves tempted by a particular capital sin, then we must do battle with it. But we need some weapons for the battle. Lent gives us some good weapons – specifically, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.”

“Our whole life is a spiritual battle – a battle against sin and evil,” Bishop Rhoades preached. “When we were baptized, we were cleansed of original sin, but we were not delivered from the weakness of our human nature. We all know this because we experience temptations to sin. … We need to fight against this inclination and fight against temptations. We pray in the Our Father, ‘and lead us not into temptation,’ which means: ‘help us to not yield to temptation.’ We need to do battle against evil desires within us, as well as against outside forces that entice us to sin – for example, temptations from the father of lies, the devil, as well as temptations from the world that is tainted by sin.”

Bishop Rhoades concluded his homily by reminding the students that “the most important thing we will receive at this Mass is not the ashes, but the Body and Blood of the Lord in holy Communion. The ashes we receive are a symbol of our repentance and a reminder of our mortality,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The Eucharist is not merely a symbol. It is Jesus, the Bread of Life and the medicine of immortality. What a joy that Jack and Kaydence will receive today, for the first time, this great sacrament of Christ’s love, the food that makes us live forever in Christ. We rejoice with them and with Charlie and Patrick that they will receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation and will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit for the battle I’ve been talking about in this homily.”

Bishop Rhoades also spoke about the need to regularly frequent the Sacrament of Confession – something the students regularly have access to at Marian thanks to the availability of the school’s co-Chaplains, Father Daniel Niezer and Holy Cross Father Cameron Cortens. Father Niezer told Today’s Catholic that nurturing the students’ sacramental life is one of their key responsibilities. “With confessions offered twice a week, an all-school Mass about twice a month, a homeroom Mass every week, and all-day adoration twice a month, we are praying that in these sacraments, the Lord is breaking through to our students, faculty, and staff,” Father Niezer said.

Following Mass, Bishop Rhoades dropped in on a number of classrooms and finished his visit by eating lunch with members of Marian’s Student Council.

Bishop Rhoades visits German class with Marian Principal Mark Freund, left.

The first classroom Bishop Rhoades visited was that of David Rosenbaum, Department Chair of the school’s World Languages program, who was teaching a freshman German class. Bishop Rhoades told the students that the first four bishops of the diocese were German. Being that it was Valentine’s Day, Rosenbaum’s students were sharing what they liked – and loved – in German. Bishop Rhoades told the class that he took four years of German in high school, “but I’ve forgotten most of it, so I hope you can refresh my memory.”

Next, he spent time in the classroom of World Languages teacher Tom duToit, who was teaching a split class – half of the students were learning Greek, while the other half was learning Classical Mythology. April Weisser’s freshman English class was in the middle of reading William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Students in Theology teacher Joel Decker’s class, titled Christ’s Mission Continues in the Church, were reading Acts of the Apostles. They impressed Bishop Rhoades by reciting from memory the words of Jesus before His ascension. Bishop also visited a class of senior girls learning about the Dignity and Vocation of Women, taught by Lauren Meyers, Chair of the Theology Department, and then Dan Tryniecki’s English class, which was reading Paulo Coelho’s classic novel “The Alchemist.”

The final classroom Bishop Rhoades visited was Theology teacher John Holloway’s class, Life in Jesus Christ, in which the students were studying the seven deadly sins. Bishop quizzed the students on the virtues that combat these sins.

Bishop Rhoades greets members of Marian’s Student Council before joining them for lunch.

Throughout his visit to Marian, Bishop Rhoades commented about how impressed he was with both the students and the staff – a sentiment that was echoed by Marian Principal Mark Freund, who noted that the teachers and staff at Marian model the practice of the faith in their own lives, giving them an authenticity with the students. Freund added that “the skills that our team members bring to the young people entrusted to their care are significant.  Our teachers, coaches, and moderators are well-qualified, they are authentic, they are passionate, and they continue to value the kinds of ongoing education and personal faith development that helps model responsible adulthood to our students.”

Freund highlighted several successful academic programs, including Marian’s dual credit program that he said has some students graduating with more than 60 college credits. He cited the school’s robust language program that features classes in French, Spanish, German, Greek, and Latin. Freund also acknowledged Marian’s excellent fine arts and music programs, the growing opportunities in computer science that pair well with “already outstanding programs in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, and environmental science” and “new pathways for students in business and entrepreneurship.”

Most importantly, Freund said he is struck by “the reality that everyone is always willing to work harder to meet the ever-changing needs of the young men and women entrusted to us. That commitment makes Marian an outstanding school that truly calls its students to, as we say, learn, serve, and lead.”

Freund also complimented Bishop Rhoades’ commitment “to the ministry of Catholic education, specifically our Catholic schools, is powerful,” adding that “he has a unique ability to connect with both students and staff, to listen to them, and to lead in a way that is rooted in the Gospels and in the traditions of our Church.”

Scott Warden
Bishop Rhoades blesses students as he proceeds out of Mass during his pastoral visit to Marian High School in Mishawaka on Wednesday, April 14.


Address: 1311 South Logan St., Mishawaka

Phone number: 574-259-5257

Founded: 1964

Number of students: 735

Nickname: Knights

Principal: Mark Freund


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