Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
August 29, 2023 // Bishop

Bishop Rhoades Makes First School Visit of New Year to St. John the Baptist in New Haven

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

A two-hour delay on Monday, August 21, couldn’t stop Bishop Rhoades from his first school visit of the academic year to St. John the Baptist in New Haven.

“I got a phone call from Father Nathan [Maskal] very early this morning, and he left a voicemail message saying you had a two-hour delay. So, I looked outside, and I thought, oh my goodness, it can’t be snowing in August,” Bishop Rhoades joked with the congregation at the Mass, which began his visit. Fog may have delayed the beginning of Mass, but the celebration of the feast of St. Pius X and the parish’s 40-Hour devotion continued for the students, faculty, staff, and families.

Photos by Lisa Kochanowski
Bishop Rhoades celebrates Mass during his visit to St. John the Baptist in New Haven. It was Bishop Rhoades’ first school visit of the new academic year.

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades told students of the importance of Pope St. Pius X, the patron saint of first communicants and pilgrims, sharing that the future pope walked to school every day and ate just a raw potato and bread for lunch. His poverty as a child greatly influenced his love and care for the poor throughout his ministry.

“He loved the poor, sick, and needy. He spent his whole life, even as pope, helping those who were in need,” Bishop Rhoades said. “And when he became pope, there’s one thing he wanted to do: He wanted to teach people to receive holy Communion more often, so he wrote about this and talked about it. He taught the priests all over the world to teach the people that they should go to holy Communion more often, even every day, because this is a great gift from Jesus.”

Bishop Rhoades poses on Monday, August 21, with David Maugel, left, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Principal Tina Voors, and Father Nathan Maskal in front of a banner autographed by students and faculty to welcome Bishop Rhoades on his visit to St. John the Baptist Catholic School in New Haven.

According to Bishop Rhoades, St. Pius X was so passionate about the Eucharist that he changed the rules on when children could receive their first Communion, moving it from around age 11 to around age 7, when they reached the “age of reason,” according to St. Pius X.

“We ask him (St. Pius X) to pray for us that we can grow in our love for Jesus, our love for the holy Eucharist, our love for the poor, and to try to be peacemakers like he wants us to be,” Bishop Rhoades said at the end of his homily.

After Mass, Bishop Rhoades and David Maugel, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, were able to visit several classrooms to meet students and talk with educators. A highlight of the visit was the opportunity to celebrate twin second-graders Brody and Avery Carrol turning 8. Bishop Rhoades got to wish the students a happy birthday and enjoyed a Kit Kat birthday treat with Brody.

Bishop Rhoades poses with St. John students Brody and Avery Carroll, twins who celebrated their eighth birthday during the bishop’s visit. While visiting their second-grade classroom, Bishop Rhoades enjoyed a Kit Kat birthday treat to celebrate with the students.

Bishop Rhoades visited the second graders and talked about their upcoming first confession and first Communion preparation. In Jay Crisp’s junior high history class, Bishop Rhoades joined the class discussion about Christopher Columbus. They also discussed the eighth graders’ confirmation preparation and the saint names they are preparing to choose. While visiting Justin Pranger’s sixth-grade class, Bishop Rhoades discussed how the students were focusing on praying the Rosary in their religion class. Questions about the different hats worn by Bishop Rhoades became part of the discussion, and he gave two lucky students the chance to try on his zucchetto, a closely fitted cap worn during official functions and liturgical events and taken off during the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Rhoades’ final destination was the junior high classroom of Jeanette Martinez, where he talked with the students about the importance of their study of the Rosary in religion class.

St. John the Baptist School was formed in New Haven in 1859 with a single teacher educating the children of St. John’s Parish in a house on Powers Street. They have seen extensive growth since those early years, and currently educate 224 students from preschool (beginning at age 3) to eighth grade.

Bishop Rhoades stands in front of the classroom in Justin Pranger’s sixth grade math class during his visit to St. John the Baptist Catholic School in New Haven. He talked with the sixth graders about how they are learning the mysteries of the Rosary in their religion class.

“We are studying the Beatitudes as a school, learning how each one might be lived out by our young people, teachers, and staff each day,” Principal Tina Voors recently wrote in the parish’s bulletin. “We will focus on one each month, September through April, as teachers seek to share examples of them throughout the day. The Sermon on the Mount is sometimes hard to take in, especially in our world. God gives our teachers and students opportunities to practice these and to grow our faith as we journey toward heaven together as a strong community.”

During his visit to Justin Pranger’s sixth-grade classroom, Bishop Rhoades explained to students about the different hats he wears. During the discussion, he gave a couple of lucky students the chance to try on his zucchetto, a closely fitted cap worn during official functions and liturgical events and taken off during the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

The administration team works diligently to live out a Christ-centered way of life and assist students in achieving academic success. Examples of unique school activities from last year include fourth graders visiting Sauder Village to obtain a better understanding of early Indiana history, eighth-grade students participating in a community day that included praying the Rosary with their “faith families” followed by Mass at St. Mother Theodore Guerin Chapel downtown, seventh-grade students writing and illustrating their own novels that were then read to students in the younger grades, and first graders celebrating Día de los Muertos by bringing in photos and items of loved ones for their classroom altar followed by a sharing circle of favorite memories.

St. John the Baptist offers several clubs and activities for students in areas such as faith, service, theater, and academics. Last year, the St. John’s Light of Christ Service Club ministered to those in need at a Franciscan Center outing. The St. John’s Drama Club presented “The Princess Who Had No Name,” complete with costumes, makeup, sound, and lighting.

Along with a stellar academic environment, students in fifth through eighth grades can participate in a variety of athletic opportunities through the CYO of Fort Wayne. Some sports offer earlier training programs in grades 3-4. In the fall, St. John the Baptist School, known as the Raiders, offers girls’ volleyball. Football is available through a combined team of several Catholic schools called Central Catholic. In the winter, both boys and girls can participate in basketball. During the spring, the athletic department offers soccer, track, and softball.

The school’s mission is to help each child become a life-long learner, be taught a Christ-centered, Catholic way of life, and achieve academic success.

“The absolute presence of the Holy Spirit, the long-standing traditions, and the multigenerational ownership of families is what makes this place special,” Voors said.

St. John the Baptist Catholic School

Location: 204 S. Rufus Street, New Haven

Phone: 260-749-9903

Grades: Preschool (beginning at age 3) through eighth grade

2023 Enrollment: 224

Principal: Tina Voors

Teachers: 15 lay teachers, two lay resource program teachers, and three special area teachers

How to Enroll: Visit

Mission Statement: “Our mission is to help each student become a life-long learner, be taught a Christ-centered, Catholic way of life, and achieve academic success.”

Philosophy on Technology: “Our school believes in the responsible use of technology. Students need clear guidance, through Christ, as to how to best use this powerful force for high school and the modern workforce. With this however, total technology use in time and scope must be limited and monitored so that children can engage in meaningful relationships, professional dialogue with their teachers, and engage with real-world manipulatives. Student screen time generally should not exceed more than 90 minutes per day.”

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