September 7, 2010 // Uncategorized
Brother André Bessette, CSC, to be canonized in October
Brother André and Holy Cross Brothers
On Oct. 17, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Brother André Bessette, CSC, a saint of the Church. I am looking forward to attending the canonization. I remember as a seminarian in Rome attending the beatification of Brother André in 1982. Blessed André will be the first member of the Congregation of Holy Cross to be canonized a saint. We rejoice with all the brothers, priests and sisters of Holy Cross in our diocese to see this humble religious brother raised to the altar of sainthood.
I recommend reading the biography of Brother André, written by Jean-Guy Dubuc, which I read this summer and enjoyed immensely. It is entitled “Brother André: Friend of the Suffering, Apostle of Saint Joseph.” Brother André was a Canadian who lived from 1845 to 1937. God worked many miracles of grace in this simple brother whose assignment was that of porter (doorkeeper) for 40 years at Notre Dame College in Montreal. He helped and guided many students at the college and ministered to thousands of poor and sick people who sought him for advice, help and comfort.
From his youth, Brother André had a great devotion to St. Joseph and became known as the “apostle of devotion to St. Joseph.” Brother André became famous for the miraculous cures and healings that occurred through his calling upon the intercessory prayers of St. Joseph. Because of the thousands of visitors who would come to see him, he was re-assigned from being the college porter to that of custodian of the St. Joseph Oratory, which he had built nearby. The original oratory was a small chapel that was enlarged because of the many pilgrims and eventually replaced by the magnificent Oratory (Basilica) of St. Joseph begun by Brother André. When Brother André died, a million people filed past his casket to pay their respects. Millions still come to visit and pray at this Basilica of St. Joseph in Montreal where the soon-to-be “Saint” André Bessette is buried below the main chapel.
On Aug. 24, the feast of St. Bartholomew, I celebrated Mass for the Holy Cross Brothers at Columba Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. After Mass, I enjoyed lunch with the brothers who reside at Columba Hall. I especially enjoyed our conversations about Brother André and the history of the Holy Cross Brothers. Let us pray that the canonization of Brother André will inspire young men whom God is calling to the religious life as brothers to respond to that call.
University of Saint Francis
On Aug. 25, I celebrated the opening Mass of the new academic year at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne. This university, sponsored by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration, has a record enrollment this year: 2,350 students. At the end of Mass, Sister M. Elise Kriss, the president of the university, delivered an opening address that focused on the university’s past accomplishments and future goals and projects. This year, the university is focusing on the call to respect human life and dignity, a fundamental principle of Catholic moral teaching.
Best wishes to all who serve at the University of Saint Francis and to all the students there! May God bless your endeavors! I look forward to joining you again for Mass on Sept. 8 and to blessing the renovated Brookside mansion.
St. Pius X School
On Aug. 27, I made my first official visit as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend to a Catholic elementary school of our diocese. I celebrated Mass and visited all the classes at St. Pius X School in Granger. It was a beautiful day. So many parents and other parishioners joined the 600 students, teachers and staff for the morning Mass on the feast of St. Monica. It was a joyous celebration with great music and participation by all. At the end of Mass, we processed to various sites on the parish campus for the blessing of five beautiful new Italian marble statues representing the Good Shepherd, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Anne and St. Pius X. The statue of St. Pius X represents him as a boy walking to school with his shoes flung over his shoulder. It is a true representation since the young Giuseppe Sarto (future Pope Pius X) was very poor and walked barefoot five miles each day to school to preserve the condition of his only pair of shoes.
In visiting the various classes, I was impressed by the students’ knowledge of the faith and by their enthusiasm. I asked the students questions about what they are learning in religion classes and then answered questions the students posed to me. This excellent school is thriving, thanks to the committed teachers and staff, parents, parishioners and, of course, the dynamic leadership of Msgr. Bill Schooler, pastor, and of Mrs. Elaine Holmes, principal. Thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality!
Our Lady of Fatima House
After the day at St. Pius X School, I enjoyed dinner with the Holy Cross Fathers at Our Lady of Fatima House at Notre Dame. The resident priests there are hardly retired, as many are active helping in various parishes and apostolates in the South Bend area. Again, I enjoyed meeting these priests who served and serve the Church so faithfully. The close bond between the Congregation of Holy Cross and our diocese is a real blessing.
Knights of Columbus
On Aug. 28, I offered Mass for the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Exemplification at St. Patrick Church in South Bend. Father Leonard Chrobot, Father Joseph Brown, CSC, and Father Lawrence Teteh concelebrated the Mass. After the Mass, we gathered for a banquet at the Landing Banquet Center.
Congratulations to all the Knights from our diocese who were exemplified in the Fourth Degree on that weekend. This degree of the Knights fosters the spirit of patriotism in members and in the community and also encourages active Catholic citizenship.
Thanks again to all our Knights for your commitment to the Church. In my speech at the banquet, I encouraged the Knights to be men of prayer and men of Catholic action, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel with courage.
St. Michael the Archangel Church
On Sunday, Aug. 29, I celebrated Mass with the Dedication of the Altar and the Blessing of the Church at St. Michael’s in Waterloo. The parish, under the devoted leadership of Father David Carkenord, recently completed a beautiful interior restoration. The parishioners worshipped in a local school hall for seven months during the restoration. The sacrifice was well worth it. The church is a beautiful house of God.
I am traveling a lot between Fort Wayne and South Bend, at least once a week. I am also enjoying my visits to many of our parishes in the country, like St. Michael’s. I enjoy the family atmosphere of these “country parishes,” built by past generations of farmers. St. Michael’s in Waterloo began 130 years ago with 14 Catholic families, mostly German immigrants and most, if not all, farmers. Their strong faith lives on in the present-day parishioners who are devoted to the Lord and to the Church. This was evident to me last Sunday as I saw the extensive church restoration, made possible by the generous sacrifices of today’s faithful parishioners.
After the Mass, we enjoyed a delicious lunch in a large tent behind the church. St. Michael’s sits in the midst of large fields outside the town of Waterloo, a beautiful country setting.
Visit to The Franciscan Center
On Aug. 31, I had the pleasure of visiting The Franciscan Center in Fort Wayne, at the invitation of Jim Christie, the executive director, and Sally Ley, the CEO and founder. I spent a wonderful morning learning about the ministries of the Center and then visiting the volunteers preparing the Sack Lunch program and distributing food and goods to the needy in the St. Anthony’s Food Pantry and in the St. Joseph’s Medicine Cabinet program.
This 21-year-old center is a living witness to the Gospel, in imitation of St. Francis of Assisi and his love for the poor. It is housed at the former Sacred Heart School in Fort Wayne. Many thanks to the staff, volunteers and benefactors of The Franciscan Center! If you are looking for an opportunity to help the less fortunate, I encourage you to support this center. While helping at the food pantry, I noticed that they were out of canned chicken noodle soup, which several of the people asked for. I also noticed in the Medicine Cabinet program a need for rolls of paper towels. Maybe you could consider sending those items or a donation to help.
What impressed me most at The Franciscan Center was the spirit of love and joy of the people there and the great respect and kindness shown to the poor who came for assistance. May God bless this center and its ministry!
IPFW Newman Catholic Fellowship
After visiting The Franciscan Center, I went to IPFW to celebrate the opening Mass of the academic year with the Catholic community there. Though I was a bit late, getting stuck in traffic and then lost on campus, I arrived to celebrate the noon Mass. It was great to join with these committed young Catholics in prayer and to join them for pizza after the Mass.
I was happy to learn about the activities of the Newman Fellowship and their plans for the year. Many thanks to Erin Sherburne, Travis Heckber, and the other officers of the Newman Fellowship, as well as to Mike Gibson, the IPFW Catholic campus minister. Please encourage the Catholic students you know who attend IPFW to become active in the Newman Fellowship, especially the noon Mass every Tuesday in the Walb Student Center.
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