Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer
August 11, 2017 // Local

A century-old parish and committed community

Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer

Located in South Bend, Our Lady of Hungary Church and school have a long-standing history and community.

Just last year the parish, founded in 1916, celebrated its 100th anniversary. It began as a mission church and was originally named St. Stephen’s Parish. The church that stands today was dedicated in 1949. Its stone façade is one of its remarkable attributes, and so is the stained glass tower window design in remembrance of those who served our country in World War I. The parish school, which was founded in the late 1920s and originally staffed by the Daughters of Charity, continues to form students in faith today.

The interior of the Our Lady of Hungary Church rivals any parish on the south side of the city.

Many Our Lady of Hungary parishioners consider the community to be simultaneously diverse and tight-knit. They pay particular attention to how they can integrate their individual backgrounds to grow together. Ultimately, this recognition of backgrounds serves as a channel to allow parishioners to “bring the message of the Holy Gospel to everyone in our parish and community” as described in their mission statement.

Parish pastor Father Kevin Bauman, who attended Our Lady of Hungary grade school growing up, has worked to cultivate a sense of appreciation between people within the parish.

“I love how Father Kevin is so welcoming,” parishioner Brenda Misener said. “He embraces what Jesus asks of us.”
Misener came to Our Lady of Hungary in 2011 when Father Bauman, having just transferred from Misener’s previous parish, asked her to help bring awareness of those of Hispanic descent represented within the community. Since then, the parish has added a Sunday afternoon Spanish Mass, an extensive Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day celebration and eucharistic adoration in Spanish, which is, as of this year, held outdoors in the summer. Additionally, for two years Misener staffed the parish office for extended hours so that parishioners would have access to a bilingual administrative assistant.

At the Our Lady of Hungary annual parish festival each July, all the South Bend parish’s ethnic groups — most dominantly Mexican and Hungarian — make room for each other to provide the traditional food, music and games. Above are the volunteer staff of a chicharrones stand at this year’s event.

Currently Misener, who says that her nearly 30-mile drive to Our Lady of Hungary is well worth it, remains very much committed to the parish community.

“I am involved in Christ Renews His Parish and teach confirmation classes to teenagers,” Misener said.

Like Father Bauman, parishioner Therese Hedges also attended Our Lady of Hungary School. In fact, the two were in the same graduating grade school class. Hedges thinks that it is surreal the Father Bauman is now leading the parish that she has been at her entire life, and she is thrilled to be reunited with her former classmate.

“I could not have imagined through the years that it has come to this …” she explained.

Father Bauman’s leadership has had an influence on Hedges’ life, as well as the lives of other parishioners.
“We are very happy to have him,” Hedges said. “He’s a good shepherd — he’s our leader. He’s taking care of his flock.”
And Hedges is not the only lifetime parish member.

Eighty-three-year-old Shirley Sommers was baptized in the parish. Later, in 1955, she and her husband were married in the church, and all three of her children and four of her great-grandchildren have attended the school.

Sommers praised the many priests who have been assigned to the parish throughout her time there.

“We’ve been blessed with good priests all these years and I’ve been at this parish since I was born — since 1934,” she said.
Our Lady of Hungary offers daily confession between 7:45 a.m.- 8 a.m. before the weekday morning Mass. In the summer, a Wednesday-evening Mass is very much cherished by the community.

“I love it because, in the summer, we are not here a lot (on the weekends) and so on Wednesdays we head over and get our Father Kevin fix,” Hedges said speaking of her regular attendance at this Wednesday Mass with her mother.
Truly, Our Lady of Hungary is a welcoming environment that provides all with opportunities to grow in faith.

Our Lady of Hungary — a melting pot

There is no question that culture brings diversity, but can it bring unity? In the case of Our Lady of Hungary Parish and School, the answer is, “Absolutely.”

The parish works together to see to it that segmented cultures within the larger parish family come together to build community. “Our Lady of Hungary strives to underscore the two predominate cultures — the American culture of mostly Eastern European roots and the Hispanic culture of mostly Mexican roots,” Father Kevin Bauman said.

Father Bauman has served the parish in his current leadership role for over five years. During this time, he has witnessed the work of the parish to unify people of varied backgrounds. One of the ways the community works to do so is through an annual parish festival. “The Our Lady of Hungary Parish Festival is the longest-running event hosted by the faith community,” Father Bauman explained.

The festival, which occurs each summer, embraces diversity by incorporating activities from the widely represented cultures in the parish.

“The parish festival showcases the foods, drinks, art, and music of our families,” he said. “We offer a full menu of authentic Hungarian and Eastern European foods, an equally wide smorgasbord of Hispanic foods, live music, games for adults and children, raffles, a Mass featuring the Michiana Polish Singers, and a ton of interesting activities for all age groups.”
The festival is just one of many opportunities for members to cultivate appreciation for the community’s melting-pot aspect. Various forms of prayer organized by the parish also serve as a unifying activity.

“We find common ground in the Mass; particular devotions, especially those directed to our Blessed Mother; festivals; dances; and other gatherings,” Father Bauman said.

Our Lady of Hungary School has a paralleled approach to unity.

“Our school, which celebrates 90 years of service, also serves as a crossroads to Anglo, Hispanic and African-American students,” he said.

The very roots of the community were founded on unity, he added, and the community worked to see that immigrants were welcomed and found a place to worship. “Our church and school remain in direct service to the immigrant poor, on which our founding was made over 100 years ago.”

Longtime parishioner Mary Schaar is of Austrian and Hungarian descent. Schaar and her family came to the United States seeking refuge during the Hungarian Revolution in the early 1950s, and are survivors of the persecutions linked to concentration camps during World War II.

Today, she remains very active in Our Lady of Hungary parish. She has experienced firsthand the welcoming nature of events organized by the faith community.

“The Our Lady of Hungary Parish Festival, at its heart, is a celebration of the immigrant. Our parish family has always been one that stands proudly with open arms and the love of our namesake, the Blessed Virgin Mother,” Schaar said.
Gabriel Vargas serves as the church choir director. A Latina, she also finds the members of the community to be open to varied cultures.

“We strive to ensure that each Mass we provide is an accurate representation of the music, culture and Catholicism thriving in Mexico today,” she said. “Because of this, all of our families have come to find a warm and welcoming home here at Our Lady of Hungary that is representative of their respective home nation. We see the love of Christ in action in many as they all freely give their time and efforts to support one another regardless of nationality or primary language.”

Our Lady of Hungary
829 W. Calvert St.
South Bend, IN 46613

Mass Times:
Sunday: 10 a.m.;
1:30 and 7 p.m. (Spanish)
Saturday: 8 a.m.; 5 p.m.
Holy Day: 10 a.m.; 5:30 p.m.;
5:30 p.m. (Vigil)
Weekday: T-F 8 a.m.

Reconciliation: T 7 p.m.; 6 p.m. (Spanish)
Saturday 3:45-4:30 p.m. and by appt.

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