The busy Confirmation season is now in full swing for both me and Bishop D’Arcy. This past week, I enjoyed celebrating Confirmation Masses at three parishes of the diocese that I had not previously visited: Most Precious Blood and St. Jude parishes in Fort Wayne and St. Pius X parish in Granger. Actually, I celebrated two Confirmation Masses at St. Pius because of the large number of young people to be confirmed, over 160 candidates. The Confirmations are a wonderful opportunity for me as your new bishop to visit many, if not most, of the parishes of our diocese.
After the Confirmation Mass at St. Jude’s, one of the adults present said to me that he was very struck by the ceremony and said it got him thinking about his own need to reflect on the graces he received when he was confirmed many years ago. That is something important for all of us in our Christian lives: To recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have received and to open our hearts each day to those gifts. One of the questions I usually ask the Confirmation candidates is “what are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit?” I also talk to them briefly about those gifts. Actually, a homily could be given on each of the seven gifts! The Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord sustain our moral lives.
Another important effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as faithful witnesses of the Lord Jesus. This is what I usually focus on in my Confirmation homilies. This effect reminds all of us of our responsibility as agents of evangelization. God’s love inspires us to live our faith and to share it with others. At times, it also requires us to defend our faith when it is attacked. During the 50 days of the Easter season, the first reading at Mass is from the Acts of the Apostles. It is good to reflect on the missionary dynamism of the first Christians. The active presence of the Holy Spirit, who is the protagonist of the Church’s mission, is evident in the vitality of the early Church. That same Spirit is with the Church today, inspiring us to confess Christ’s name boldly and never to be ashamed of the Cross of Christ!
During this season of Confirmations, may we all be renewed in our life in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, in our mission to live our faith to the full, and in our communion with Christ and His Church!
This past week, I met for several hours with the Board of Catholic Charities of our diocese at Villa of the Woods, next to Bishop Luers High School, in Fort Wayne. The purpose of the meeting was strategic planning for the future. It was an excellent opportunity to reflect deeply on the mission of Catholic Charities within the mission of the Church in our diocese. The Church’s charitable activity is an essential part of her mission. I encourage everyone’s support of Catholic Charities and its many programs and services on behalf of “the least of our brothers and sisters.”
Though there are some challenges and struggles, especially due to cutbacks in state funding, we are committed to moving forward in our endeavors to serve the poor and needy in our communities. Sadly, it will be necessary to close Children’s Cottage in Fort Wayne due to insufficient financial resources. But we must not be deterred in our charitable efforts; rather, using our limited resources wisely and working diligently to secure needed funding, we must move forward with new resolve. We must also be attentive to new circumstances and changing needs in the communities of our diocese where the services of Catholic Charities are most needed.
Many thanks to the devoted members of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities for their generous and devoted service!
Campus Ministry at the University of Saint Francis
I enjoyed breakfast with the campus ministry team at the University of Saint Francis this past Thursday. I was happy to listen to several students active in campus ministry share with me their growth in faith through campus ministry. I learned about their retreats, service trips, liturgical life, social activities and spiritual and theological formation. At the University of Saint Francis and throughout our diocese, I continue to be edified by the enthusiasm and commitment of our young people to their Catholic faith. They show me that the Church is indeed alive and that there is much hope for the future! I thank Janet Patterson, the director of campus ministry at the University of Saint Francis, and all who serve with her in this important apostolate.
Knights of Columbus at Notre Dame
This is an historic week for the Knights of Columbus council at the University of Notre Dame. One hundred years ago, on April 22, 1910, the first college council of the Knights of Columbus in the world began at Notre Dame. I was privileged to celebrate the centennial Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart this past Saturday with the young Knights of the Notre Dame Council, along with several alumni members, as well as officials of the Supreme and State Councils. After the Mass, we gathered for a dinner celebration, during which there were various distinguished speakers, including Father Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, and Mr. Virgil Dechant, past Supreme Knight.
The Knights of Columbus are a great blessing to the Church throughout the world, in our own nation, and here in our diocese. I thank all our Knights for their dedicated service to the Church and encourage young men to consider joining this excellent order. The dedication of the Knights of Columbus to charitable service, to the promotion of priestly and religious vocations, to the pro-life cause, and to the building up of our parishes, schools and other institutions is indeed praiseworthy. Thank you, Brother Knights, and congratulations to our young Knights at Notre Dame! Happy 100th Anniversary!
Well, it is getting late and I must go to reflect on the readings for Mass tomorrow at Bishop Dwenger High School. May God bless you!
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