September 7, 2011 // Uncategorized

Diocesan center blessed to honor Blessed John Paul II

Bishop Rhoades blesses diocesan offices in Mishawaka

By Karen Clifford

MISHAWAKA — “Put out into the deep water” and “Do not be afraid” served the ministry of Blessed Pope John Paul II and now serves as a model for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. These words resounded in the Sept. 1 Gospel and served as a reflection for Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades who blessed the diocesan Blessed John Paul II Center in Mishawaka. The office, on the grounds of Marian High School, houses the diocesan offices and ministries that serve the South Bend area.

The two lines from Luke’s Gospel are also applicable to the New Evangelization proposed by Pope John Paul II and the work of the diocese, Bishop Rhoades said in his homily at the celebration of the Mass.

He explained how the initiatives of the diocesan workers are a part of “putting out into the deep.”

“We’re on a journey to reach out to those who do not have faith, to reach out to the poor and suffering,” Bishop Rhoades said.

He encouraged the diocesan staff to be not afraid. There will be hardships and opposition, just as John Paul II faced, but “Do not be afraid to speak the truth always in the Church.”

After Mass in the chapel, Bishop Rhoades celebrated a rite of blessing in front of a portrait of Pope John Paul II and proceeded to bless offices and the entrance of the new diocesan center.

Fred Everett, assistant to Bishop Rhoades in South Bend and director of the Office of Family Life, said the move of the South Bend Chancery was based upon a recommendation by the diocesan restructuring committee.

“Bishop Rhoades decided that it made sense to close the South Bend Chancery and to bring all the South Bend area staff into the former Catholic Education Center adjacent to Marian High School in Mishawaka,” said Everett.

Everett noted that the St. Joseph County Library sought to purchase the former chancery property for the past few years in order to build a new library in downtown South Bend. So the move was a good decision for all involved.

According to Everett, the decision to name the renovated building the Blessed John Paul II Center was based on several factors. The beatification of John Paul II was announced shortly after the decision to move the Chancery and the pope’s profound influence on the Church and its ecclesial ministry was a perfect fit for the premise of the new center.

“Finally, Bishop Rhoades has often stated that he himself looks to Blessed John Paul II as a model for his own episcopacy,” said Everett.

Offices housed in the center include the Office of Family Life, Hispanic Ministry, Office of Catechesis, Development Office, Catholic Schools Office, Vocations Office, Today’s Catholic satellite sales office, Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and the Tribunal.

Remodeling of the building included the creation of a new receptionist area, a new upstairs section reserved for the tribunal, interior repainting, new flooring, new lighting in various parts of the building and some new religious artwork, particularly a large oil painting of Blessed John Paul II, which will greet guests at the entrance.

Father Mark Gurtner, the judicial vicar for the diocese, will be celebrating Mass in the center’s chapel for the staff when he is in town. Also, since the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the chapel, it will serve daily as a place of prayer for the staff and any guests to the building.

Members of the staff are excited about the center’s remodeled design and function.

“I really appreciate having windows where the sun comes in,” said Administrative Assistant Helen Austgen, who works in the center’s reception area.

Margarita Rodriguez, assistant director for Pro-Life and Hispanic Outreach, is pleased that there will be several Natural Family Planning (NFP) classes held in the conference room at the new center.

Danielle Abril, catechetical associate for South Bend, sums up the impact of the building housing all of the South Bend diocese offices. “I see the whole diocese coming together more as one, working as a unit, and really coordinating activities with what everyone else is doing,” she said.

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