Molly Wynen
Freelance Writer
December 14, 2017 // Parish

Family, homelike feel found at St. Anthony de Padua

Molly Wynen
Freelance Writer

The stained-glass windows inside St. Anthony de Padua Church, South Bend, are more than just decoration. As is often the case in Catholic churches, the colorful glass fragments that line both side walls of the church depict Truths of the faith.

Those on the eastern wall illustrate the Apostles’ Creed. On the western wall are depictions of various images of Mary. One is from the Litany of Loreto; another is Mary, Help of Christians; and Mary, the Mirror of Justice. At the back of the church, above the choir loft, is a large window featuring St. Anthony. Father David Ruppert recalls his awe at seeing the windows when he came to the parish in 2011. “We have the most beautiful stained glass,” he said. “It really says a lot about the people who built the church.”

A large stained-glass window above the choir loft at St. Anthony de Padua Church depicts St. Anthony.

The construction happened in 1960 when many parishioners came together to help with the design and the manual labor. The parish had previously existed as a small school with a community room as a worship space. Various expansions and upgrades have been made since, all with the help of parishioners. This past year they were called upon again, to help construct a new playground that is a part of the newly accredited Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program for pre-K and kindergarten classes.

“It’s a community that comes together,” said longtime parishioner and parish secretary Tina Masterson. She found St. Anthony de Padua when her husband moved to South Bend for work. They became members because of the family community and the excellent school. “All of my children went to school here, and now my grandchildren do too,” she added.

The central location of the parish attracts people from all areas of South Bend, Mishawaka and the University of Notre Dame, creating a diverse community. Father Ruppert invites many priests who are studying at Notre Dame to visit and assist with the celebration of the Mass. There are currently three other priests on rotation for Mass: Father Bruno Shah, OP, Father Philip Neri Reese, OP, and Father Toochukwu Agha. Deacon Brian Miller also has a presence in the congregation, leading baptismal preparation, ministries to the homebound and adoration.

For Masterson, having so many leaders around means there is always someone she is able to relate to. “That’s why people feel able to open up here.”

There are many different groups with a presence at St. Anthony de Padua: Legion of Mary, the Holy Name Society, St. Joseph County Right to Life and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, to name a few. Members of these organizations bring many volunteer and giving opportunities for parishioners and students that connect people to their own city.

Father Ruppert likes to joke about the St. Anthony de Padua campus needing two ZIP codes. The school, church and gymnasium are located on the east side of Ironwood Road, which is the dividing line for two South Bend ZIP codes. The parish rectory and office buildings are on the west side of Ironwood, just a short walk or drive away.

Although physically separated, the setup helps students and parishioners to feel like the parish is part of the greater community, not its own private world.

“Our parish community is the heart of our school,” boasts the parish website. That is evident from the many faith-based student activities. Adoration, confession and volunteer opportunities are part of the students’ routine. The children have even implemented their own adoration club.

Seeing the participation of adult parishioners in daily confession and weekly adoration has been a strong influence for students, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

Principal Karen Bogol also sets a strong example for the 320 students as someone who is passionate about her faith. She is a part of the Alliance for Catholic Education at Notre Dame, which helps provide excellent Catholic education. Bogol is in her second year as principal at St. Anthony de Padua School, but she has been part of the parish for many years as a teacher and a parishioner.

The school is proud to maintain an “A” rating from the state and is working to become STEM certified. “We are very purposeful when implementing new technologies. There must be a use for it, and someone who is able to teach,” said Father Ruppert, who himself spent 13 years as a computer analyst in engineering. Students are very comfortable using technology in real-life situations, and they carry that skill with them to high school and beyond.

Father Ruppert hasn’t left his passion for technology. He still enjoys new gadgets and is working on a model train set. It has provided opportunities for him to connect with people over a common hobby, as well as a means to relate to students. “It’s important for people to see the private side of the priesthood,” he said.

The parish office at St. Anthony de Padua, where many meetings and small gatherings are held, is a repurposed house, bringing about a true feeling of home and openness. “People feel comfortable in a home. It’s somewhere they can be open.” The community at St. Anthony de Padua Parish certainly feels like a family, parishioners and staff say, and the church its home.

St. Anthony de Padua
2320 E. Jefferson Blvd.
South Bend, IN 46615

Sunday — 7, 9, 11 a.m.
Saturday — 4:30 p.m.

Holy Day — see bulletin

Weekday — M,W,F,S — 8:15 a.m.;
T and Th — 5:30 p.m.

A Novena to St. Anthony de Padua takes place every Tuesday after 5:30 p.m. Mass.

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