August 24, 2010 // Uncategorized

May God bless our children and their teachers this school year

Back to school
As I write this column, our children and young people have already been in school a week or more. The academic year begins much earlier here than back home in Pennsylvania. On Friday, Aug. 20, after a meeting with diocesan and parish workers in Hispanic ministry at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Goshen, Father Chris Smith took me around to visit the classes at St. John School. This was an unscheduled visit, my first to a grade school in our diocese. I enjoyed visiting the classes and speaking to the children, though it was a brief visit. I asked the children if they were happy to be back in school and they all answered “yes.” I am looking forward to visiting three of our Catholic grade schools in the next few weeks, celebrating school Masses and visiting the classes. May God bless our children and their teachers as they begin a new school year!

Speaking of our Catholic schools, I was happy to celebrate Holy Mass with our Catholic school principals on Aug. 12 at Sacred Heart Church in Warsaw. At the end of Mass, there was a special blessing of our new principals. Many thanks to our dedicated principals for their fine leadership of our schools!

Profession of vows at Sisters of St. Francis motherhouse
On Aug. 11, the feast of St. Clare, I had the joy to celebrate Mass at the motherhouse chapel of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka. During the Mass, Sister Lethia Marie made her perpetual vows as a Sister of St. Francis. Sister’s family was present for the beautiful liturgy.

It was very moving to witness the solemn consecration of Sister Lethia Marie as a bride of our Lord Jesus. The ceremony reminded me of the importance and the beauty of consecrated religious life in the Church. It is important that we increase and intensify our prayers for vocations to the religious life. I wonder how many of our young Catholic women consider that God may be calling them to this beautiful vocation.

By the profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, religious women and men follow Christ in a radical way, leaving everything to be with Christ and to serve the Church. The consecrated life is truly a gift to the Church. Consecrated religious are a much-needed example for all of us of ever greater fidelity to the Gospel.

Thank you, Sister Lethia Marie, for your generous response to God’s call! May the Lord bless the Sisters of Saint Francis with an abundance of vocations!

On the evening of Aug. 11, I joined several priests and young men discerning the priesthood for the Andrew Dinner at Holy Family Parish in South Bend. It is encouraging to see so many young men open to the possibility that God may be calling them to the priesthood.

World Youth Day 2011
On Aug. 13, I celebrated Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Angola for the participants in World Youth Day next year in Madrid, Spain. This was the first gathering of the group. After Mass, we enjoyed pizza together, a great opportunity for the young people from parishes throughout our diocese to meet one another. The priests who will be joining me for the pilgrimage with our youth also joined us. It is a year away, but it was good to meet as we spiritually prepare for World Youth Day. Thanks to all who are supporting us with your prayers and donations!

Deacon gathering
Our deacons and deacon candidates and their wives held a picnic at Noll Hall at Lake Wawasee on Aug. 14. I was happy to join them and celebrate Mass with them. It was the feast of one of my favorite modern saints, Father Maximilian Kolbe. I attended Father Kolbe’s canonization in Rome in 1982 while I was a seminarian there. It was the biggest crowd I had experienced in Saint Peter’s Square during my seven years in Rome. At Mass, I shared not only my experience at the canonization, but more importantly, about the life and death of this heroic priest, a model of exemplary pastoral charity. Father Kolbe, who had a great devotion to Mary Immaculate, gave his life to save a fellow prisoner condemned to execution. Such selfless love is an imitation of our Lord Jesus, who was both Priest and Victim, on the cross.

May God bless our deacons and their wives for their selfless service of the Church! And may God bless our candidates and their wives who begin their final year of formation before diaconal ordination next May!

150th anniversary of St. Patrick, Ligonier
August 15 was a festive day at St. Patrick Parish in Ligonier. I was privileged to celebrate an English and a Spanish Mass at St. Patrick’s to mark the 150th anniversary of the Catholic community in Ligonier. It was a joyful occasion for the anniversary celebration: The solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I thank Father Wilson Corzo, the pastor, for his gracious welcome and for his devoted priestly ministry at St. Patrick’s.

After the liturgies, a fiesta was held in the parking lot adjacent to the church. There was delicious food in abundance, prepared by parishioners. We enjoyed music and folkloric dancing by Mexican-American parishioners.

St. Patrick’s Parish is growing and, as I learned during my visit, in need of more space. The vitality of the community was evident. After 150 years, St. Patrick’s Parish continues to be a beacon of the Catholic faith in Noble County.

Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
On Aug. 16, I celebrated Mass in the chapel at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fort Wayne for the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre in our diocese. I have been a member of the order since serving as rector of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary. It was good to meet the members of the order here in our diocese. We enjoyed a delicious dinner following the Mass at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Maury O’Daniel.

You may recognize members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre by their distinctive vesture: White mantels for the Knights and black mantels for the Ladies, both emblazoned with the red Jerusalem cross. More important than the vesture or insignia is the mission of this order that began in the 12th century. The order fosters in its members the practice of the Christian life and supports the Church’s pastoral and charitable works in the Holy Land. It strives to promote peace and justice in the Holy Land. I thank the members of the Equestrian Order in our diocese for their generosity on behalf of this important mission.

Installation of new bishop of Harrisburg
I flew home to Harrisburg for the installation of Bishop Joseph McFadden as the 10th bishop of Harrisburg on Aug. 18. It was a quick visit, but I was happy to be there to see my successor installed. Bishop McFadden was previously an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He is a very fine bishop who will be a good shepherd in my former diocese. The priests and faithful received their new bishop warmly and graciously. I am happy that the people of my former diocese have a bishop again and I pray that the Lord will bless Bishop McFadden with many graces as he leads the people of the Diocese of Harrisburg in the way of Christ.

South Bend Knights of Columbus
On Aug. 20, I attended a dinner of the council and assembly leaders of the Knights of Columbus and their wives of the Saint Joseph Valley Chapter. It was another of those delicious Polish dinners I have come to enjoy at special occasions in South Bend! The gathering took place at St. Pius X Parish in Granger. It was a wonderful evening, an opportunity for me to learn about the activities and many good works of the Knights in Saint Joseph Valley. It was also an opportunity to share with my Brother Knights my own reflections on the mission of the order.

The Knights of Columbus, as you know, is the largest Catholic men’s organization in the world. The Knights serve the Church faithfully in countless ways: Promoting vocations, supporting pro-life activities, promoting marriage and family, programs for youth and for the disabled, and many other activities that put our Catholic faith into action through charity. I encourage men, especially young men, of our diocese if you are not already members, to consider joining a local council.

Many thanks to all the Knights of Columbus in our diocese for your fidelity and service!

Our Lady of the Angels Convent
On Aug. 21, I celebrated Holy Mass for the retired Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration at Our Lady of the Angels Convent, next to the motherhouse, in Mishawaka. It is always a blessing to meet and pray with the retired sisters of different religious communities throughout our diocese. These holy women have given their lives in the service of Christ and His Church and they continue to serve us through their beautiful ministry of prayer.

The retired Sisters of St. Francis maintain that spirit of joy and kindness that marks their religious community life. Thank you, Sisters, for your example and your prayers!

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