September 23, 2009 // Uncategorized

Missionaries from Africa and East visit the diocese

A visitor from the East
My earliest recollection of my sister, Anne, is walking to school with Robert Horne, my best friend, and Anne just a half-step behind us. She was the third oldest in the family and gifted with great sensitivity towards others, a loving person. Only a few months after graduating from Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Brighton, our home town, a school you could walk to from our home, she entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph. In those days, even though that was a diocesan community with an extraordinary record, mostly in education, there was a certain degree of strictness. You did not come home after that very much, if at all. So I remember distinctly the tears of my dear parents, who had now seen three of us enter religious life in the course of a few years. So painful to them, but a sacrifice they accepted with their great souls.

A true evangelizer
The Spiritual Development Office, unbeknownst to me, and aware that Anne has been giving retreats and Days of Recollection for many years, invited Anne (Sister Anne D’Arcy, CSJ), to give a day of prayer for women at St. Joseph Parish, LaGrange.

Anne had taught school for many years, and would give Evenings of Prayer on the side. Twenty-four years ago, she became a full-time staff person in the Office of Spiritual Development, and obtained a masters degree in Catholic spirituality from Creighton University.

It was a joy to greet her at the airport on Friday night and prepare and enjoy a delightful meal of fish and vegetables on my back porch. How wonderful are such events and how increasingly important as the years go on.

She was off early from Fort Wayne the next morning to St. Joseph’s, LaGrange. Remarkably, there were 230 people present in the small country parish. They came from Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend, Ligonier, Goshen, Avilla, Bremen, Bristol, Fort Wayne, and many other places.

Anne gave four talks on prayer. The reaction of the women was extraordinary. It just shows the great hunger there is today among our people for spiritual enrichment and for help in forming a habit of prayer.

I arrived in mid-afternoon and had some fun with the group and Anne. Later, I heard confessions, along with the wonderful and devoted pastor, Father Mark Weaver, OFM Conv. The small, but modern, country church was full. So many confessions, that I volunteered to return to the confessional after Mass.

It was wonderful to talk to these women individually. Anne was impressed with the wide age span and the seriousness of the group. It gave me great joy to see their enthusiasm for my dear sister and for her very substantive and enriching talks. Guided by Father Mark to a nearby restaurant on Route 9, we enjoyed dinner together. It was a privilege later to introduce Sister Anne to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and have breakfast with them on Sunday morning.

St. Thomas, Elkhart
This is a great parish; and I drove with Anne down the Route 20 Bypass past St. Vincent’s, the mother church of Elkhart, to St. Thomas Parish, where I celebrated the 11:15 a.m. Mass. The church was full, and many of the women had been present at the Day of Prayer the previous day and later thanked Sister Anne for her talks.

You know that Elkhart has the second highest unemployment in the country. The leader of the city, Mayor Moore, told me that it had been about 20 percent. Elkhart is a great manufacturing town, and many from South Bend are employed there. Despite the worst unemployment that that city and county had seen since the Great Depression, the people banded together and built what amounts to a practically new school. Six new classrooms. A brand new library. A computer room. Hats off to their committee under Bob Giel, Thad Naquin and so many others. The cost was $3 million and they have raised pledges of $2.5 million, and the school is now operating.

My cousin, John D’Arcy, from Philadelphia and a professor at the Notre Dame Business School, was present for Mass and the dedication of the church. Hats off to Father Bill Sullivan for his leadership in making this possible. Anne and I drove back to Fort Wayne and had a nice supper at JK O’Donnell’s.

I have been away from my family for 24-1/2 years, so a few days like this was something to cherish. But the best part was to see the great communion between my dear sister and the people to whom she was speaking and giving a day of retreat.

Clothes for poor children
The Christ Child Society of Fort Wayne is writing a remarkable story. Though much younger than the very effective South Bend chapter, it has blossomed in recent years; and it was a joy to celebrate Mass with them this past week. Last year, they gave away 2,465 coats to poor children, many of them immigrants and refugees. It is extraordinary to go to Sacred Heart School, Fort Wayne, on a fall morning and see the lines down the stairs and out the street. At the head of the stairs are the Christ Child members, devoted women sitting at computers and preparing to give the very best coats to these children.

This year, they expect to give away 3,000 new coats, 180,000 diapers and hundreds of layettes and backpacks. They also tutor children at St. John’s and Precious Blood parish schools.

They work closely with Women’s Care Center helping young mothers with clothes and other needs. It is an unsung, but beautiful chapter in our diocese, and it was a joy to celebrate Mass with them and join them then for dinner.

Now come the jubilarians
Among the many joys this week, will be the celebration of the Mass for our jubilarians. We have 20 jubilarians, including diocesan priests and religious. Altogether, they have served a total of 895 years. You know this is the Year for Priests, and everyone is invited to join us on Thursday, Sept. 24, for the 12:05 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

There are special indulgences for priests on this day and for all who attend.

I will speak of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests; and by recent decree, of all priests. We used to be told in the seminary that he had serious academic difficulties. No wonder. Until the age of 18, he was illiterate. France was rationalist, affected by the enlightenment. Yet people came from all over France to go to confession to him. An unbeliever, an agnostic, went to Ars, and when asked what he saw, replied, “I saw God in a man.”

When I think of these jubilarians, I think of the words of Christ to his apostles, “You are the ones who have stood by me in my trials.” It will be a privilege to offer this Mass and have lunch with the priests after Mass.

Our Bishop’s Appeal is well underway. I have already made my pledge and have raised it over last year. I try to raise it every year. I hope you will do the same, because the needs are greater than ever.

A visitor from Africa
Holy Cross priests of the Indiana Province remember with gratitude and reverence Bishop Vincent Joseph McCauley, CSC. He served in Africa, especially Uganda. His cause for sainthood was introduced in 2007, and so he is now known as Vincent McCauley, Servant of God. He was an effective evangelizer, beloved and a father of many churches in Uganda. The present bishop of Fort Portal, Uganda, Father Robert Muhiirwa, who is his successor, visited me this week. We were able to assist him from the Zeiger Mission Fund. This is a couple from the little parish of St. Dominic’s, Bremen, who left $270,000 under the direction of the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, with the stipulation that the money must go to missions overseas. With substantial donations from this fund, we have been able to help Bishop Muhiirwa, who studied at Notre Dame, and Duquesne University, and served in St. Jude’s, Fort Wayne; St. Jude’s, South Bend; and St. Matthew’s, South Bend. We helped him put a roof on the cathedral built by Bishop McCauley, CSC, who, by the way, is buried at Notre Dame. Bishop Muhiirwa also preached recently at all the Masses at St. Michael’s, Plymouth, and received a collection earlier in the year from St. Mary Parish, Decatur. We have a serious obligation to help the missions, especially in Africa, and it was a great joy to have the bishop at my home for Mass and lunch. So we had Archbishop Michael Blume, SVD, who is also a nuncio. The bishop of Fort Portal, Robert Muhiirwa. And Sister Anne D’Arcy from Boston, Mass. Three missionaries in one week. That is a good week.

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