Genealogist has compiled family tree with nearly 75,000 names
By Mary Ann Hughes (Message staff writer)
When he was a young boy, Mel Schapker would listen as his parents talked about their families. Their aunts, their uncles and their cousins. And sometimes his mom and dad would talk about the relatives with religious vocations.
Now that he’s in his seventies, he’s spending a lot of time documenting the lives of those relatives — and thousands of others.
About 25 years ago, he began to take a serious look at his family tree, and over the years he has gathered nearly 75,000 names. Not all of those names are his blood relatives; some are in-laws and their families too.
Back in 1986, he bought his first computer. It was an IBM and he smiles as he remembers how limited its space was.
In those early days of his family tree work, he started with immediate family members, and then looked at church records in Evansville, Haubstadt, Elberfeld and Newburgh. Eventually, his search expanded to parishes in towns such as Biblis, Darmstadt and Worms, Germany.
One of the things he has discovered during his 25-year quest is the large number of extended family members who were priests, deacons and religious sisters.
He found 61 priests, men with last names like Bastnagel, Brenner, Dewig, Endress, Erbacher, Foster, Gries, Herr, Kissel, Knapp, Koch, Niehaus, Reis, Reising, Schmitt, Steckler and Zenthoefer.
He discovered links to 12 deacons in the Diocese of Evansville including Deacon Francis Hillenbrand and the three Seibert men, Deacon Joseph, Deacon David and Deacon Michael.
He found 54 women religious in his research, sisters at both the Benedictine monastery in Ferdinand and at the Franciscan monastery in Oldenburg, Ind.
Their last names include Beckerle, Dewig, Elpers, Emmert, Gansman, Kercher, Maurer, Miller, Mueller, Preske, Raben, Rietman, Scheller and Seib.
He credits others for helping him compile all the names, including Father David Nunning, now pastor at St. Agnes and Sacred Heart churches in Evansville, who has also done extensive family tree research.
Diocese of Gary
Serving multiple parishes: ‘It’s about who we are’
Story by Steve Euvino
MERRILLVILLE — The ongoing shortage of priests in the U.S. Catholic Church has resulted in changes, with multiple-parish pastoring the most common solution. While one priest for two or more parishes poses challenges, it also sets the stage for personal and spiritual growth for clergy and laity alike.
Kate Wiskus, an educator and author, shared that message with priests of the Diocese of Gary at a meeting March 11 at Ss. Peter and Paul.
Calling herself a “person in the pew,” Wiskus related information contained in “Pastoring Multiple Parishes,” a book she co-authored with Mark Mogilka, director of stewardship and pastoral services for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis.
While interviewing priests serving multiple parishes, Wiskus and Mogilka found that clergy were tired from the extra duties, and yet priests also found the good coming from the situation.
Serving more than one parish did not negatively affect their sense of priestly ministry, the co-co-authors found. Rather, Wiskus said, this extra duty “amplified their sense of ministry.”
An associate dean of formation at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, Wiskus pointed to a movement away from “it’s about me” to “it’s about Christ” as clergy and laity adjusted to serving multiple parishes.
Father Gerald Schweitzer, pastor of three parishes in LaPorte County, said that over the past four years “we’re developed a great ministry among the three parishes. It’s about who we are.”
Wiskus noted that from her research, “each priest felt blessed to have been called to that particular ministry.” Wiskus said that as priests recognized “they were being built up, as well as the people. It was a tremendous sign of the Holy Spirit.”
Priests serving multiple parishes are nothing new, Wiskus and Mogilka state in their book. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, as early as 1965 this country had 549 parishes (3 percent of the U.S. total) without a resident priest. What is new, the writers state, is the growth of this practice.
Archdiocese of Indianapolis
An Indiana treasure: Painting by Hoosier artist is restored for Indianapolis parish
By Sean Gallagher
Father Stephen Giannini just might have an “Antiques Roadshow” story on his hands.
Last fall, Father Giannini, the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, was helping prepare for a rummage sale by cleaning out storage rooms in the basement of the rectory, which dates from the 1860s, when a parishioner found an old painting that had rips and holes in it.
“It had a film of dust on it,” Father Giannini said. “We were taking things out of the basement to the garage to get ready for the sale. And this was one of the things that we took out. We just took a wadded up paper towel and started trying to get some of the dust off.”
The oil painting depicts two religious sisters. One is an artist, working on a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The other sister is seated behind the artist, apparently reading a book. The background of the painting shows many other paintings and drawings hanging on a wall, making the setting appear to be an artist’s studio.
Shortly before the painting was put with other rummage sale items, a parishioner looked at the signature of the artist, R. B. Gruelle. She asked that the painting be held back so that she could do some research.
“She came back the next day and said, ‘Father, make sure that’s not in the garage sale,’ ” Father Giannini said.
As it turned out, Richard Buckner Gruelle (1851-1914) was a prominent Indiana artist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a member of what was known as the “Hoosier Group” of artists based in Indianapolis. He was also active among the painters who frequented an artists’ colony in Brown County made notable by famous Hoosier artist T.C. Steele.
Many of Gruelle’s paintings are now worth thousands of dollars.
After learning that his parish owns one of Gruelle’s paintings, Father Giannini wanted it restored.
Father Giannini was referred to Sue McCallister, a member of St. Agnes Parish in Nashville, who works full time as an art restorationist.
McCallister has restored several works by members of the Hoosier Group and other painters who were active in the artists’ colony in Brown County. She has lived among the scenic, wooded hills of Brown County for 35 years.
‘Novice priest’ reflects on joy during 40 Hours devotion
By Sean Gallagher
Father John Hollowell was ordained a priest on June 6, 2009, just prior to the start of the Year for Priests.
He reflected on his joyful experience as a newly ordained priest in a series of reflections given during an annual 40 Hours devotion on March 8-10 at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis.
The last of his reflections was given as part of Holy Rosary’s 10th annual “Spaghetti and Spirituality” Lenten adult education series.
Father Hollowell began by focusing on the joy he has found by deliberately planning for the near and long-term future, which he described as intentionality.
“There’s a real joy in that,” said Father Hollowell, a teacher, coach and chaplain at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis. “When I wake up, I know I have a purpose. And I know that we’re moving somewhere.”
He then encouraged his listeners to not wait for “the right time” to start giving attention to their lives of faith.
“Well, the time is never right, most likely,” Father Hollowell said. “In terms of our human weakness, we’re never really ready to dive into things. We have to plan. We have to mean it. And we have to intend to do it.”
Another joy for Father Hollowell is the happiness he sees in Catholics who love the Church and embrace its teachings.
This joy was also related to what he sees as the fading away of the belief that one could “be Catholic and hate the Church at the same time. One can dissent from and basically trash the very Church that they claim to be [a part of].”
“I think that what we see now, when we honestly survey the surroundings, that when people carry that out to its logical conclusion, there is no fruit on the tree,” Father Hollowell said.
On the other hand, Father Hollowell said, he has seen great vitality in an alternate vision of the Church in which there is “a love for the faith, a love for what it means to be Catholic.”
Indiana Pacers coach Jim O’Brien shares game plan for life and sports at ‘Coaching for Christ’ program
By John Shaughnessy
It’s a moment that most coaches eventually experience, a defining moment that guides the way they approach their teams and their players.
Sometimes those moments also define the way they lead their lives and follow their faith.
Indiana Pacers head coach Jim O’Brien recently shared one of the defining moments of his career during a “Coaching for Christ” talk to Catholic high school coaches and Catholic Youth Organization coaches at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis.
For O’Brien, a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis, that defining moment came 28 years ago—after he decided to take the head coaching position at Wheeling Jesuit University, a small Catholic college in West Virginia.
Thirty years old at the time, O’Brien inherited a men’s basketball team that had won three games and lost 25 in the previous year. It wasn’t exactly the situation he had imagined for his first head coaching job at the college level. Still, O’Brien was determined to make the best of the opportunity. So he began searching for a mission statement that would guide him.
He came across one foundation in a quote from Hall of Fame pro football coach Vince Lombardi: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
He found another building stone in the words of Frank Perdue, the owner of Perdue Farms, a chicken-processing company: “Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve, on a daily basis, the quality of what you have to offer.”
In reading Perdue’s words, O’Brien focused on the last word—offer.
“Offer who?” O’Brien recalled thinking. Then he came up with his answer: “Certainly those student athletes that I will coach, my wife, my children, my school, my God.”
The game plan—and his life plan—had come into a clearer focus.
Diocese of Lafayette
FOCUS conference leaves lasting impact on college students
By Louisa J. Reese
MUNCIE — The 2010 Fellowship of Catholic University Students Conference promised students five days that would change their relationship with God and others.
Jill Pitcher, FOCUS team director at Ball State University, said 41 Ball State students and 10 others who traveled with them walked away with a changed perspective of God and the Church.
The conference was held Dec. 30 to Jan. 3 in Orlando. The theme was “Made for More.”
Pitcher and three other missionaries introduced FOCUS to the Ball State campus and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the fall of 2008.
The team’s goal is to evangelize students through small- group Bible studies and one-on-one mentoring or discipleship. Other missionaries at Ball State University this year are Mark Joseph, Ross Hornsby and Clare Kummant.
Curtis Martin founded the ministry for Catholic college students in 1998. Today, the organization is present in more than 20 states.
The 2010 FOCUS conference included the opportunity for 24-hour adoration, daily Mass, talks, prayer and fellowship, plus two concerts.
“The night of Eucharistic adoration, on Jan. 1, called the ‘Night with Our Lord,’ was one of the most pivotal nights we had during conference,” Pitcher said.
During that time, 75 priests administered the sacrament of reconciliation for nearly four hours and heard an estimated 2,500 confessions.
“It was absolutely a beautiful and grace-filled time,” Pitcher said, “and the students loved it, because it was the point in time when most of them had a conversion of heart or a very deep and powerful experience of the Eucharist. Our Lord poured out his grace during that time and the students responded.
“What struck me the most was seeing the growth of the FOCUS conference. At my first conference, six years ago, there were only about 1,300 students. (This time), there were 4,000.”
On the Ball State campus last year, 10 small-group Bible studies were attended by approximately 60 students every week, Pitcher said. This year, 20 Bible studies are attended by approximately 120 students. Fourteen of the studies are led by student disciples.
Fast for a day filled with lessons for a lifetime
By Caroline B. Mooney
LOGANSPORT — “Live simply so that others may simply live.”
That is what 52 middle-school and high-school students from eight parishes of the Logansport Deanery did during a food fast, from 7 p.m. Feb. 27 to 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at All Saints Church here. Participants had only juice and water.
“Our youth need to see why giving to the poor is important,” said Sylvia Downing, director of religious education at St. Joseph Church, Reynolds. “This 24-hour period was to give them just that, an opportunity to live as the poor while learning more and doing service work for the less fortunate.”
It was a jam-packed 24 hours. Upon arrival, the students had to give up their cell phones. Everyone was allowed to bring a sleeping bag, pillow and a large box to sleep on. Only personal items that could fit into a gallon-sized plastic bag were allowed.
There was prayer, games, and a talk from a soup kitchen worker in Monticello. Small groups then talked about fasting, journaled, played more games and prayed again, then slept on the gym floor.
Sunday morning, a couple who have made several trips to Haiti spoke of the enormous poverty in that country. Next, everyone played “The Poverty Game,” in which players were given real-life scenarios that showed how poverty could befall anyone.
Downing had participated in a similar fast in another diocese and suggested it to the directors of religious education in Logansport Deanery parishes. They used Catholic Relief Services’ “Face the Fast,” a hunger awareness program for youth in the United States, and tailored it to their own needs. The program took the place of the often-used CRS rice bowls.
“I hope that the kids understand the next time they see someone walking or who is without a job that circumstances are not always something we can control,” said Teresa Keay, formation coordinator at All Saints Church. “When the couple spoke about Haiti, they said even though one person can make a difference, together we can really make a big difference. And, together we can always pray.”
Local Church members respond in Haiti: ‘I felt the Holy Spirit flying around those tents …’
By Kevin Cullen
WEST LAFAYETTE — Members of a medical team that just returned from Haiti say they will never forget the woman who gave birth while trapped in rubble … and broken bones that went untreated for a month … and homeless, penniless earthquake survivors who were thankful to be alive.
“They always thank you so much,” said Mindy Clayton, a registered nurse who attends the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Lafayette. “When you leave, you want to thank them for their strength, their spirit, and what they give us. They just fill my soul with happiness. This whole experience has really brought me into the spirit of Lent.”
She was among four nurses, four physicians and a nurse practitioner brought together by Jane Sellers, a parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, on the Purdue University campus. They returned to Indiana Feb. 12 after working for a week at St. Damiens Hospital for Children, just outside Port-au-Prince, and serving adult patients in tents pitched nearby.
The volunteers “jumped on this trip so quickly. I was blown away,” said Sellers, who has made many mission trips to Haiti with her husband, Duane.
The team provided post-operative care to some patients who had undergone surgery aboard the U.S.S. Comfort, an American hospital ship. Others had injuries that had gone untreated since the Jan. 12 disaster that killed at least 200,000 people.
The St. Damiens campus was set up to accommodate the needs of trauma patients of all ages. Volunteers from Haiti, Germany, Italy, the United States and other countries worked together.
“It was like a MASH unit,” Clayton said.
Approximately 80 percent to 90 percent of the injuries were caused by crushing. Truckloads of victims were still being brought in with broken bones; others had had limbs amputated, and needed follow-up care because of infection.
“I felt the Holy Spirit flying around those tents, and that my guardian angel was on my shoulder,” she said. “When we couldn’t find things, they showed up.
“I had one lady who had lost all her children, her husband, her mother and father. She was the only one living in the family,” Clayton said.
But despite all that, “she knew she was saved by God. She felt that God had saved her to do something special. I thought, ‘What a way to look at it.’
“For 200 years, they have said, ‘Here I am again. It will all work out again.’”
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