Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer
April 25, 2023 // Bishop

Six Baptized, More Confirmed at Pastoral Visit to Saint Joseph High School

Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer

The power of the Holy Spirit permeated the gymnasium at Saint Joseph High School, South Bend, when Bishop Rhoades gave the sacraments of initiation to numerous members of the school community during a pastoral visit on April 18.

Bishop Rhoades baptized six, received one into full communion, and confirmed a total of 10 during the celebration of Mass that morning. During his homily, Bishop Rhoades related the evangelizing mission that the Risen Jesus gave to the apostles to the sacrament of baptism.

Click here for more photos from the visit.

“Baptism is not a mere formality or like joining a club. It is a holy mystery, a sacrament. In the first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, we learn what Baptism accomplishes. It is an immersion ‘in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history.’ And it is being touched by the power of His resurrection from the dead.”

Derby Photography
Bishop Rhoades gives the sacraments of initiation to members of the Saint Joseph High School community during Mass on Tuesday, April 18. As part of the Mass, he baptized six, received one into full communion, and confirmed 10.

He continued, “Baptism is a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, the reception of new life, eternal life, in Christ. Here is how St. Paul describes it to the Roman Christians: ‘Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.’”

The bishop said that, through Baptism, one receives the blessings that flow from the death and resurrection of Jesus, including the forgiveness of sins.

“Baptism, therefore, is not merely a symbolic ceremony — it is an efficacious act, what the Church calls a ‘sacrament.’ The recipient of Baptism undergoes a death to the bondage of sin and is brought to life again by a reception of grace. There is a spiritual union with the crucified and risen Jesus. Now no one can bring this about by themselves. People can’t baptize themselves. They can’t make themselves Christians. Baptisms, like all the sacraments, are actions of God. It is Christ who baptizes through His Body, the Church, and the Church’s minister.”

Through baptism, Bishop Rhoades said, the students would become “our brothers and sisters in Christ, members of the community of the Resurrection, the Body of Christ, which is the Church,” adding that the sacraments “presuppose faith. They are gifts from God that we must freely accept.”

The Saint Joseph High School Choir sings hymns of praise during Mass with Bishop Rhoades.

With reference to the sacrament of Confirmation, Bishop Rhoades cited the Catechism, saying that those being confirmed that day will be “strengthened in a special way by the Holy Spirit, as the Catechism teaches, ‘to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.’”

“Like the apostles on Pentecost,” he said, “they will be clothed with power from on high so that they may be Christ’s faithful witnesses, like the saints they have chosen as their Confirmation patrons.”

Bishop Rhoades also spoke of the third sacrament of initiation, the Holy Eucharist, which he referred to as the “source and summit of the Christian life.”

“The Eucharist is the food for the journey of our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ, the ‘new manna’ for our journey to the promised land of heaven. It is the Church’s greatest treasure.”

Bishop Rhoades concluded his homily by reflecting on Christian community, particularly within the context of the sacraments.

“Today is a beautiful day in the life of the Christian community of Saint Joseph High School. It is a day of joy not only for those who will receive the sacraments of initiation at this Mass and for their families, but for all of us. This joy springs from love, the love of God that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts.”

Photos by Derby Photography
At the end of Mass on Tuesday, April 18, the day of Bishop Rhoades’ annual Mass and pastoral visit, Saint Joseph High School Principal John Kennedy announces the monthly awards for faculty and students.

Career and College Preparation Highlighted at Visit to Saint Joseph High School

By Erika Barron

Bishop Rhoades arrived at Saint Joseph High School for his Mass and pastoral visit on Tuesday, April 18. Father Geoffrey Mooney, Chaplain, and Bethany Burgun, Director of Mission Advancement, were waiting to greet him. Bishop Rhoades was then welcomed by Principal John Kennedy, who asked if the bishop would deliver the morning message, prayer, and lead the pledge over the P.A system, kicking off an exciting morning for the students and staff.

After the morning announcements, Bishop made his way to a breakfast of fruit and pastries with the Peer Ministry students and Religious Club leaders, where they discussed their roles in the school’s recent play, their various duties in altar serving, liturgical choir, and aiding in preparing those who would be coming into full communion with the Church later that morning.

“I am really excited about the bishop visiting today” said Hillary Jackson a student at St. Joe and parishioner of St. Jude in South Bend. “I look up to him, and I love learning how it all works.”

Bishop Rhoades sits in on a theology class at Saint Joseph taught by Tom Kostielney where students discuss the topic of freedom and what choices can hinder true freedom.

Bishop Rhoades then met with the 11 members of the St. Joseph Community who would be receiving their sacraments. They spoke of what the morning would entail and what it means to be part of the St. Joseph Catholic community. Gabi Braden, a sophomore receiving the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation, grew up going to Catholic school. “I’m really excited! I’ve been a part of this faith for a long time and it makes me really excited just to be here.” She shared what it meant having Bishop Rhoades administering these sacraments to her, saying, “The connections he has to Christ are so memorable to me.”

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades shared with the students, “Saint Joseph High School and every Catholic school is a community of faith. Intimately connected to faith is love. Without love, faith has no power. Without love, there is an emptiness that becomes filled with selfishness and egoism. With love, there is a fullness and there is joy and peace. As we celebrate the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ’s love, may we be filled with the grace of love, the grace to love one another as Christ has loved us.”

Saint Joseph award recipients pose for a photo with Bishop Rhoades after Mass.

After Mass, awards were given out to students and faculty members and photos were taken with Bishop Rhoades.

The bishop then enjoyed lunch with members of Student Government, where he discussed what colleges the students would be attending after graduation and the spring musical. Soon after lunch, he visited the classroom of Tom Kostielney, Theology Teacher at St. Joe, where the students covered a morality lesson on freedom.

St. Joe is a school of more than 800 students, making it the second largest school in the Diocese of Fort Wayne- South Bend.

Neatly structured and abundantly joyful would be two accurate ways of describing daily life at St. Joe. The faculty and staff work hard to ensure the students are well prepared for the next steps of their future with academic rigor similar to what they will face in college. “We have so many students that leave St. Joe and come back and say how well prepared they were for college, both in academic skill, knowledge, and in workload,” said Kennedy.

St. Joe also follows a “Project Lead the Way” curriculum, which means students can focus their studies on a biomedical, engineering, or computer science track by taking classes specifically pertaining to the careers they may wish to pursue.

Bishop Rhoades poses for a photo with members of the Theology Department at Saint Joseph after meeting to discuss student development in the faith.

Giving students the opportunity to pursue their passions is another trademark of life at St. Joe. This encompasses athletic, artistic, spiritual, and personal passions, offering many clubs and extracurricular activities. “I think that that all adds up to an education that really educates the whole student,” said Kennedy.

Home to a diverse student body, the school is host to the St. Joe Unity Council, a student-led organization that helps the school celebrate diversity and promote inclusion. Kennedy said, “There are student leaders who are dedicated to that, and just to bringing about a joyful and inclusive sort of spirit and mindset to the to the student body.” He continued, “With our student body growing in diversity, we feel it’s really important to make sure we’re embracing all students.”

Speaking again about the students, he stated, “We have a fantastic student body. They’re talented. They’re fun. They’re vibrant!”

Along with this vibrant student body comes a dedicated faculty and staff whose passion is to cultivate the hearts and minds of its students to serve Christ in all they do. It’s welcoming and joyful and supportive of all students and staff, and it’s a community where you can grow closer to Christ,” said Kennedy. “Our mission is to educate students in both heart and mind to serve God, the Church, and the world. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any better place in northern Indiana to prepare for college.”

You can find more information about life at Saint Joseph High School and how to enroll your student by visiting

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.