Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer
August 31, 2016 // Local

Summit attendees get ZEAL for mercy

Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades chatted with a group of men attending the ZEAL Missionary Discipleship Summit, after Mass and before his keynote remarks on Saturday, Aug. 27. The event was held at Lakeview Middle School in Warsaw.

By Denise Federow

They gathered from all over the diocese — priests and religious, directors of religious education, school faculty, RCIA directors, youth ministers, parents and grandparents — all serving in different ministries within their parishes, to attend the ZEAL Missionary Discipleship Summit held Saturday, Aug. 27, at Lakeview Middle School in Warsaw.

The theme for this year’s summit was mercy, coinciding with the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. The morning began with Mass celebrated with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and concelebrated several priests.

Bishop Rhoades offered the Mass for Msgr. John Suelzer of St. Charles Borromeo, Fort Wayne, who passed away earlier in the week and also, because in honor of the Feast of Saint Monica, for the return of fallen away Catholics to the sacraments.

Father Andrew Budzinski expressed gratitude on behalf of himself and his brother priests for the work that the attendees do for the faith.

“Consider our calling—we are called to a noble and horrifying task — to help people become saints. Feel unqualified? Unprepared? Good,” he said.

Music for the Mass was provided by members of St. Joseph Parish in Fort Wayne.

“Every thing the Father has is yours: Don’t hoard it and don’t hide it. It’s to be multiplied — dozens of times with your students, hundreds of times with other parishioners, thousands of times with generations of descendants of Jesus Christ,” Father Budzinski said. He also encouraged those in attendance to imitate the saints — St. Monica’s perseverance in prayer, Blessed Mother Theresa’s model of mercy, and Msgr. Suelzer, who served with love.

Bishop Rhoades delivered the keynote speech on the topic of the mercy of God. He spoke of being blessed to accompany the 137 young people from our diocese to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, and how impactful it was to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Divine Mercy Shrine.

“After visiting a place of terrible sin, darkness and hatred, a place of misery, we visited a place where another reality shone forth: infinite love and redemption, a place of mercy,” he said.

“Pope Francis teaches that the word ‘mercy’ reveals the very mystery of the most Holy Trinity. Christ, the Son of God, is the full and definitive revelation of divine love and mercy. In His teachings and in His actions, Jesus shows us that God’s love is always ready to rise up and forgive, always ready to go to meet the prodigal son. God’s love is greater than sin, and stronger than death.”

In the crucifix, Bishop Rhoades said, we are reminded of the depth of God’s merciful love and the price of our redemption.

He concluded by stating that no matter what one’s ministry is in the church, everyone is called to show and bear witness to God’s mercy.

“If the new evangelization is to bear fruit we must live and testify to mercy, what Pope Francis calls ‘the beating heart of the Gospel.’ When he dedicated the Shrine of Divine Mercy Pope John Paul II said, ‘This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness.’ I believe this. May the Lord bless us with the zeal to spread the fire of His love and mercy in our diocese and beyond.”

Attendees of the ZEAL Summit enjoyed the music provided by choir members from St. Joseph Parish. From left are Melina Reyes and Anita Senesac of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish; and Kathy Fech, Denise Smith, Debbie Greene, Lorenza Martinez and Miguel Mendoza, all of St. Joseph Parish, Fort Wayne.

Following the keynote, breakout sessions were organized by ministry. After lunch, a panel that included Rev. Bob Lengerich, St. Mary of the Assumption, Decatur; Sr. Marie Morgan, OSF, Technology Department chairperson, Marian High School; Kathy Fech, director of faith formation and Building Inclusive Parishes, St. Joseph, Fort Wayne; Audrey Davis, secretary for young adult evangelization and social justice ministries for the diocese; and Deacon Mel Tardy, St. Augustine Parish, South Bend, discussed how to put God’s mercy into action within the various ministries in the church.


Bishop Rhoades distributes the Eucharist during the Mass celebrated at the start of the ZEAL Missionary Discipleship Summit.

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