December 9, 2009 // Uncategorized

The parish-wide mission is an excellent method of evangelization

The parish mission and the
new evangelization

“I have been in this parish 60 years, and this is the finest and best week in all that time.” The remarks of a woman to me after I closed the parish mission at St. Matthew’s co-Cathedral Parish.

I drove north on one of the first really wintry afternoons, and arrived just before 6 p.m. at St. Matthew Parish where I met a very encouraged Msgr. Mike Heintz and Father Jake Runyon. A delightful soup and sandwich with them, and Jim Fitzpatrick, our always devoted and able diocesan master of ceremonies.

To say I have suggested to Msgr. Mike that he have a parish-wide mission would be an understatement. I thought when he finally agreed it would be done right. He told me that Ginny Kohrman of our Office of Spiritual Development had given to his parishioners the structure, and his excellent committee followed the advice of the Office of Spiritual Development and implemented a full court press.

A phone bank, so that every
parishioner receives a call

Advertising and signs. A babysitting component in the basement of the church, so that young parents can come. A letter to every parishioner. As a result, to Msgr. Mike’s delight and surprise, he told me there were 800 people there the first night. There were excellent speakers with Msgr. Bill Schooler, Father Jim Shafer and Father Bob Van Kempen; and it was my privilege to celebrate Mass and preach on the final night.
One night was devoted to the sacrament of penance, but there was also a night with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. A full church spent 30 minutes in silent prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Not new in content, but new in ardor, new in method, and new in expression
That is how Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI described the new evangelization.

Each evening was recorded and put on the Internet with the newly ordained Father Jake Runyon taking care of such “expression and method.” I was especially pleased to see so many young couples made possible by the babysitting service. The parish-wide mission, if all aspects are implemented, is an excellent method of evangelization. Another characteristic of the new evangelization is that it involves everybody — not just priests and religious, but the whole parish. In fact, as I told the pastor, the outreach and contact is the work of the laity. They are better at it than we are. Many of them do it for a living; and they know how to contact everyone and how to promote attendance.

There is a certain anonymity, which many people desire in returning to the practice of the faith after many years. A full church, individual confession, prayer and silence gives the atmosphere for a person to slip back quietly into the embrace of Christ and the church without much fanfare. It is usually the best way.

And evangelization to young adults
It was a joy this past week to celebrate Mass at IPFW. We do not have a large state university with tens of thousands of resident students as you find in West Lafayette with Purdue or in Bloomington with Indiana University.

But we do have several smaller state schools, and IPFW in Fort Wayne has the beginnings of residential students. However, it is much more difficult at what is still largely a commuter school to make the contacts over a period of time with the young people. Nevertheless, we have been working on it for many years, and it was a joy to respond to the invitation of Mary Glowaski and celebrate a noontime Mass at IPFW. There were about 50 students and several faculty members, including the assistant to the chancellor, Linda Ruffolo, Professor Bob Sedlmeyer, and other faculty members.

It was a joy to celebrate this Mass with the students, and to preach to them about Advent and Christmas. I stayed, joyfully, for pizza and saw the vital activity that is going on there, helped in great part by Mike Gibson who has served there for a number of years.

Plans were shared for some of the students to attend the March for Life in Washington in late January, as they have in the past. Mary Glowaski told me that the pro-life initiative is rallying many of these students. Another student presented plans for the next World Youth Day, which is to be held, I believe, in Madrid, Spain. Imagine that, in a public state school, plans are already underway for both the pro-life march and the World Youth Day, still a few years away. Also with us was the delightful Allison Sturm, who is working with the young adults on the parish level in such events as Theology on Tap.

A task completed and
a hidden monsignor

In early August, after returning from vacation and the annual visits to Fenway Park, I began the task of liturgical installations of the new pastors. I think the Holy Spirit was especially with our personnel board and myself, as we had no certainty concerning the time for the coming of the next bishop. We tried to make prayer a central part of our discernment, and the Holy Spirit gave us the light.

Now at long last, I have installed all the pastors who were named at that time, 13 in all. I drove south from Mishawaka to St. Mary of the Lake Parish, Culver, for the installation of Msgr. Thadeus Balinda. Father Tad, as we call him, was given to us by the goodness of my dear friend, Bishop Robert Muhiirwa, pastor of Fort Portal, Uganda. This is an area evangelized by the saintly and rightly honored Bishop Vincent McCauley, CSC. He is buried at Notre Dame, and I think his cause for canonization has been introduced, and now priests who were under his influence have returned to help us. Msgr. Balinda was vicar general of his diocese. He has a licentiate in canon law from Rome, and is a prayerful and intelligent man.

He is following the excellent work of Father Glenn Kohrman, and he has been greeted joyfully by the people. He told me how much he is enjoying the work at Culver Academy, which is also the responsibility of the pastor of this parish.

I heard many positive things about his work and was also pleased to hear similar, positive things about the leadership and ministry of Father Glenn Kohrman, who served effectively in Culver over many years.

One more installation remains for an appointment made later after the painful loss of Father Ron Ramenaden. I will go this week to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, North Manchester, to install Father Thomas Kodakassery, OSB, as pastor. He is a native of India.

Saint Joseph Medical Center
In what can be described as a kind of convocation of the Catholic community of Michiana, it was my joy to consecrate the altar and bless the chapel, and also bless the new Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center itself. I extend special gratitude to the Sisters of the Congregation of Holy Cross through their superior, Sister Joan Steadman, CSC, and to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, through Sister Nora Hahn, PHJC, for these are the sisters who in education, and most especially in health care, planted the spirit of Christ in this area. Those congregations are especially devoted to the poor; and it is my hope that the situation in health care today, with all its complications, will not prevent this modern hospital from being a place where the poor are welcomed. I pray it will also be a place where technology is for the person and not the person for technology. On this second Sunday of Advent, I quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states in reference to Advent, “Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration in man of the ‘divine likeness’ prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ.”

The Catholic hospital must be a place where this restoration of the divine likeness continues, where work with the sick is seen as a ministry of love, truly the ministry of Christ the healer, and a ministry always and in every way, in support of life.

I am preparing to celebrate for the last time as your bishop our patronal feast of the Immaculate Conception in the cathedral, also under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Two days later, I will be with our priests for our annual Advent Day of Prayer and an opportunity to make a Christmas confession. Our speaker will be Bishop Carl Mengeling, originally a priest of the Diocese of Gary, and now bishop emeritus of Lansing.
Please note in another part of this newspaper some words about John Cavadini and the homily by Pope Benedict XVI.

I look forward to seeing you all next week.

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