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Last updated 12/19/2014 10:23 AM

Catholic News Around Indiana

Catholic News Around Indiana logoThe Catholic newspapers of the five dioceses of Indiana -- Evansville, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Gary, Indianapolis and Lafayette -- have agreed to share news stories with each other on a regular basis. They are compiled by Brandon A. Evans.

Sometimes these new stories appear in the print edition of The Catholic Moment; many more will be appearing here.


Diocese of Evansville

Celebrating A Special Witness Of Missionary Spirit And Outreach

By Tim Lilley (he Message Editor)

Bishop Charles C. Thompson opened the Year for Consecrated Life with Mass Nov. 23 at St. Benedict Cathedral. He welcomed men and women religious serving the Diocese of Evansville, and noted that the Year of Consecrated Life – called by Pope Francis – formally begins Nov. 30. 

“We have so much to celebrate as a result of your service,” he said, “we decided to begin a week early!” 

In 2013, Pope Francis declared that a Year of Consecrated Life be celebrated throughout the world. It will close on the World Day of Consecrated Life, on Feb. 2, 2016. 

“Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), beckons every member of the Church to embrace the call to missionary discipleship,” Bishop Thompson said. “(That) involves turning outward to others rather than turning inward on oneself. It means seeking out those that are so often overlooked by society – namely, the poor, the sick, the elderly, the prisoner, the immigrant, the victims of human trafficking … all who are vulnerable. 

“This is no more clearly illustrated than in our gospel passage from Matthew (Matthew 25: 31-46), often referred to as ‘The Last Judgment.’ Here,” Bishop Thompson continued, “Jesus makes no bones about the face that what we do or fail to do for the least of His brothers and sisters, we do or fail to do for Him.” 

“Those among us of consecrated life provide a special witness to this missionary spirit and outreach to those in need,” he added. “As noted by Pope Francis and others, this special witness is marked as much by being as by doing.” 

Bishop Thompson thanked diocesan vocations staff for their work in organizing the opening Mass and other events that will occur during the Year of Consecrated Life, and he offered gratitude to the men and women religious of the diocese. “Whatever this year will hold certainly will not do justice to the gratitude you deserve,” he said.

(For news from the Diocese of Evansville, log on to the website of The Message at

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Catholic Charities’ ECHO program provides education and support for teenage parents

SOUTH BEND — The Catholic Charities ECHO program in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has offered young parents the encouragement and resources to achieve their academic goals and provide a more secure future for their families since 1998. This program, entitled “Education Creates Hope and Opportunity” (ECHO), was a partnership first begun with Lutheran Social Services in East Allen County, which recently expanded to St. Joseph County in the fall of 2011.

The purpose of ECHO is to provide one-on-one assistance and support for students who face unplanned pregnancies and struggle with the challenges of parenting, specifically by helping them address the barriers they face in meeting their educational goals.

ECHO was created to serve as witness of the Gospel by demonstrating genuine care and compassion for these young, vulnerable members of the community. Teen parents and children need resources and support to overcome the obstacles they face. Those who do not graduate from high school are at high risk for struggling with poverty throughout their lives, which constrains their children’s future and weakens the community. Some of the issues they will face include insecure housing, transportation difficulties, fewer employment opportunities, lower incomes, reliance upon public assistance, food insecurity and poorer health.

In response to this need, ECHO provides individualized academic support, assistance in accessing community service and practice setting and achieving personal and academic goals. ECHO case managers encourage positive relationship building with school personnel and extended family members, as well as faithfully attending all medical appointments to ensure that both mother and child remain healthy.

Claire Coleman, ECHO director for St. Joseph County, explained the steps case managers take to begin leading the young parents in a positive direction. “We first focus on setting small short-term goals, which the young women see as within their ability to achieve. These goals include developing time management skills, making positive decisions and building self-confidence.”

She emphasized that these initial steps serve as a catalyst to larger successes, saying, “We notice as we work with them that once their confidence improves and they begin to hit some of their small goals, their attendance improves, their GPA improves and any behavior issues they previously demonstrated rapidly diminish.”

(For news from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, log on to the website of Today’s Catholic at

Diocese of Gary

In spirit of saints, Schererville-based Indian Carmelites minister to physically and spiritually sick

By Anthony D. Alonzo

Two recently canonized saints from India – a priest dedicated to service, who founded a religious order, and a holy nun with a strong devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – are sources of inspiration to religious sisters working in Northwest Indiana, a world away from their homeland.

On Nov. 23, the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis presided over a new, streamlined rite to declare six people saints. Of the newly canonized, the two Indian saints, St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara and St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal, were especially celebrated by five Sisters of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, who reside in the convent at St. Michael in Schererville.

Sister Linda George Moolechalil, CMC, who is the regional superior of the United States, and is charged with overseeing nine convents, said she wishes to help her fellow sisters “serve one soul at a time.” Because of her title, which she received in August 2013, the St. Michael convent is considered the order’s American mother house.

At only 45 years old, the religious superior said the congregation has put an emphasis on “involving the youth,” and recruiting youthful members. This is especially true in India, where many young women have joined the order. Sister Linda added that unlike in “the olden days,” now a nun who has just taken her final vows could be nominated for a leadership position.

“But I’m one of the older sisters here; I came to (the U.S.) 18 years ago,” said sister dressed in a black, white and brown habit.

During her years in America, all of which have been in Northwest Indiana, Sister Linda said she has come to make close spiritual connections with the people she serves in her nursing apostolate, working mainly at St. Margaret Health’s south campus in Dyer.

“When I was called to go to America, I didn’t want to go at all,” said Sister Linda, who learned to speak English, in addition to Hindi and her native dialect. “My dream was to study nursing and go and work in a slum area for the poor people in India.

She added: “I didn’t know too much about America… but then one of the sisters said, ‘they may be rich in material things, but they are probably poor in spiritual things. Think of it as working in a spiritual slum area.’”

Sister Alice Navya, CMC, also a native of India, is an assistant convent superior and also ministers in a medical care apostolate. Arriving in the U.S. in 2004, she was originally sponsored by Franciscan Sisters in Mishawaka. She joined the St. Michael convent in 2011.

“We get a lot of experience from the hospital with people – Catholic and non-Catholic,” said Sister Alice. “When they get sick, that is the time they want to share.”

Holiday season a ‘must’ for presenting light of Christ to others

By Steve Euvino

WHITING—Likening the four candles on the Advent wreath to stages of life, Father Gerald Schweitzer encouraged participants in a holiday reflection to view their faith as a “must,” not an option. 

“Look at Advent as what you ‘must’ do,” Father Schweitzer said. “What candle are you on? You must present the light of Christ to others.”

Judging from participants’ responses, many are already doing something. Some are ministers of Holy Comm, while others serve on faith enrichment or liturgical commissions. Some are involved in the ministry of prayer; others are active in interdenominational programs, music ministry, prayer groups, Bible study, or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Ruth Krol, from St. Columba in Hegewisch, Ill., went from being a social worker to a pastoral assistant. For her, it was not a big change. “I began to see work as my ministry, not just a job. This is who I am and what I should be doing for others,” Krol said. “It was easy to move from social work to the parish, because it was still ministry.”

“Am I a disciple of Christ or not? Am I proclaiming the Gospel with joy?” Father Schweitzer asked. “Where am I in relation to the Christmas season? The Lord is inviting me to live out the Incarnation.”

Leading an Advent reflection on Dec. 6 at Sacred Heart Parish, Father Schweitzer used the analogy of the Advent wreath, whose four candles could represent youth, adolescence, adulthood, and senior years. Each stage, the priest said, offers opportunities for celebrating Christ. While later years may pose physical limitations not experienced during an younger years, Father Schweitzer said seniors can continue to celebrate their faith.

Linda Kazragys, a recent retiree after 35 years of teaching at St. John the Baptist School in Whiting, remains active in parish life. “I selfishly serve with RCIA,” Kazragys said. “I get so much from the people I encounter. Each year is a new challenge, new opportunity, new enrichment.”

Kazragys said she enhances her personal spirituality “in sharing with the individuals we encounter in the program. Every year is a continuation of the journey, with new avenues.” 

Greg Buck, a fifth-grade teacher at St. John the Baptist who worked with and was mentored by Kazragys, assists with wife Denyse in RCIA at Our Lady of Grace in Highland. Going from the classroom setting to helping others in their faith lives is “amazing,” Buck said. “I can hear in their questions all I have learned and channeled through my experiences.”

(For news from the Diocese of Gary, log on to the website of the Northwest Indiana Catholic at

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

‘Hope has come to town’ as Women’s Care Center opens next to Planned Parenthood

By Natalie Hoefer

As a group of about 80 pro-life advocates gathered for the blessing of the new Women’s Care Center on Nov. 19, another blessing happened, one the Catholic pro-life organization hoped for in building next to a Planned Parenthood facility—a woman came to the wrong door.

“We were right in the middle of the service when she came in,” said Sarah Bardol, director of the new facility. “Lisa [a counselor] got her into one of the rooms to talk with her about what she was wanting, but her boyfriend realized they weren’t at Planned Parenthood and came in and got her.”

The staff of the new Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis, located just yards from the largest abortion provider in the state, hopes for many such “wrong-door” incidents as they seek to help women choose life for their unborn babies.

Founded in South Bend, Ind., in 1984, Women’s Care Center is a 100 percent donor-funded organization that builds facilities near abortion centers. At its 23 facilities spread among seven states, they offer free counseling and ultrasounds to women considering abortion, and support women during and after pregnancy.

The facility in Indianapolis is their newest. As of the open house on Nov. 19, there were already three counseling appointments scheduled for the center’s first official day of business on Nov. 20.

Lisa Lance, a counselor at the new center and a member of Trader’s Point Christian Church in Indianapolis, compared the facility with the Planned Parenthood building next door.

“You look over there, and it’s like they’re hiding,” she said. “They have these tall trees in the front so you can’t see the building, and they have an iron fence around the building.

“But then you look over here and we’re open, we’re inviting. The contrast is amazing.”

Bardol, who is a member at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis with her husband and five children, explained the reason for the difference.

“We function under a Mother Teresa model of loving unconditionally and serving without judging,” she said.

The home-like look and feel of the building extend beyond the interior.

“The counseling rooms are very nice, warm and inviting, non-threatening,” Bardol said, pointing to a room painted in soft colors with large, overstuffed couches and chairs. “The women meet with one of our counselors to gauge where the person is—pregnant, not pregnant, in a relationship—then we know what kind of literature to give them.”

Sharing the gift of Christmas: Handcrafted Nativity stables reflect stories of the faith for longtime Oldenburg resident

By John Shaughnessy

OLDENBURG—Ed Kirschner knows there’s one thing he can count on when people visit his small shop where he creates Nativity stables.

Before long, the visitors will start sharing stories about Christmases from their past, focusing on memories of the Nativity sets that their parents and grandparents displayed through the years.

And while Kirschner prefers listening to other people’s stories, the reality is that he has his own heartwarming memories to share. Like the memories from his childhood when he and his mother would make Nativity scenes from boxes and brown paper.

“It was time we spent together when I was little,” recalls the 75-year-old member of Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg. “My mother had a very strong faith. As far as she was concerned, setting up the Nativity was always a focal point of Christmas.”

His stories also include one of the first wooden Nativity stables he ever made—a Christmas gift for his wife Joyce that he gave her shortly after they were married and moved into their first home.

“We used it for about 10 years as the kids came along,” says the father of four grown children who has been married for 54 years. “It was kind of plain, and I replaced it with a new one. My wife didn’t like that I did that. It had all the memories and traditions attached to it. That’s the way it is for a lot of people. Those traditions and memories are important. She still mentions that one from time to time.”

Then there’s the Christmas story involving Nativity stables that just may be his favorite.

“When one of my grandsons, Alex, was 12, he came over to our house during the summer, and we worked on making them together,” says the grandfather of nine. “He made seven of them. That Christmas, he gave me the first one he ever made. We still put that one up for Christmas every year. He’s almost 21 now. That one will always be special. We had a real good time that summer putting them together. Eventually, we’ll give it back to him when he gets married.”

Kirschner shares those stories as he sits in The Creche Shop, in the heart of the village of Oldenburg in southeastern Indiana.

(For news from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, log on to the website of The Criterion at

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