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Last updated 03/27/2015 10:12 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

The power of youth: Outreach efforts at St. Ferdinand Parish reap unexpected

By Mary Ann Hughes (Interim Message Editor)

More than 11 years ago St. Ferdinand Parish in Ferdinand joined Indianapolis’ St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in an effort to improve the quality of life for the residents of Belle-Rivière, a mountain village in Southern Haiti.

St. Ferdinand religious education students began collecting a variety of lightly used items like clothing, shoes, school and sewing supplies, sewing machines, typewriters and tools, which were packed in sea containers with collections from many other parishes and sent to Haiti where they were distributed to several local schools and members of the Belle-Rivière community. In subsequent years other supporters, primarily from the Indianapolis area, joined the effort to help Belle-Rivière – ultimately leading to the founding of a 501-C-3 charitable organization called Friends of Belle-Rivière, Inc.

During Lent in 2011, St. Ferdinand students and catechists launched a series of fundraisers specifically to benefit students at Belle-Rivière. Catechists prepared several different soups and sandwiches for Lenten suppers that were served to the parishioners, who made free-will offerings. Students from assigned grades helped serve the suppers and participated in the Stations of the Cross following each meal.  Parents of the students donated baked items for desserts. Together they raised nearly $2,500.  

Their contribution was combined with those from students at three other schools – and used to purchase 1,000 Nokero solar lights. The rechargeable lights were given to students at Belle-Rivière, enabling them to study at night – adding 2-3 productive hours to their days. 

Not surprisingly, the solar lights proved to be wildly popular in this community, which enjoys neither electricity nor running water. The student effort prompted FBR to launch a program to supply lights for sale to the entire community at a subsidized cost. The third order of lights arrived recently at Belle-Rivière with the sea-container shipment, making a total 3,500 lights sent. 

In 2013, St. Ferdinand demonstrated its commitment to the Belle-Rivière community once again when a sudden loss of support threatened the continuation of a cooking and sewing program for young women who are not able to continue their secondary-school training. The three-year program equips students with the skills they need to become homemakers, wives and mothers. In response, St. Ferdinand revived and refined another series of Lenten-supper fundraisers.

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

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Sankofa Day of Reflection looks back, looks forward

By Kathleen Kershner

SOUTH BEND — Inspired with the “audacity to look back at history and the prudence to look forward” to the future, the diocesan Black Catholic Advisory Board hosted “Sankofa — A Day of Reflection” at St. Augustine Parish in South Bend on March 14. A West African word meaning, “go back and fetch,” Sankofa led members of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to remember with pride and admiration the past achievements of African American Catholics in U.S. history while considering the sobering realities of current racial tensions both within the Catholic Church as well as in society at large.

Keynote speaker, Vince Guider, of Old St. Patrick Church in Chicago, commiserated with the multiracial audience of laity, religious, educators and community organizers as they paused to consider the chants of racist slurs on the lips of University of Oklahoma college students, the violence in Ferguson, the multiple shootings of young African American men by law enforcement officials these past few months — all ironically while marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. This is the type of “fearless and bold looking” that is called for by Sankofa.

The director of community development for the North Lawndale Kinship Initiative, Guider explained how his church in Chicago has implemented a collaborative partnership founded on “asset based community development.” For the last 30 years, their initiative has chosen to focus, not on what is missing, but rather, what are clearly gifts within the communities they seek to serve. “So we can enrich each other,” he explained. “This is not a charity model, but a justice model.”

He added, “We all deserve opportunity. This allows for reciprocity. Blessings flow from all directions and cross-pollinate. This is what Church must do for all its people.”

As Pope Francis has called all to an encounter with all, Guider finished his talk with the same emphasis of the New Evangelization. “We used to wonder, ‘How can we get people to come to church?’ Now we have to realize this is the time we need to find a way to have the church come to the people.”

Pueri Cantores Festival brings to liturgy a beatific sound

By Kay Cozad and Tess Steffen

NOTRE DAME — With beatific voices raised, students from across the diocese gathered at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame to perform at the fifth annual Pueri Cantores Indiana Regional Mass and Choral Festival on March 12. The 393 musically-gifted students in grades 4 through 12, from 30 diocesan Catholic schools, and several who are homeschooled, combined as one choir and represented just a small part of the thousands of youth singers from around the world in the American Federation of Pueri Cantores Festival.

Pueri Cantores is a century-old practice established in France in 1907, when a special boys choir was formed to sing during the liturgy.

The Indiana program, which was conducted by John Robinson, director of music at St. Paul’s Church and Choir School in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, began with a choral prelude showcasing the rich, traditional liturgical songs the choir had been rehearsing in both South Bend and Fort Wayne for the past several months. Robinson explained that personally the day was “very meaningful, and when you look at this huge crowd of young people singing so beautifully, it means that the future of Church music and worship through song is very bright indeed, and that is something we can all be very excited about.”

The students gathered early on Thursday and spent the entire day together in fellowship, song and prayer, noted Brian MacMichael, director of the diocesan Office of Worship.

The Pueri Cantores Indiana Regional Mass, which is the centerpiece of the festival, followed the choral prelude, beginning at 3 p.m. and was celebrated by Msgr. Michael Heintz, rector of St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. Holy Cross Father Peter Rocca, the rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, pastor of St. Monica Parish, Mishawaka, were concelebrants of the Mass. The exquisitely sung sacred music was woven throughout the Mass.

Family members who were able to attend the Pueri Cantores Mass festival were also gratified and deeply moved. Rebecca Fitzmaurice, a parent with the Catholic Homeschoolers of Michiana, shared that she “loves it, and thinks it’s awesome to take part in the Church’s traditional music. It’s like heaven to hear their singing. The homeschoolers are pleased to be included each year in this diocesan event.”

The students who participated were impressed as well. Harmony Karapantos, a seventh grader from Most Precious Blood School in Fort Wayne, said, “It’s the most beautiful sound, and I’m excited to be back again.”

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

Diocese of Gary

Rabbi on forgiveness: Keep ‘gates of repentance’ open

By Steve Euvino

VALPARAISO—In the Jewish tradition, forgiveness is fundamental – not just for the person being forgiven but also for the person who was wronged.

Addressing a Lenten series at St. Paul Parish, Rabbi Shoshana Feferman of Temple Israel in Valparaiso encouraged her audience to be open to forgiveness.

“If you wronged someone, ask for forgiveness. Don’t wait, or it will eat at you,” Rabbi Feferman said. “If someone asks you for forgiveness, be open and have a big heart. Try to forgive and take that burden off your conscience.”

Speaking March 12 on the power of forgiveness from a Jewish perspective, Rabbi Feferman said her religion believes those who transgress against God must seek forgiveness from God, but when one person hurts another, God can only grant forgiveness when the two parties reconcile.

“It’s not in God’s hands,” the rabbi said. “It’s in the hands of those we hurt.”

Further, she said, Jewish tradition states the one who forgives the sins of another is forgiven of her/his sins.

Forgiveness, Rabbi Feferman said, is “good for our well-being.” Anger and hatred, she said, fill hearts with with negative emotions, leaving no room for tolerance or happiness.

“When we cannot forgive others, we cannot be healed,” she said.

Forgiveness can be found in Scripture, Rabbi Feferman said, starting with Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, only to find his people worshipping a golden calf. Appearing in a cloud, God was angry at his people, but Moses sought (and received) forgiveness on their behalf.

“God is a forgiving God who seeks the repentance of his children.” the rabbi said. “The gates of repentance are always open.”

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

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Circle of Grace teaches children their safe boundaries

By Michaela Raffin

Kindergarten students in the Catholic school raise their arms over their heads, form a circle, and bring the circle down around their bodies. The children are being taught that this is their “Circle of Grace,” a personal space given to them by God that others may not violate without permission.

This activity is part of the Circle of Grace religious education program that is being implemented in schools and parishes throughout the archdiocese. The program is designed to educate children and youths about the value of positive relationships, and protecting themselves from negative ones.

“The program empowers children to understand their sacredness, and gives them the skills and language to protect themselves in situations that might be risky,” said Providence Sister Cathy Campbell, coordinator of the Circle of Grace program for the archdiocese.

“Children have to be able to recognize who they are in the eyes of God, and then to be able to protect themselves by knowing what are safe boundaries and unsafe boundaries.”

Circle of Grace is a direct response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The curriculum combines safety tips and relationship building with the teachings of the Catholic faith. It is meant to be taught in conjunction with parish schools and religious education curricula.

Circle of Grace has become an integral part of the Tell City Deanery’s religious education program. Benedictine Sister Mary Emma Jochum is the director of faith formation at St. Paul Parish in Tell City. She has been helping her catechism teachers familiarize themselves with the lessons.

“Walking through the lessons with each grade-level catechist helped them understand that there is a lot that the kids need to know and understand when it comes to safe and unsafe secrets, safe and unsafe adults,” Sister Mary Emma said. “The kids now realize that there are adults you can go to, and adults that are not safe to go to.”

Each Circle of Grace lesson is designed to build upon the previous one. Wherever children encounter the program, they learn some key concept about the Circle of Grace.

“On the sixth-grade level, we teach the girls about really appreciating their individuality, and we teach them about appreciating who they are and loving that about themselves,” said Cindy Ehrlich, a sixth-grade catechism teacher at St. Paul Parish. “We try to show them that their differences are a good thing, and that’s who God intended them to be. You can just see from the beginning to the end how much they like that.”

Lessons cover a variety of topics, such as positive self-image, Internet and social media safety, and relationship building with trusted adults. Each lesson is tailored to the appropriate age group. The program has received positive feedback from children, parents and teachers.

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

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