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Last updated 05/21/2015 2:43 PM

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

Father Dusty Burns: 'My Barometer Is My Parish Life'

By Tim Lilley (The Message Editor)

At St. Philip Parish in Posey County and Corpus Christi Parish in Evansville, he is Pastor … Father Dusty Burns. 

On iTunes and elsewhere across the Internet, untold numbers worldwide know him as “Fr. Pontifex” – and he is about to release his third album of music and spoken word.

 “The Invincibles” drops May 19, when it will join 2011’s “Ordained” and 2013’s “The Symphony and the Static” in the Fr. Pontifex catalog. 

“My barometer is my parish life,” Father Burns said recently. “If (the music) is of God, it will fit in.” 

I didn’t use “rap” or “hip-hop” earlier to define what he records as Fr. Pontifex because doing so would “pigeonhole” his work, in my opinion. It appears that others agree. 

“There are services that will get your work in front of lots of people before the formal release and let them review it,” he explained. “This helps provide an idea of what to expect. In the case of ‘The Invincibles,’ we got comments that it was ‘hard to place’ in a given genre. I think that is really good.”

I agree. 

What if your introduction to “The Invincibles” or his two other albums would be to overhear someone calling it rap or hip-hop? Although a total misnomer in this case, what if you heard someone call it – or someone else’s album – really good “Catholic metal?” Would either get you interested in actually listening to Father Burns’ performances as Fr. Pontifex? 

Right; me neither. 

“I love poetry and have eclectic taste in music,” Father Burns said. “I like rap, yes; but also Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and bluegrass.” 

Father Burns writes poetry first and foremost. He then collaborates with others – most of the work happening via Internet file sharing – to set his words to music. That is one way our amazing web of worldwide connectedness helps him maintain a parish-life barometer. “The Internet is wonderful that way,” he said. 

“I go into the studio on my days off,” he explained, adding that he enjoys working with the staff at Moore Music in Evansville, where he records. “I’ll then collaborate with people literally across the world for music and production.”

2015 National Day Of Prayer: Gathering faith, song and community spirit

By Ruth Bandas (The Message Administrative And Editorial Assistant)

“Lord, Hear Our Cry” was the theme for the 2015 National Day of Prayer held on May 7 at the Four Freedoms Monument in Evansville. Over 100 gathered in faith, song, and community spirit.

Recently retired friends Barbara Ledford (Emmanual Lutheran Church), Karen Williams (St. Anthony of Padua Parish) and Linda Young (Christian Fellowship Church) attended for the first time. After the program, Williams said she was impressed by the number of clergy who participated, and how wonderful it was to experience the diversity. She plans to attend the National Day of Prayer again. “It should be that, when you leave a service like this,” she said, “you go out and practice your faith.”

Joy Scott attended with her daughter, Noelle McDowell, and her six grandchildren – all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “We are glad this is an annual event here in Evansville,” Scott said, “and although we pray all year, we are happy to join forces in prayer once a year.” Scott has lived in different parts of the country and prefers the Evansville National Day of Prayer to others she has attended.

Mater Dei High School Singers opened the service in song. After Bishop Charles C. Thompson welcomed everyone and thanked fellow ministers for coming together in prayer, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke expressed his gratitude for Evansville’s great-and-strong community of faith, which was beautifully demonstrated during the observance by an outpouring of prayers.

Bishop Thompson offered the prayer created for the National Day of Prayer by Franklin Graham, which included, “Pray that as a nation we would return to God. As we call on God, let us do so by genuine faith, believing that He hears our prayers. God can heal this great land, for which our forefathers fought and died. We need spiritual renewal, we need a revival in America, and we need each and everyone to pray. Lord, Hear Our Cry!”

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

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

WCC garners largest donation in nation on Give Local day

By Ann Carey

SOUTH BEND — A pregnancy help center in South Bend led the entire country in donations made to a single charity during the Give Local national giving day event on May 5.

The Women’s Care Center of St. Joseph County received $454,980, leading the 9,000 individual charities that participated in 180 communities across the United States, including big cities like Seattle, New Orleans and Charleston.

The generous donors helped put to rest the myth that pro-life people do not care about women with a crisis pregnancy or the babies that are already here, said Ann Manion, president of the board of the Women’s Care Center, which has four locations in St. Joseph County.

“Amazing” was the word Manion used to describe the outpouring of donations. Yet, she had often witnessed such generosity because the centers rely entirely on donations, and whenever lean times occurred that stressed the local centers’ $1 million annual budget, “Our donors always come through; it’s just miraculous,” she said.

“But I had no idea we would lead the nation! It’s really a testimony to the people who deeply value our mission and are willing to contribute greatly,” Manion related.

That mission was first established in 1984 by the founder of the first Women’s Care Center, Janet Smith, then a University of Notre Dame professor, and now the Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Manion said that Smith set the tone for creating an environment in which trained counselors assist women in an unconditionally loving, nonjudgmental manner.

“When women feel loved and supported, they can make good decisions, and more and more women choose life,” Manion said.

“Over 50 percent of our budget goes to help women who make the choice for life,” she continued, explaining that it can be a long process for some women to choose life because of various challenges and risk factors the women face. That is why highly skilled counselors are so vital to what the centers do, and the results are “unbelievable success stories,” said Manion.

Once the choice for life is made, the Women’s Care Center has a variety of programs to help the women have a healthy pregnancy, learn parenting skills and set appropriate life goals of their own choosing, whether they decide to keep their babies or place them for adoption. By participating in the programs, the moms can earn cribs, car seats, baby clothing, diapers and other required items for baby and mother care.

After the baby is born, the centers provide any ongoing support that is needed by the mothers and also offer parenting classes for the families.

USF kicks off downtown campus renovations, USF president named Sagamore of the Wabash

By Kay Cozad

FORT WAYNE — A renovation celebration marked the official start of the conversion of the former Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Fort Wayne into the new location of the University of Saint Francis Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership on May 6.

During the renovation kickoff celebration, Franciscan Sister M. Elise Kriss, president of the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, was named a Sagamore of the Wabash. USF Board of Trustees President Bill Neizer made the announcement for Gov. Mike Pence. The award recognized Sister Kriss for her outstanding service, strong institutional leadership and support of the community, region and state.

Sister Kriss proclaimed her deep gratitude for the award and admitted, “It’s not easy to surprise Sister Elise.”

She later added, “It’s a wonderful feeling. Surprise is a feeling I don’t often have. … I’m very honored.”

Sister Kriss, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and other community dignitaries and friends of USF gathered at the 826 Ewing St. location to witness the kickoff of the downtown campus project.

During the ceremony, Sister Kriss noted that the renovations were beginning in 2015, USF’s 125th anniversary year.

She said, “Two city treasures, the former Chamber building and the USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center, begin their transformation as unique spaces for higher education. These spaces will be filled with students beginning with fall 2016 classes.”

In addition to housing the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, the university’s signature project-based learning program, META, will also be located in the building and four floors of the West Annex of the USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center (former Scottish Rite) will be renovated as well, to house the School of Creative Arts Music Technology program.

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

Diocese of Gary

Cemetery rosary enables scout to live his faith, honor the living

By Steve Euvino

MERRILLVILLE—For 16-year-old Peter Wilson, his Eagle Scout service project enabled him to live his faith. Built in a cemetery, Wilson’s stepping-stone rosary also offers something for the living.

Wilson, a member of Boy Scout Troop 542 from St. Thomas More in Munster, needed a service project to fulfill his Eagle Scout requirements and at the same time do something for his parish, Ss. Peter and Paul.

So the scout contacted his pastor, Father Roy Beeching, who is also director of Gary Diocesan Cemeteries. Father Beeching referred Wilson, a home-schooled high school sophomore, to Mike Welsh, CCCE, chief operating officer of the three diocesan cemeteries.

Welsh, whose Knights of Columbus council installed a similar rosary outside St. Liborius Church in Steger, Ill., suggested that project to the teen. 

The project, completed on April 18, consisted of installing 65 brick pavers as stepping stones around the Queen of the Apostles Columbarium at Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery. Those numbers break down to 53 Hail Mary bricks, six for Our Father, and another six bricks symbolizing a cross.

“The thing I like the most about this project is it incorporates the two biggest parts of my life, being Catholic and scouting,” said Wilson. “I’m able to build a rosary for scouting, and it ties into our Catholic faith.”

The 12x12-inch Hail Mary bricks are all blank, while each side of the 16x16-inch Our Father brick squares features one of the Sorrowful, Glorious, Joyous, and Luminous Mysteries of the rosary.

Both the bricks and the engraving were donated anonymously. Once the pavers and anchoring sand were delivered, Wilson and 23 scouts, adults, and other volunteers spent that Saturday digging out squares, applying sand, placing the stone, and then ensuring each paver was level.

Bishop: Marriage creates ‘two souls entwined around Christ’

By Steve Euvino

GARY—Recalling his parents’ 50-plus-years of marriage, Bishop Donald J. Hying said the couple could sit in the living room and not say anything to each other.

“Their love was lived out so long, they experienced love in a far deeper way than in the beginning,” the bishop said in his homily at the annual wedding anniversary celebration May 9 at Holy Angels Cathedral. “They knew they were bound together in Christ.”

The bishop likened marital love to the unconditional love offered by Jesus’ example. “All Jesus did was for the good of the other,” the bishop said, comparing Jesus’ cross to a marriage bed, “giving up his life for his wife, the Church.”

Marriage, Bishop Hying said, is a “little bit like crucifixion” in that something dies and something lives. What dies, he said, is one self-directed person, but what lives are “two souls entwined around Christ.”

The 33rd annual wedding anniversary Mass sponsored by Catholic Charities drew nearly 120 couples whose marriages ranged from 25 to 70-plus years. Matthew and Leona Macocha, from Nativity of Our Savior, Portage, have the longest marriage at 73 years.  

“You gotta get along,” Leona Macocha said. Matthew said successful marriages require “lots of give-and-take, mostly give.” He added, “Absolutely we need God – that’s how we’ve been able to stay together.”

The couple has five children, 15 grandchildren, and is expecting their 23rd great-grandchild.

Kathy and Dan Lowery, from St. Thomas More, Munster, are marking 50 years together. The retired principal at St. Stanislaus School, East Chicago, Kathy Lowery said “keeping the lines of communication open” is essential to a lasting marriage.

“When God gives you a gift, you honor it,” said Bonita Gheaja of St. Bridget, Hobart, about Nick, her husband of 45 years. Nick added, “She’s my best friend.”

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

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Ecumenical relations nurtured at local level on Indianapolis’ west side

By Sean Gallagher

For years, a Catholic parish and three other Christian congregations have been located within an easy walking distance of each other on the west side of Indianapolis.

In recent months, they have come together in an ecumenical effort to provide opportunities for common prayer and to discuss racial problems at the local and national levels.

The congregations involved in the initiative are St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Seventh and Eighth United Christian Church and Wesley United Methodist Church, all located in the neighborhood along 30th Street and Kessler Boulevard on Indianapolis’ west side.

The relationships among the congregations started to deepen last summer when Father Michael Hoyt became St. Michael’s administrator. He soon met Rev. Reginald Lee, senior pastor of Wesley United Methodist, which is adjacent to St. Michael.

“It started at the level of friendship and discussions about current events,” said Father Hoyt.

The conversation soon included Rev. Jeff Castetter, the minister of Seventh and Eighth United Christian Church, and Rev. Gretchen Schneider, pastor of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.

Members of all four congregations located in a racially diverse neighborhood were welcomed into the conversation during an event on March 1 at St. Michael titled “Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos?,” a discussion about race relations inspired in part by racial unrest the previous year in Ferguson, Mo., and New York.

The title of the event was also the title of a book written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The conversation was led by Dr. Alan Boesak, professor of peace and justice at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and a native of South Africa.

“He brought a unique perspective to the conversation,” said Rev. Lee. “He was on the cutting edge, working with Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. He will continue to be a resource for us as we seek to have continued conversations about this.”

During Lent, members of the congregations came together four times for prayer services.

“It was a very important part of Lent for me,” said Marilyn Rausch, a member of St. Michael Parish. “It made me more aware of the faith of people around me. And it gave me hope for what we can do in the future.

“It makes us feel more unified with the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s not an ‘us versus them.’ We’re all here to be witnesses to each other.”

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

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