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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

Sixth Tri-State IDOL Full Of Memorable Moments

By Tim Lilley

Memorable moments filled The Crescent Room at Milestones, on Evansville’s east side, on April 22 during the Sixth MEO Tri-State IDOL Gala.

  • Five individual finalists and one trio offered passionate, stirring performances.
  • An IDOL alumna showcased a blossoming musical career.
  • The crowd created what auctioneer Jason Blue called “the quickest ‘fund-an-item’ ever.”
  • One family shared its moving story of how Marian Educational Outreach has opened a new world of opportunities for one youngster.

“I had someone tell me they loved what we were doing with IDOL,” MEO Executive Director Bev Williamson told the crowd just before the finalists performed. “But they said they were concerned that we would not be able to attract strong talent from year to year. They were wrong. This group of finalists in amazing.”

What followed were a half-dozen truly remarkable performances; more about them – and the importance of the IDOL competition to young musicians – later.

On the surface, it would be easy to see the gala as nothing more than a showcase for aspiring Tri-State musicians – with a silent auction and a few live-auction items included – that raises funds for MEO.

Jenna and Paige Talbert painted a far different and more-important picture during their brief presentation, which included a video on their journey as a family.

“Paige’s story is a testament to one of the finest ministries in our diocese,” Jenna told the crowd. The youngster encountered difficulties when she started school, and a deeper look into their source led to a diagnosis of autism.

Paige was attending her parish school – Holy Rosary – and Pastor Father Bernie Etienne introduced the family to MEO and suggested the special-needs program at Annunciation Parish’s Holy Spirit campus. “Just today,” Jenna said, fighting back tears, “she stood up in front of her class and read her DARE report. She has a whole world of opportunities now. She has the classes and support she needs, and she is continuing her Catholic education.”

The Talbert family truly represents MEO’s mission: “Marian Educational Outreach is a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville committed to providing opportunities for students with unique learning needs to reach their highest potential while remaining in the Catholic school system.”

MEO developed Tri-State IDOL as a fun way to raise funds; and in a way, it has become another avenue of opportunity – for the young performers who step up to the microphone.

CAJE Gets Action On Housing, Mental Health Issues

By Tim Lilley

Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment got action from local leaders on two significant issues during the 2016 CAJE Nehemiah Action, which was held April 25 at Old National Events Plaza in downtown Evansville.

Attendees heard that one in four Evansville families cannot find safe and affordable housing. CAJE’s proposed solution involves city leaders agreeing to use the land bank available to obtain blighted properties, and the affordable housing trust fund to begin changing the paradigm of the city’s housing landscape.

Kelly Coures, director of Evansville’s Department of Metropolitan Development, agreed to approach the City Council with the authorization of Mayor Lloyd Winnecke to request and advocate for the council to annually dedicate 2-5 percent of the Tropicana Riverboat Funds to the affordable housing trust fund.

CAJE also has been working toward a crisis care center to mitigate challenges related to those with mental health issues whose only treatment options involve emergency room visits or, in some cases, incarceration.

Mayor Winnecke and Wyeth Hatfield of ECHO Community Health agreed to co-chair a commission to develop a crisis care center in Evansville.

The pair elicited cheers from the large audience when they announced that the commission already is in place and had met for the first time on April 12, with another meeting scheduled for May.

For the past few years, CAJE also has sought placement of the opiate antidote Narcan with local first responders for use in the life-saving treatment of drug overdoses. Attendees learned that, as a result of positive response from local law enforcement, seven lives have been saved in Warrick and Vanderburgh counties since 2014 by first responders’ administration of Narcan.

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

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Seniors among steadfast group of Vincentians

By Jodi Magallanes

SOUTH BEND — The vocation of the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is to follow Christ through service to those in need.  Members, called Vincentians, show their commitment through person-to-person contact with the poor, striving to seek out and find those in need and forgotten, the victims of exclusion or adversity. As such the “Home Visit” is the cornerstone of the work of the Society in the Diocese.

When Vincentians make Home Visits, they bring food and personal items to meet the immediate needs of the person struggling with poverty, but also the hope that they are not alone in their struggles.  Vincentians make home visits in groups of at least two and offer to pray with and for each and every person they visit.

In 2015, Vincentians from the 21 parish Vincentian Conferences in St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties made 5,491 unique home visits, visiting 18,512 people in their homes. Home Visits are made 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

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

Diocese of Gary

Artist helps bereaved heal with commemorative portraits

By Anthony D. Alonzo

Some paintings are valued for capturing a picturesque scene or a historic moment. While photography is the most popular way to capture a person’s image, painted portraits are prized for the artistry that adds unique hues to an impression of a loved one.

Crown Point resident Anne Jones has painted thousands of portraits since the time she was recognized for her artistic talent in junior high school. What had been a business for many years transformed into a mission after a particularly difficult year in which she lost three family members in a short period.

On a recent spring day in her home, Jones was setting up her pastel chalks – her main medium for portrait art – when she got a call from Munster resident Mary Yates. Friends since she painted a portrait of Yates’ late son, Ryan Andrew Yates, she told Jones that the portrait means the world to her.

“My husband and I think our portrait is priceless,” Yates said. “If our house was burning down, there’s only one thing we would grab and it would be the painting.”

Yates lost her “beautiful boy” on November 30, 2013. The 19-year-old died suddenly among friends. He had been born with a heart defect, but, after surgery as a toddler, he had lived an active life.

The grieving mother said she has gained some measure of peace through prayer, and also reflecting on her son’s life and his legacy of being a peacemaker. Yates said she has since become an advocate for Jones’ Face to Face Fine Art non-profit studio.

The inspiration behind Jones’ charitable artistry was the death of her sister, mother and husband all within a two-month time frame.

Jones considers the sorrowful chapter in her life to be “a crash course in grief and loss,” and the events led to a welling up of empathy for those also experiencing grief.

She had become a master artist, able to accurately capture the essence of a person’s face and complete a pastel chalk work in free-hand fashion within a few hours. In a business that was based out of local kiosks, Jones had marketed her services to those looking for her artistic impression of  a family member or other loved one.

Since gaining 501(c)(3) non-profit status for Face to Face, Jones has painted more than 70 commemorative portraits. She said the organization’s mission is to “assist individuals who have suffered a significant loss due to sudden, unexpected or tragic death.”  

“I pray over the portraits, so that they may be a source of joy and healing and peace. I pray for the survivors too,”  Jones said.

Portraits are painted for the bereaved after a nomination is reviewed by the Face to Face board of directors. Families and friends of the deceased are never charged for the service. The $600 per portrait costs are defrayed by mostly private donations.

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

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Greenfield parish supports ecumenical effort to help women with addictions

By Sean Gallagher

GREENFIELD—Pope Francis recently called on dioceses throughout the world to establish a charitable program during the Holy Year of Mercy that would be a long-lasting legacy of this jubilee year focused on the compassion of God.

He made this call during a vigil prayer service in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on April 2, the night before Divine Mercy Sunday, and suggested hospitals, homes for the elderly or homes for the recovery of addicts.

Father Aaron Jenkins, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield, was encouraged by the Holy Father’s last suggestion because his Indianapolis East Deanery faith community has been working with other Christian congregations in Hancock County to establish a home for women 18 and older who are recovering from addictions.

Friends of Recovery, an ecumenical organization in Hancock County, hopes to open Talitha Koum Recovery House in Greenfield later this year.

The name for the house comes from the Aramaic words of Jesus that he spoke to a girl that he raised from the dead (Mk 5:41). The words mean, “Little girl, arise.”

“We’re trying to give people a chance to get out of the environments that don’t help them break free from addictions,” said Father Jenkins. “Unfortunately, we don’t have many of those in this county at the moment.”

Linda Ostewig, a member of Brandywine Community Church in Greenfield and a leader in Friends of Recovery, knows firsthand the challenges and the importance of helping people in recovery. Her daughter struggled with addiction for 11 years.

“I would look for help for her and could never really find many places that helped with providing a safe place to learn how to live sober,” she said. “Once you detox and or come out of rehabilitation or jail, you still need somewhere to go that will help you learn how to live life. Otherwise, you go back to the same thing, and relapse happens.”

Ostewig also noted that there are much fewer recovery houses for women in Indiana, and that women in the state struggling with addiction coming out of rehabilitation or jail often have a three-month waiting period before they can be placed in a recovery house. That lag can often lead them back to the habits and relationships that put them into addiction in the first place.

Talitha Koum, Ostewig said, will house women who have been detoxed and are either being released from jail, a work release or rehabilitation program.

Program honors youth mentors who say ‘yes to God’

By Natalie Hoefer

For 21 years, “A Promise to Keep” has helped more than 10,000 archdiocesan teenagers not just keep their promises to live chaste lives, but also to mentor more than 100,000 junior high students to do the same.

A Promise to Keep (APTK) is a ministry of the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools and is co-sponsored by St. Vincent Health. It teaches high school youths to mentor junior high students in chastity and moral living.

Margaret Hendricks and Sylvia Brunette have led the program from the start. Despite more than two decades of dedication, they point to the high school mentors as the real heroes.

Each year, those heroes are invited to a luncheon in their honor. This year, about 150 of the 365 mentors attended the event at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis on April 14.

The event featured talks by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin and two young married couples, of which three of the individuals are former APTK mentors.

At the conclusion of the lunch, five current mentors shared their stories and thoughts about the APTK program. Below are excerpts from their talks.

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

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