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Last updated 10/17/2014 10:32 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

Benedictine Sisters In Ferdinand Have A New Prioress

By Mary Ann Hughes (Interim Message Editor)

During the homily of the Diocese of Evansville’s 2014 Golden Jubilee Celebration Mass, Evansville Bishop Charles C. Thompson told a parable of sorts – the story of an old, very worn violin that went up for auction.

“Someone finally said they’d give a quarter for it,” he said. “Someone else bid 50 cents, and another person bid a dollar. The auctioneer was about to lower the hammer and sell it when a man spoke up, asking to hold the violin for just a moment before it sold.”

The bishop went on to explain that, although highly unusual, the auctioneer agreed, and the man took the violin in hand. He wiped it off, tuned it, and played the most beautiful music anyone at the auction had ever heard. In just a moment, bidding on the instrument skyrocketed into the thousands.

“What just happened?” one bidder asked another. “That violin barely got to a dollar; and now, the bidding is up to several thousand dollars.” “It was just an old, worn instrument when the bidding started,” the second bidder replied. “But once it was in the master’s hands, it became invaluable.”

“The theme of Respect Life Sunday this year is, ‘Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation,’” Bishop Thompson noted. “Each of you is created in the image of the Master.”

Noting that, thousands of miles to the east in Rome, the Extraordinary Synod on the Family had begun just a few hours earlier at the Vatican, Bishop Thompson mentioned the call Pope Francis had made to those participating. “The Holy Father said there can be no room for arrogance … only humility and courage,” he said. “You know that; you understand that – or you wouldn’t be here today.”

The bishop also discussed the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus tells the parable of the vineyard leased by an owner, whose representatives are rebuked when they attempt to collect what is owed from the harvest. The tenants kill the owner’s son because they want to keep the vineyard for themselves, and they see everyone – including the owner’s flesh and blood – as threats.

“When we fail to recognize each other as brother and sister,” he said, “we are going to feel threatened by others. When we see others as threats, we lose our sense of family. Certainly, you can’t do that in marriage; you wouldn’t be here today if you did that.” 

Couples came from all across the diocese for the celebration, which was sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville. Couples attending received a commemorative book that recognized those celebrating 50 years or more of marriage. Those listings filled 26 of the book’s 32 inside pages, and included couples married from 50 years to 74 years.

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

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ coming home to Fort Wayne

By Meg Distler

FORT WAYNE — The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Sisters are organizing several events called “PHJCs Coming Home” in several cities over the next few years with the purpose of reconnecting with the people in those areas in which Poor Handmaids have ministered. “PHJCs Coming Home to Fort Wayne-Hessen Cassel,” the second of the PHJCs Coming Home weekends, will be held on Oct. 24-26 in Fort Wayne, with several scheduled events. (See below for listing)

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have served the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend since 1868 with a rich heritage in education, childcare, healthcare and other ministries. They continue to minister in the diocese through their two ministries — St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and HealthVisions Fort Wayne.

For over 140 years, the Poor Handmaids have operated or ministered at St. Joseph Medical Center in Fort Wayne. In 1998, they sold the hospital and put a portion of the sale’s proceeds and local real estate holdings into their reorganized St. Joseph Community Health Foundation to maintain a ministry focused on continuing the PHJC legacy of helping those in need access healthcare and attain wellness. This strategy has enabled the foundation ministry to provide over $15.2 million through 999 grants to 182 Allen County community partners.

At that same time, they also used a portion of sale proceeds to establish HealthVisions Midwest, a community-based health improvement ministry with a location in Fort Wayne. The core principle of HealthVisions Fort Wayne is to build strong neighborhoods, through community partnerships using existing resources.

The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation has partnered actively with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend since 2000 to insure services have been available for pregnant teens, refugees and immigrants as well as those without adequate health insurance to enable them to access care and/or improve their health and wellness. The partners have worked together as advocates for the refugees and immigrants at numerous local and statewide forums.

Program supports healing of divorced Catholics

By Tim Johnson

Divorced Catholics of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend are finding hope in their journey through the Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide program. Sessions began in September and are offered in Fort Wayne at St. Vincent de Paul Parish and in the South Bend area at the St. John Paul II Center in Mishawaka.

Lisa Everett, a coordinator of the South Bend program, and the co-director of the Office of Family Life, said when she reviewed the Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide four years ago, “I was so impressed with how comprehensive and how Catholic it was, and knew that this would be a wonderful resource to offer through our office.”

The Office of Family Life said the St. Vincent de Paul Parish program schedules the sessions twice a month and will offer the program from September through March.

Although the sessions have already begun in both Mishawaka and Fort Wayne, “people are welcome to join either program anytime,” Everett said.

Julia Thill, a coordinator of the Fort Wayne program, has already seen positives in the participants in just a few sessions.

“The program offers an opportunity for those experiencing separation or divorce a relaxing place to receive comfort in their time of change,” she noted. “Feedback is that the topics are relevant and are based on Catholic teachings.”

“The most common misconception is that the divorced feel alone, and the Church doesn’t care,” Thill said. “The mercy and support of the Church, through pastoral support and the sacramental life is always there for those struggling, and they are not alone.”

Participant Cara also said she felt as if she were walking around with a scarlet letter after her divorce. She felt “judged by everyone for failing to live up to our Church’s teachings about marriage. I was unsure if I was able to take Communion.” She worried if she sought an annulment, her children from her 19-year marriage would become “void” or labeled “illegitimate.”

“The sessions from the support group along with — believe it or not — the divorce has made me the strongest Catholic I have ever been,” Cara said. “Each session taught me about so many misconceptions or things I did not even know about our faith at all.”

Doctors’ obstetrics, gynecology practices respect human dignity

By Allison Ciraulo

For Dr. David Parker and Dr. Christopher Stroud, the practice of obstetrics and gynecology is a matter of respecting human dignity. As Catholics, this means that they use scientifically and morally sound methods to treat gynecological maladies and do not prescribe contraceptives, place IUDs, perform tubal ligations, or refer for in vitro fertilization or abortion.

Both OB/GYNs specialize in NaProTECHNOLOGY (natural procreative technology, or NPT), a women’s health science that is used to treat infertility, recurrent miscarriage, abnormal bleeding, premenstrual syndrome, recurrent ovarian cysts and pelvic pain.

The foundation of NPT is the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, a method of charting fertility symptoms that assists couples in either avoiding or achieving pregnancy. The pattern of these symptoms can also serve to indicate abnormalities in a woman’s health.

In contrast to mainstream fertility treatments, NPT “attempts to respect the sexual and reproductive integrity of the person by looking for the underlying causes of disease and restoring the normal physiologic function of a woman’s menstrual and fertility cycle,” Parker says.

Medical applications of NPT are often sufficient to bring about this goal, but in some cases surgical intervention is necessary. Parker and Stroud are also trained in a minimally invasive, robot-assisted surgery protocol that aims primarily to reconstruct the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

According to research conducted at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, where NPT was developed by Catholic physician Thomas Hilgers, NPT methods have a higher overall success rate in helping women to achieve pregnancy than mainstream methods such as intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization.

The Church teaches the latter methods violate the unitive and procreative purposes intrinsic to Christian marriage by removing the conception of a child from its natural place within the conjugal act.

Parker, who began practicing with Saint Joseph OB/GYN Specialists and Midwifery in Mishawaka in the fall of 2013, believes that in addition to the moral and scientific advantages, NPT also enhances the communication between the physician and patient.

“Because the woman becomes very educated on the unique aspects of her cycle, medical consultations become collaborative and insightful,” he says. “We offer NaProTECHNOLOGY because every woman, whether she is struggling with a gynecologic issue or just interested in her reproductive health, can benefit from using this system.”

While Parker’s and Stroud’s practices are not unique, the physicians are certainly exceptional among their peers.

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

Diocese of Gary

Celebrate Calm workshop: Parents must control themselves; allow their children space

By Steve Euvino

ST. JOHN—If parents want control over their children, they must first control themselves. Behavioral consultant Kirk Martin and son Casey shared that message with parents at St. John the Evangelist Sept. 16-17.

The founder of Celebrate Calm, an educational organization serving schools and families, Martin targeted such parent-child issues as defiance, disrespect, tantrums, and anxiety.

The bottom line for parents, Kirk Martin said, is self-control. Addressing parents who have their share of issues, Martin said, “The best way to control your child’s behavior is to control your own.”

When parents lose control, as in their temper, they are no longer in control, Martin said; the child is.

Casey Martin said his father could not control himself early in their relationship. As a result, the boy turned to his teenage peers. Eventually his father changed his approach, acknowledging his vulnerability and his imperfections. He began to ask his son questions when he needed help, and the boy reciprocated.

“We asked each other, how can we deal with an issue so that it doesn’t escalate,” Casey said. “That approach led us to help each other work things out, rather than fight.”

The problem, Kirk Martin said, is not necessarily bad parents, who are only using techniques they learned or inherited. When parents break these inherited patterns, he said, they “have the opportunity to create a new family.”

Strong-willed children need to learn by doing and failing, Martin said, which is difficult for parents who do not want their children to experience failure. Yet, the consultant said, parents need to step back, to allow their children “space to step up,” to give their children a sense of ownership. This ownership, Martin said, can lead to success and children taking pride in themselves.

As Martin observed, “The calmer I stay, the more changes [in the child] I see.”

Understanding, respect, acceptance – lessons to be gained from Holocaust classes

By Steve Euvino

MUNSTER—Is it, as some students say, “stupid” or “ancient history” to teach something that happened 70 years ago?

When it comes to the Holocaust, the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana does not consider the systematic murder of millions of Jews, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals a trivial matter. On Sept. 23 the federation hosted a seminar for teachers, providing educators with resources on the subject.

Richard Sussman, a federation volunteer and chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council, called teachers’ efforts in the classroom “our best protection against other genocides.”

The council worked successfully with the Indiana General Assembly in 2007 for Indiana House Resolution 1059, mandating the teaching of the Holocaust in Hoosier schools.

A second-generation Holocaust survivor whose father escaped Austria, Sussman said the Holocaust, for survivors, is “not just a passion, but a responsibility we feel for all cultures.”

Michael Steinberg, executive director of the federation serving the Jewish community in Lake and Porter counties, said teaching the Holocaust “sensitizes students about this horrific tragedy” and “helps provide the foundation to educate our children around three central words: understanding, respect, and acceptance.”

Kelley Szany and Amanda Friedman, both from the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie, based the workshop on Echoes and Reflections, a curriculum for teaching the Holocaust. They addressed the definition of Holocaust, antisemitism, the “final solution,” and the roles of perpetrators, collaborators, and bystanders.

With an audience of middle school and high school teachers, Szany encouraged educators to “move beyond numbers and images of graphic bodies … give meaning and humanity to the victims and survivors.”

Besides Jews, Friedman said, the Nazis targeted 32 other groups for extermination. Genocide remains a relevant topic today, Friedman said, as teachers can tie the Holocaust from 70 years ago to Rwanda 20 years ago and Darfur just a decade ago.

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

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Hispanic Connection of Southern Indiana moves to new home

By Leslie Lynch (Special to The Criterion)

JEFFERSONVILLE—On Sept. 4, the Hispanic Connection of Southern Indiana started a new chapter of its mission in Jeffersonville with the blessing of its new facility.

The organization began its first day at its new home with a blessing of the premises and staff by Franciscan Father Thomas Merrill, pastor of St. Mary Parish in New Albany.

Hispanic Connection—a non-profit organization designed to help integrate Spanish-speaking immigrants into the local community through workshops, classes and personal assistance—moved from their longtime office at St. Mary Parish for several reasons.

Hispanic Connection was originally housed in the same St. Mary’s building as the New Albany Deanery’s Hispanic Ministry due to the interconnected social and pastoral needs of the Hispanic community.

But time has led to a natural progression toward the divergence of pastoral services overseen by the Hispanic Ministry and the social services provided by the Hispanic Connection.

Additionally, the St. Mary’s building is in need of renovation, and the ability to pay the salaries of the Hispanic Connection’s employees was beyond the financial limits of the parish.

Hispanic Connection has roots that stretch back to 1999, when Hispanic ministry first developed in New Albany.

Father Thomas is the first priest assigned to shepherd both the English and Spanish-speaking congregations who worship at St. Mary.

The Hispanic population is now served by three parishes—St. Mary in New Albany, St. Michael in Charlestown and through a bilingual Mass at St. Joseph in Corydon.

The Hispanic community at St. Mary Parish has grown to more than 100 families with roots throughout Central and South America.

The faithful support a thriving faith formation program serving children through adults. Sacramental preparation is led by members of the community. The Hispanic choir, complete with bass and acoustic guitars, drums and a cadre of dedicated singers are in demand for area weddings, Spanish-speaking retreats and other liturgical celebrations.

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

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