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Last updated 02/17/2017 3:49 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

Bishop Urges Students To Put Their Faith In Action

By Tim Lilley (Message Editor)

During the Feb. 1 Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville, Bishop Charles C. Thompson urged students from the Diocese of Evansville’s 26 Catholic schools to put their faith in action.

“We are called to grow as members of the community,” the bishop said in his homily. “Our schools prepare people to be involved in our community.  We must put our faith in action. Those who accept Jesus and accept his teaching are his disciples. That is the core of what we celebrate in Catholic schools … to know Jesus and to know how to bring others to him by the witness of our lives.”

Bishop Thompson told the young people that he recognizes and appreciates all of their great academic and athletic achievements – and their Catholic identity.

“As Bishop, my goal when it comes to Catholic schools is to make sure that, in the midst of all the great things that you do, there is a strong Catholic identity,” he said. He asked students in attendance what they thought of when they heard the term Catholic identity. Responses included going to Mass, serving others and receiving the Sacraments.

“Who is the center of all that? Jesus Christ,” the bishop said. “How Christ-centered are we in our lives? I look for that answer on the playground and the sports field, in the gym and the cafeteria. Are we remaining Christ-centered even beyond the doors and walls of our schools? Are we being consistent in the ways of Christ and the ways of our faith?”

Bishop Thompson discussed the 2017 theme for Catholic Schools Week :”Catholic Schools, Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

It’s one thing to know about Jesus,” he told the students. “It’s another to have a relationship with him. That relationship translates into service.”

He also discussed the 2016-17 diocesan theme for Catholic schools – “Educate, inspire and proclaim.”

“Together, we proclaim our faith by our words and our deeds,” he said. “In today’s gospel (the reading for Feb. 1, which is Mark 6: 1-6), Jesus proclaims the word of God. The people kind of write him off. His own relatives had difficulty accepting Jesus because of the way they perceived he should be. They had difficulty accepting him as the Son of God because of who they thought he was.”

(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 leadership visits

The Leadership Team of the international congregation of Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ recently visited northern Indiana from Dernbach, Germany.  Their purpose was to come to know each sister better as well as experience the ministries in which PHJC sisters are engaged.

Elected by their sisters in nine countries, the general leadership team includes Sister Gonzalo Vakasseril, General Superior, India; Sister Annemarie Kampwerth, U.S.; Sister Shirley Bell, U.S.; and Sister Barbara Spiegelhoff, Germany.  The team began their 10-week visit in the United States at the end of November in Chicago, going to the order’s Motherhouse in Donaldson and then traveled to the various convents and ministry areas in four states.

Last week, the four sisters visited two of their ministries in Fort Wayne: The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and HealthVisions Fort Wayne. They also paid a visit to the graves of 82 Poor Handmaid Sisters buried at Catholic Cemetery on Lake Ave. They also toured The Carriage House, a grantee of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, whose work embodies many of their values.

Sister Shirley Bell, councilor, said one highlight of the visit was for the team to see how the sisters and their co-workers partner together in ministry convinced of the vision of their foundress, Blessed Catherine Kasper.  “Our core values of openness to the Spirit, dignity of the person, simplicity and community are easily seen in the sisters’ and co-workers’ enthusiasm and dedication.”

While the general leadership was here in the U.S., the American Poor Handmaids held their chapter meeting to discuss and make decisions for the future. A few of the areas of focus were spiritual life and community living, vocation and lay volunteer involvement, long-term sustainability of the environment and their ministries, and ongoing social justice and advocacy for the poor and vulnerable. The general leadership thought those concerns were important for the future of the PHJC community not only in the U.S. but throughout the nine countries — Germany, Netherlands, England, the U.S., India, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya and Nigeria — where they serve as an international congregation.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ first came from Germany to the U.S. in 1868, to the Hessen Castle area of Fort Wayne, at the request of Bishop Luers. Through the years they have served the poor locally in many ways, including by operating the St. Vincent Villa Orphanage, caring for the sick at St. Joseph Medical Center and teaching in Catholic Schools.

In 1998, St. Joseph Medical Center was sold.  The sisters continue to provide aid to the poor and underserved in the greater Fort Wayne area through the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and HealthVisions Fort Wayne.

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

Diocese of Gary

Local Catholic Charities official serves with national disaster team

By Marlene A. Zloza

HAMMOND— Extending “a national reach with a local presence,” the National Disaster Response Team from Catholic Charities USA deployed volunteers from across the country to aid flood victims after Hurricane Matthew cut a path of destruction through eastern North Carolina in early October.

Stephanie Miller, parish community outreach coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Gary, was among those answering the call. “I was actually at a disaster training session Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 in Maryland when the call came that they needed people in North Carolina, so I volunteered; one of my instructors did, too,” said Miller, who joined the national team just last summer after completing six days of case management training with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“Jennifer Dyer, the executive director at Catholic Charities (in the Diocese of Gary), has a lot of experience with disaster recovery, and she brought the Indianapolis training to my attention, thinking I might be interested,” explained Miller, a Gary resident and mother of 10-year-old Jaden, who was indeed interested in helping families affected by floods, fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

“I trained to be a case manager, same as my job here, but in a disaster area there are different guidelines and different needs, and I was also taught to train supervisory case managers,” Miller added.

In Maryland, Miller completed a variety of practical disaster response courses. “We learned how to muck houses, and about safety measures and the type of safety gear to use, like air masks.”

Once Miller’s two-week mission trip to North Carolina was approved by Dyer, she headed to the Diocese of Raleigh on Nov. 9 to work on a two-person team.

“Responding to a disaster in your own backyard is extraordinarily different than responding in another location,” Dyer said. “We have Catholic Charities agencies in 186 dioceses, and when we put out a call, trained staff from anywhere can volunteer.”

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

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Marian University to offer transfer assistance to Saint Joseph’s College students

Special to The Criterion

Marian University in Indianapolis is vowing to assist students at Saint Joseph’s College after the board of trustees at the northern Indiana school voted on Feb. 3 to suspend operations for the 2017-18 school year due to financial concerns.

In trying to help students at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Marian officials are offering what they call a “seamless transfer process,” including financial assistance that will guarantee that students will pay the same out-of-pocket tuition that they are now paying currently.

“The leadership at Saint Joseph’s College reached out and asked if we could prepare plans to assist their students with a smooth transition during this difficult period,” Marian University President Daniel Elsener said. “We consider Saint Joseph’s College a sister institution; we share the same mission. We want to help their students, staff and faculty in any way that we can.”

Elsener said that Marian University has established a section on its website——where current and accepted Saint Joseph’s College students can find information about transferring. Admissions representatives from Marian planned to be on campus in Rensselaer to meet with Saint Joseph’s students on Feb. 9.

“We want to make the transfer process for Saint Joseph’s College students as seamless as possible,” Elsener said. “The sooner we can meet with students, provide them with the information they need, and answer their questions, the smoother the process will be. Our goal is for the students to earn their degree in the same amount of time it would have taken them to finish at Saint Joe’s.”

Marian University says it will honor all transfer credits earned with a minimum grade of C-. It will also offer financial assistance guaranteeing that students pay the same out-of-pocket tuition costs that they are currently paying at Saint Joseph’s College. Marian officials stated there will be a few exceptions, notably student‑athletes and students receiving tuition remission.

“We encourage student-athletes who want to continue competing intercollegiately to contact the Marian University coach of their sport,” Elsener said. “St. Joe’s student-athletes are welcome to compete for open spots on the roster. Even if there isn’t an opportunity for them to compete at Marian, we will work to develop financial aid packages that fit each individual financial situation.”

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

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