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Last updated 03/23/2017 2:35 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

Statement From Bishop Charles C. Thompson Regarding The Incident At Temple Adath B'Nai Israel

By Mary Ann Hughes (Interim Message Editor)

Bishop Charles C. Thompson of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville has released the following statement concerning the recent shooting incident at Temple Adath B’nai Israel in Evansville:

“Evansville has, for generations, shined as a beacon of warm welcome and acceptance to people of many different faith traditions. We experience that legacy every spring when the city’s annual observance of the National Day of Prayer draws Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others to the Four Freedoms Monument for community prayer.

“We pray together for our country that day, and we work together every day to assure that our city, our state and our country continue to welcome and respect all, regardless of their religious beliefs or their nationalities. We aspire to be one nation with a beautifully diverse faith community that makes America strong and vibrant.

“It is in that spirit that I stand with leaders of other faith communities in the Tri-State in support of our Jewish brothers and sisters, who recently endured a senseless act at Temple Adath B’nai Evansville.

“I speak for the Catholic community across Southwest Indiana in condemning this hate crime and all acts like it – and in offering prayers for everyone involved. At his general audience on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis reminded the world that the path we are called to walk is challenging ‘because love is challenging, but it’s a path full of hope.’ May we all stand up in love and hope against every act of violence and hate, seeking to build up the human family.

“Our national anthem closes by calling America ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ Let us continue to work together bravely to assure that our hometowns and our nation be known always and everywhere for commitments to freedom of religion – and to freedom from prejudice and violence in the name of intimidation and persecution.”

(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

Priest’s Lenten advice: pull weeds, plant God in center

By Anthony D. Alonzo

MERRILLVILLE – God likes the world with you in it, and he wants to be present at the center of every person’s journey, Precious Blood Father Kevin Scalf told an audience at a Lenten gathering.

At a part of a four-week lenten journey mission sponsored by the Merrillville cluster of Catholic parishes hosted March 7 at Our Lady of Consolation, Father Scalf went further, saying Jesus Christ is present among, before and between us, working as an emollient, soothing over difficult interpersonal interactions that could be disastrous without him.

Father Scalf, special assistant to the president for mission and ministry at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond, shared the testimony of a student, who during his duties as a police officer, invites the Lord to be a part of potentially dangerous situations.

“This officer told me, ‘I’m not the most religious person, but I incorporate something of the Lord when I go out on a call – I ask him to come stand between us,’” Father Scalf said.

Father Scalf explained with this approach we acknowledge that “in the middle of all these things teeming about, there is something more.”

As with the Chicago police officer, Father Scalf said the Lord’s efficacy is contingent on the person welcoming the power of God through the Holy Spirit into their lives.

During his “No Idling in our Idoling” presentation, Father Scalf warned about idols – those things that “can block our access to God.”

Greek and Latin etymologies of “idol” describe the concept of a “phantom,” or “resemblance.” Father Scalf continued to explain the historical context of idols, citing perhaps the most famous idol of all, the golden calf described in Exodus 32. 

  “What is it in our lives that we really love, serve, or worship the most?” Father Scalf asked. “Those things we serve the most, if we are really honest about it, are worldly things.”

In his discussions with college students, the Precious Blood priest said the concept of a tangible idol, or false god, is an idea that is “quickly pushed aside” by many young adults. “We don’t do that anymore,” he said they tell him.

However, listing several categories of distractions and vices, Father Scalf said there are plenty of modern-day golden calves: career climbing, power pursuits, social media mania, lack of charity, promiscuity, substance abuse, and others.

To counter the negative influence of these would-be idols, Father Scalf said the cardinal rule is to place God in the center of our lives. Love for God and neighbor was prescribed by Jesus in response to questions raised by a member of the Pharisees. “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mt. 22:37-40)

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

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Thirst for answers: Ball State students headed to the Vatican as part of global water-awareness campaign

By Katie Breidenbach (Special to The Criterion)

MUNCIE, IND.—When four graduate students at Ball State University took on an awareness campaign, they hoped it would have a global reach. Then, a global institution reached back.

“I honestly couldn’t believe it. Not because I didn’t believe we had the ability to do a successful project,” said Aistė Manfredini, who is handling social media for the group. “I guess we just didn’t expect any major iconic hub to want to take on a campaign like this.”

That “major iconic hub” is the Vatican. The four students, all of whom are earning master’s degrees in Emerging Media Design and Development, along with their professor and another Ball State staff member, will assist with an international event to be held in Rome on March 22.

The conference, titled “Watershed: Replenishing Water Values for a Thirsty World,” will gather leading thinkers, speakers, scientists and policy makers from around the world to participate in water-oriented presentations and workshops. The Ball State team will be on the ground in the Eternal City, and help to distribute information across multiple media channels.

“If there isn’t the right communication campaign around [Watershed], then a lot of really great information maybe stays in the walls of the Vatican and doesn’t actually get disseminated to the rest of the world,” explained Dr. Jennifer Palilonis, the team’s advisor.

When the Ball State students began their water-awareness campaign, christened the Blue Roots Project, no one expected it would take them to the Vatican.

The project started as a collaboration to help Circle of Blue, a research and communications hub that focuses on water-related problems and advances. However, as the Ball State project gained momentum, Circle of Blue suggested that the students should be part of Rome’s Watershed conference.

After the Vatican learned of the students’ work, which included a website and global social media outreach, they asked the four to create the official website for the Watershed event and to assist with social media for the event itself. These unexpected tasks had to be completed in just weeks.

Co-hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and The Club of Rome to mark World Water Day, the Watershed event aims to address “the critical state of water today,” according to a press release written by the graduate students.

The organizers cite statistics from The World Bank that say 1.6 billion people live in areas with water scarcity, a number that they say will increase to 2.8 billion in the next decade. The United Nations also estimates that nearly 1,000 children die each day from water-related diseases.

More information about the project, including resources for teachers to use in the classroom, can be found at

Grass-roots leaders’ ‘call to action’ includes focus on immigration and race relations

By Natalie Hoefer

From Feb. 16-19, Oscar Castellanos, director of Intercultural Ministry in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and nine others representing the Church in central and southern Indiana and local grass-roots organizations participated in the Vatican co-sponsored regional World Meeting of Popular Movements (WMPM) in Modesto, Calif.

But it was no mere workshop, says Castellanos.

“This was no conference, no meeting—this was a call to action,” he says.

According to the WMPM website, the series of meetings called for by Pope Francis are intended to “create an ‘encounter’ between Church leadership and grass-roots organizations working to address the ‘economy of exclusion and inequality’ (“The Joy of the Gospel,” #53-54) by working for structural changes that promote social, economic and racial justice.”

The site goes on to explain that popular movements are “grass-roots organizations and social movements established around the world by people whose inalienable rights to decent work, decent housing, and fertile land and food are undermined, threatened or denied outright,” including in areas such as labor, poverty, creation care and more.

The U.S. regional meeting, held at Central Catholic High School in Modesto, focused on topics similar to two past meetings in Rome and one in Bolivia, with an added regional focus on the issues of immigration and race relations.

Deacon Michael Braun, director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Pastoral Ministries, says he attended the meeting because “social, economic and racial justice is our work as the Church.”

He says he was impressed by the Church leadership present, including Cardinal Peter Turkson, who serves at the Vatican as prefect for its Dicastery for Integral Human Development, and bishops leading each of the discussion panels.

“I gained a lot of insights,” particularly on race relations, says Deacon Braun. “Racism today is not so vocal or violent. It’s more subtle. We maintain white privilege, preventing African-Americans from having the same opportunities.”

Castellanos was moved by the faith sharing that occurred in small group sessions held throughout the four-day gathering.

“I wasn’t prepared to hear some of the stories,” he admits. “It was a very intense four days.”

His feelings were shared by the local delegation organizer, Providence Sister Tracey Horan, who works as a community organizer for Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN).

“It was so energizing,” she says. “I felt like everyone I spoke with was eager to build relationships. Strangers became friends quickly because there was a sense of common mission, common purpose.”

The small groups did more than share stories. At the end of the meeting, the work of the small groups resulted in a document to be delivered to the Vatican providing recommendations for Catholic responses to the issues raised.

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

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