August 11, 2023 | By Marlene A. Zloza, Northwest Indiana Catholic
Sojourner Truth House gives hope to the less fortunate
Grace Opinker | The Times of Northwest Indiana
Last November, a young man wearing a sweatshirt and sandals walked up to the clothing bins outside the Sojourner Truth House in Gary.
The man grabbed a coat that came halfway up his arms. Although he was very grateful to have the ill-fitting coat, volunteer Dennis Kenning knew they could find him something better in the pile of donated winter jackets.
Dennis and his wife, Sharon Kenning, asked what else they could help with. The man, who wore a size 13, needed an appropriate pair of shoes for the freezing temperatures. By coincidence, Dennis looked down and noticed a gently used pair of Nikes in a size 13, something STH rarely receives.
“It gave us chills,” Sharon said. “It got down to 19 degrees that night. If this young man was sleeping on the streets that winter coat and those shoes could have made a huge difference for him.”
STH, a nonprofit organization, primarily serves as a food pantry to Gary residents. It also provides women and children living in local shelters with a day center program to attend throughout the week.
STH opened its doors in 1997 at 410 W. 13th Ave., after Sister Joan Fisher saw a need for an organization like this in Gary.
At the food pantry, clients are eligible to receive a food basket containing grains, protein, dairy, and fruits or vegetables once every 30 days. Food baskets are designed to last clients for a few days. They are also eligible to receive personal hygiene items once every 90 days.
The food pantry is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m. STH receives food from the government, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and donations.
“We recognize the strong need for help here in Gary. We see the disparity,” said Sharon, a Valparaiso resident. “We’ve had people turn down milk because they don’t have a refrigerator to put it in.”
STH’s food pantry can serve 270 clients per week, though nutritious foods aren’t always available. Recently, STH started the “Five loaves and two fish initiative,” which asks for churches, organizations or businesses to commit to participate in one food drive a year to help support the food pantry.
STH is also looking for volunteers to assist with its garden, the food pantry, and clothing closest that’s available to women and children.
“As the need in the community grows, we need more assistance to make it easier,” Volunteer Coordinator Airiel Crenshaw said. “The more the merrier.”
Women who attend the day center program have the opportunity to attend classes designed to identify the root causes of financial and emotional instability, and how to overcome those barriers. On-site case management services assist women with finding employment and housing, Executive Director Angela Paul said.
The center serves nearly 20 women and their children each day. Women who’ve walked through STH’s doors have lived in hotels, on the streets and inside rented storage units, said Pam Key, director of client services.
“We’re desperately in need of affordable housing in Gary,” she said. “Some of the reasons women are becoming homeless is because they can’t afford the housing. There’s a need for awareness to our problem of homelessness in Lake County and the state.”
The day center is available to residents across Northwest Indiana and beyond. Women who attend the program receive breakfast and lunch, and have the option to pick out gently used or new clothes from the clothing closet if necessary.
STH accepts donations of gently used clothing items, accessories and small appliances. Crenshaw said STH also tries to provide women with a variety of home furnishings and cleaning supplies once they move out on their own.
“It’s a very worthwhile mission to help these women get back their independence, and back on their feet,” Sharon said. “We have a passion for it because we see the need.”
History and evolution of Eucharist offers deeper understanding
By Marlene A. Zloza, Northwest Indiana Catholic
VALPARAISO – Challenging his audience to “live as missionary disciples,” facilitator Joe De Frier used actual loaves of bread to draw faithful Catholics closer to the Holy Eucharist during a three-part adult faith formation series hosted by St. Paul parish on May 8, 15 and 22.
“I want to open peoples’ hearts and minds up to conversion,” he said in introducing the series that focused on a deeper understanding of Christ’s Body and Blood by focusing on a complete history of the sacrament.
“We are looking at the Mass in a different way by looking at its Jewish roots, then putting the parts of the Mass together as they have changed,” noted De Frier, coordinator of adult faith formation at St. Paul. His sessions touched on the Introductory Rites, the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Utilizing a series of videos, “A Biblical Explanation of the Mass,” presented by Dr. Brant Pitre, a research professor of scripture at Augustine Institute, a private Catholic graduate theology school offering master’s degree programs inspired by Pope John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization, De Frier explained today’s procession to the altar that opens Mass to Moses entering the tent (tabernacle), at which time the people “would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door.”
In the three sessions, De Frier went on to explain the origins of the Kyrie Eleison, the Gloria, the Responsorial Psalm – likened to that sung daily by the Levites in the Temple – and the Gospel reading, which was derived from the Israelites standing when the Torah (Old Testament) was read.
“Catholics read more of scripture (at Mass) than other religions do in a year of worship – our daily readings at Mass offer much of the Bible,” said De Frier.
He termed the Liturgy of the Eucharist “very complex, like a tapestry of Biblical quotations,” and noted that the word ‘Mass’ means ‘missa’ – to be sent out into the world. “We’ve become prophets to the world,” De Frier said.
“The last words of the consecration that turns the cross into a sacrifice – the moment when Christ loves us and gives himself up for us, body, blood, soul and divinity,” De Frier said. “That’s why the priest elevates the host (and the cup), so you can adore, (and) worship Jesus, because it is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Let us give thanks to the Lord for his gift to us of his Body and Blood.”
John Szczepanski, a St. Paul parishioner, said he came to the series on the Eucharist “because I wanted to hear what the Church teaches about the Eucharist and the Mass. I believe in ongoing formation, in continuing to learn.”
Asked why the Catholic Church has not come together with other Christian faiths that also believe in the Real Presence, De Frier said more dialogue is needed, but could lead to unification. “The more we sit down and listen to each other, the more we’ll begin to realize that there is more alike between us than is different,” he suggested.
De Frier said the Sunday Mass is supposed to be “a holy moment of peace.” The Eucharist, he added, “is supposed to be both the source of our life and the end (summit). It is a moment of challenge to action, not unresponsiveness.
“The Eucharist is where the Christian community remembers the life and death of Christ, so we can continue his mission on Earth. That is the heart of the Eucharist, proclaimed daily at Mass,” he said.
“Today, many of us have remembered the bread, but forgotten the Body of Christ,” De Frier said. “Some people have received the Eucharist so often that it has lost its punch. Receiving the Eucharist should be the most disturbing moment of our week,” he added, challenging Catholics that “it is the people we must remember … the people who exterminated six million people, who sacrifice our children and teachers for automatic weapons and greater profits, who bombed two cities in Japan, who are building an arsenal of weapons that can destroy the world, who continue to hoard, lie, steal and abuse our children, and who ignore the hungry and homeless yet build mansions for themselves to live in.”
De Frier concluded the series with a prayer service that touched upon missionary discipleship, using actual loaves of bread to signify a pledge to follow Jesus in washing the feet of his people. “Will we wash their feet today? Will we be willing to pay that awful price?” De Frier challenged his audience as they broke off and ate pieces of the bread at each table.
The “Body of Christ,” he explained, “is the community” of those who love and believe in the Word of God and seek to follow him. “Gather us to be nourished and to nourish each other.”
Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ: Becoming A Champion
Arleen Peterson, Executive Director of Relational Services
Most people recognize a champion as the one who steps up to the podium, but each champion has taken an amazing journey before ever reaching that podium. Champions must create a daily routine and experience failures and opportunities to improve before reaching champion status. Most of the time we only see the final glorious moment, but it’s a head, heart, and way of living that gets the champion to the podium. As lay people and PHJC Sisters we are being called to be champions of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). Do you want to be a JEDI Champion? Let’s explore how we together are all doing this work! In the summer of 2020, as the echoes of police brutality and scourges of racism awakened our daily routines, PHJC leadership in solidarity with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, announced their province statement on racism and their commitment to address systematic racism. I took this to heart as the Executive Director of Relational Services, as a skilled dismantling structural racism trainer, and as an African American women transformed into a JEDI Champion. The engagement of “Structural Racism Dialogue Discussions” began weekly as either socially distanced in-person sessions or hybrid presentations at The Center at Donaldson. This engaged coworkers, residents, leaders of ministries, and Sisters who wanted to commit to the lens of racial equity and justice.
This is the JEDI Champions way of daily routine, refusing to give anyone an excuse to not understand racism, bias, microaggressions, Jim Crow, Black Lives Matter, or any of the racialized truths and mistruths Sisters and Laity Together BECOMING ACHAMPION justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion By Arleen Peterson | Executive Director of Relational Services Word Gathering Spring 2022
Kathleen Quinn, PHJC centers us in the values of Saint Katharina Kasper, an extraordinary example and JEDI champion.
Our JEDI speakers have inspired us like Fr. James Martin, SJ on LGBTQ issues; moved us like Rev. Smash in addressing “white supremacy”; engaged us like our Juneteenth celebration featuring the National Negro Anthem of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” JEDI Champions create space for more external voices to root for the progress of how the Poor Handmaids are a catalyst for just transformation. Every champion needs competitors and the JEDI speakers are a healthy dose of competition to keep us moving forward and continually improving.
I’m most encouraged that racial equity training is a requirement for all new hires. We are not only training like all champions do to get to the podium, but we are also teaching and being the lifestyle example for a JEDI champion. This year, one of the three African American coworkers at The Center was not the one who led the Martin Luther King Holiday celebration. Thanks to JEDI champion Paul Mach for stepping up to the podium.
This year, we continue to engage JEDI voices – hey, it is an Olympic year! We had an amazing opening ceremony with Fr. Daniel Horan, OFM discussing his recently published book, “A White Catholic’s Guide to Racism and Privilege.” Also in January 2022 we held a showing and discussion of the documentary “13th” by Ava DuVernay, an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. Perhaps lessening COVID restrictions will allow us to also visit Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum as the year progresses. The pursuit of becoming a champion is difficult. People often look at a champion who wins a competition and think that getting there must have been fun, happy, and maybe even comfortable. Get that out of your head. It’s not. PHJC Sisters are not taking the easy road, and neither am I. We are doing something rare that many predominantly white led organizations are not willing to do. We are engaging the head, heart, and lifestyle together – laity and Sisters. These are the choices we are making to get on the podium and to be JEDI champions.
Of what our history in America has been for Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). There were many sessions in which I had thoughts of quitting, of being emotionally exhausted. In the stories that I’ve read about Olympic champions, exhaustion shows that you are pushing your limits. Like them, I needed to embrace these moments of exhaustion because the fatigue means you are becoming a champion. More than 150+ lay people and Sisters have participated in these sessions and have stepped onto the podium. As the pandemic progressed into 2021, the head work and way of living took aim as JEDI champions moved out of their comfort zones. We established the JEDI Core group which is comprised of ministry coworkers and a Sister who guides and supports JEDI. The core group identifies guest speakers, events, and strategies for implementing JEDI. Like champions who don’t always do things like everyone else, Fr. Daniel Horan, OFM, spoke to The Center at Donaldson coworkers, Poor Handmaid sisters and many others on racism and privilege.
We are not only training like all champions do to get to the podium, but we are also teaching and being the EXAMPLE LIFESTYLE for a JEDI Champion.
A Chat With Author Sharon Tubbs “They Got Daddy- One Family’s Reckoning with Racism and Faith”
Fort Wayne Ink Spot | By Tabitha Ervin, Editorial Director
I learned so much in this conversation that I first want to share my own thoughts. Have you ever wondered who you are, I mean before you were even a thought? Let’s say 80-100 years ago or more. Who was your family, where were they from? As I learned about Sharon’s book, “They Got Daddy”, and what led her to write it, it made me ask questions about my own background and history.
My oldest living relatives, a great aunt (Aunt Dean) and 2 great uncles (Uncle June, Aunt Dean’s husband and Uncle Frank, Aunt Dean’s brother) are all in their 80’s but other than them many have passed on. Additionally, I never met either of my grandfathers. My dad wasn’t connected to his father at all and my moms father passed away when she was young. Both my grandmothers were in their 70s when they passed and my maternal grandmother lived with us for a bit when I was around middle school age. But before them, my mom and dad could only tell me stories of other relatives. Beyond that, there are pictures as well as my mom has been quite the historian on both sides of my family history. One year on a visit to North Carolina to see my dads family I made a family tree on a poster board back at least 2-3 generations ago.
I am thankful to have known and spent precious time with both my grandmothers and I am blessed that my mom and my relatives on my dad’s side can still share those valuable details.
My Great Uncle June tells wonderful stories of his past and how he and my Great Aunt ended up in Michigan from the South with a stop in Ohio before making Michigan home which is also how my dad ended up in Michigan; he moved with them to work at GM. I think I’ll record him next time I’m home!
This is my reflection after a wonderful conversation with Sharon about her new family memoir.
Sharon is not only the Executive Director of HealthVisions Midwest of Fort Wayne but an accomplished author having written several books nonfiction and fiction. This is her first memoir. She majored in Journalism for her Bachelors degree and has always wanted to be a writer.
Ervin: Thanks for your time today! So what led you to tell your grandfather’s story and why were you interested?
Tubbs: My grandfather was a Pastor, a well driller and a sharecropper. He was in a car accident in which he injured his arm and was not able to work as much to support the family. There was a whole story behind it that I was not aware of with him being kidnapped and also filing a lawsuit with the courts. As a child, my mother and I were watching tv together and the story on the news was about the Klu Klux Klan. At my age, living here in Fort Wayne, it didn’t seem to make sense that a rally was happening in Indiana. This was in the 80s. While I was asking my mom about the news she mentioned, “they got daddy” and some small details on what she meant but not much. That began my lifelong journey of discovering what happened to my grandfather who passed a few years after my mom mentioned that.
Ervin: So you were a child when that initial interaction with your mother happened and fast forward to now you did the research and wrote a book about it… That’s incredible!
Tubbs: It just kept coming back to me, from middle school to college and beyond especially during my career as a journalist. I finally started to research in 2005 when an uncle of mine mentioned a lawyer and a court case which to that point I had not been told about. This began my journey of discovering the incredible history and boldness of my grandfather during that time but also the sadness and trauma he and my family experienced.
Ervin: I did just get my book and started reading it now so I am excited to dive into this story! I’m intrigued by the parallels in each chapter from then to now and your reflections.
Tubbs: As I was researching it brought up various experiences that I’ve had as a black woman and as a journalist. It made me realize that the times then aren’t as far off from the current times as we think they may be and I wanted to show that through my writing. It also made me think about cultural trauma and how that impacts people and they don’t even know it.
Ervin: I am personally excited about the impact this book can have on people telling and discovering their family stories even through the pain of what may have happened. Thank you for your research and thank you for sharing it with us! I encourage everyone to get this book!
Meet our new Executive Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Meet Justine Johnson, the new Executive Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Justine’s work is essential to continuing the mission and charism of Saint Katharina Kasper, who was inspired to serve the poor and most in need.
Giving voice to voiceless highlights their God-given dignity, pope says
Carol Glatz | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The life and ministry of the Catholic Church is enriched by listening to everyone, especially those who are often excluded by society, and by including their experiences and perspectives, Pope Francis said.
“For the church is like a rich tapestry, made up of many individual threads that come from various peoples, languages and cultures, yet woven into a unity by the Holy Spirit,” he told a delegation from Catholic Extension.
The pope greeted the delegation during an audience at the Vatican April 26. The group included: U.S. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, chancellor of the organization’s board of governors; retired Arizona Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, vice-chancellor; and Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, who received Catholic Extension’s “Spirit of Francis” Award this year for her work providing care to hundreds of thousands of people at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I congratulate Sister Norma Pimentel,” the pope said, “for her service to the many men, women and children arriving at the southern border of the United States.”
Speaking briefly in Spanish, the pope said the border was “caliente caliente,” that is, a hotbed of activity with so many people “in search of a better future.”
He thanked Catholic Extension, which had a delegation in Rome April 23-28, for its work “providing assistance to missionary dioceses, particularly in the United States, and in caring for the needs of the poor and most vulnerable,” especially in Puerto Rico “following the various hurricanes and earthquakes which brought such devastation to the island in recent years.”
“By giving a voice to those who are frequently voiceless,” he told the delegation,”you bear witness to the God-given dignity of every person.”
As the entire church is journeying together on the path of synodality, the pope said, “listening to and including the experiences and perspectives of all, especially those on the margins of society, enriches the church’s life and ministry.”
“I am pleased to know of your concern to place those who are often victims of today’s ‘throw-away culture’ at the heart of the church’s pastoral activity; in this way, their voices can be heard, and all can benefit,” he said.
Pope Francis encouraged them to serve others with “God’s style,” that is with closeness, compassion and tender love so that “God’s loving mercy becomes visible, and the fabric of society is strengthened and renewed.”
How to Make Our Catholic Parishes Vibrant Once Again
Our Sunday Visitor | Today’s Catholic
A recent Pew Research Center study caught the eye of many Catholics, despite the fact that the information the study conveyed wasn’t really news. Latinos are disaffiliating from the Catholic Church at alarming rates. The 2022 study reported that only 43 percent of U.S. Latinos identify as Catholic. That’s down from 67 percent in 2010. The statistic is a shock to those who are being told that Latinos are the future of the Church in the U.S.
But since the largest growth rate in the U.S. Latino population is not the immigrant community, the statistics are unsurprising for those who have been watching closely. The largest-growing sector of Latinos in the United States is now U.S.-born men and women. And that’s where the danger of secularization lurks. The Pew survey reveals that, while 16 percent of foreign-born young Latinos raised in a faith tradition are now unaffiliated, 23 percent of U.S.-born young Latinos now identify as unaffiliated.
What we are seeing play out among Catholic Latinos is the same story Catholic immigrants to the United States have lived for centuries. In communities abroad, especially countries where Catholicism was or is the religion of the majority, the parish church was not only the place for worship but the center of daily life. People frequented churches daily, visiting the chapels and memorials that had been part of their family life for centuries.
In the United States, however, the parish church is no longer the center of daily life. Some immigrant communities built their parish at the heart of their neighborhoods. And those communities were vibrant for a time, but, increasingly, they have disappeared.
Places, however, are not the only visible markers of the decline of Catholicism in immigrant communities. Often in American history, immigrant communities’ expression of their distinctly Catholic faith is muted in the process of assimilation to the broadly Protestant approach that characterizes the practice of Christianity in the United States. The proximity of a parish church to parishioners’ homes is one thing, but the tangible expressions of faith that mark immigrants’ identity are being quietly eroded as well in this process of assimilation.
So, what is to be done to help Latino Catholics keep the Faith? The same thing, in fact, that needs to be done to keep every Catholic a practicing Catholic: to invest in visible, experienced, incarnational expressions of faith that build communities and shape individual Catholics’ sense of common identity.
This can start, simply, with the Angelus. It’s a common prayer, a traditional prayer. The Angelus grew out of the practice of villagers uniting themselves in prayer with local monasteries. Pastors can ensure that their churches ring the Angelus bells morning, noon, and night. Parishioners should be reminded of the meaning of the prayer so that the bells really serve as invitations to prayer. Catholics can then build and live the practice of saying the prayer in their daily lives, knowing that they are joining their hearts and minds with their local communities.
In addition to the Angelus, pastors and parishioners should encourage and foster different communities of prayer in a parish. Invite people to join for morning prayer or offer to lead vespers several days a week for working people on their way home. Keep churches open so that people can come in to say a prayer, but have ready materials such as candles to be lit and prayer cards at hand to help guide seekers in their desire for prayer. Family rosaries can be a part of a shared prayer life in the home. Parishioners can support pastors to organize 40 hours or other periods of Eucharistic adoration.
Some pastors might balk or be reluctant to launch efforts that seem more aimed at community than evangelization, but they should think again. Card nights, bocce clubs, picnics, potlucks, and a host of other things that were part and parcel of parish life 100 years ago are part of the answer to our epidemic of loneliness. And these events can and should be coordinated largely by parishioners. To inspire joy, invite conversation, make connections, and introduce parishioners are the very beginnings of conversion.
The Angelus, regular trips for personal prayer to a parish church, and an avalanche of community events is the way forward. These are expressions of doctrine in daily life. For both immigrant communities and established Catholics in America alike, the lived connection to a local parish is the bulwark against secularization. In a way, it’s what we’ve always done. But surveying the landscape of life in modern America, there’s simply nothing else like it. And that will lead hearts and minds to Christ and renew the Church across our country.
We need communities of faith to better know and serve Christ, who is truly present in our parishes. It’s the way the Lord established the Church, that we might know Him together. No Christian is saved alone. Out of love for Christ, then, who calls us to be His own, let us renew our efforts of love in our parish communities.
The Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board is comprised of Father Patrick Briscoe, Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, and York Young.
New Vocation Video
View our new Vocation Video.
Called in baptism to proclaim by our lives and our works the presence of God in the world, we Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ accept the invitation to live a vowed life in community. We are inspired to listen prayerfully, to live simply and to serve joyfully. We respect and value each person. We stand with the poor and the powerless and respond to the need of Church and society. We deserve to foster peace in the world, and we accept the challenges of the future. Going forth with hope and joy.
National Vocation Awareness Week
National Vocation Awareness Week, celebrated November 5-11, 2023, is an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life through prayer and education and to renewing our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations. NVAW began in 1976 when the U. S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for NVAW. In 1997, this celebration was moved to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which falls on January 13 in 2013. Beginning in 2014, NVAW was moved to the first full week of November.