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Evansville, Indiana
May 22, 1998     The Message
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May 22, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Ham radio priest tours the world between Mass'and By RICK JILLSON Special to the Message Nestled obscurely in the leaves of a maple tree on the grounds of the Little Sisters of the Poor nursing home is an antenna that feeds signals into the room of retired Monsignor Charles Schoettelkotte. But lest you think Msgr. Schoettelkotte is getting cable on the sly, the antenna in question is for pick- ing up ham radio signals, a pas- sion of the priest's since the late 1940s. Shortly after World War II, Msgr. Schoettelkotte became aware of short wave, or" "ham," radio classes available in the evenings at an Evansville ship- yard office. The young priest, who at that time was case supervisor for Catholic Services, Evansville, said one of his moti- vations for taking the class was that the shipyard offices were air-conditioned. "It seemed like an interesting thing to learn more about," he explained. "And the more I learned, the more excited I became about making ham radio my hobby. Back then, you had to be able to send and receive Morse code at a rate of 13 words a minute and diagram a trans- mitter just to get your license." At 88, Msgr. Schoettelkotte recently renewed his license, which is good for the next 10 years. He says you don't have to know Morse code anymore, and that he now prefers the "lazy man's" method of radio contact -- he simply turns on his radio, which looks some- thing like a trucker's CB, and scans the dial for a potential conversation. Over the years, Msgr. Schoet- telkotte has talked to hundreds, maybe even thousands, of for- eigners in countries ranging from Burma and the Hawaiian Islands to formerly Communist Russia and currently Commu- nist Cuba. He says ham radio enthusiasts are basically the same, no matter where they're from. Automobile junkies com- pare their engines and ham radio operators compare their radio equipment. "l let people know I'm a priest, so I leave myself open for questions of a spiritual nature," he said. "But mainly, all ham radio users -- even the mis- sionaries I've talked to -- want to know what equipment you use. Understanding the tech- nology and the subtle differ- ences in radio equipment is a big part of the fun." Msgr. Schoettelkotte, who retired in July 1991 after 57 years of active ministry, says he's made quite a few friends over the radio, but none closer than now deceased Evansville dentist Harry Whetstone. The two would often "piggyback," meaning they'd both search for conversations and contact the other through a special phone patch when they'd found some- one interesting. Then they'd both share in the conversation. Msgr. Schoettelkotte moved into Little Sisters of the Poor, located across from St. Bene- dict's Catholic Church in Evans- ville, in 1997, after several years in an apartment. He said he enjoys his current residence, especially since he now says the daily 7 a.m. Mass for the sisters who reside at the home. He also said he hadn't intend- ed to renew his ham radio license once he moved into Lit-. fie Sisters, but a friend talked him into it. So each day, in between meals and prayer ses- sions and other duties, he retires to his room and flips the switch on his radio, drifting away to Central America, Argentina or perhaps Zaire. Old hobbies are hard to break. MSGR. CHARLES SCHOETTE Catholic Charities notes accomplishments, honors first By PAUL R. LEINGANG Message editor For Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville, the fiscal year of 1997-1998 was "a year of significant achievements in a number of areas," according to Rosemary C. Kramer, president of the Catholic Charities board of advisors. In a statement prepared for Catholic Charities annual din- ner and report, Kramer speci- fied several achievements. The Tri-State Training Cooperative, founded by Catholic Charities, "has grown to include a majority of the major mental health/counseling resources in the area." The Community-Wide Marriage Initiative, in which Catholic Charities was a key partner, "has made us one of the nationally recognized mar- riage-saving cities." The Out of Poverty train- ing, which Catholic Charities sponsored, "brought together the agencies working with the poor in order to help them be more effective and collabora- tive." Kramer also noted prepara- tion for a suicide prevention ini- tiative in Dubois County, and the successful pilot of a chastity and abstinence program enti- fled "A Promise to Keep: God's Gift of Human Sexuality." Kramer serves on the board as president and is from the Vincennes Deanery. Other board members from other deaneries, along with other appointees and representatives, administrators and staff, met at St. Meinrad Archabbey for the annual dinner, May 18. According to statistics kept by Catholic Charities, staff members provided 12,084 houi's of service to 12,121 clients during 1997. Such services included adoption, counseling and therapy, foster care, preg- nancy counseling, refugee case- work, . family independence assistance, and various other efforts -- including work at the annual Christmas Store, the Garden Patch, and Coat-A-Kid among other activities of Catholic Charities. Msgr. Charles T. Schoet- telkotte, 88, was honored by the board for his 30 years as Direc- tor of Catholic Charities, from 1940 to 1970. As a young priest, Msgr. Schoettelkotte received his master's degree in social work from the Catholic Univer- sity of America in Washington, D.C., in 1938. After two years as assistant director of Catholic Charities for what was then the Diocese of Indianapolis, and then came to Evansville as director. When 12 as the 1944, Msgr. tinued to early years also Catholic editor of the per. St. Mary's Evansville losophy atthe Evansville t tv in those dayS). auxiliary Breckinridgl chaplain at Hospital. Continued from page 1 erosion of family values in Asia. It suggested establishing an annual World Family Day and a World Pro-Life Day. "The family is the most endangered institution in Asia. Population control tends to dis- criminate against the gift child in some countries and targets the poor of the Third World," the final message said. "Traditional family values are being overturned and replaced . by egotism, hedorsm, material- ism and greed. Direct assaults on life are made by contraception, sterilization and abortion. We must save the family," it said. One synod proposition said the church must take a firm stand against all forms of injus- tice against Asian women, including violence in the home and discrimination in the work- place and legal system. It noted the high rate of female iUitera- cy, the higher proportion of abortion of females and the treatment of women as "com- modities" in prostitution and tourism industries. The synod said Asian children also bear a disproportionate burden of injustice in child labor, pedophilia and the drug culture. It said the church must take an interest in other key social problem areas: ecological dam- age, primarily a product of "unbridled greed"; the harmful effects of economic globaliza- tion; the political regimes that have denied basic rights in some Asian countries; the expansion of the weapons industry; and the fate of mil- lions of migrants and refugees throughout the continent. It called for alleviation of the "crushing burden" of foreign debt for countries in Asia and elsewhere. The message emphasized the role of Catholic lay people in addressing and correcting these problems, saying that the third millennium of Christianity could be the "Age of the Laity." For that reason their formation, especially in the church's social teaching, is extremely impor- tant, it said. Even as the synod proceeded, dramatic events in Asia were felt inside the synod hall. Riots in Indonesia prompted bishops to pray for an end to violence there, while shootings in the West Bank highlighted the synod's concern for a permanent peace solution and a restoration of peace in Jerusalem. The suicide of a Pakistani bishop protesting Islamic blas- phemy laws shocked synod participants, who commented that such laws have left Pak- istani Christians in a very vul- nerable position. After the bish- op's death, the synod added a line to its propositions, calling for the removal of all forms of constitutional discrimination against Christians in Asia. The detonation of a series of nuclear tests by India brought comments from synod partici- pants about the "ideal" of elim- inating such weapons, but one Indian bishop, speaking for those attending the synod, said the tests were "a sign that India has progressed." The synod highlighted Asian churches in difficulty, particu- |arly in China. Two mainland Chinese bishops invited to the synod were unable to attend, and the pope, in his closing Mass, said he was deeply sorry about their absence. "We all hope that, as the Peo- ple's Republic of China gradu- ally opens to the rest of the world, the church in China will also be permitted to have more contact church," he onciliation South Korea embargo al bishopS, ing history Asia, For all problemS, the pre& saying the in Asia and some of ext