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Evansville, Indiana
June 28, 1996     The Message
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June 28, 1996

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Sister J N ith aRe esm New PLC brings a 'listening heart' to Evansville's St, John By MARY ANN HUGHES Message staff writer When Sister Jane Nesmith begins her duties as the new pastoral life coordinator at St. John Church, Evansville, she says that her most important asset will be her "listening heart." Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger recently named Sister Nesmith to a leadership role in the pre- dominantly African-American parish, located in Evansville's near downtown area. In a letter to Bishop Get- telfinger, Sister Nesmith wrote, "As an African-American and a Sister of the Blessed Sacrament, it is important to me that my outreach would be to a multi- cultural community but my experience has not been limited to such." Sister Nesmith entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia in 1964. The pri- mary work of her congregation has been with "people of color, native Americans and African- Americans," she said. She has a master's degree in education from Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee, and a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Xavier Univer- sity in New Orleans, La. Her experience includes positions as high school admin- istrator, campus minister, teacher and musician. She has also served as chairperson of the National African-American Catholic Youth Ministry Net- work. She is currently pastoral asso- ciate for youth ministry at Immaculate Conception Church, Seattle, Wash. Her duties at St. John begin in August. She believes that her own experience as an African-Amer- ican Catholic will be valuable in her work at St. John's, because she will "perhaps be able to identify with people in many ways." She added, "But all African-Americans are indepen- dent, and it's most important that I will bring a listening heart. "I am looking to meeting with them as individuals, and look- ing to share with them their var- ious experiences of culture." She added, "Our main focus as a church community will be to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ, and to share the good news. SISTER JANE Peer Ministry Training held at Outpost it means to be a Catholic Chris- tian, the role of the minister, and engaged in skill development activities such as listening skills and communication skills." Becky Epperson, the Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Haubstadt, was the Course Director. Team members included: Matt and Lupe Schaefer, St. Joseph and St. Anthony churches, Evansville, St. John Church, Daylight; Kristen Johanning, Andrea Wright, Aaron Jahn, Holy Family Church, Jasper; Brad Fischer, St. Joseph Church, Jasper; Angela Dickson, Marian Heights Academy, Ferdinand; Joe Dotterweich, St. Mary Church, Huntingburg, and Brid- get Richter, St. John Church, Newburgh. Outpost staffmembers Melanie Niehaus and Charles Mikuly also attended. The Peer Ministry Weekend has been conducted in the diocese for over two decades. It is Coordi- nated and Young through the the Angela Dickson is Chair of the te Epperson is the the committee. Over 20 participants and 10 staff members participated in the Peer Ministry Workshops at the Outpost, according to Michael Eppler, diocesan director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The participants, high school aged leaders from across the Diocese of Evansville, "worked through leadership issues, what Vatican confirms statement discouraging Medjugorje pilg By JOHN THAVIS recent letter by Archbishop Tar- . place of authentic Marian against pilgrimages was made Bishop peric Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Confirming an earlier state- ment, the Vatican said "official" pilgrimages should not be made to the popular Marian site of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegov- ina. The Vatican position, which also reflects the opinion of local bishops in the former Yugosla- vian republic, was outlined in a cisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Archbishop Bertone cited a 1991 report by Yugoslavian bishops which said that after much study, it could not be confirmed that supernatural apparitions were occurring at Medjugorje. "From what was said, it fol- lows that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a apparitions, should not be orga- nized," Archbishop Bertone said. Such pilgrimages would be in contradiction with what the local bishops had determined, he said. Excerpts from the letter, writ- ten in response to a query by French Bishop Leon Taverdet of Langres, were published by the French newspaper La Croix in early June. A similar pronouncement in 1990 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the doctrinal congregation. The congregation continues to study the alleged apparitions, which began in 1981. On June 17, Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the dio- cese that includes Medjugorje, told an Italian TV station he was pleased the Vatican had again clearly expressed caution over the pilgrimages. confusion local church. 1"he: ian appearances have the tiny organized priests The pilgri ued in fighting in despite the local Bosnia Church burnings launch creation of rebuilding fu WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An interfaith effort to respond to the burning of black churches, main- ly in the South, has resulted in funds being created nationally and in at least three Catholic archdioceses to finance rebuild- ing of churches that have been damaged or destroyed. A fund established by the National Council of Churches got boosts from representatives of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Amer- ican Jewish Committee and nine foundations. Rebuilding fund drives also were announced by the New York and Chicago arch- dioceses and by Catholic Chari- ties of San Francisco. Investigators in 11 Southern states are looking into more than 35 suspicious fires "at predomi- nantly black churches since Jan- uary 1995. Dozens of predominantly white churches around the country also have had suspicious fires in the same 18-month period. But civil and religious rights activists point out that in relation to the overall count of churches in the country, the number of fires involving black churches is dis- proportionately high. At a New York press confer- ence June 19, representatives from the NCCB and the Ameri- can Jewish Committee joined the NCC in encouraging support for the dozens of churches that have been burned in the past 18 months. At the U.S. bishops' spring meeting in Portland, Ore., June 20, Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland announced a $50,000 donation to the NCC fund from the NCCB reserves. In addition, a collection among the bishops themselves to assist in the rebuilding of a Portland church whose sanctuary was burned the day before brought in $10,000. The NCC Burned Churches Fund was launched with an advertisement in The New York Times. "The burning of a house of worship is an assault on the soul and spirit of the entire human family," said the ad, which also said sympathy and a sense of solidarity are not enough to help the victims of church fires. Spokesmen for the groups asked the government to inten- sify its efforts to catch and pros- ecute arsonists; encouraged rebuilding the churches and their programs; and asked Americans to combat bigotry. At a second New York press conference, eight U.S. founda- tions announced grants totaling $2.7 million to the NCC Burned Churches Fund. A ninth foun- dation, the Enterprise Founda- tion of Columbia, Md., said it will offer $2 million in precon- struction loans and technical assistance. The Rev. Joan Brown Camp- bell, NCC general secretary, said that as of June 20 NCC-member denominations had pledged more than $500,000 to the fund with many yet to report their pledges. "Gathered here today in sup- port of this effort are a unique set of partners," she said. "Never before in my history of almost 35 years serving in the ecumenical movement have such a diverse group of foundations, social agencies and faith groups come together around a common goal." The Chicago and New York archdioceses and Catholic Char- ities of "San Francisco each announced that local funds were being established to help rebuild churches. Chicago's fund is a collabora- tion among the Catholic arch- diocese, the American Jewish Committee, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the United Methodist Church. At a June 19 news conference, Richard G. Weinberg, president of the American Jewish Corn- mittee-Chicago, said the word "outbreak" in reference to the rash of arson fires was not acci- dental. "Sick minds committed these acts of arson and left unchecked by people of good will, such action can become epi- demic," he said. New York Cardinal John J. O'Connor in his June 16 homily at St. Patrick's Cathedral asked New Yorkers to come to the financial aid of members of the destroyed churches. He said all parishes would be invited to con- tribute to a central fund. The cardinal called racism "a tragedy that we can never seem to stamp out." But he said the overwhelmingly sympathetic reaction to the plight of the black churches is not simply a protest against hatred but also "a protest of love." Cardinal O'Connor described his feelings at seeing the charred remains of St. Agnes Church in Manhattan after it was destroyed by fire -- but not arson -- in 1992. "So many memories," he said, "of the many baptisms, mar- riages, confessions, first Commu- nions and Masses." "I have had people come to me, who want to remain anonymous, to give overwhelming amounts of money to rebuild these churches," he told the congrega- tion. "All lines erated. this States is, in parish." St. Louis F. Rigali calling th es for rehensible "The states dora of re said his stop." . Shortly t ing about nors of Pre was no apP churcheS" these rated of one Total 46 Varities '