Diocesan Stories

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

“A true gift from my Heavenly Father"

Ann Unger

The Eucharist has always been extremely important in my life and as I grow older, the importance has only grown stronger. 

In 2017, my son was involved in a horrific traffic accident and was life-lined to Parkview Dupont Hospital with the possibility of the loss of a leg and other issues. The days that followed were a blur and since I attend Mass daily, I received the Holy Eucharist each day. After the first several days, we all knew that my son was not losing his leg, but that he was in for a long rehab time. I spent nights sleeping in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the hospital and visited as often as I could. 

Early one day, before I left for Fort Wayne, I called my parish priest to see if he would give me Communion, only to learn that he was unable to do that. Later in the morning at the hospital, as I sat looking at a Crucifix on the wall half covered in sunshine, I had the thought that maybe we were halfway through this extremely difficult time. Suddenly, the door that was near the tabernacle opened, and a man came into the small room. He opened the tabernacle door and removed the Hosts, and I knew he was preparing to give the hospital patients Holy Communion. He saw me and asked if I was Catholic. As I said yes, I began crying and was unable to speak or pray, only feeling God's love and comfort surrounding me. The strength I received from the Real Body and Blood of Christ equipped me throughout my son's hospital stay and beyond. My being in the exact place and the exact time of that extraordinary minister of Holy Communion was a true gift from my Heavenly Father as he reminded me of how much He loves me in the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

With special love and gratitude I still attend daily Mass and Holy Communion.

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“God kept nudging and calling.”

Mary Jane Gates

I blessedly grew up in a family where our mom was Catholic; while our dad was not Catholic, he was committed to raising us in the Catholic faith. All of us attended Sacred Heart Grade School in Terre Haute, Indiana, and two of us attended Catholic high school. I spent two years of high school at St. Mary of the Woods for girls aspiring to become Sisters of Providence. 

After high school, I fell away from the Catholic Church off and on for approximately 49 years, with only about seven years in attendance as a Catholic. 

In my heart, I was longing to return to Catholicism, but I hesitated. Why? Why wasn't I snatching the opportunity to go back to my childhood roots, to the traditions I loved in my teen years? But God kept nudging and calling. Finally, I listened to the Voice that never stopped, the Voice of gentle but steady persistence–the Voice that brought me home to the Truth, to the Holy Eucharist, to the Real Presence. 

I attend Mass almost daily at St. Mary of the Presentation in Geneva, Indiana. It is my greatest consolation for all the wasted years of my life. 

Jesus, I am here now, again, where I belong, finally. Never to stray again!

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“I am happy to be with the Lord.”

John Boughton

Our parish has long had a weekly hour of Adoration and, more recently, a full day. I go when I can and am happy to be with the Lord, but I have trouble staying focused and silent. 

I am always delighted to see who His other friends are who come to visit, especially the school children. One day, I was the only one there (besides our Lord), so I was able to walk around and sing songs of worship and praise directly to Him. That was amazing!

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“I was 57 when I first received Jesus in the Eucharist.”

Doree Bush

As a later-in-life convert to the Catholic faith, I was 57 when I first received Jesus in the Eucharist. The joy that filled me with this sacrament changed my life and fulfilled the life-long desire of my heart. I was raised in a loving Protestant home, but from the time that I was very young, I had questions about the many different faiths. Which one was authentic? I wanted to know the truth. They all claimed to be “truth,” but how could they be by virtue of their differences? My dad’s lineage is 100 percent Ashkenazi Jewish. There was a huge missing piece of the puzzle, and I vowed to find it. 

From studying Latin, I knew my college’s motto, “Doce Me Veritatem,” meant “Teach Me Truth.” I felt I must be in the right place! (Interestingly, it was a Catholic college, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, New York.) As years passed and I was busy raising a family, I floundered in my faith, not knowing how to respond to God properly. Looking back, there were many ways that God was leading me to the truth. One way He did this was through a dream that recurred at three different times in my life. I dreamed that I was in my own house, and I discovered a door in my house that I never noticed was there before. I felt compelled to find out what this door led to. So I opened the door and then stood in amazement at what lay before me: It was a huge, banquet-sized room, and toward the center was a very large table adorned with beautiful white embroidered linens. On this table was the most magnificent, priceless, golden treasure. I was in awe, shocked that all this beauty and splendor was in my own house all the time, and I never knew it! 

Our youngest daughter, Jessica, who was on her own spiritual search, came home from college one weekend and announced that she wanted to become Catholic. Her and then our family’s spiritual journey was about to take an unbelievable turn. 

I was shocked and asked her many questions, the main one about Transubstantiation — how could the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus? At that moment, the Holy Spirit worked through our daughter to evangelize me because as she answered my questions, my objections melted away and vanished. The Holy Spirit swooped in, giving me the grace of belief that He had given our daughter just months earlier. After her catechesis, Jessica was confirmed, and she received the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus and the following year after going through RCIA at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish, I, too, received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Many tears of joy flowed over the next 10 years, continuing today in Sunday and daily Mass and in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

It wasn’t until I attended a Christ Renews His Parish weekend and was writing my witness for the next group of women that suddenly, the meaning of my recurring dreams rushed into my heart. God was showing me that His treasure of the Mass and Eucharist was right there all along in my own heart, and all I needed to do was open the door and see it! He knew I was hungry, and He fed me with truth, gift-wrapped in love, along with grace to behold and believe. 

Jesus continues to change me by putting in my heart the desire to go deeper in my faith. I joined our parish’s St. Paul Street Evangelization team to share it with others who are hungry and searching for truth. 

Jesus, I pray that all come to believe Your Word that the bread which You give is Your flesh for the life of the world.

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“All of Heaven is celebrating!”

Helen Klotz

As a member of St. Jude's Adoration Chapel for many years, I am noticing the numbers increasing in our Chapel. It is not unusual for us to see four or five or more adorers, especially younger people. 

On July 22, 2023, my daughter, Michelle, and our friend, Pauline, were arriving at the Chapel for our hour of audience with the Lord. There was a large group of young men dressed for a wedding coming out the door. It was such a wonderful scene for us to witness these young men intent on their mission for our Lord. My friend was in the Chapel before us and witnessed these young men in prayerful Adoration. 

I truly believe that the bishops and priests all over the United States are successfully bringing more and more people into Adoration with our Lord. Can you imagine how all of Heaven is celebrating!

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“I sit in silence and listen.”

Mary Goldthrite-DeKever

During the past couple of years, I have begun going to Adoration before work a few times a week. I bring a journal with me and simply write what I feel God is saying to me as I sit in silence and listen. I am blown away by what I write in the silence. 

God encourages me, centers me, redirects me, and shows his love to me in all things great and small. In the silence God whispers to us and immense peace overflows. 

If I miss a week I feel depleted and a little lost.

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“In that moment my eyes were opened.”

Jonathan Feola

There were many things that were drawing my heart back to the Catholic Church, but it was our Eucharistic Lord that sealed the deal. 

Even though I was baptized into the Catholic Church as a baby, I lived much of my adult life as a Christian outside of the Church, mostly in non-denominational churches. I was a born-again believer who loved reading the Bible and praying. I could probably count on one hand how many days went by since my high school years where I didn’t read my Bible. Loving the Lord and growing closer to Him was always my desire. 

Sometime in late 2018 I started to grow restless. I longed for more, and found myself sitting in bed one night with my Bible and thinking that surely there is more. I was missing something but wasn’t quite sure what to do. I started to question my beliefs and what I professed as a Christian. It wasn’t a doubtful or negative questioning; my faith never wavered. It was more a “Why do I believe what I believe?” kind of questioning. I didn’t know it at the time, but I truly believe now that it was those baptismal graces being stirred by the Holy Spirit and Jesus was calling me home. 

During this time of rediscovering my faith I had a job that required me to drive quite a bit. I filled most of my time in the car with podcasts, listening to a lot from Catholic Answers. In October 2019, I was in Michigan for a few days of work. I was listening to an episode of Why Aren’t You Catholic? By this time, I was convinced that I should return to the Church, mostly from an intellectual conversion from everything I was reading at that time, including the Catechism. But I was still taking it a little slow for the sake of my wife who was a lifelong Protestant. You can read her story (Liz Feola) on iamhere.org as well. 

There was a moment in my car during that 2019 trip that forever changed my heart. During that Why Aren’t You Catholic? episode, the host spoke directly to one of the callers saying, “Jesus wants to meet you in the Eucharist!” I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life because in that moment my eyes were opened. Tears began to roll down my face as one of my favorite Bible stories of all time, the road to Emmaus from Luke 24 made sense to me in a whole new light. He “was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” In that moment, I saw Jesus in the Eucharist and He was waiting for me to come to Him. 

There were many things that were drawing me home, but it was the revelation of our Eucharistic Lord in my car that day that made all the difference. 

Since returning to the Church in November 2021, I have continued to be drawn closer to Him in the Eucharist. I can now attend daily Mass on a regular basis and go to adoration almost every week at our parish. 

I love going to adoration! The scripture that always fills my mind when I go to adoration is Ps 63:2-3, “So, I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your merciful love is better than life.” 

When I show up for adoration, I rarely come with a long list of prayer requests. On occasion, I might pray the Rosary or read scriptures or offer up some prayer intentions, but I really like just being there with Jesus, beholding Him in the sanctuary. I look at Him and am so grateful for this amazing gift He has given us. The same Jesus who walked on water, healed the sick, and went to the Cross is fully present in the Eucharist. I didn’t get to walk the streets of Galilee or Jerusalem like the first disciples, but by a miracle of grace, that same Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist here and now. I am strengthened and refreshed as I ponder these things sitting in His presence. 

I remember meeting with one of our parish priests before coming back to the Church. It was mostly just to talk through what was going on in my heart and family and what steps we needed to take to move forward. When we were done with our meeting, he told me to go into the sanctuary and “spend some time with Him.” I remember not fully grasping what he meant by that other than just going to spend some time in prayer. But now I understand it, I am literally going to spend time with Jesus. He is there, truly present. 

Jesus really does want to meet us in the Eucharist. May we never lose our awe and wonder of this amazing gift!

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“A feeling of goosebumps went through me.”

Tim Martin

I love going to Mass because Jesus continually offers Himself to us, giving us opportunities to adore Him and spend quality time with Him. I've dubbed Adoration as an encounter with the Infinite. It is an exchange of love between His pure love for me and my tiny imperfect love for Him. 

I am a minister of the sick and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at Mass. Twelve years ago, I was out of work, allowing me time during the week to bring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to the homebound. I had been bringing our Lord to an elderly parishioner for a few months. She lived a couple of blocks from Queen of Peace Parish in Mishawaka. I was a block from church with Jesus in my pyx when I heard a voice over my shoulder say, "This will be the last time you will bring Me to her." I was startled upon hearing these words, leaving me wide-eyed. 

When I got there, I met our parishioner who seemed no different than before. She received Jesus with reverence. After finishing the Eucharistic ritual for the homebound, I felt as if I was seeing her as she would look in Heaven. I normally brought Jesus to her two days a week, so she said, "Well, I'll see you tomorrow." A feeling of goosebumps went through me and I did not know what to say in reply. Because of what I'd been told en route to her house, what could I say? After stammering a bit, I kindly said, "I'll see you tomorrow, take good care." 

After leaving her house, I did some errands, not returning home until 1 p.m. I saw a light on the phone indicating a message; It was from the daughter of the parishioner I'd brought Jesus to. She said, "Don't bother to bring Jesus tomorrow, as Mom passed away an hour ago.” I was overwhelmed! It's amazing how Jesus uses us sinners to be His arms and legs to bring His Real Presence to His people! I told our pastor, Fr. Dan Scheidt, what had happened and he mentioned this encounter at the parishioner’s funeral Mass.

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“It was the highlight of their week.”

Mark Havard

I am a speech pathologist working in long-term care. When COVID-19 came on the scene in March of 2020, everything shut down and no one except employees were allowed in the facilities. The residents were not allowed to come out of their rooms except for doctor's appointments. Family could visit through a closed window and talk by phone. All activities and religious services were discontinued until further notice. 

One day at the end of April, one of my patients mentioned that she missed receiving Communion. I was inspired to speak to my priest and facility administrator to see if it was possible to bring her the Eucharist. After agreeing to follow the safety protocol, I was allowed to bring her Communion. She was so happy and it was a powerful moment. 

Then I thought that other Catholics would like to receive Communion. This began a ministry of bringing Christ to 30 to 35 residents every week for a year and a half. I visited each patient’s room, putting on a gown, mask, and shield. Each week it was an honor to bring the Eucharist to the elderly suffering illness, disease, and loneliness. For many, it was the highlight of their week.

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