Diocesan Stories

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

“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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“My life is so much richer”

Margie Buschur

I grew up in a small midwestern town of about 2,500 people. There were a few factories around and a large number of farmers. My father was a farmer and my mother was a homemaker. They raised a family of eight children. Although they both worked very hard, it was equally important to raise us as “good Catholics.” 

Ours was a predominantly Catholic community and everyone went to Mass on Sunday. Many of us also attended Mass on weekday mornings before school. We sat with our classmates. We went to Confession once a month. We received our first Holy Communion and were confirmed by a bishop who drove almost three hours one way to get there. We also had a Mass when we graduated from high school. There were many impressive things going on at church. We had 40 hours of devotion from time to time, and frequent Benediction. 

In the afternoon of the Sunday before All Souls Day, we would form a procession using the main highway in town and walk to our cemetery about a mile away while praying the Rosary. A homily would follow. 

I married my husband in that same church and raised my children in the Catholic faith. Even though I taught CCD and was involved with the youth group, the busyness of life placed my faith somewhat in the background. This was not intentional; life pulls us in many directions. But it does go full circle. This is what drew me to the Eucharistic Revival and I AM HERE. I think I was thirsty. The Revival and I AM HERE made me realize that Our Lord has been with me every step of the way – through the good and the bad. 

Since I attended the opening meeting of the Eucharistic Revival for our diocese in Huntington, Indiana, I have been drawn in by the faith and desire to be more about Christ’s Body and Blood. I also read the book The Real Presence

Knowing the number of faithful who do not totally believe the Eucharist is truly His Body and Blood surprised me and made me sad. But the Walk With Me event in Warsaw, Indiana, showed me how many people do get it. I felt the Holy Spirit follow us in the procession to the final stop where we witnessed Benediction. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades’ lectures and Mass at St. Charles Parish in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, once again brought alive to me the meaning of Jesus made present. This immersion has definitely deepened my love of the Eucharist. 

We must remember that when receiving His Body and Blood, Jesus is present in us. He told us this Himself and our actions should display this always. 

My life is so much richer knowing the Lord is fully with me during the Eucharist and every moment of my life. I feel it throughout my entire day.

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“I felt an overwhelming sense of peace”

George Spohrer

I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. I went to Catholic school all the way through twelfth grade. My family went to Mass every Sunday and prayed before meals. But we didn't talk very much about the faith at home. When my sisters and I had questions about the faith, our parents would try to answer them the best they could, but that was about it. I think my parents assumed the schools were to be the primary educators about the faith. 

The faith was presented to us as essentially just a set of rules: Go to Mass every Sunday and just sit there and watch, and outside of Mass, don't do any of the bad stuff and you'll be okay. I remember as a child I absolutely hated going to Mass because I felt I was being forced to go. And of all the things I remember learning in Catholic school, I don't remember ever once hearing about the importance of having a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus and rekindling it every day. 

We never prayed a Rosary together as a family nor did we ever go to Adoration together. Over the years we gradually stopped praying before meals and my sisters all fell away from the faith after they left high school. By the time I was the only one left in the house, I was still going to Mass, but only to say I went; I wasn't intentional about it at all. My freshman year of college, I was fortunate to have a Catholic church right across the street from where I lived on campus, but I was still only going to say I went. I didn't get to know anyone at the church, not even the priest. Once Mass was over, I was out the door and didn't think about it until the following week. Then I transferred to another university where the closest Mass was a 30-minute walk. I made no effort to go. I only went when I was home for break. 

For the next two years I was an unhappy wreck. Not only was I straining to keep up with my grades and finding internships, but also one of my biggest struggles was comparing myself to others. Whenever I would see people doing well in something that I couldn't do as well, I would ask myself, “Why are they so good at this or that and I’m not?” I was so focused on how well everyone else was doing but not on the things I was good at or how I could make myself better. I would tell myself I wasn’t good enough and question my own self-worth. It was exhausting and frustrating. I also didn't have very many close friends. Growing up, I was often picked on and had trouble relating to those around me, so I hardly ever let myself be vulnerable. At this particular school, you could either request roommates or have them randomly assigned to you, which I did every semester I was there, including summer sessions, so I must've had 20 roommates during the four years I was there. 

In my third year at the school, I came back to the apartment one day and saw an invitation to a Catholic Mass slid underneath my door. I didn't know who put it there. I was intrigued, as I was at a public school and I had not seen this before on campus, so I kept the invitation. But the problem was Mass would start during one of my evening classes. 

September 9, 2013 – a normal Monday – is a date I will never forget. I walked out of that evening class and I saw Mass going on across the street. I couldn't hear the priest but I could tell he was giving a homily, so I decided at that moment to go. I was expecting 15 to 20 people to be there, but there were at least 40 to 50 people, including my roommate! It was there where I first encountered FOCUS, which had been at this campus since 2009. This school didn’t have a Newman Center but it had its own Catholic Student Organization: I couldn't believe I had missed out on it for two years! Most people might say that the random roommate who invited me became my roommate by chance, but I'm not sure about that. I truly think God put him in my life to invite me to come back to Him. 

About a month later I was invited by the CSO to a retreat off-campus but I was a little hesitant. I had gone on retreats before and felt refreshed and energized after each one, but it didn't take long for that excitement to fade because I was just going through the motions, doing what everyone else was doing. This time I decided to go and signed up at the last minute. It was at this retreat where I learned that this was more than just another club on campus. These were fellow students, men and women my age, who were living intentionally for the Lord and striving to become disciples. We had a lot of fun and bonded over that weekend, but it was much more than that. 

What I remember most from that weekend is Adoration. It was the first time I had gone since high school. The moment it started I felt an overwhelming sense of peace that I had not felt in a long time. For all my life I had thought that the bread and wine were just symbols of Jesus' Body and Blood. But it was during that retreat where I first heard that they weren't just symbols, they actually were His Body and Blood and that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist! 

Over the years I wanted so badly to get involved in the Church and keep Jesus at the center of my life, but I wasn't sure what God was calling me to do. I went to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, and one of my prayers at that time was “Lord, whatever your will is for my life, that's what I want.” One day we visited churches around Panama City. In one of the churches there was a statue of Our Lady and beneath it a plaque describing Our Lady of La Antigua, the patroness of Panama. It’s said that her feast day is September 9 and that she was canonically crowned in 2013. Remember that date? I had to walk out of the church and catch my breath. It was a clear message from God that I was right where I was meant to be. It didn't answer what He wanted to do with my life, but it erased any doubt that He does have a plan for my life! 

There are still times where I fall into old habits, but the last few years have been transformative because I've learned to recognize triggers that cause me to start comparing myself to others and I'm incredibly grateful for what God has given me in my life. I've also learned to allow myself to be vulnerable to those around me, especially to Jesus during prayer. It's opened up opportunities to have conversations about the faith with my family, especially my mom, who was raised in a strict Catholic household. She's now on a journey of deepening her faith. I think there's a spark in at least two of my sisters at the moment and I'm still praying for all three of them to return to full communion with the Church and for my two brothers-in-law and four nieces and nephews to follow them home.

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“Total peace! A true miracle.”

Lori Bickel

I received Communion after having surgery. While the surgery went well, I had a reaction to the pain medication they gave me. My body felt like little vibrations were coursing through me. I couldn’t rest. Someone knocked on the door and asked if I would like to receive Communion. I said, “Oh, yes please,” and after we said a prayer and he gave me Communion, I felt a warmth start at my head and go through my entire body. Total peace! A true miracle. I called my husband, who came and took me home. While I have always believed that Communion is the Body of Christ, now I know it is. No one could ever convince me it isn’t. 

I love going to Mass and receiving Communion because I continue to feel the peace and love I did almost 30 years ago. 

I love adoration because I love talking to Jesus. I know I talk to Him many times throughout the day, but the peace and quiet is a welcome change. I think of it as going to visit my friend instead of Him always coming to me. I make a conscious effort to make a special time for Jesus.

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“Sitting before Jesus is so remarkable”

Vickie Lortie

The Eucharist is the way I can be closest to Jesus. He becomes my nourishment for going into battle. It is how I come to know Jesus in the depths of my soul. 

Once, while chaperoning for World Youth Day in Wadowice, Poland, at the childhood church of St. John Paul II, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, awe, and joy while coming forward to receive the Eucharist. It was humbling to think that the same Jesus that came to JPII – a saint – was coming to me in the same way, in the same location, and He loves us both the same. I often go back to that moment when I receive the Eucharist. Jesus offers Himself freely to each of us; we just need to receive. 

I love going to Mass because it is the most perfect way we can worship as a group. The Liturgy of the Word draws us into the way to live, while the Liturgy of the Eucharist feeds us and gives us the nourishment to live out the call of the Christian life. 

Sitting before Jesus in the Eucharist is so remarkable. If I have some problem to solve, I can give it to Jesus to work out. If I need encouragement, He is there. Sometimes I talk to Him, sometimes He talks to me, and sometimes we are just present with each other. The Eucharist is the best way for me to become closer to Jesus. He shows me in this gift how to be a gift to others and how to be humble. He nourishes me and helps me to live out my vocation. 

During the Covid shutdown of our churches, we were not able to receive the Eucharist for weeks. It was such a wake-up call to how much I had taken the Mass and Eucharist for granted. Once the churches reopened, I had a strong conviction to attend daily Mass as much as I possibly could. During those shutdown weeks, I formed the habit of watching daily Mass online and longed to receive Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity. 

The parish where I work, St. Jude, is blessed to have a 24/7 Eucharistic chapel. It makes all the difference! If I need inspiration, motivation, or clarity, I can just go and sit with Jesus for a few minutes, and He fills me with peace, allowing me to get back to work with Him guiding me. I also think it is good to have a regular, scheduled Holy Hour. This reminds me that Jesus sets aside time just for me and I need to be sure to set aside time just for Him. The fruits that come from a weekly Holy Hour commitment are remarkable. I recommend others to sign up for a weekly Holy Hour at your local chapel.

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“I have never left Adoration empty”

Jenny Born

There is no physical limit to the depth of the soul. It is not like our physical body that gets full with food we eat. The food from heaven — the Bread of Life, the Eucharist — is eternal and not confined to the rules of the physical world. There is no limit to the graces from this food, the Eucharist. It’s a beautiful mystery that surpasses my understanding, but it fills my cup. I have never left adoration empty. 

Luke 24:5-6 says, “Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has been raised.” I don’t seek Jesus from the world, I find Him in the Eucharist.

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“I can see the difference of life with the Eucharist”

Jackie Moody

I spent three years away from the Sacraments because I was not in a state of grace. I continued to attend Mass and was involved at my parish during that time, but did not present myself for Communion. I can't explain in true words the ache I felt during that time, and how much I missed that time with Jesus. Strangely, I felt the healing and transformative power of the Eucharist when I was away from it. 

Praise God, and through His mercy, I am on the other side and once again in full communion with the Catholic Church. As dark as that time away from the sacraments was for me, I am truly grateful for it. In hindsight, I can see the difference of life with the Eucharist, and without. There is so much joy, strength, and the knowledge that Jesus is with you during all life's ups and downs. I will never take for granted that most wonderful gift that Jesus gave to us for the first time at His Last Supper, and I will celebrate it in awe, at every Mass for the rest of my life.

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