By Megan Erbacher
The Message assistant editor
Nearly 100 faithful gathered Aug. 28 for the Diocese of Evansville’s 2023 Wisdom Day in Vincennes at the Knights of Columbus.
The theme for the event was “Fruits of the Holy Spirit.” Speakers included Bishop Joseph M. Siegel; Diocesan Chancellor/Chief Operating Officer Dean Happe; and Benedictine Sister Anita Louise Lowe, Prioress of the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand. Father Garrett Braun, parochial vicar of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes and St. Philip Neri in Bicknell, offered an opening prayer and asked God to bring wisdom to all who were present.
In June 2019, Benedictine Sister Anita Louise was elected Prioress. In August, she said the Benedictine Sisters and their community celebrated 156 years of presence in the diocese. Currently, they have 106 sisters, which Sister Anita Louise said makes them the “second largest community of Benedictine women in the country.”
She explained that the sisters continue to focus on what it means to be faithful to their Benedictine life. The four guiding principles for their lives are prayer, work, community life and hospitality. She talked about the concept of hospitality and used St. Benedict’s phrase from the beginning of Chapter 53 of the rule of St. Benedict, “All guests who arrive should be received as Christ.”
“We are called by Benedict to live a life centered on prayer and work,” Sister Anita Louise said. “And that work is to respond to whatever the needs are of the time.”
In 1867, the great need was to teach the German immigrants, she explained, while today the sisters continue to ask what is the need to which they can respond. Through the centuries, Benedictines have continued to adapt to the times, she said, and remain faithful to their core values.
Sister Anita Louise compared being prioress to being a pastor. As prioress, she is responsible for ensuring the community remains faithful to their principles.
“Benedictines believe that the prioress holds the place of Christ in the monastery,” she said. “That’s not something I take lightly. It means it is my responsibility to assist each sister in her ongoing spiritual life, and to help guide her, and at times challenge her.”
Bishop Siegel discussed the upcoming National Eucharistic Congress from July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis. It’s the first National Eucharistic Congress hosted in our country in 83 years, he explained, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to have it accessible and close to home. It’s expected to draw more than 80,000 Catholics from around the country to celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist, which Bishop Siegel said is the source and summit of our Catholic faith.
A Eucharistic Congress is an especially powerful manifestation of the unity of the Church, Bishop Siegel explained, and it will help us grow in our understanding of this most precious gift God has given to us.
As Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke 12:49, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing,” Bishop Siegel said the Eucharistic Congress is intended to stoke those fires of faith and evangelization in the Church.
Bishop Siegel said the event is meant to be a generational moment, a beginning of the new chapter in the life of the Church in the United States that will lead to a more intense practice of our faith.
Bishop Siegel shared that the Diocese of Evansville will host a diocesan-level Eucharistic Congress Jan. 13, 2024, at the Old National Events Plaza in Evansville. Look for more details in an upcoming issue of The Message.
Diocesan Chancellor/COO Dean Happe gave attendees a brief recap of diocesan operations and shared a “litany” of good news from across the diocese's 12 counties. Happe said the diocese and parishes exist to administer the sacraments, to form all of us more fully in our faith and, ultimately, to “work together for the salvation of souls.”
“While there is no shortage of challenges, we don’t have it all figured out, there are many great things happening in our diocese,” he said. “We are grateful to all of you for all that you do in your parishes and in your communities in helping make those great things happen.”
Happe also discussed hospitality. He said on the drive to Vincennes, he listened to a reflection of the day’s Gospel of Matthew.
“The reflection talked about making it easier to welcome people to God’s kingdom,” he said. “That’s what we want to do. We want to make all of our ministries more accessible, easier to take advantage of and more known to welcome people in.”
Jasper will host a Wisdom Day event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT Sept. 28 at St. Joseph Catholic Church’s Parish Center, 1029 Kundeck St., Jasper, Indiana, 47546. To register, call Mary at 812-639-0669 or Cindy at 812-827-6930.