Frequently Asked Questions

My question is about … 

Adoption
Adult Formation/Continuing Education
Baptism
Becoming a Catholic
Becoming a priest or Religious
Catechist Formation
Catholic Schools
Communion/Reception of Eucharist
Confession
Confirmation
Difference between Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches
Donations
Gift Annuity
Immigration
Interactive Television
Marriage and annulment
Pastoral Ministry Formation
Parishes: locations and Mass times, history
People/Families in Crisis
Priests
Protecting God’s Children
RCIA
Sacramental Records
Seven Sacraments
The Southwest Kansas Register
Symbols and gestures of the Catholic faith
Youth activities
 

 

Adoption

Contact information: If you are interested in adoption services, Catholic Social Service of the Diocese of Dodge City would be happy to help you. They can be reached in Dodge City at 620-227-1562, or toll-free 800-222-9383, in Garden City at 620-272-0010, or Great Bend, 620-792-1393.

 

1) How much does it cost to adopt a child?

In addition to the costs common to every adoption, adoptive parents generally incur costs specific to their type of adoption. The costs for three types of adoption are described here: foster care, domestic infant, and intercountry. These expenses are in addition to the universal expenses described above in most cases.

a) Foster care adoption costs: $0 to $2,500. Most public agencies in the foster care system place children with special needs only, a category that is defined differently in each State but may refer to children who must be placed with siblings, who are older or in a minority group, or those with disabilities. Up-front fees and expenses may range from $0 to $2,500, including attorney's fees and travel expenses. In foster care adoptions, fees often are kept to a minimum or even waived, so that final costs to parents are negligible. In some cases, the child may even be eligible for government subsidy payments (often called adoption assistance), Supplemental Security Income, or Medicaid coverage.

b) Domestic infant adoption costs: $5,000 to $40,000. These vary widely according the type of agency used and, sometimes, the individual adoption circumstances. It is important for prospective parents to fully understand what is included in agency and attorney fees. In some cases, the cost of the home study is included, rather than broken out separately. Domestic infant adoptions fall into three general categories, each with its own attendant costs:

c) Licensed private agency adoption costs: $5,000 to $40,000. Costs for this type of adoption include a fee charged by the agency and may include the cost of the home study, birth parent counseling, adoptive parent preparation and training, and social work services involved in matching a child to a prospective family. The fees charged by licensed agencies are generally predictable, and some even have sliding fee scales based on family income. In addition, some agencies may offer reduced fees to prospective parents who locate a birth parent on their own but who need the agency for counseling, facilitation, home study, and supervision services.

d) Independent adoption costs: $8,000 to $40,000 (average is $10,000-$15,000). Independent adoptions handled by an attorney generally result in costs that may include medical expenses for the birth mother (as allowed by law), as well as separate legal fees for representing adoptive and birth parents, and any allowable fees for advertising. Additional medical expenses may be required in situations in which there are birth complications.

State laws restrict many of these costs, including any reimbursements to the birth mother. Restrictions may also exist regarding advertisements seeking expectant parents. Where allowed, such advertising expenses may range from $500 to $5,000.

Compared to licensed agency adoptions, the costs of independent adoptions may be less predictable. In addition, costs may not be reimbursable in cases in which a birth mother changes her mind and chooses to parent her child.

e) Facilitated/unlicensed agency adoption costs: $5,000 to $40,000. These costs are generally the same as costs of licensed agencies. However, in States that allow adoptive placements by facilitators these placements are largely unregulated. Prospective parents may have no recourse if the adoption does not proceed as expected.

f) Intercountry adoption costs: $7,000 to $30,000. Agencies that provide intercountry adoption services charge fees that range from $7,000 to $30,000. These fees generally include dossier and immigration processing and court costs. In some cases, they may include a required donation to the foreign orphanage or agency. Overall costs may be affected by the type of entity in the foreign country that is responsible for placing the child (e.g., government agency, government orphanage, charitable foundation, attorney, facilitator, or some combination thereof). Many intercountry adoption agencies offer a sliding fee scale.

Depending on the country, there may be additional fees, such as:

While there may be a small fee required up front, any requirement that all fees be paid immediately following application should raise red flags. When talking with your professional, ask about the payment schedule, and about sliding scale fees if your financial resources are limited.

There are a growing number of resources to help manage the cost of adoption, including tax benefits (some of which apply to public agency adoptions as well), loans, employer benefits, and others.

2) What tests, etc… must we go through to determine we are qualified to adopt?

Aside from a criminal record or overriding safety concerns that would preclude agencies from approving your family under your State's laws or policies, characteristics that might disqualify a family in one situation may be seen as strengths in another. Remember, agencies are not looking for "perfect" families. The home study process is a way for a social worker to learn more about your real family, as a potential home for real children.

Who may adopt varies from agency to agency, State to State, and by the child's country of origin. Adoptions in the United States are governed by State law and regulations. Some States also have their policies posted online. Within State guidelines, many agencies are looking for ways to rule families in rather than rule them out, to meet the needs of children in the U.S. foster care system waiting for adoptive families.

3) Assuming we are qualified, how long does it take to receive our child?

Waiting times for infant adoptions vary tremendously and can be as long as 2 years or more. The wait for placement of children from foster care varies greatly depending on the type of child(ren) the family hopes to adopt and the family's ability to meet the child(ren)'s needs. Intercountry adoptions may have more "predictable" waiting periods.

4) Can a single person adopt a child?

In general, any single adult or a husband and wife jointly can be eligible to adopt. You will need to check with your chosen adoption agency to determine if they accept single persons in their particular program.

 

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Adult Formation/Continuing Education

Contact information:If you would like more information about Adult Education programs in the Diocese of Dodge City, contact Coleen Stein, (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She will be happy to help you. You can also visit the Adult Formation website.

1) What kind of adult education classes does the Diocese of Dodge City offer?

Too many to list here! Take a look at the Adult Formation page of the diocesan website. This page lists in an easy-to-read format of the many Adult Formation opportunities offered in the Diocese of Dodge City.

2) Who can take the classes?

While most classes are designed for a specific group, such as Catechist Formation or Pastoral Ministry Formation, most classes are also open to people who simply want to attend for “personal enrichment,” and not as part of an organized group.

3) How much do the classes cost?

Cost varies dramatically. Some are offered for free, while others, such as those offered for college credit, require a payment for the class, and possibly for texts.

4) Where can I find a schedule of upcoming classes?

Click here to go to the ITV page on the diocesan website where you will find a listing of many of the classes currently being offered.

 

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Baptism

 

Contact information:If you would like more information about Baptism in the Diocese of Dodge City, or are seeking to have a baptism performed, contact your local pastor. If you, or you know of an adult who is seeking baptism for him or herself, and are interested in the RCIA process, please see the RCIA listing in this FAQ section, or contact Coleen Stein, (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

1) Can you be too old or too young to be baptized?

A person can be baptized into the Catholic Church at any age. It is most commonly administered to infants. If a newborn infant is in danger of death, it is to be baptized without any delay. Under ordinary circumstances, parents should to see to the baptisms of their infants within the first few weeks.

Adult converts to Catholicism can also receive the sacrament, unless they have already received a Christian baptism. (If there is any doubt about whether an adult has already been baptized, consult the priest.) A person can only be baptized once as a Christian — if, say, he was baptized as a Lutheran, he cannot be re-baptized when he converts to Catholicism.

While an adult can be baptized after proper instruction in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (See the RCIA FAQ listing) and is immediately followed by Confirmation and Communion.

2) Who can administer the baptism?

Anyone! However, anyone can baptize only in extreme cases. The Catholic Church has ordinary ministers for sacraments and those are bishops, priests and sometimes deacons. Most baptisms are done by a priest when the person is an infant, but there are extreme cases when even an unbaptized person can baptize someone. All that is required is "the will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian Baptismal formula." If this is done it is usually because someone is laying on his/her deathbed and they truly desire to become Christian. How is this type of Baptism valid you ask? Well, the Church believes in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation (1 Timothy 2:4, John 3:5).

The essential conditions are that the person pour water upon the one to be baptized, at the same time pronouncing the words: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Moreover, he or she must thereby intend really to baptize the person, or technically, he or she must intend to perform what the Church performs when administering this sacrament.

3) Why are children baptized?

Simple: to remove original sin and make the person a child of God. Okay, so it actually has a much longer answer than that, but it will only be touched on briefly here. Infant baptism is a long topic all in itself that has been debated for centuries. First, we will appeal to the Bible. John 3:5 says, "Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." Note that Jesus says "no one" can enter heaven in that passage. In order to stay within the guidelines of these primers here is the short answer straight from the Catechism:

"The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also have been baptized," (Acts 16:15,33; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16).
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1252)

4) What does the grace of baptism accomplish?

Baptism does five things specifically.

a) It forgives all sins that may have been committed prior to a person's baptism including original sin and it relieves the punishment for those sins.

b) It makes the newly baptized person "a new creature." It turns the person into a newly adopted child of God and a member of Christ.

c) Baptism incorporates one into the Church which is the body of Christ. It brings someone into the flock of the faithful and brings them to share in the royal priesthood of Christ (1Pet. 2:9-10).

d) It gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers and it also brings about the sacramental bond of the unity of Christians.

e) Last, but certainly not in the least, it leaves and indelible spiritual mark (character) of belonging to Christ on the soul. Nothing you can do will take away this mark even if you sin a million times. Those sins may not grant you salvation, but you will always carry the mark of a Christian on your soul, therefore making re-baptism impossible.

5) What is the role of Godparents?

Godparents for Baptism are just like sponsors for Confirmation. However, they take on a different role since usually only children that are being baptized have godparents. Their role is to take over or assist in the faith development of the person being baptized in the event that his/her parents cannot or if they neglect the child. This fulfills the baptismal promise of being raised in the Catholic faith.

 

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Becoming a Catholic

Contact information: If you would like more information about becoming a Catholic, contact your local pastor. Or, you can contact Coleen Stein, (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

1) I would like to convert to the Catholic faith. Where do I begin?

Many avenues lead individuals to the Catholic Church. A conversation with a Catholic friend or coworker may bring about an inquiry into Catholicism. A visit to a Catholic church for a wedding or a funeral may pique curiosity. Perhaps something read in the newspaper or seen on television sparks an interest in Catholicism. Many people reach a point where they find themselves asking questions about life’s meaning, world issues, and their own direction. Some individuals have been inactive members of a Christian denomination and are now seeking a richer spiritual life.

2) What do I do now?

a) Once you have decided to become Catholic, contact your local priest, or Coleen Stein, at the information given above (for those living within the Diocese of Dodge City). They will discuss with you the process of taking part in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). Please see RCIA FAQ listing for more in depth information about RCIA.

b) You will enter into period of Inquiry. This is the initial phase of one’s faith journey. It is a time for hearing the Gospel, the first stirrings of faith and conversion, a time to sort out questions and motivations, the first introduction to the Church. At this point the individual is called an inquirer.

c) The period of the catechumenateis the time when much of the catechesis or teaching takes place. It presumes an initial conversion and commitment to the RCIA process. At the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, inquirers declare their intention to the Church, and the Church “accepts them as persons who intend to become members” (RCIA, 41). The inquirers are called catechumens now and begin to explore the community’s beliefs, values, prayer, spirit, and mission.

d) When catechumens are deemed ready for Christian initiation, they are formally called to the sacraments of initiation. After participating in the Rite of Election, the catechumens are called the elect. This period of Purification and Enlightenment coincides with Lent. The Forty Days of Lent become a spiritual retreat in preparation for the rites of initiation at the Easter Vigil.

e) On the night when Christians around the world celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord, the Easter Vigil, the elect are led to the saving waters of Baptism, sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist for the first time. They receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation.

f) Received as new members of the body of Christ, the newly baptized, also called neophytes, continue their formation as they reflect in this period of Mystagogy upon the mysteries they have encountered in the sacraments of initiation. This becomes a period of transition from the RCIA community into the full life of the parish and discipleship in the world.

 

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Becoming a priest or Religious

Contact information: Contact Rev. Wesley Schawe, (620) 227-1533, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Becky Hessman, (620) 227-1530 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about the priesthood, the Religious life, or if you have other questions concerning your vocation. Click here to go to the vocations website for the Diocese of Dodge City.

 

PRIESTS

1) Are there different kinds of priests?

a) There are two different types of priest. First, there are diocesan priests. The majority of priests belong to a diocese. They dwell in a specific geographic area, such as Liberal or Garden City. These priests minister under the guidelines of a diocesan bishop.

b) Second, there are Religious ordered priests. Ordered priests belong to a community such as the Franciscans or the Benedictines. They live in community, eating and praying together. They often minister within and outside of their community.

2) What do priests do

Priests serve as pastors to parishes, teachers, and chaplains for hospitals or prisons. Within the parish, duties include preparing themselves and parishioners for the sacraments, counseling, and overseeing parish administration.

3) Where do Diocese of Dodge City priests attend seminary?

Most diocesan priests who serve the Diocese of Dodge City attend either St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, or Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri. But the diocese is also home to priests who have attended seminaries from across the globe.

4) How do you “train” for the priesthood?

Step 1: Understand the Catholic Church teaching that all people have a vocation, a divine call to a particular purpose. A select few men may have a divine call to the priesthood. Those who feel that call must begin the process with prayer and introspection. They also should talk with their parish priest and their diocese's Director of Priestly Vocations, (Rev. Wesley Schawe (620) 227-1533, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) who will help them further explore the process and help them determine if the priesthood is their calling.

Step 2: Begin the education process. Candidates for the priesthood should finish high school, Upon graduation from high school, if they are ready for priestly formation, they enter a seminary college, such as Conception Seminary College in Missouri. There they grow spiritually and humanly, and study the philosophy which is needed before beginning theological studies. In addition, they take courses in Catholic theology. Those who discern a call to priesthood while they are in college might transfer to a seminary college. Those who discern a call toward the end of college or after they are finished with college apply to a seminary, such as Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, where they enroll in the pre-theology program if they do not have sufficient background in philosophy to begin theology directly. This is usually a two year program.

Step 3: Enter a theological seminary. The seminary should foster future priests by focusing on the pillars of priestly formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. Human formation strives to prepare men for the life required of the Catholic priesthood, including a life of celibacy. Spiritual formation emphasizes preparing men to life in complete union with God. This includes a life devoted to prayer and spiritual direction. Intellectual formation focuses on gaining a deeper knowledge of the mysteries of faith and the teachings of the church. Pastoral formation is about preparing men to be what the church calls "shepherds of souls," following the example of Jesus.

Step 4: Learn the principle of gradualism. In preparation for the priesthood, the church values the principle of gradualism, meaning that as a man advances through the process of entering the priesthood, he is expected to exhibit more of the values and qualities that the church requires. Prayerful consideration of a calling is not something that ends when a man begins his education for the priesthood; it is ongoing throughout the process.

Step 5: Ask for ordination as a deacon. Following college and seminary preparation, seminarians may be ordained as deacons. A man who has served as a deacon for at least six months, is at least 25 years old, and has completed six years of philosophical and theological study can petition his bishop for ordination as a priest. The final decision for ordaining a seminarian as a deacon or priest rests with the bishop of a diocese.

Step 6: Ask for ordination as a priest.

 5) Why don't Catholic priests marry? The Bible says that a bishop should be ``blameless, the husband of one wife'' (1 Tim. 3:2), which certainly indicates that Christ approves of marriage for the Christian clergy.

Catholic priests do not marry because, while Christ does indeed approve of marriage for the Christian clergy, He much prefers that they do not marry. He made this quite clear when He praised the Apostles for giving up ``all'' to follow Him, saying, ``And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.'' (Matt. 19:27-29). The Apostle Paul explained why the unmarried state is preferable to the married state for the Christian clergy: ``He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.'' (1 Cor. 7:32-33). In other words, matrimony is good-- Christ made it one of the holy sacraments of His Church--but it is not conducive to that complete dedication which is incumbent upon those who submit themselves to another of Christ's holy sacraments--that of Holy Orders. Even so, the unmarried state of the Catholic priesthood is not an inflexible law--under certain conditions a priest may be dispensed from this law.

 

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

1) What are the prerequisites for becoming a Catholic Sister or Nun? 

a. You must be a Catholic woman.

If you are not Catholic, there are other forms of religious life in Christian communities that are not exclusively Catholic (e.g., Benedictine Women of Madison) as well as in other religious traditions (e.g., Buddhist nuns). If you wish to become a Catholic, talk with a pastor at a local Catholic parish.

b. You must be single.

You cannot be currently married in the eyes of the Church. If you are, you must obtain an annulment in order to consider becoming a nun. Widows may validly become nuns.

c. You must not have any dependent children.

There are many women who have children who become nuns. The children, however, must no longer be dependent.

d. You must not have any debts upon entrance to the novitiate.

Novitiate is usually a year or two into the formal process of becoming a nun. If you do have debts, work to eliminate them. Don’t stop looking into a religious community because of a student loan or something similar. Talk with the vocation director about how to proceed.

e. You must be healthy.

It’s important that you be physically and psychologically able to engage in the mission of the religious community. However “healthy” is a relative term and doesn’t automatically exclude people with managed illnesses or disabilities. This is an important thing to discuss with the vocation director.

f. You must 18 to 40-ish years old.

Although the age limit used to be confined to 18-25, communities accept women up to age 40, and many accept women beyond their 40s and into their 50s. If you are in the higher range of age, don’t be discouraged from pursing religious life. Often this is addressed on a person-by-person basis.

g. Other considerations

A college degree is not an absolute prerequisite; however, many religious communities do encourage that you have at least a bachelor’s degree prior to entering. Professional experience (not necessarily a full-fledged career, though that is welcomed too) is also encouraged prior to entering.

 

2) What’s the difference between a Catholic Sister and a Nun?

The terms “nun” and “sister” are often used interchangeably. However within Roman Catholicism, there is a difference between the two in terms of the vows they profess. A nun is a woman who professes the perpetualsolemnvows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. A religious sister is a woman who professes perpetual simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law explains the distinction this way:

“The older religious orders (monastic, canon regulars, mendicants, Jesuits) have perpetual solemn vows, and the more recent apostolic congregations have perpetual simple vows. The chief juridical difference between the two is that religious who profess a solemn vow of poverty renounce ownership of all their temporal goods, whereas religious who profess a simple vow of poverty have a right to retain ownership of their patrimony but must give up its use and any revenue.” (New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law. New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2000)

monastic: a nun (or monk) who lives in a monastery; the lifestyle is characterized by ascetic simplicity and seclusion

canon regular: a member of one of several Roman Catholic religious institutes of regular priests living in community under a rule (most commonly the Augustinian rule)

mendicant: derived from the Latin word “beggar”; a member of a religious order such as the Franciscans or Dominicans combining monastic life and outside religious activity and owning neither personal nor community property

patrimony: an estate, endowment or anything inherited from one’s parents or ancestors

 

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Catechist Formation

Contact information:If you would like more information about Catechist Formation in the Diocese of Dodge City, contact Coleen Stein, (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She will be happy to help you. You can also visit the Catechist Formation webpage.

1) What Catechist Formation?

The Catechist Formation Program offers classes through the ITV network that are designed to help all those in the Dodge City Diocese who have been called to pass the faith onto the next generation. While designed for anyone involved with religious education or sacramental preparation, anyone who wishes to, may attend the classes. It was introduced by Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore to the diocese in 2002:

2) Why a Catechist Formation program, anyway?

All pastoral and educational programs should be reviewed and evaluated from time to time. The program we had used up until the Catechist Formation program was introduced had been in place for nearly a decade. It was determined that we needed a program to meet changing needs in which all could participate together, one which could be completed in a timely and consistent manner and with a minimum of paperwork and guesswork by participants and administrators.

3) Who is served with the Catechist Formation program?

The program is for all uncertified parish school of religion catechists, catechetical administrators such as DREs, CREs (Coordinator of Religious Education), youth ministers with catechetical responsibilities, and Catholic school personnel.

4) When and where will the sessions be scheduled?

See the schedule of dates and ITV sites here.

5) Who will teach or moderate the sessions?

Talented local presenters with the appropriate education and skills or experience will be engaged for each session.

6) What about equivalencies for those with college or other credit?

Normally, six college credit hours in Theology or Scripture from an approved Catholic College or University will be considered as an equivalency in regard to completion of the Diocesan Catechist Formation Program. Six credit hours leading to a degree or diocesan diploma in our Pastoral Ministry Formation Program will be considered as an equivalency in regard to our Catechist Formation Program. If the Pastoral Ministry Formation program has been audited, a completed audit of 12 credit hours is required. College/diploma/audit hours or certification credit from other dioceses are subject to review and approval by the Diocesan Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry and the Superintendent of Catholic schools. A word of caution: Those completing equivalencies outside of our program should consider taking one or more Methods courses in order to supplement the doctrinal/ministerial content of the alternative credit sessions.

7) Is there a Spanish track or component to our Catechist Formation Program?

The English Catechist program is mirrored in Spanish. The leadership of Hispanic Ministry programs for the diocese has developed a complimentary catechist formation and certification program to meet the unique needs of the Hispanic Community in our diocese.

8) What does this certification mean? What is our diocese saying when a Full Certification is awarded? How will this play out in parish ministry and in our Catholic schools?

Certification is recognition that an individual has completed our Catechist Formation Program and has been given an opportunity to appropriate the catechetical content and skills necessary to be effective with our young people in a classroom setting. Continued growth must take place. Certification is a kind of catechetical content indicator only and does not guarantee any individual a paid or volunteer position with a parish, school or PSR program, or take the place of any screening or application process required by the diocese or parish.

9) What if a catechist or other participant misses a session?

Catechist Formation has a progressive counting system. Each Catechist Formation session is worth one point. To receive a certificate, one must have complied with Diocesan Safe Environment requirements and have acquired three points. So if one misses a session, they will receive a point at the next session they attend. A certificate is awarded after every three points. When one has received 12 points, one is diocesan certified for a period of three years. One may continue to acquire sets of three points and merit additional certificates.

10) Can I only earn points by attending the Catechist Formation sessions?

One may also earn certification points by attending the KARE conference, Diocesan Stewardship Day and Scripture Day.

 

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Catholic Schools

Contact information:If you would like more information about Catholic schools in the Diocese of Dodge City, contact Superintendent Trina Delgado at (620) 227-1513.

1) How many Catholic schools are in the Diocese of Dodge City? Where are they located?

Here is a list of the seven Catholic schools in the diocese. Included are their grades and locations. For more information about the specific school, click on the name of the school:

Dodge City -- Sacred Heart Cathedral – Pre-8
905 Central Ave., Dodge City, KS 67801
(620) 227-6532

Ellinwood -- St. Joseph –K-8

111 West Third, Ellinwood, KS 67526

(620) 564-2721

Garden City -- St. Dominic –Pre-6

617 J.C. Street, Garden City, KS 67846

(620) 276-8981

Garden City -- St. Mary –Pre-6

503 W. St. John Street, Garden City, KS 67846

(620) 276-2241

Great Bend -- Holy Family –Pre-6

4200 Broadway, Great Bend, KS 67530

(620) 793-3265

Ness CitySacred Heart– Pre-8

510 South School Street, Ness City, KS 67560

(785) 798-3530

Pratt – Sacred Heart – Pre-5

330 North Oak, Pratt, KS 67124

(620) 672-3687

 

2) How much does it cost to attend a Catholic school per year?

 

It varies widely from school to school. (Please note that while this information will be updated, it may have changed since it was published to the web in Dec. 2009.) For example, tuition for Sacred Heart Cathedral School in Dodge City is: first child, $2,000; second child, $1,500; third child or more, no further charge; non-Catholic, $3,500 per child per year. Sacred Heart School in Pratt costs $1,060 if one child per family. Two children cost $1,700 per year total. Three children cost $2,340 per year, per family, total. Tuition for a non-Catholic child costs $1,600 per year for one child, $2,250 for two children, and $2,900 for three children. There is no blanket diocesan policy and the fees are set by the parishes. It would be advisable for you to contact the school you would like your child to attend to get information specific to that school.

 

3) Why does it cost more for non-Catholic children?

A percentage of the tithing from Catholics – what they put in the collection basket at Mass – goes toward Catholic school funding. Since Catholics are, in effect, paying for Catholic schooling each time they give to their parish, they are asked to pay less when it comes to tuition.

 

4) Are Catholic schools still taught mostly by Religious?

 

No. Most teachers are laypeople.

 

5) Does that mean that religion is no longer a priority at Catholic schools?

 

Absolutely not. Faith formation is as much a priority as reading, writing and arithmetic. Students still celebrate Mass at least weekly or more often, and still attend classes focusing on their Catholic faith. The following puts it nicely:

“Catholic educators must help students understand what it is to be truly transformed into the image and likeness of God,” said Father Henry Hildebrandt, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Ness City. He said it’s not enough that teachers see the students as children of God, the children must see themselves that way. “We seek to see the good in our kids,” he said. “We don’t love them because they’re good, they’re good because we love them. Parents are the first educators of their children. School is an extension of the home. If schools are truly an extension of the home, we need to give thought to the values and beliefs and priorities of the home. If you are going to say you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you need to live in line with the Church.”

6) Are Catholic schools as strong academically as public schools?

 

Nearly all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Dodge City have been awarded the Standard of Excellence on the state assessment by the Kansas Board of Education, as part of the No Child Left Behind act. Subjects for which they have received awards include writing, reading and mathematics.

 

 

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Communion/Reception of Eucharist

 

Contact information:If you have more questions about Communion/Reception of Eucharist, contact your local pastor.

1) What is Holy Communion?

Holy Communion is the receiving of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

(a) Just as it is necessary to nourish our bodies with material food, so also it is necessary to nourish our souls with spiritual food. Our Divine Savior so loved us that He gave us Himself in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist; He gave us His own body and blood as food for our souls.

(b) It is not necessary that we receive Our Lord's body and blood under the appearances of both bread and wine. Christ is entirely present under the appearances of bread, and also entirely present under the appearances of wine. Therefore, we receive Him whole and entire under the appearances of bread alone or of wine alone.

2) What is necessary to receive Holy Communion worthily?

To receive Holy Communion worthily it is necessary to be free from mortal sin, to have a right intention and to obey the Church's laws on the fast required before Holy Communion out of reverence for the body and blood of Our Divine Lord. However, these are some cases in which Holy Communion may be received without fasting.

(a) Venial sin does not make us unworthy of receiving Holy Communion; but it does prevent us from receiving the more abundant graces and blessings which we would otherwise receive from Holy Communion.

3)When and where are the bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Christ?

The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ at the Consecration in the Mass.

 

4) How do the priests change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ?

 

The priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through the words of consecration in the Mass, which are the words of Christ: This is My body; this is My blood.

 

5) What should we do after Holy Communion?

 

After Holy Communion we should spend some time in adoring our Lord, in thanking Him for the grace we have received, and in asking Him for the blessings we need.

 

6)When did Christ give the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood?

 

Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood when He said to the Apostles, Do this in commemoration of Me.

 

7) Why must we fast one hour before receiving the Eucharist, or has this changed?

 

Canon 919 of the Code of Canon Law states, "One who is to receive the most holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion."

Those who are elderly (at least 60 years of age) or sick, as well as their caretakers, can receive Communion even if a full hour fast has not been fulfilled. For example, people in the hospital are not in control of their own schedule and may be eating or have just finished eating when visited by the priest or Eucharistic minister.

The most important point regarding this question concerns why we ought to fast. St. Paul reminds us, "Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed" (II Cor 4:10). We, too, are charged to convert our whole lives — body and soul — to the Lord. This conversion process involves doing penance — including bodily mortification like fasting — for our sins and weaknesses, which in turn strengthens and heals us. Pope Paul VI exhorted the faithful in his apostolic constitution "Paenitemini" (1966), "Mortification aims at the ‘liberation’ of man, who often finds himself, because of concupiscence, almost chained by his own senses. Through ‘corporal fasting’ man regains strength, and the wound inflicted on the dignity of our nature by intemperance is cured by the medicine of a salutary abstinence."

 

8) What if I forget and eat, say, 45 minutes before reception of the Eucharist?

This regulation does not mean we have to be scrupulous and count-off seconds. The goodness of receiving Holy Communion supersedes the precise "hour of fast" if there is a doubt.

However, note that one should also not be lax. Pope John Paul II lamented in "Dominicae Cenae" (1980) the problem of some people not being properly disposed to receive Holy Communion, even to the point of being in a state of serious mortal sin. He said, "In fact, what one finds most often is not so much a feeling of unworthiness as a certain lack of interior willingness, if one may use this expression, a lack of Eucharistic ‘hunger’ and ‘thirst,’ which is also a sign of lack of adequate sensitivity towards the great sacrament of love and a lack of understanding of its nature." We must make a good faith effort to prepare ourselves properly to receive the Lord.

Therefore, the Eucharistic fast assists us in preparing to receive Holy Communion wholly — body and soul. This physical mortification strengthens our spiritual focus on the Lord, so that we may humbly encounter the divine Savior who offers Himself to us.

 

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Confession

 

Contact information:If you have more questions about confession, contact your local pastor.

1) Why do Catholics confess their sins to priests? What makes them think that priests can absolve them of the guilt of their sins? Why don't they confess their sins directly to God as Protestants do?

Catholics confess their sins to priests because -- as it is clearly states in Sacred Scripture -- God in the Person of Jesus Christ authorized the priests of His Church to hear confessions and empowered them to forgive sins in His Name. To the Apostles, the first priests of His Church, Christ said: “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.... Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.'' (John 20:21-23). Then again: “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.'' (Matt. 18:18). In other words, Catholics confess their sins to priests because priests are God's duly authorized agents in the world, representing Him in all matters pertaining to the ways and means of attaining eternal salvation. When Catholics confess their sins to a priest they are, in reality, confessing their sins to God, for God hears their confessions and it is He who, in the final analysis, does the forgiving. If their confessions are not sincere, their sins are not forgiven.

Furthermore, Catholics do confess their sins directly to God as Protestants do: Catholics are taught to make an act of contrition at least every night before retiring, to ask God to forgive them their sins of that day. Catholics are also taught to say this same prayer of contrition if they should have the misfortune to commit a serious sin (called a ``mortal sin'' by Catholics).

2) Granting that priests do have the power to forgive sins in the name of God, what advantage does confessing one's sins to a priest have over confessing directly to God in private prayer?

Catholics see several advantages in confessing their sins to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance. First, there is the Church's guarantee of forgiveness, which private confessions do not provide; secondly, there is the sacramental grace which private confessions do not provide; and thirdly, there is the expert spiritual counseling which private confessions do not provide. With the Apostles, Catholics recognize that the Church is, in a mysterious way, the Body of Christ still living in the world (Col. 1:18); therefore they recognize that God will receive their pleas for mercy and forgiveness with far greater compassion if their pleas are voiced within the Church, in union with the Mystical Body of His Divine Son, than if they are voiced privately, independent of the Mystical Body of His Divine Son.

 

3) Do Catholics confess all the sordid details of their sins to the priest?

No, Catholics are instructed not to confess the sordid details of their sins, because it would serve no useful purpose. All that is required of the penitent is the number and classification of sins committed, as well as a sincere contrition for having sinned, a promise to make restitution if the sin has harmed others, a firm resolve to avoid future sins and the occasions of sin, and the carrying out of the penance assigned by the priest (usually the praying of a few prayers). Actually, there are fewer intimacies revealed to the priest in the confessional than are usually revealed to one's doctor, lawyer, or psychiatrist; hence the Sacrament of Penance is not the embarrassing experience many non-Catholics imagine it is. Rather, it is a wonderful relieving experience, for it is through this sacrament that sins committed after Baptism are washed away by the blood of Christ and the sinner becomes once again reconciled with God.

 

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Confirmation

 

Contact information:If you would like more information about Confirmation in the Diocese of Dodge City, contact Coleen Stein, (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She will be happy to help you. You can also visit the Diocese of Dodge City Confirmation webpage.

 

1) I’ve heard rumors that the Diocese of Dodge City may begin celebrating Confirmation in conjunction with First Communion. Is this true? And if so, why?

It has not yet been determined whether or not the time of Confirmation will be changed. It is very important to note that should the change occur, the change will be a restoration of the time of Confirmation to its original order: Baptism, Confirmation, and then First Eucharist.

 

2) Doesn’t it seem more logical that young people celebrate Confirmation when they’re older and can better understand what it is they’re celebrating?

 

The Church has long considered “the age of reason” to be around seven or eight. But age really has very little to do with it. The possible decision to restore the celebration involves much more than that.

Here’s a bit of history:

In 2005, Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore initiated an extensive study within the diocese to determine if the time of Confirmation should be restored to its original order. To this end, he formed a study group made up of 12 priests, women religious, and lay people, who would meet often throughout the next three years. The group studied books and articles on Confirmation. It surveyed parishes in this diocese as well as dioceses across the U.S. The group discussed, read Scripture, and evaluated the concerns and benefits associated with a change in Confirmation age.

 

3) What did the study group conclude?

The group had found that, within our diocese, confirmation age lacked consistency. Moreover, the intended order of the initiation sacraments has been lost. After careful deliberation, the study group recommended that Bishop Gilmore restore the proper order of the initiation sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

 

4) So, if age has little to do with the original ordering of the sacraments, why the possible change back to that order?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “by the sacrament of Confirmation, (the baptized) are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” (1285)

The baptized and confirmed then join us at the Eucharistic table, where the centrality of the Eucharist is seen and experienced.

 

The idea is that:

a) Children will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit earlier in their lives.

b) The Eucharist will truly be the source and summit of our Christian initiation and our lives.

 

5) What exactly is Confirmation?

Confirmation is a sacrament in which the Holy Spirit is given to those already baptized in order to make them strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

6) Is the bishop the only one who can confirm?

No. The bishop alone is the ordinary minister of confirmation. A bishop confirms validly even those who are not his own subjects; but to confirm licitly in another diocese he must secure the permission of the bishop of that diocese. Simple priests may be the extraordinary ministers of the sacrament under certain conditions, such as if the bishop is ill.

 

7) Can a person who has not been baptized be confirmed?

No. A person must have been baptized to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. St. Thomas put it this way: “Now it is clear that a man cannot advance to a perfect age unless he has first been born; in like manner, unless he has first been baptized he cannot receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.”

 

8) Who can be a sponsor for the person being confirmed?

The sponsor should be at least 14 years of age, of the same sex as the candidate, should have already received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and be well instructed in the Catholic Faith. Excluded are the father and mother of the candidate, members of a religious order (unless the candidate be a religious), and those who are under public ban of interdict or excommunication.

 

9) Must a new name be given at Confirmation?

No. The custom of giving a new name to the candidate is not obligatory.

 

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Differences between Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic

1) What are the Eastern Catholic Churches?

Although it is not widely known in our Western world, the Catholic Church is actually a communion of Churches. According to the Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, the Catholic Church is understood to be "a corporate body of Churches," united with the Pope of Rome, who serves as the guardian of unity (LG, no. 23). At present there are 22 Churches that comprise the Catholic Church. The new Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, uses the phrase "autonomous ritual Churches" to describe these various Churches (canon 112). Each Church has its own hierarchy, spirituality, and theological perspective.

Because of the particularities of history, there is only one Western Catholic Church, while there are 21 Eastern Catholic Churches. The Western Church, known officially as the Latin Church, is the largest of the Catholic Churches. It is immediately subject to the Roman Pontiff as Patriarch of the West. The Eastern Catholic Churches are each led by a Patriarch, Major Archbishop, or Metropolitan, who governs their Church together with a synod of bishops. Through the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Roman Pontiff works to assure the health and well-being of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

While this diversity within the one Catholic Church can appear confusing at first, it in no way compromises the Church's unity. In a certain sense, it is a reflection of the mystery of the Trinity. Just as God is three Persons, yet one God, so the Church is 22 Churches, yet one Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes this nicely:

"From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them... Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions. The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity" (CCC no. 814).

Although there are 22 Churches, there are only eight "Rites" that are used among them. A Rite is a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony," (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28). "Rite" best refers to the liturgical and disciplinary traditions used in celebrating the sacraments. Many Eastern Catholic Churches use the same Rite, although they are distinct autonomous Churches. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Melkite Catholic Church are distinct Churches with their own hierarchies. Yet they both use the Byzantine Rite.

2) Are the Eastern Catholic Churches the same thing as Greek Orthodox Churches?

No, they are not the same thing. The Greek Orthodox Church, and the other Eastern Orthodox Churches, are not in communion with the Pope of Rome. In contrast, the Eastern Catholic Churches are in full communion with the Pope of Rome.

This having been said, it is important to note that the Eastern Catholic Churches have a great deal in common with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and are virtually indistinguishable. In most respects there are no differences between them. This is because the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches share a common heritage, which colors all aspects of Church life. The average visitor cannot tell the difference between a Byzantine Catholic parish and a Greek Orthodox parish, for instance. This is because we share so much in common, and have almost identical liturgical, spiritual, and theological perspectives.

3) How many Eastern Catholic Churches are there, and how many rites are used?

Eight Rites of the Catholic Church:

a) Roman b) Armenian c) Byzantine d) Coptic e) Maronite f) East Syrian g) West Syrian h) Ethiopian (often listed as a recension of the Coptic Rite)

The twenty-two Catholic Churches:

ROMAN RITE -- 1. Latin Church

ARMENIAN RITE -- 2. Armenian Church


BYZANTINE RITE -- 3. Italo-Albanian Church 4. Melkite Church 5. Ukrainian Church 6. Ruthenian Church 7. Romanian Church 8. Greek Church (in Greece) 9. Greek Church of Former Yugoslavia 10. Bulgarian Church 11. Slovak Church 12. Hungarian Church 13. Russian Church 14. Belarusan Church 15. Albanian Church

COPTIC RITE -- 16. Coptic Church (in many lists the Ethiopian Church is also placed here)

MARONITE RITE -- 17. Maronite Church

EAST SYRIAN RITE -- 18. Chaldean Church 19. Syro-Malabar Church

WEST SYRIAN RITE -- 20. Syro-Malankara Church 21. Syrian Church

ETHIOPIAN RITE -- 22. Ethiopian Church (often listed under the Coptic Rite)

4) Is Benedict XVI the head of the 21 Eastern Catholic Churches in addition to being head of the Roman Catholic Church?

The Pope, in his role as head of the Universal Church, is in an indirect way head of the individual Eastern Catholic Churches. But each of the Eastern Catholic Churches have their own specific heads, either a Patriarch or Metropolitan.

Pope John Paul II explained it as such:

"In harmony with the tradition handed down from the earliest centuries, the Patriarchal Churches have a unique place in the Catholic communion. One need only think that in these Churches the highest authority for any action, including the right to elect Bishops within the borders of the patriarchal territory, is constituted by the Patriarchs with their Synods, without prejudice to the inalienable right of the Roman Pontiff to intervene."

In a very direct way, the Pope is head of the universal Catholic Church, which is comprised of the Eastern Catholic Churches together with the Latin Church.

5) I was just wondering if the Catechism of the Catholic Church applies to all the Eastern Churches or just the Western Church (Roman Catholics)?

The Holy Father has encouraged the Eastern Churches to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church "as a point of reference" for composing their own Catechisms, particular to their traditions. This is also stated in paragraph no. 11 of the text. The Byzantine Catholic eparchies in the United States have been working on such a catechism for several years now, and it has very recently been completed.

Our catechism is called "Light for Life," and it is published in three volumes: The Mystery Believed, The Mystery Celebrated, and The Mystery Lived. It is a marvelous resource, and I HIGHLY recommend it.

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Donations

Contact information:If you would like more information about making a donation to the Diocese of Dodge City or one of its ministries, contact Mark Roth, (620) 227-1535, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the diocesan ‘development’ webpage.

 

1) I would like to make a donation to the Diocese of Dodge City. Who do I contact and where do I send it?

Thank you so much for considering the Diocese of Dodge City as a recipient of your donation! You may contact Mark Roth at the information above, or simply send a check made out to the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, P O Box 137, Dodge City, KS 67801-0137.

 

2) May I make a donation to a specific ministry, or does it have to be to the Diocese of Dodge City in general?

You may donate to any parish, ministry or organization, such as Catholic Social Service, of your choice. Your donation does not have to be to the Diocese of Dodge City in general.

 

3) I would like to make a donation to the diocese, but I don’t have the means to do so.

If one does not possess the means to donate now, perhaps a planned gift would be a more appropriate way to support the diocese or your parish. Contact Mark Roth at the above address for more information about planned giving opportunities.

 

4) What are some of the ways and means by which I can make a donation?

Here are a few ways in which the diocese suggests people who wish to donate, can do so:

 

a) Charitable Gift Annuity Program

 

The annuity program provides a benefit to both the charity and to the donor by providing tax benefits and a high rate of return which will not change during the donor's lifetime. Annuity rates are highly competitive with other investments currently available.

Why?

- High rate of return

- Life income guaranteed, interest rate will not change

- Charitable gift tax benefits on your original investment

- 30 to 75% of your income may be tax free

- Paperwork is simple and easy to understand, and no medical forms to complete

- No cost to setup or administer

Helping Others

- Stewardship with a gift that will assist in diocesan and parish ministries

- After death the remaining value of the annuity contract will go to fund the ministries of the Church or charity as designated by you

- Suggested beneficiaries include diocese, parish, Catholic school, Catholic Social Service, Dechant Foundation, seminarians, religious education or any combination thereof. (The minimum investment amount is $2,500.)

 

b) Planned Giving

 

Planned Giving is a way to maximize estate tax benefits through the stewardship of your resources, while assisting the Diocese of Dodge City in ministering to the needs of the Church in Southwest Kansas. We do not give estate planning advice, but will work with you and with your tax professionals to structure a plan that accomplishes your goals.

What can be included in an individual’s giving plans?

- Cash

Cash is the easiest gift and provides the maximum deduction.

Gifts of cash are fully deductible.

- Stocks

Did you know giving stock can be more beneficial that giving cash?

A gift of stock will allow you to avoid capital gains on the increased value. Donors may deduct the full market value at the time of giving.

- Life Insurance

Donate a policy, and make an extraordinary gift. You'll also get the proceeds out of your taxable estate.

Donors may purchase a new policy or donate a policy that is no longer needed. The donor receives a deduction in the amount of the current cash value when the diocese or a parish is named as owner and beneficiary.

- Bequests

It just takes a simple designation in your will and will not affect your cash flow during your lifetime. It's easy to revoke if your situation changes.

This is a simple way to remember the diocese or a parish is to name that legal entity in your will.

 

Legal Language For Bequest

General Bequest to Diocese:
"I give, devise and bequeath to the 'Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, a nonprofit Kansas corporation, 910 Central Avenue, Dodge City, KS 67801, (dollar amount, percent, residue, securities or property as described) for its general use and purposes as directed by its Ordinary."
Designated Bequest:
"I give, devise and bequeath to the 'Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, a nonprofit Kansas Corporation, 910 Central Avenue, Dodge City, KS 67801, (dollar amount, percent, residue, securities or property as described) for the benefit of (parish and complete address) for its general uses and purposes."

 

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Gift Annuity

Contact information:For more information about gift annuities, contact Mark Roth, Director of Development, (620) 227-1535 (voice) or (620) 227-1545 (fax) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . He will be happy to answer all of your questions.

 

1) What is a gift annuity?

A gift annuity is an agreement between an individual and a qualified charitable organization or institution. The donor transfers assets to the organization and receives fixed payments for the rest of his or her lifetime and/or the lifetime of another person, if desired.

 

2) Are there tax benefits?

Yes. Since a portion of your gift will be used for charitable purposes, you are entitled to a federal (and perhaps state) income tax deduction in the year you make your gift. Part of each payment is tax-free for a period of years as well.

 

3) Can I outlive my payments?

One of the attractive features of the gift annuity is that you normally cannot outlive its benefits. The charitable recipient is obligated to make payments for as long as an annuitant (a recipient of payments) lives.

 

4) Can I give securities rather than cash to set up a gift annuity?

Yes. Often the tax benefits are even greater if the securities have increased in value because you may avoid the tax on a portion of the capital gain in the property. If you give a low-yielding asset, you may be able to increase your income, since a gift annuity may pay more.

 

5) How can I begin a gift annuity?

A gift annuity can be created with a minimum of effort. The first step is to contact us for exact current benefits and a gift annuity proposal.

 

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Immigration

 

Contact information:If you would like more information about Immigration, or about emigrating to the United States, contact the Mexican American Ministries in Dodge City or Catholic Office of Migration and Refugees in Garden City. You can also visit the Immigration Direct website.

 

1) What is the Church’s stance on immigration?

The following comes from a joint pastoral letter of the Mexican and United States bishops:

• “Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland, and the government has the obligation to provide that opportunity.

• “Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families. Everybody has the right to move when opportunities are not present. They have the right to emigrate.

• “Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.” But, the statement added, “We want proper, rational … control. That right has never been considered absolute. Human rights have to be considered first.

• “Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection. Everybody should welcome those seeking refuge.

• “Even the undocumented person deserves total human respect. They should not be forced to live or work in deplorable conditions. You would not want to be treated that way; I would not want to be treated that way.”

 

2) Does that mean that the Church believes that all immigrants, documented or otherwise, should be able to cross our borders without hindrance?

No. As noted in the third point above, the Church believes in border control – but a “proper, rational” control. Dozens of people die each year crossing the desert southwest to find work or to meet with loved ones living in the United States.

For the immigrant, between the exorbitant cost of emigrating, the masses of red tape, and the amount of time it takes – sometimes years – the current system leads thousands to risk life and limb to enter the country as undocumented immigrants.

Here is a snippet from an article in the Southwest Kansas Register from 2008. It details the efforts of a local citizen to bring her husband and children to the United States:

“Until you actually go to the border, you can’t imagine how many people are trying to get across the right way,” she said. “I bet there were 500 to 600 people in line [at the immigration office]. And that’s every day. My husband and children went in at 8 in the morning. I had to stay across the street. There are people coming in and out. Someone told me that as long as they didn’t come out early, it’s going okay.

“They came out at 5 p.m., and were told they’d have to come back the next day so that they could do background checks. They also had to get physicals and get their shots.”

By this time, the family had paid $3,000 in fees, $585 for physicals, and $450 “because some paperwork wasn’t right.” On the following day, the children were each given a U.S. residency card, while her husband was handed an indefinite waiting period.

 

3) How does the Church view the current immigration system?

 

The Church views it as broken. The Church has long been a proponent of an overhaul of the immigration system. The system has long been debated, many ideas offered, but very little has been done. The Church, and many, many others, believe that a comprehensive approach to immigration reform could lead to a significant decline in illegal immigration.

 

4) Does the Church believe in amnesty for all undocumented immigrants?

No. The Church believes instead in overhauling the immigration system so that those undocumented immigrants living in the United States can more quickly and easily obtain proper documentation.

 

5) I need information about immigrating to the United States. Can you help me?

Many of the answers you seek depend upon which country you are emigrating from. There is an online source designed to answer all questions about immigrating to another country. Click here to go to the “Immigration Direct” website.

 

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Interactive Television (ITV)

Contact information:If you would like more information about ITV (Interactive Television) and its programs in the Diocese of Dodge City, contact Coleen Stein, (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She will be happy to help you.

1) I’ve heard about programs being taught through ITV. What exactly is ITV?

Talk about being connected! ITV, or Interactive Television, connects people in different parishes through closed-circuit TV. That means that you can attend a class at Sacred Heart Parish in Pratt that’s actually being taught in Dodge City. On two large TV screens, the speaker can see and speak with you, and you can see and speak with him or her. It’s that simple.

The “Church in Partnership,” (Diocese of Dodge City and Newman University) use the ITV system to provide Pastoral Ministry Formation, access to Catholic higher education, and other formation programs.)

2) Are there special sites that you have to go to, or can you attend the class at home on your computer through a webcam?

ITV classes are not offered through the internet; therefore you have to attend a specific location. But because there are 10 different sites across the diocese, no one should have to travel too far to attend a class. Sites include:

Dodge City

Hennessy Hall Room 26, Newman U Western Center,
236 San Jose Drive

Garden City

St. Mary Center, 510 N. 12th
Basement SW corner

Great Bend

St. Rose Auditorium, 1424 Baker Avenue
South East Room

Liberal

St. Anthony School, 1510 North Calhoun

Pratt

Sacred Heart Church basement, 338 North Oak

Ness City

Sacred Heart School lunchroom, 510 S. School Street

Scott City

St. Joseph, 1006 South Main Street
South East Room

Sharon

St. Boniface Parish Center, 406 Main
North West Room

 

Syracuse

 

Hamilton County Library, 102 W. Avenue C

 

Ulysses

 

Pioneer Communications, 120 W. Kansas Avenue
Downstairs Video Conference Room

 

3) What kind of classes are taught through ITV?

 

The Pastoral Ministry Formation Program uses the network to offer students the opportunity to earn a degree or a diploma in Pastoral Ministry from Newman University. “Newman University Western Kansas” uses the ITV network to offer students the opportunity to earn a B.S. in Elementary Education, M.S. in Curriculum Instruction, M.S. in Building Leadership and an M.S.W. in Social Work.

The Diocese also uses the ITV network to provide such programs as: Comunidades de Aprendizaje, Catechist Formation, Financial Peace University, Word Working Training, Youth Vocation Night, NCYC Training and for meetings such as: insurance, finance and building committees.

 

4) Are they open to anyone?

 

Yes, classes are opened to anyone and are offered for college credit or for personal enrichment.

 

5) How much do the classes cost?

 

Pastoral Ministry Formation and Comunidades de Aprendizaje courses cost $50.00 per credit hour (college credit) or $25.00 per credit hour (personal enrichment). Catechist Formation, Financial Peace University and other training classes are offered for free.

 

6) Where can I find a schedule of upcoming classes?

 

Click here to go to the ITV page on the diocesan website where you can find a listing of upcoming classes taught through ITV.

 

7) Do you have to register ahead of time to attend a class?

 

Again, that largely depends on the class. The best thing to do would be to go to the website at the link under question six, find a class you’re interested in, then contact Coleen Stein -- call (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -- for cost and registration information.

 

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Marriage and annulment

 

Contact information:Contact Sister Janice Grochowsky, Director of the Tribunal for the Diocese of Dodge City at (620) 227-1527 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She will be happy to answer all of your questions regarding marriage, divorce or annulment. The following is taken from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 

MARRIAGE

 

1) Why does the church teach that marriage is a sacrament?

The sacraments make Christ present in our midst. Like the other sacraments, marriage is not just for the good of individuals, or the couple, but for the community as a whole. The Catholic Church teaches that marriage between two baptized persons is a sacrament. The Old Testament prophets saw the marriage of a man and woman as a symbol of the covenant relationship between God and his people. The permanent and exclusive union between husband and wife mirrors the mutual commitment between God and his people. The Letter to the Ephesians says that this union is a symbol of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

2) Do Catholics ever validly enter into non-sacramental marriages?

Yes. Marriages between Catholics and non-Christians, while they may still be valid in the eyes of the Church, are non-sacramental. With permission, a priest or deacon may witness such marriages.

3) What is the difference between a valid and an invalid Catholic marriage?

Just as individual states have certain requirements for civil marriage (e.g., a marriage license, blood tests), the Catholic Church also has requirements before Catholics can be considered validly married in the eyes of the Church. A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they freely exchange their consent; (3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; and (4) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.

4) If a Catholic wants to marry a non-Catholic, how can they assure that the marriage is recognized by the Church?

In addition to meeting the criteria for a valid Catholic marriage (see question #3), the Catholic must seek permission from the local bishop to marry a non-Catholic. If the person is a non-Catholic Christian, this permission is called a "permission to enter into a mixed marriage." If the person is a non-Christian, the permission is called a "dispensation from disparity of cult." Those helping to prepare the couple for marriage can assist with the permission process.

5) Why does a Catholic wedding have to take place in a church?

For Catholics, marriage is not just a social or family event, but a church event. For this reason, the Church prefers that marriages between Catholics, or between Catholics and other Christians, be celebrated in the parish church of one of the spouses. Only the local bishop can permit a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.

6) If a Catholic wishes to marry in a place outside the Catholic church, how can he or she be sure that the marriage is recognized by the Catholic Church as valid?

The local bishop can permit a wedding in another church, or in another suitable place, for a sufficient reason. For example, a Catholic seeks to marry a Baptist whose father is the pastor of the local Baptist church. The father wants to officiate at the wedding. In these circumstances, the bishop could permit the couple to marry in the Baptist church. The permission in these instances is called a "dispensation from canonical form."

7) If two Catholics or a Catholic and non-Catholic are married invalidly in the eyes of the church, what should they do about it?

They should approach their pastor to try to resolve the situation.

8) When a Catholic marries a non-Catholic, must the non-Catholic promise to raise the children in the Catholic faith?

The non-Catholic spouse does not have to promise to have the children raised Catholic. The Catholic spouse must promise to do all that he or she can to have the children baptized and raised in the Catholic faith.


9) Is it required that a wedding celebration have expensive flowers, clothes and other accompaniments?

The Rite of Marriage makes no reference to any of these cultural elements. The focus of the couple should be on the celebration of the sacrament. Pastors repeatedly point out that a couple does not have to postpone the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage because they cannot afford such things.

10) How much does it cost to get married in the Catholic Church?

Dioceses often regulate the stipend, or offering to the church, that is customary on the occasion of a wedding. Depending on different areas, this might also include the fee for the organist and vocalist. In a situation of true financial difficulty, couples can come to an agreement with their pastors so that true financial hardship will never prevent a Catholic marriage from taking place.

11) What is a Nuptial Mass and when can a couple have one?

A Nuptial Mass is a Mass which includes the celebration of the sacrament of marriage. It has special readings and prayers suitable to the Sacrament of Marriage. The Sacrament of Marriage between two baptized Catholics should normally be celebrated within Mass.

If the situation warrants it and the local bishop gives permission, a Nuptial Mass may be celebrated for a marriage between a Catholic and a baptized person who is not a Catholic, except that Communion is not given to the non-Catholic since the general law of the church does not allow it. In such instances, it is better to use the appropriate ritual for marriage outside Mass. This is always the case in a marriage between a baptized Catholic and a non-baptized person.

12) What should a couple do when they decide that they want to marry in the Catholic Church?

They should contact their parish as soon as possible and make an appointment to talk with the priest, deacon or staff person who is responsible for preparing couples for marriage. This person will explain the process of marriage preparation and the various programs that are offered.

13) Why does the church require engaged couples to participate in a marriage preparation program?

Marriage preparation offers couples the opportunity to develop a better understanding of Christian marriage; to evaluate and deepen their readiness to live married life; and to gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple.
It is especially effective in helping couples to deal with the challenges of the early years of marriage.

14) What kinds of marriage preparation programs does the church offer?

Depending on the diocese and the parish, several may be available. Programs include a weekend program with other couples, such as Catholic Engaged Encounter, a series of sessions in large or small groups or meetings with an experienced married couple. Some programs may be offered in Spanish and other languages. Specific programs address particular circumstances, such as remarriage, children brought into the marriage and marriage to a non-Catholic. As part of their preparation, many couples complete a premarital inventory, such as FOCCUS, to identify issues for further discussion.

15) What key issues are covered in marriage preparation?

Marriage preparation programs help couples to understand the Christian and the human aspects of marriage. Typical topics include: the meaning of marriage as a sacrament; faith, prayer and the church; roles in marriage; communication and conflict resolution; children, parenthood and Natural Family Planning; finances; and family of origin.

16) Is there a cost for marriage preparation programs?

Most programs charge a modest fee to cover the cost of materials. Programs that require an overnight stay will include an additional cost for rooms and meals. Assistance is frequently available for couples who would otherwise be unable to participate.

17) Does the church offer any programs to help couples to improve their marriage?

Yes. Peer ministry for married couples is widespread. Many couples meet in parish-based small groups; ministries such as Teams of Our Lady, Couples for Christ, and Christian Family Movement also use the small group approach. The Marriage Enrichment Weekend Program (www.tmewpi.org) is offered in several states. (The Diocese of Dodge City offers Marriage Encounter weekends. For more information, click here.) Some parishes sponsor a retreat day or evening of reflection for married couples. Others offer a mentoring system that matches older couples with younger ones. Throughout the country, many couples participate in Marriage Encounter (www.wwme.org), which offers a weekend experience and ongoing community support.

18) What can a couple do if their marriage is in trouble?

Parish priests, deacons and other pastoral ministers are available to talk to couples and to refer them to counselors and programs that can assist them. Retrouvaille (Ree-tru-VEYE) (www.retrouvaille.org) is an effective program that helps to heal and renew marriages in serious trouble.

ANNULMENT

 

1) What is marriage?

 

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a covenant relationship in which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of love and life. It is ordered

toward the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. If both parties are baptized, this marriage becomes a sacrament. If one or both parties are not baptized, although not sacramental, the marriage is considered to be a natural, good and valid relationship. The Catholic Church believes that every valid, sacramental and consummated marriage is indissoluble. The Church does not accept the fact that divorce can sever the bond of a valid marriage. Church law presumes that every marriage is valid until the contrary is proven.

 

2) What is an annulment?

 

The precise term is “declaration of nullity.” A declaration of nullity is a judgment by the Church that what seemed to be a marriage never was in fact a valid marriage. A declaration of nullity is granted when it can be clearly proven that at least one of the elements seen as essential for a binding marriage was not present in a particular relationship from the beginning.

 

3) What is a Marriage Tribunal?

 

The Tribunal Office handles the annulment process. This office is part of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City under the auspices of the Bishop of the Diocese. Persons with special training in Canon Law administer the Tribunal. Staff members who are competent in enabling the petition to proceed from the first to last step assist them.

 

(NOTE: The following information pertains to what is called a “Formal Process”)

4) What does the process involve?

 

The initial step for the Petitioner (the person who initiates the case) is to contact a

priest, deacon or any lay person designated as an “advocate.” This person will assist the petitioner in “telling your story” which will encompass the details of your marital difficulties. The time of courtship, engagement and early marriage is most significant. Once a case has been accepted, the Petitioner is asked to complete a detailed questionnaire covering their early home life, the former spouse’s home life, the courtship, wedding, honeymoon and married life. The Petitioner is also asked to supply copies of the following documents: the baptism certificate(s) of the Catholic party(ies), marriage license or certificate and the final divorce decree.

 

5) Must the former spouse be contacted?

 

Yes. As a matter of justice and to assist the Tribunal in gaining a completely objective perspective, the other party to the marriage (called the Respondent) is contacted after the case has been accepted. The Respondent, who has a right in law to be heard, is sent a letter explaining that his/her former marriage partner is petitioning a Church court for a marriage annulment. The Respondent will be sent a questionnaire giving him/her the opportunity to present their side of the story.

 

6) What happens if the former spouse won’t cooperate?

 

Because the annulment procedure affects both parties, the former spouse must be informed of the process. The Tribunal must have evidence the Respondent was cited and “has been heard.” It is not necessary that the Tribunal have the consent of the Respondent. If he/she does not wish to cooperate, the Tribunal proceeds toward making a decision on the basis of the information available.

 

7) Are witnesses necessary?

 

Yes. Since marriage is never a totally private relationship but encompasses family, friends and society, other persons are called upon to serve as witnesses The Petitioner is to supply the names and addresses of six or more witnesses. The Respondent is also given the opportunity to provide a list of witnesses. The basic requirement is that the persons named as witnesses are people who knew the petitioner and respondent during married life, preferably from the beginning of married life. The witnesses will be asked to complete a set of questions. It is very important that the witnesses write a concise and clear set of answers. The object of this testimony is not to find fault with either party but to assist the Tribunal in gaining a better understanding of the marriage and its difficulties.

 

8) Once the testimony is gathered, then what?

 

When it has been determined that all necessary information has been collected, the complete profile of this marriage is presented to the Defender of the Bond. The Defender is a member of the Tribunal staff who examines the testimony and assures the Court that the rights of both the Petitioner and Respondent have been safeguarded. When the Defender has completed his review of the case, the profile is given to a panel of three Judges, or to a single Judge, for a decision. The Judge has the most difficult and tedious work of examining all of the testimony and looking at it in the light of the teachings of the Church and Canon Law. If, with moral certainty, the Judge or Judges determine that there was never a valid union between the couple, the Petitioner and Respondent are informed of this decision. Another Tribunal must review all cases before a decree of nullity is officially granted. The Appellate Court of the Diocese of Dodge City is that of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. Freedom to marry in the Catholic Church is not possible until an affirmative decision by the Appellate Court is rendered.

 

9) Are there any civil effects to a declaration of nullity?

 

No. There are absolutely no civil effects to a declaration of nullity. The annulment does not effect the legitimacy of children, property rights, names, etc. The purpose of adeclaration of nullity is to serve one’s conscience and spirit and to reconcile persons to full sacramental participation in the community of the Church.

 

10) Is there a fee for Tribunal services?

 

There is not a charge for an annulment itself, but it is expected that the Petitioner pay in part the costs of the investigation. A large portion of the Tribunal’s expenses is borne by the Catholics of the Diocese of Dodge City. The Petitioner is expected to contribute toward the remaining costs ($250). The Tribunal will forward a stipend from this amount to the Archdiocese of Kansas City for the mandatory review. However, a person’s ability or inability to pay in no way affects the progress or outcome of a case.

 

11) How long does the process take?

 

Each case is different and the average time for reaching a conclusion greatly varies. Some factors, such as the cooperation of the witnesses, are beyond the control of the Tribunal. The Tribunal can never guarantee beforehand a favorable decision since the decision must rest on the facts that surface during the investigation. Therefore, no plans for a future marriage should be made until a final declaration of nullity has been issued.

 

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Pastoral Ministry Formation

Contact information:If you would like more information about Pastoral Ministry Formation in the Diocese of Dodge City, contact Coleen Stein, (620) 227-1538 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She will be happy to help you. You can also visit the PMF webpage.

1) What is the Pastoral Ministry Formation Program?

Here’s the official definition:

“Pastoral Ministry Formation provides solid grounding in theology to empower the laity to become increasingly responsible for the life and ministry of the Church. It strives to equip the participants for fulfilling the roles to which they are called by their baptism and for which their gifts and the needs of the times challenge them.”

2) And what does that mean, exactly?

The PMF program offers college accredited classes through the Interactive Television (ITV) system that you can take to earn a degree in Pastoral Ministry, a diocesan diploma, or you can take the classes for “personal enrichment.” The classes are taught in semesters over a four-year period.

4) If I miss the start of the first semester, do I have to wait four years to begin the program?

No. You can jump in any time. While some classes require you take a prior class (for example, “Intro to New Testament” requires you first take “Intro to Old Testament”) most classes don’t have prior class requirements.

5) So, if I take the courses for college credit, do I earn a degree?

You can earn a degree in Pastoral Ministry from Newman University if:

a) You take all 24 core courses and six electives for college credit.

b) You already have a four-year degree.

6) What if I don’t have another four-year degree?

Then you will earn a “diocesan diploma.”

7) What will either a diploma or a degree do for me?

Some graduates have gone on to become RCIA directors, parish life coordinators, youth/adult directors or Protecting God’s Children instructors. It should be made clear, though, that earning a degree or diploma in no way ensures you of a position with the Church. Many people take the courses – whether for credit or personal enrichment – simply to better their knowledge of the Church.

8) How much do the classes cost?

The cost is $50 per credit hour, or $25 per hour for personal enrichment.

9) What are some of the classes currently being taught?

Click here, then scroll down for a listing and description of current classes.

 

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Parishes: Locations and Mass times, history

 

1) Where can I find the location of a church in the Diocese of Dodge City, or the Mass times for a specific parish?

The diocesan website provides a full interactive map of parishes. Simply click on the icon in the town which you are searching to see the address of the church. Once you click on a church icon, you will find a link to exact directions to the parish, as well as to more information that includes Mass times.

 

2) The parish I grew up in doesn’t exist any more. Where can I find information about the parish?

Tim Wenzl, the diocesan archivist, will be happy to track down any information he can about a parish, or even a town, that may no longer exist. Contact him at (620) 227-1556, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

 

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People in Crisis:

related to family troubles, troubled youth, farm foreclosure, physical abuse, gambling addiction, and/or drug and alcohol abuse

 

1) My family is facing serious difficulties and I’m not sure where to turn for help.

 

For general help with any sort of family crisis, call the Catholic Social Service office closest to you. CSS will make referrals if not able to offer direct help. Here is the contact information for the Diocese of Dodge City offices:

Dodge City

906 Central Ave.
Dodge City, KS 67801
620-227-1562
Toll Free 800-222-9383

 

Garden City

603 N. 8th St.
Garden City, KS 67846
620-272-0010

Great Bend

2201 16th St.

Great Bend, KS 67530

620-792-1393

 

2) I think I may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, and I need help.

 

First, congratulations on seeking help. The first step is to contact Hattie Stein, the addiction counselor for Catholic Social Service. She can be reached at 620-227-1584 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Hattie offers help in a comfortable and non-confrontational environment where you can begin turning your life around.

 

3) My husband is physically abusing me. What should I do?

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, you can call the Family Crisis Hotline, 620-792-1885. The Family Crisis Center offers safe houses where women can go and spend some time sorting out their lives, and with the help of trained counselors, deciding what is best for their future.

 

4) I’m on the verge of losing our family farm. Where can I turn to for help?

There are three toll-free hotlines designed specifically to help farmers facing difficulty. They are:

a) Kansas Rural Family Helpline, toll free, 866-327-6578: Provides confidential, short-term emotional support, advice, and qualified referrals directly to rural families struggling with an unmet emotional, medical, financial, or legal need.

b) Kansas Agriculture Mediation Services, toll-free, 800-321-3276: Helps farmers, agricultural lenders and USDA agencies resolve disputes in a confidential and non-adversarial setting outside the traditional legal process.

c) WORKs -- Work Opportunities for Rural Kansans, toll free, 866-271-0853: Helps farmers, ranchers, and their families to make a transition from farming and ranching to non-farm employment.

 

5) I think that my child, or a child I know of, may be a victim of sexual abuse by a clergy, or an employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Dodge City.

Contact Dave Snapp, Fitness Review Administrator: 620-225-5051 work; 620-225-2412 home; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You always have the right to directly contact Social Rehabilitation Services, 1-800-922-5330. Sexual misconduct report forms are available at www.dcdiocese.org/protectingchildren.

 

6) I think/know that I have a gambling addiction. I need help.

Congratulations on seeking help. Help is available not only to help you curb your addiction, but also to help you sort through what may be serious financial troubles due to gambling. Call Catholic Social Service at 620-227-1562, or toll-free 800-222-9383. Representatives will refer you to one of several certified gambling addiction counselor in the region. You can also call the National Council on Problem Gaming confidential hotline at 1-800-522-4700. Click here for information about the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction.

 

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Priests

 

1) I would like to contact a particular priest, but I’m not sure where he’s assigned. How can I find out?

Click here for a listing of names of priests and their parishes, including those who are retired. Their contact information is included.

Or, feel free to contact the chancery at (620) 227-1500. Just about anybody there should be able to help you out. Or, you can email the bishop’s secretary, Alba, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

2) I’m looking for information about a priest that served in the diocese a long time ago, and is since deceased. What do I do?

Click here to access the Necrology. If you don’t wish to go through the Necrology, you can simply contact Tim Wenzl, diocesan archivist, at (620) 227-1556, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . He will be happy to help you.

 

3) Where can I go to find information about a priest who served here, and is now in a different diocese?

Contact the chancery at (620) 227-1500. Or, you can email the bishop’s secretary, Alba, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

4) I’m looking for information about becoming a priest for the Diocese of Dodge City.

Click here for information.

 

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Protecting God’s Children

Contact information:If you would like more information about Protecting God’s Children in the Diocese of Dodge City, contact Georgina Paz, (620) 227-1531 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She will be happy to help you. You can also visit the Protecting God’s Children website.

 

1) Is “Protecting God’s Children” a program, or is it just an umbrella term for the efforts the diocese is taking to do just that?

Both. Child sexual abuse is a worldwide public health issue. Child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, is reprehensible — especially when the wrongdoer is affiliated with the Church. The Diocese of Dodge City is working with an organization called VIRTUS, which assists churches throughout the country in being a safe haven for children and a messenger for preventing child sexual abuse within the Church and society in general. VIRTUS seeks to achieve this goal through their child sexual abuse prevention program called “Protecting God's Children.”

2) Can you describe the program?

Most organizations that work with children have some sort of child safety program. Through the Protecting God’s Children program, VIRTUS maximizes those efforts by helping churches and religious organizations refine their roles as child-safe environments and empowering caring adults to protect children.

3) What has the Diocese of Dodge City done, and what is it doing, to create a safe environment for children?

a) The Diocese of Dodge City requires that all employees, staff members, and volunteers undergo a Kansas Bureau of Investigation background check.

b) All employees, staff members and volunteers who work with children or youth must attend a Protecting God’s Children awareness session, which are presented often throughout the diocese. The sessions last approximately three hours and include video testimony from both victims and perpetrators. The sessions suggest what parents should look for in their children should they, God forbid, fall victim. It urges individuals to keep their guard up and to know what to look out for in possible perpetrators, such as someone who seeks out privacy with a child.

c) After attending a Protecting God’s Children awareness session, all employees, staff members and volunteers receive emailed lessons from VIRTUS, which include information, and then a brief quiz based on the information. Once the information is read and the quiz taken, the person’s name is registered as having read and understood the lesson. Lessons are sent several times a year.

 

4) Is there any organization, such as the U.S. Bishops, that oversee the efforts to make sure individual dioceses are doing all they can?

Yes. After news broke in 2002 of the abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) created the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter lists both a set of procedures in addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, as well as guidelines “for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of further acts of abuse.”

After the approval of the charter, the USCCB established the Office of Child and Youth Protection, headed by top-ranking FBI agent, Kathleen McChesney. The Gavin Group, Inc., an independent auditor, was contracted to process the material provided to them by the individual auditors who visit the various dioceses on an annual basis to make sure the diocese is compliant with all the articles in the Charter. The individual auditors are made up almost entirely of retired or former FBI agents.

The individual audit is typically completed within five working days, at which time the information is sent to the Gavin Group, Inc. to process the material. Results are then sent back to the diocese within six weeks. The results are made public. If found non-compliant in one or more areas, the bishop and appropriate staff members endeavor to correct the problem so that the diocese is held in full compliance the following year.

5) With all that has been done, can we be sure that the Diocese of Dodge City is a safe environment for our children?

No. All the efforts in the world cannot and should not give someone complete peace of mind. It’s of utmost importance that we all keep our guard up to protect our children and young people.

6) What es the diocese do if someone reports abuse by a pastor or staff member?

Here’s the official policy as listed in the Diocese of Dodge City “Policy for the Protection of Children and Young People”:

a) Every incident or allegation of suspected child sexual abuse, whether reportable to state officials or not, must be brought to the Bishop’s attention promptly (within 24 hours). Upon receipt of the oral report, the Bishop or his Vicar General will notify the Diocesan attorney. A written report shall follow as soon as practicable. Generally, Diocesan personnel should report to the person to whom they are responsible. Priests should report to the Bishop or Vicar General. If that person is not available, or should such a step be inappropriate, the report is made to the next person in the chain of responsibility.

b) Generally speaking, persons responsible for the care of children must report suspected child sexual abuse to civil authorities. Such reports are made to the Kansas Department of the Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). Persons who must report are those who deal with the care or supervision of children: for example, teachers, principals, other school officials, day care center workers or child care workers. Priests must report to civil authorities only when they fall within the categories of professionals listed in K.S.A. 38-1522 (See Kansas Law Summary, Section XVI attached to this Poly, especially paragraphs 1, 2, and 8).

 

c) The seal of sacramental confession is inviolable. Nothing a priest hears in the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) from either a perpetrator or victim may ever be revealed or reported.

d) The Diocese will comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of

allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and will cooperate in their investigation. In every instance, the Diocese will advise and support a person’s right to make a report to public authorities.1 If the alleged victim is presently a minor, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, the county attorney for the county in which (1) the incident occurred, (2) where the alleged victim resides, or (3) where the accused resides, should be notified immediately by the Vicar General, the Diocesan Attorney or other designee of the Bishop. This notification may be made verbally, but should be followed with a written confirmation of the verbal report directed to the county attorney.

e) The Diocese will cooperate with public authorities about reporting cases even when the person is no longer a minor. If the alleged victim is no longer a minor, the person will be advised they have a right to make a report to the public authorities, and that the Diocese will cooperate with public authorities if a report is made. If the alleged victim requests assistance from the Diocese in making the report to the public authorities, the county attorney for the county in which (1) the incident occurred, (2) where the victim resides, or (3) where the accused resides, shall be notified of the report by the Vicar General, Diocesan Attorney or other designee of the Bishop. This notification may be made verbally, but should be followed with a written confirmation of the verbal report directed to the county attorney.

 

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