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Catechists honored, thanked, at banquet

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SHARON -- Catechists from Kiowa, Medicine Lodge and Sharon were honored at a banquet March 6 at the St. Boniface Parish Center.
Among the guests were the Most Rev. John B. Brungardt, Bishop of Dodge City, and speaker, David Myers, editor of the Southwest Kansas Register. The theme of the banquet was, “Jesus is our Rose of Sharon.”
Pastoral Minister Terry Deokaran, along with a contingent of volunteers organized the event, which included a steak dinner with all the fixings provided by the Rankin family of Sharon.
Bishop Brungardt gave the invocation, and Father Cosmas Nwosuh, MSP, thanked all the catechists gathered, including their spouses, for all the work they do.   
Youth from the 2011 Sharon Confirmation class acted as the wait staff. The cake was prepared by Cindy Summers of Kiowa; the catechists’ gifts were provided by Richard and Monica Hendricks of Sharon; and the door prizes were provided by RCL Benziger.

Dave Myers' presentation:

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things … except … (pulling items out of box) for my vintage View Master and out of print reels, my comic book collection, my Star Trek communicator, my Lost in Space talking robot, and of course, my Davey and Goliath action figures. They were Lutheran, by the way.

And prostrating myself before the Lord I said, “Forgive me, thy unworthy servant, for my abundance of childlike possessions.”
“To which the Lord said unto me, ‘Worry not, my son. It’s really more of a guideline than a rule.’
“To which I responded, ‘Thanks, Lord. I appreciate it.’
“To which God said, ‘Don’t mention it.’

I want to thank you for asking me to come and speak tonight. When I told Bishop Gilmore that Terry had called and asked if I do speaking engagements, he literally burst out laughing -- knowing me as he does. It didn’t exactly fill me with confidence, but I understood his response.    

I believe that our story is a success story. We’ve got God on our side. We’re on the winning team.
But how did we get here – you and I, to this point? How did we get from that little annoying child who drove our parents crazy and to whom the world was an open book that was just waiting to have its pages filled in, to an adult who is or was driven crazy by our own kids, and who occasionally and mistakenly thinks we have learned all we need to know?
In my many psychoanalysis sessions with God, I’ve studied how it is that I came to be the person I am, the adult I am. “Adult” referring in my case to age rather than behavior. On my 42nd birthday, a friend of mine at our printing plant told me that she didn’t think I was as old as I was. When I thanked her for her flattering comment, she said  -- it’s not how you look, it’s how you act.
I would have argued the point, but I didn’t have the time. I needed to get home. They were showing an Outer Limits marathon on TV.
How did we get here, to this point? How did we accomplish this long, sometimes arduous, sometimes deeply difficult, sometimes jump for joyous, sometimes laugh out loud journey?
There are our parents, our family, our friends -- there are our teachers, there is of course God, and then there’s a combination – all of the above, working in solidarity, sometimes recognized, sometimes not, a choir performing your own personal theme music as you wind through life.
My journey led me to Kansas 11 years ago, April 1. One of the many wonderful things about living in a small Kansas town – I’m from Spearville – is that the night sky is often unhindered by the lights of the city. I love to look up at the stars, to see the Milky Way stretching across the sky, to point out the constellations, to imagine what’s out there. With my telescope I’ve seen the rings of Saturn and the two moons of Jupiter.
It’s something I’ve done since I was a child, probably like many of you. I can recall that on many warm summer nights as a child, I would go out to the park at the end of my street and lay in the grass staring up at the stars. As a child, I thought I wanted to be an astronomer.
I eventually realized that I didn’t want to be an astronomer.  No, I wanted to be the captain of a starship. I wanted to go where no one had gone before. To explore new worlds. To make out with green alien women. Not only did astronomers not make out with green alien women, but they had to be really good at math. So far, I was batting zero.
I seriously wondered, in those childhood years, what would become of me. Since being Captain Kirk was out, I honestly considered the notion that I could end up like that guy from the TV show “Kung Fu,” Qui Chain Kane, played by David Carradine, who wandered the country helping those in need. That would be perfect, I thought. Just me, a bag with some tea, maybe a few granola bars, and a flute.
The problem was, I didn’t know Kung Fu, and the first time I tried to save someone I’d probably end up in a hospital, and though they didn’t mention it on “Kung Fu,” Qui Chain Kane probably didn’t have insurance, and that could pose a problem. These are complicated times. Today, Qui Chain Kane would have to deal with insurance issues, lawsuits, cars zooming by on busy highways, being arrested for vagrancy, you name it.
One thing I did learn from my love of the stars is that even as we sit here in this room, we are moving at thousands and thousands of miles per hour.
I have to stop there. I had written a paragraph on the notion that if the world were to stop spinning, gravity would no longer be a factor, and we’d all be floating around. Knowing Bishop Brungardt, a former physics teacher would be here, I decided just this morning to check my facts. Turns out, I was totally wrong. All that would happen is the oceans would flow to either pole and there would be one large land mass in the middle of the earth. Interesting, but it doesn’t lend itself to humor.

Anyway, moving along, it’s kind of like that with that journey I spoke of -- our own personal journey. At times it seems that we’re moving at light speed through life, like if we were to stand still for just one moment, suddenly 10 years would fly by.    
Just yesterday I was a child stuck in my second grade elementary school class. My teacher, Mr. O’Leary, had become so intent on my spelling correctly one particular word, that he wouldn’t allow me to go home until I had done just that.
The word was “sure.” Sure! A simple word, right? Sure! I can still see my paper sitting in front of me, my hand holding the pencil as I wrote, “s-h-o-r-e, s-h-i-r? No? You can’t be serious? How about s-h-u-r? I finally realized that this was one of those weird words – those don’t-make-sense-words that were spelled totally different than they sounded. With this in mind, I remember vividly trying, “S-o-o-r and s-o-r-e,” and a wide variety of others.
I’m not sure how long I was in that room. All I know for certain is that I started during the Nixon administration.   
Needless to say, Mr. O’Leary would have found it easier to believe that I would be the first person to travel to Mars than to become a newspaper editor.
A few years earlier, when I was in Kindergarten, I played the role of a reindeer in the play, “Santa’s Magic Touch.” Although I don’t remember, my mom reminds me that I was absolutely terrified that I would have to say something. It was part shyness, and later I realized, it also was a generous lack of self-confidence. I was certain I would flub my lines, the curtain would come down, and our little play would close after one night, had we planned to have more than one show.
Cut to some 20 years later. As a young Catholic reporter, I found myself walking into Seton House in downtown Denver, a home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionary Sisters of Charity for men in the later stages of AIDS. I sat down first with their family members, then later I had dinner with the men living there, the men who had AIDS. I was still an introvert. Still shy, still insecure. Still lacking in confidence. But God gave me the strength to adopt the role of a reporter, so to speak, to swallow that shyness when the moment called for it. I remember shaking their hands, knowing what I did about AIDS transmission, and I remember the smiles of gratitude on the mens’ faces. Someone wasn’t afraid to touch them. God was at work.
As I travel on in my journey, I must admit that in elementary school I never received what you might call good grades. I take that back. I always received good grades in handwriting. And art. And gym class.
One thing working against me is that, to be honest, I’ve always had a very poor short term memory. Learning my gym locker combination on that first day was the stuff of nightmares. I’d always write it down on my hand. I learned that from the kid who you’d see wearing his gym uniform in science class next hour. He didn’t write it down.
Speaking of writing, to this day, even with my bachelor’s degree in English/Communications, I still have trouble distinguishing between the different parts of speech. I’m just not wired for analytical thinking. I could more easily build a shed then to explain how to diagram a sentence.
On a more positive note, at the end of my elementary school years, I often received a “Good Citizen” certificate to award my shyness and insecurity.
So let’s review:
As a child, I could never spell, and yet today I’m a newspaper editor.
I was terminally shy and insecure, yet the definition of my job is communication.
Despite not being the smartest person in the world, here I stand, talking to you.
I hardly know an adverb from a brass doorknob, and yet I’ve somehow, some way, managed to win a handful of writing awards.
Do I ever have to wonder if there’s a higher power at work in my life?

I won’t bore you with the tangled journey that led me to Southwest Kansas, only that it included moving from a cabin deep in the mountains of Colorado, escaping a hurricane on the British isle of Tortola, and being threatened with arrest by customs agents.
Being shy and insecure, I can say that all of these were the opposite of fun.
Somehow, someway, God was working me through the maze that began with my childhood, wound through young adulthood, and in some inexplicable way, placed me right here, right now.
Like many of you, God made me an outcast. Not because I was a rebel or stood out in a crowd, but because I was not a rebel, and I didn’t stand out in a crowd. When you don’t stand out, that’s often when you feel like the biggest outcast of all.
Yet, because I so often felt that way, today I can write to others who also feel or have felt alienated.
I’m a sinner. I’ve led an imperfect life. I’ve hurt people and done stupid things; I’ve made poor decisions that have been harmful to others and myself. But today? Today I can write with empathy to those who may find themselves at time consumed with guilt.
I’ve dealt with addiction, and so I can write to others who’ve dealt with addiction.
I’ve watched family members and loved ones suffer in indescribable ways. And today, I’m blessed with the opportunity to write to others who are experiencing the same or similar situations.
And I’ve developed neurosis, worry and anxiety and a slight dose of obsessive compulsive disorder. OCD is when you have to check four times to make sure you locked the garage door. Wait. Did I turn out the light? Okay, good. Nearly in the house. Wait. Am I sure the front garage door is shut all the way? So I walk back and check again.
Wait. Am I absolutely, positively sure that I turned out the light?
Before leaving for Christmas vacation in Colorado it can take me literally 30 minutes to check, re-check and re-re-check plugs, the oven, door locks, you name it. And when I finally pull the truck out of the garage, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll have to run back in for another quick glance. Thirty minutes later I’m on my way.
And these worries, anxieties, neurosis, have led to health problems, all of which I can write to others about so they don’t feel alone.
One thing I have learned is that no one ever need feel alone in this world, for any reason at all, no matter what they’re going through.
I never went to Catholic School. What I learned of faith, I learned from my parents – saying the Rosary together, praying together, singing together -- from my own prayer and study of who God is in my life, from the examples of one of the greatest influences on my life, right here – and from my guides along the way, including the good people who taught me each week in my catechism class.
You can never begin to imagine how God is at work in these children that you teach, how he is going to lead them through the maze.
I want you to think about that one child in your class, that child who is shy, who doesn’t do too well on the tests, who struggles to understand sometimes simple ideas, who seems insecure. Who maybe forgets to bring his book to class.
You may find yourself wondering at times about what might become of that boy or that girl. I was that child. And many of you were, too.
I’d like to offer my sincere gratitude for all you do for our children, for your service, your devotion, for your dedication, and for far more verbs, or is it nouns? than I can think of to describe your service.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with some words that were especially meaningful to me while growing up. Words that I’ve often thought about when considering the Lord’s presence in our lives, how he had guided me, and how he guides us -- from the earliest moments of our lives. It speaks of the inventive and unexpected ways that God sometimes speaks to us:  

“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits.”


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