Local Catholics meet with seminarians
for fun, food and faith
‘The Lord is leading us to a life in the full’
Please note: These photos are from the Liberal gathering.
Photos from Dodge City and Great Bend will be added soon!
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
In the cool shade of several tall trees at Blue Bonnet Park in Liberal July 17, seminarians for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, Tylan Ricketts and Jacob Schneider, shouted their approval as a participant scored three points in a game of “ladder ball”.
Meanwhile, seminarian Juan Salas braved searing heat while playing soccer in a nearby field with three other participants.
The games were just the first event for the afternoon gathering, which included a prayer service, a steak dinner hosted by the Knights of Columbus, and brief presentations by Bishop John B. Brungardt, Father Wesley Schawe, and the seminarians. Most importantly, it was a time when anyone and everyone in the diocese (with more than a little emphasis on the invitation to boys and single men) could meet one-on-one with the future priests for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City.
This gathering was followed by two similar gatherings, held in Dodge City and Great Bend, July 24 and 31 respectively. (Photos from these two events will be in the next issue of the Register.)
Just … one … more … kick…. Like all young men and boys, when time came to leave the park and head to St. Anthony Church for the prayer service, they had to get in one last kick (or two or three). But eventually, the three seminarians, some dozen boys and several families felt the welcome whoosh of cool air as they entered St. Anthony Church, Bishop Brungardt there to greet them.
With Father Jim Dieker still in his vestments from a 4 p.m. wedding, Bishop Brungardt, Father Schawe and all those gathered prayed the Liturgy of the Hours.
“Ask and you will receive,” the bishop read, “seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
In the gathering area following the service, Tylan, Jacob and Juan greeted families, answering questions about their studies, their school and where they grew up.
Like the whoosh of cool air that greeted those as they entered the church, in the social hall it was the scent of sizzling steak, thanks to the generosity of the Knights of Columbus, that washed across those who entered.
“When John Paul came to Denver in 1993,” the bishop told those gathered as they finished up their meals, “I was a brand new seminarian. John Paul’s saying was ‘to live life abundantly,’ from St. John Chapter 10: ‘I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.’
“The Lord is leading us to an abundant life. The Lord is leading us to a life in the full. To have a more abundant life, we have our Church and our sacraments. … We’re not called to just barely get by. We’re called to live life to the full. We’re called to live the Gospel values in the fullest sense. What helps us live the Gospel values fully? The sacramental life. Who helps us in the sacramental life? Priests. This is a celebration today of the priesthood, our seminarians and our future seminarians.
“Parents,” the bishop asked, “what will make your son or grandson or nephew most happy, most joyful, most fulfilled? Whatever God wants of him. If God wants him to be a priest, that will make him most happy. If God wants him to be a husband and dad, that will make him most joyful, most fulfilled.
“Deepen your prayer life so you can listen to God’s call. The Lord is calling some of you to … a special way of life, to live life abundantly as a priest. Parents, listen to your son. Open his heart to the priesthood. Open your hearts to your son, your grandson, your nephew being a priest.”
FATHER WESLEY SCHAWE
Father Schawe, the new full-time Director of Priestly Vocations, thanked the bishop for “allowing me to be the full-time director of priestly vocations. I have one of the most exciting roles in the entire diocese.
“I think that my first task will be to help our boys and our single men in the diocese to listen. There’s so much noise in the world. This has all to do with prayer; how do I listen?
“The second task,” Father Schawe said, “is to practice; we have to practice that listening, practice that prayer.
“The other thing is, how do I respond? When I start to hear that voice, I might get a little scared, a little confused. How do I respond to that? What do I need to do next? I want to tell all of you here, especially the boys and single men, that if I can help you in any way to begin to figure out what you’re hearing, what is that voice, then I want nothing more than to offer everything I have, everything I am, to help you respond.”
Tylan Ricketts, who was reared in Sublette, told those gathered that he had first felt the call to the priesthood when he was very young. Later on, while attending college, he entered a period in which he lost interest in the priesthood. He imagined perhaps becoming a teacher or youth minister.
Then, while home on Easter vacation from Benedictine College, surrounded by “all the festivities of Easter” and feeling the warm embrace of his parish, he said it “hit me like a ton of bricks.”
He entered St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Like all seminarians, he eventually served a mission trip, which took him to North Dakota in January where the temperature often settled at 30 degrees below zero.
“I’m looking forward to spending the next four years studying to become a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City. Thank you for your prayers.”
When Mexico native Juan Salas came to the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City two years ago, he barely spoke a word of English. Today, after intense English studies, he can easily hold a conversation in English.
“Even though sometimes we don’t speak the same language, we speak the same language of the love of Christ,” he said.
Juan first felt the call to the priesthood when being an altar server as a young boy.
“The seed of the vocation is born deeply in our hearts,” he said in an earlier interview. “One of the first signs of this vocation is to feel an interest in the priesthood. Once this happens, you should give yourself the opportunity to discover what the priesthood is about. Do not throw away this option without trying, without considering the priesthood as an option for your life. Take off your fear. God is calling you because God needs men of value like you.”
Jacob grew up on a farm in St. Anne Parish in Olmitz. His love for building things led him to pursue a degree in Industrial Technical Education at Ft. Hays University.
“I was a shop teacher in the making,” he said with a smile.
He said that he’d felt the call to the priesthood all his life, but that there were times when he said he “just wasn’t listening.”
Jacob currently attends St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver with Tylan Ricketts, where he recently completed his “Spirituality” year, which focuses primarily on prayer, but with a good dose of physical work, as well. Apart from calling their parents once a week, there was no technology afforded Jacob or Tylan during the Spirituality year.
“It’s just you and God!” Jacob said with his trademark grin.
“One thing I can truly say about the spirituality year, it was the first time I really struggled with prayer. We struggle with it because we want to see something happening. I like to see things being built. Prayer isn’t like that. You have to be patient, trusting.”
With the year behind him, he said, “It’s been amazing. I couldn’t be happier. Things that I struggled with, issues that I fought prior to seminary, I look back now and think, what were you thinking?
“I’m so excited to be a seminarian for the Dodge City Diocese.”