Cathedral anniversary celebration
honors Church ‘builders’
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Editor’s Note: The Feb. 12, 2012 issue of the Southwest Kansas Register will be devoted to the 10th anniversary of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the celebration of the retirement of the debt on its construction.
Ten years ago, Catholics representing every parish in southwest Kansas gathered on a windswept prairie covered in wheat and scrub brush, and broke ground for what would become the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Among those attending, shovel in hand, was Nellie Esquibel, then 87, who 50 years earlier had taken part in the ground breaking for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, on the east side of Dodge City. Nellie had helped build the older church, carrying bricks to the site during its construction.
It was for Nellie, who died this year, and a multitude of others past and present, for whom the anniversary Mass -- celebrating the birthday of the cathedral on the plains -- was offered Dec. 9.
“We thank the generous and sacrificial people of the diocese, many of you right here tonight, who gave of your time, talent, and treasure to build this cathedral 10 years ago,” said the Most Rev. John B. Brungardt.
As he began his homily on the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the new cathedral, the bishop called forward the children in the church, including servers Matthew Haselhorst and Leah Stein.
“Children, I need some help to build a church!” he said as several children came forward, some shyly and others with zeal.
“We need a back wall … and a roof,” he said. Stein and Haselhorst stood near the altar, their arms uplifted to form a steeple.
“We need the doors,” the bishop continued, directing a few smiling children to “swing” open like a large door.
“Thank you,” he said to applause, looking over his ‘church’. “We have a beautiful church. But it is not made with bricks, stone, iron, wood, and glass! Of what is it made?
“…We thank the priests, sisters, and laity who have ministered here for many years, to offer the sacraments, teach the children, serve the needy, and the many other ministries for the people of God. You have surely been ‘the temple of God, which you are’ as St. Paul teaches in his first letter to the Corinthians.”
And as Nellie’s daughter, Patty Renteria, stood within the congregation, the bishop said, “We thank the past saints, blesseds, our ancestors, and all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.”
Amid the bricks and mortar that support a church -- enveloping the people who offered their time, treasure and talent -- is something even deeper, the bishop said.
“Who is the foundation of this extraordinary gift to us? That’s right, Jesus Christ is our foundation. ‘For no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ,’ St. Paul teaches. This is not a fraternal or social organization, it is the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ, one, holy, and apostolic. Jesus is there to teach us, sanctify us, forgive us, heal us, and comfort us. Let us thank Him for His gift of our faith, our family, our parish, our diocese, and our beautiful cathedral.”
The anniversary fell on the Feast of St. Juan Diego, the native convert who, on Dec. 9, 1531, encountered the Blessed Mother – the cathedral’s namesake -- on a hillside near what is now Mexico City. Bishop Brungardt thanked the unlikely saint, as well as the Holy Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, “for her intercession as our patroness of our Cathedral, and of our diocese.”