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‘Dinners With the Bishop’ ...

...Allowing Catholics a chance to get to know Bishop John

By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register

They welcomed the Most Rev. John B. Brungardt with opened arms -- several parishes across the diocese -- to small and intimate gatherings where he could listen to parishioners share their hopes and dreams for their parish and diocese, and where the bishop could share his hopes with them.
But at the heart of the “Dinners with the Bishop” series was yet another goal, that of simply allowing Catholics across the diocese to get to know their bishop on a more personal level. Over a nine-month period, the bishop gathered with people in Ulysses, Scott City, Barber County, Ness City and Ransom, Ellinwood, Liberal, Claflin, Odin and Dodge City. They met in private homes, in hotel meeting rooms, and even in restaurants. They dined together, shared some laughs, and discussed what is important to them as Catholics in southwest Kansas. The dinner gatherings will resume in September.
In Ulysses, Mary, Queen of Peace parishioners Ray and Irene Valasquez prepared dinner for the bishop and several fellow parishioners at a meeting room of the recently constructed Corporate East Hotel. The couple and members of their family (they have six children and 11 grandchildren) prepared prime rib for the approximately 30 attendees.
“There were just enough people to be intimate,” Irene said. “The bishop was able to ask questions one on one. We wrote down questions on a piece of paper. I think they got their questions answered and got to know our bishop better.”
Topics ranged from uniting a culturally diverse parish to the changes to the Mass.
“The bishop was very brave to be in the hot seat,” Irene said with a chuckle. “I was impressed with the idea -- impressed that he wants to get to know us like that.”
In some locations, the bishop offered two sessions, one in English and one in Spanish.
Bishop Brungardt (who often goes by “Bishop John”), said that he has noted a few key focus areas emerging, such as the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization; stewardship revitalization; adoration outside of Mass; marriage and Natural Family Planning; and ordained priest vocations.
One of his many hopes, he said, is to “evangelize young people so that they can stay engaged in their faith.”
Len and Linda Moeder operate Mo’s Place in Beaver, a restaurant and micro-brew pub that opened in 2004, and has since carved out a successful niche. On a recent Thursday, they had just served lunch to more than 60 people when Len took the time to speak to the Register.
“It was a very relaxed evening,” Len said of the night he and Linda hosted the dinner gathering for the bishop in May. “We served lasagna with green beans and homemade rolls. A week later one of the guys who was at the dinner came in and said, ‘I’d like a bishop’s meal.’”
Participants came from Odin and Claflin as well.
“The people who came really participated well,” Len said. “The dialogue seemed like it went well all around. Some people even hung back when it was time to leave.”
Among the topics of discussion were perpetual adoration, Divine Mercy Sunday, and the hope that one day there might be a Catholic high school in the diocese.
“I like to go to these events,” Len said. “It’s important to show our support and appreciation to our priests.
“I thought it was really good,” he added. “We liked it so well that we volunteered that if there’s another dinner at another parish near Beaver, we’d be honored to host it as well.”

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