CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
PLEASE NOTE: Due to our summer schedule, the next issue of the SKC will be dated August 12.
July 15, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Immigration Protest/Rally; Faith and Light Fiesta; Seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls; Corpus Christi procession; Prayers for priests; Sisters turn 100; Michael Brungardt; Gerald Vincke; Massacre in San Salvador; Action for Alex;
Meade couple celebrate life while awaiting (a bundle of) joy
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
When you meet Tyler and Rachel Bennett, there are two things you will discover right off: 1) they have a warm and welcoming spirit, and 2) they love cheese.
On their kitchen table sat a platter filled with crackers, salami, and three kinds of cheese. There was also a platter of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and two pitchers, one with water, the other, tea.
“Are you hungry? Help yourself!” Tyler said.
The Catholic gratefully helped itself. The Catholic loves chocolate chip cookies and cheese and crackers!
The gracious young couple are another in a line of fine, Kansas couples who are awaiting good news from the Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas Adoption Program.
“We had a neighbor who had success adopting through Catholic Charities,” Tyler said. “There’s a need [for guidance in the adoption process]. People don’t realize what goes into it — the study, the patience.”
“He’s still working on that last one,” Rachel said with a grin.
In July, the couple will have been married five years, a date which also marks one year since they officially became eligible to adopt.
Unlike many small-town Kansas couples, Rachel and Tyler didn’t grow up in the same community or attend the same school. In fact, he was reared in Texas, and she in Nebraska; the road that led to their eventual introduction in Copeland, Kansas was filled with twists and turns that could only have been navigated by a Loving Lord bent on seeing these two together.
“I was a track coach and teacher in Copeland,” said Rachel, who today is a high school teacher in Kismet. Tyler, an athletic trainer, works with student-athletes and physical therapy patients. They both have earned Master’s Degrees in their various studies.
One day, duty took Tyler to Copeland Junior High School, where he met the woman who would redefine his future. They were married on July 20, 2013.
“It’s been a learning process,” Tyler said of their year-long adoption journey.
“Learning and growing,” Rachel added.
“A lot of people give up after two weeks,” Tyler explained, referring to the patience needed in the adoption process. “It will happen in God’s time.”
The Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas Adoption Program requires each couple to pass a stringent application process that includes classes, home visits, and meeting with counselors. And it’s not cheap (although far less expensive than other adoption programs). The process is designed to ensure the child is brought into a good home.
Obviously, there are many legalities involved, especially when considering that Catholic Charities uses the Open Adoption system, which allows the birth parent(s) to continue to be part of the child’s life.
“Catholic Charities makes sure it’s all by the book,” Rachel said. “Once the child is ours, we maintain complete parental control.” In other words, they will decide how and in what capacity the birth parent is involved.
“It’s beneficial for the child,” Tyler said. “For example, if the birth family has a history of diabetes or heart issues, we would have no idea without open adoption.”
Both Rachel and Tyler were reared surrounded by extended family, and both are fully intent upon bringing those values into the life of their future child.
“When I was young,” Rachel said, “we took yearly trips to Colorado Springs, got together with extended family at either of my grandparents’ farms, went on day trips to shop or visit zoos and museums, or just hung out at the pool.”
“That’s one of the reasons why we get along,” Tyler added. “Family is huge to us.”
The child who is lucky enough to enter into the Bennett home will be introduced to the couple’s loves: the joy of cooking and baking, the peaceful rewards of gardening, love for hunting (complete with four retrievers barking excitedly from behind a closed door during the Catholic’s visit), and a yen for home construction projects. Oh — and cheese.
And they will find a couple practicing a prayerful life devoted to the Loving Lord, a backdrop to everything they do.
Ulysses resident gives speech at
Newman U. Baccalaureate Mass
‘God is never truly finished with our story’
During Newman University’s annual Baccalaureate Mass — May 11 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita —graduating senior and Ulysses resident Patricia Lujan shared a reflection about her experience attending the Newman University Western Kansas Center.
The western center works in cooperation with the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City to present classes through the Interactive Television program at sites throughout the diocese.
Good evening. My name is Patricia Lujan. I am from Ulysses, Kansas and tomorrow I will be graduating with a bachelor of science and elementary education. I once read, “Man can live 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only one second without hope.”
I feel as if this was me when I began my experience at Newman. They not only provided me with an education, but the staff provided me with kindness. When I began my second degree with the Western Kansas Newman program, I thought, I am going to just go and do my homework, just to get finished.
But it was truly the opposite. As I began school, I was going through a very hard process of grieving a very close friend. Two weeks into classes, and I lost another family member. I was so lost and had no motivation to do anything. It felt as if all hope was lost.
I remember asking if it was too late to withdraw from classes. ... But little did I know that God was working through my instructors.
Through their caring actions, I learned what it truly meant to be an educator. It was about giving your all at all times. It was showing your students that despite their situation, they could get through any obstacle.
These instructors pushed me to my limits. They were finally able to accomplish what I never could. That is knowing who I truly was and discovering the gift that God had given me.
The way Newman describes learning is exactly what happened to me. It describes learning as being a transformational, that guided by Christ, it can be a positive one. I walked out of the darkness and into the light. I finally found my true calling of being an educator. If I had not found this hope at Newman, I’m not sure where I would be.
I am so proud to say that I am a graduate of a Catholic university. But there is no way I could have done it without certain people.
… As I finish, I would like to remind you guys that God is never truly finished with our story. It’s never too late to have a new start. As Matthew Kelly wrote, it’s never too late to become the best version of yourself.
God wants us to be people of possibility, and people of possibility never give up. So now I commend you to go out into the world and become those people who spread hope. Congratulations on this new journey.
Why I like being a priest
By Father James Martin, S.J.
On June 12, 1999, along with five other good Jesuit friends (they’re good Jesuits and good friends), I was ordained to the priesthood during a Mass at church (called—surprise!—St. Ignatius Loyola) in Chestnut Hill, Mass., right on the campus of Boston College. I am tempted to say it was the greatest day of my life, and why not? There are other days that certainly come close—the day I was accepted into the Jesuits; the day I entered the Jesuit novitiate; the day that a little refugee-made-handicraft shop where I worked in Nairobi opened its doors for the first time; the day I met my two newborn nephews. So let’s just say it was one of the greatest.
I had been waiting for ordination for many years, having witnessed, since before entering the novitiate in 1988, many of my “older” Jesuit brothers ordained over the years, and realizing, with each group of Jesuits moving into Holy Orders, that my “class” was moving ever closer. Every year until then, I was amazed to find myself weeping during the Litany of the Saints, when the congregation calls on all the saints—from age to age—to pray for the ordinandi, the men being ordained. And I rushed to receive my friends’ “first blessing,” which they always did tentatively but confidently, if you know what I mean, as if they had never done this before but had been born for it all along—and of course they were.
Actually, I almost didn’t make it to my own ordination. The week before I caught a horrible flu, and one of the older Jesuits with whom I lived, named Vin, generously rushed me to the emergency room here in New York. I was angry! How could God do this to me the week before my ordination? What if I weren’t able to go? What about all those guests? I said to the older Jesuit, “I have to ask you this—why is God doing this to me?” Vin looked at me with mock seriousness and said, “In punishment for your sins!” And we both laughed. What a ridiculous question. God wasn’t doing anything to me. I was just sick.
But when I walked up the aisle on June 12, that scare magnified my gratitude. How good it was to be there.
After the Mass, when we walked onto the steps of the church, we were surrounded by our Jesuit brothers, who—clad in their albs or wearing their clerics or, for the younger ones, just a suit and tie—hugged us tightly and congratulated us, teased us and were happy for us. My Jesuit provincial immediately knelt down and asked for my blessing. And then—behold, as the Bible would say—a few steps down the stone staircase were my mother and father, my sister and her husband and their new baby, along the rest of family and friends, friends, friends from all parts of my life. All the people who had nudged or helped or prayed or loved me to where I was. It was like heaven.
Anyway, since that day, I’ve loved being a priest. Why? In good Jesuit fashion how about three reasons.
1) Confessions. In the first few months, when I was still learning how to celebrate the Mass—that is, learning not to (oops) forget the Creed on Sundays and remembering to pour the water in the wine, and pretty much navigating my way around the Sacramentary (which seems easy now) confessions were so simple. And beautiful. How wonderful to offer a word of forgiveness and see a weight lifted, sometimes it seemed, almost physically. How wonderful to remember during every confession since my very first one what my theology professor said to our class, “Confession is not about how bad the person is, but how good God is.” How wonderful to be able to say to someone who had been estranged or distanced from the church, or who had not been to confession for decades, “Welcome back!” I could say that!
2) The Mass. Eventually I got to know my way around the Sacramentary. But as soon as I did I wondered, Who am I, as Mary said to the angel Gabriel, that I can say these words? Who am I that I can pray these ancient prayers along with the People of God? Sometimes when priests celebrate the Mass, as most priests will tell you if you asked, they might get momentarily distracted. (“Did I consecrate the bread and wine?” said one Jesuit in a community Mass when I was living in East Africa.) Me too. But sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I reach certain phrases. “From age to age, you gather a people so that from east to west...” “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you....” “You raise up men and women outstanding in holiness...” Who am I that I am permitted to celebrate the Mass in the Room of the Conversion of St. Ignatius in Loyola, Spain? At the Grotto in Lourdes? At the parish in which I received First Holy Communion? In our community chapel? In convents, in hospital rooms, in living rooms? Who am I, Lord?
3) Baptisms. There is nothing more enjoyable for me as a priest than celebrating a baptism. Babies are miracles. You know that, right? And welcoming a beautiful little baby—silent, fussy or squalling—into the Christian community means welcoming them into something that they probably won’t understand for a while. It’s like giving them a secret gift that will be opened in many years: the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the church, the gift of fellowship. But not everyone will open this gift right away. Now, like some gifts it might not be appreciated at the moment it is given. But some day it will. Maybe, I think, they’ll open that gift when they’re a child, maybe when they’re a little older, maybe when they’re college students, maybe not until they’re married or until their own children are born, or maybe not until they are facing death. But the gift is there, waiting, expectant, patient.
I wish that more people felt called to ordination. I wish that more people were invited to ordination. Many years ago, when I attended my first Jesuit ordination Mass at Holy Cross College, I remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine being a priest. Ten years later, I can’t imagine not being one. As Thomas Merton said, it seems the “one great secret” for which I was born.
(Printed with permission from America, the Jesuit Review Magazine.)
Away from their desks and
into the real world
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Not that the seminary isn’t the real world, but being challenged by someone in need of guidance, help and hope is a bit different than being challenged by your theology professor.
The five seminarians for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City recently completed another year of seminary studies and are back home in Southwest Kansas serving in various capacities.
They are: John Stang, Austin Habash, and Tyler Saucedo — each of whom attend St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver — and Eric Frieb and Esteban Hernandez, who attend Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo.
Stang will spend his summer serving on the Prayer & Action team.
Made up of young adults, the Prayer & Action teams go out into the peripheries each summer and work in two locations painting, landscaping, and otherwise lending aid to families in need.
Last year, while one group painted a home, another group a few blocks away found themselves helping a family to move. The family had recently lost their daughter, so the presence of the young adults — working, joking, playing with some of the families’ young children — were a welcome sight for the troubled family.
Habash will serve on the Totus Tuus team, which leads week-long retreat-like experiences for youth and children in the parish. The afternoon and evening classes (depending on age) include faith-filled lessons and a good dose of games and laughter.
When the Catholic covered a Totus Tuus gathering a few years ago, then-seminarian Jacob Schneider was having at least as much fun as the youngsters.
Saucedo will be spending much of his summer on a 30-day Spirituality Year retreat, then will be in residence at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe rectory, where he’ll continue to learn from the examples of Father Wesley Schawe, Father Aneesh Parappanattu, MSFS, and others in the parish.
Frieb, meanwhile, will continue with his ministerial work while living at home in Olmitz, serving his parish of St. Ann, and helping out in other capacities.
Hernandez has been assigned to serve St. John the Baptist Parish in Spearville, while continuing with his English studies. He will learn from Father John Forkuoh, pastor, and will benefit from the presence of Father Jack Maes, who is retired and living in Spearville.
The communities in which the seminarians will reside this summer are asked to be supportive of these young men, perhaps by inviting them into your home for a meal, or allowing them to help with a project.
You can continue to send letters of support to the seminarians this summer via the Catholic Chancery. Send letters to (name of seminarian), 910 Central, P.O. Box 137, Dodge City, KS 67801.
Hoisington Parish wishes DRE
Pam Willis a fond farewell
Parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hoisington joined April 25 to wish one of their own a fond farewell, and to say thank-you for 20 years of heart-felt service.
Pam Willis, who has served the parish as Director of Religious Education for two decades, retired from her position as of May 31. At a celebration following the last night of their recent parish mission, Father Anselm Eke, MSP, pastor, presented her with a plaque noting her years of service.
Twenty years ago, when Pam first met with then-pastor Father Jack Maes about the job, she brought with her a list of all those people whom she thought might be qualified for the position.
“I didn’t realize until later that he was interviewing me!” she said, laughing.
“I’ve just loved attending all the diocesan events,” she said, “taking kids to the NCYC [National Catholic Youth Conference, of which she has attended all 10 since she was hired], rallies, summer camp, getting them together with other youth of the diocese, having them take part in activities together. Those are my favorite memories.”
Leaving a beloved position is always bittersweet. Each Wednesday night, Pam enjoyed what for her was a night out with friends.
“All the kids were there for CYO and CCD sessions. My friends are all there.
“That’s the saddest thing. All my friends will be there and not me.”
In retirement, kids will still be a part of her life, but in this case, it’s her grandchildren and her four adult children, spread out over Kansas and in Durango, Colorado.
“I have no plans in retirement except we want to travel and spend time with the kids.”
Pam’s husband, Greg, works for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
At press time, as she edged toward her last day, she was in the midst of Vacation Bible School.
“I’m finishing off with a blast!” she said, smiling.
-- Dave Myers
I thought I could ‘save’ gang members.
I was wrong.
By Greg Boyle, S.J.
I don’t believe in mistakes. Everything belongs, and, as the homies say, “It’s all good.” I do believe in lessons learned. I have learned that you work with gang members and not with gangs, otherwise you enforce the cohesion of gangs and supply them oxygen. I know now that gang warfare is not the Middle East or Northern Ireland. There is violence in gang violence but there is no conflict. It is not “about something.” It is the language of the despondent and traumatized.
In my 30 years of ministry to gang members in Los Angeles, the most significant reversal of course for me happened somewhere during my sixth year. I had mistakenly tried to “save” young men and women trapped in gang life. But then, in an instant, I learned that saving lives is for the Coast Guard. Me wanting a gang member to have a different life would never be the same as that gang member wanting to have one. I discovered that you do not go to the margins to rescue anyone. But if we go there, everyone finds rescue.
Me wanting a gang member to have a different life would never be the same as that gang member wanting to have one.
Louie was 19 years old, a gang member making money hand over fist by running up to cars and selling crack cocaine. He quickly became his own best customer. After my many attempts to get him into rehab, he finally agreed to check himself in. He was there one month when his younger brother Erick did something gang members never do. He put a gun to his temple and killed himself. Gang members are much more inclined to walk into enemy turf and hope to die than to pull the trigger themselves.
I called Louie and told him what happened. He was crestfallen. “I will pick you up for the funeral,” I said, “but I’m driving you right back.”
“I want to come back,” he said through his tears. “I like how recovery feels.”
When I arrive at the rehab center, Louie greets me with un abrazo, and once in the car, he launches in. “I had a dream last night—and you were in it.” In the dream, he tells me, the two of us are in a darkened room. No lights whatsoever. No illuminated exit signs. No light creeping from under the door. Total darkness. We are not speaking, but he knows I am in the room with him. Then, silently, I pull a flashlight from my pocket and aim steadily on the light switch across the room. Louie tells me that he knows that only he can turn the light switch on. He expresses his gratitude that I happen to have a flashlight. Then with great trepidation, Louie moves slowly toward the light switch, following closely the guiding beam of light. He takes a deep breath, flips the switch on, and the room is flooded with light. As he tells me this, he begins sobbing. “And the light,” he says, “is better than the darkness.” As though he had not known this was the case.
We cannot turn the light switch on for anyone. But we all own flashlights. With any luck, on any given day, we know where to aim them for each other. We do not rescue anyone at the margins. But go figure, if we stand at the margins, we are all rescued. No mistake about it.
(Printed with permission from America, the Jesuit Review Magazine.)