CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
May 20, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Track meet; Beloved Sinners; Benjamin Martin retires; Smiles; Future of Fortune Telling; Hoisington mission; DofI; Getting Equipped; Spring Social; First Communion; Confirmation
May 6, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Archbishop Romero; Seeing, Touching, Tasting; Exhortation; Father Patrick Conroy; Happy Mother's Day; A child on your doorstep; Vibrant Ministries Grant; From the heart of a young father; Love Gives Life; Roman Holiday; Smartphone; retirement
‘Everything is in God’s hands’
Wright couple celebrates life while awaiting life-changing call
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
WRIGHT — Some day, Rachel and Doug Trombley will sit down with their adopted child and tell him or her the Cinderella story of how they met and fell in love.
But before that time can come — before they can sit their child on their lap and share the story of makeup and music and acting and one big fib that led to that first date — they wait.
God willing, the call will come, and a child will enter their life. If and when it happens, it will happen with the help of the Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas Adoption Program.
“We feel very comfortable with Catholic Charities; they have our best interest in mind,” said Rachel, who first approached Catholic Charities with Doug in July 2016. “All the support they show the birth and adoptive family. … We feel very comfortable, safe and confident with them.”
Catholic Charities, like most adoption agencies nowadays, uses the open adoption system, in which the birth parent continues a relationship with the child after the adoption. It sounds strange at first, but when you think about it, it’s not difficult to understand how such a relationship can eliminate difficult issues later on. There are no mysteries to solve.
Doug admitted that he, like many adopting parents, had concerns about the system.
“At first, I wasn’t so sure about it,” he said. “I grew up at a time when people didn’t talk about adoption. It was kind of a struggle at first. But because of their support and knowledge, Catholic Charities helped me to change my mind.”
“You think about opening your heart and home to a child, but also to the birth family,” Rachel added with a smile. “At first it was overwhelming, but then you see the pros and benefits.”
Rachel was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico and reared in Yukon, Oklahoma. When she was younger, she used to listen to a close family friend that she called “Grandma” tell stories of how she came to Oklahoma on the Orphan Train.
“I would help with their reunion conventions in Oklahoma City,” Rachel said.
Doug moved to Dodge City as a boy from Michigan when his father was hired as an X-ray technician. Doug and his two younger twin-brothers began attending Sacred Heart Cathedral School. Today Rachel teaches at Comanche Middle School, while Doug works for Servi-Tech, a crop consulting firm and agricultural laboratory.
The Cinderella Story
Rachel, an opera-style singer and actor, has long been involved in theater. While directing “Cinderella” at the Depot Dinner Theater in Dodge City, two of the actors had to bow out to take part in a Catholic mission.
Enter Doug Trombley, a trombonist with a yen for performing at the Boot Hill Museum, and his brother.
“I play the town drunk,” Doug said of his work at the museum. To this day, he still enjoys getting into costume and delighting the tourists at the museum as his friends shoot it out in the guise of the old west.
The couple’s first meeting came in the makeup chair, when then-Rachel Rickner sat Doug down and began a nightly application of makeup before the performance.
“There were no thoughts of romance,” Rachel said. “At the end of the show’s run, he said he hoped I would have a terrific life and that maybe we’d see each other again.”
Then came “Jekyll and Hyde”, and the pair once again found themselves sharing the same backstage.
“I moved props on and off and she was part of the cast,” Doug said. “The woman who got me involved in Cinderella said that Rachel wanted my phone number so that we could go out. I figured I’d call her and leave a message.
“It was up to her if she wanted to call back,” he added with a grin. “The ball was in her court.”
She did call back, and it would be several months later before they learned that Doug’s future wife had never asked for his phone number; it was a fib designed to get the two together. It worked.
On May 23, 2010, Doug became the first and only Boot Hill Museum performer to propose to his wife in the midst of a performance.
Today, as they wait for that call, they celebrate their life and faith in a community they love.
“We love this town,” Rachel said of Wright, a town not so unlike the Oklahoma town of Yukon in which she was reared. They moved to Wright from Dodge City two years ago.
“We love the church community. We love Father Bob [Schremmer] so much.”
“We love his homilies,” Doug added.
Rachel belongs to the Altar Society, Liturgy Commission, and (pause for a breath) the Parish Council. And she has a great love for gardening, which was well known to her neighbors in her former Dodge City neighborhood.
Doug is a Knight of Columbus, and is a member of both the Parish Council and Property Commission.
As if that weren’t enough, they both serve on an inquiry team, in which they meet with those who are in the very first stages of discerning whether they’d like to join the Catholic Church.
It’s not easy, waiting for a phone call that will change your life, so they decided some time ago to let go of their nervousness, and let someone handle it who’s quite adept at things like this.
“Everything is in God’s hands,” Doug said. “If we have a child, that would be great, but if we don’t, then God has another plan for us.”
“While waiting, we are living our lives to the fullest,” Rachel added.
DACA recipients in limbo as Congress fails to act
What will happen to ‘Dreamers’ now that the first deadline has passed?
By CHARLENE SCOTT MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
The young adults of the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have been left hanging in suspension like a line full of washed clothes on a windy Kansas day.
The March 5 deadline for a Congressional decision regarding the future of the DACA youth and young adults has come and gone, and Archbishop Jose. H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is quite upset about it.
In the past, the archbishop has been critical of efforts to tie immigration reform with border security, saying last month that it is “cruel” to use DACA recipients as “bargaining chips.”
“This is no way for a great nation to make policy on such a crucial area as immigration,” he said.
U.S. bishops encouraged a National Call-in Day for Dreamers (DACA youth) last month, encouraging the faithful to contact lawmakers and ask them to protect DACA recipients.
Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee, said that the faithful who participated in the call-in day “recognize that protecting these young people from deportation is an issue of human life and dignity, and that a legislative solution is necessary to make that protection durable.”
It is anyone’s guess what will happen come fall. In the mean-time, “My brother bishops and I continue to call upon Congress to work towards a bipartisan and humane solution as soon as possible,” Bishop Vásquez said.
Michael Feltman, an immigration attorney in Cimarron, spoke at a gathering March 5 at the Dodge City Library about DACA and some of the newer issues facing immigrants.
“The biggest news about DACA is that it still is in place,” he said.
The March 5 deadline was blocked by two federal judges, which effectively stalled any resolution on the DACA issue until the fall. According to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), individuals can continue to renew their grant of deferred action under DACA (as long as they continue to meet certain criteria, including undergoing a stringent background check), but no new DACA applications are being accepted, which means that more people are having to live in the shadows.
He urged immigrants to be as “knowledgeable as you can about your circumstances ... as far as what is able to be done. Talk to someone who is experienced. At least get some kind of game plan in place.”
Feltman said that in recent weeks, he has seen that the courts have been stricter in certain circumstances.
“Most importantly, I would say, is that folks who have DUIs who may not have legal status are getting picked up pretty consistently,” Feltman said. “If there’s a domestic issue, they are usually getting picked up. If folks have an old deportation issue, they’re getting picked up as well.”
He said it is a deportable offense —even for those who have obtained their green card (permanent residency card) — if someone does not officially change their address within 10 days of moving to another location.
An audience member noted that he had heard of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents coming to a home to search for someone, only to find that the person had moved. The agents then questioned the status of the family living at the “mistaken” address.
Feltman replied, “What some of the immigration advocates say is, ‘If you don’t know who’s at the door, don’t answer it.’ It’s a double-edged sword, I know. It’s tough.”
One of the ways that a person may fight deportation is called “cancellation of removal”. The individual in question must have been here 10 years, have a lawful spouse, parent or child in the United States, show they have good moral character, and that their leaving would present a hardship on those lawful family members.
Feltman also stressed that “The United States cannot deport U.S. citizen children or lawfully residing lawful permanent residents.”
As an immigration attorney, there’s only so much Feltman can do. Almost weekly he hears from employers who want to help an individual or individuals obtain legal status.
“[I don’t go] a week where an employer isn’t wondering, ‘Is there anything I can do for this worker — and 10 right here that I want to hire — and help them get papers? What do we do?’
“ …If they are here without permission, there is essentially nothing we can do, except say, ‘Go back to the consulate … and we’ll try to help you to get your green card,” Feltman said.
If the individual has been in the United States for more than one year after the age of 18 without the proper documentation, they face the possibility of a 10-year penalty; they cannot return to the United States for a decade.
As the nation awaits further action on DACA, Bishop John Brungardt is urging people to contact their local representatives (see below).
There are 800,000 DACA youth and young adults now in the United States, and potentially that number could rise to a million, Feltman said. DACA includes not just youth, but “blue collar workers, teachers, nurses, and paras.”
Other proposals being considered include the HOPE Act, the Succeed Act, and the Recognizing America’s Children Act, all of which help to protect young immigrants.
Feltman serves as the Kansas liaison for the USCIS office: “We have officers who do a great job. If they know somebody is in a difficult situation, they will listen.”
“We care about Western Kansas and the people who live here,” he concluded.
March 4, 2018
‘With God, anything is possible’
For this DACA recipient, poverty, fear and heartache were nothing compared to the unlimited power of God
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Editor’s Note: The person highlighted in the article below has given permission to use her name in the story. The SKC asks for the reader’s understanding that due to the current climate regarding immigration, we have chosen not to use her name and risk any possible negative backlash to her or her family. She sent the following letter to the SKC -- a further testament to her courage:
“I spoke to my parents, and we have decided to not be afraid. You can publish the article, and use my name if you wish. There’s nothing I’m ashamed of. On the contrary, we are very proud of everything we have accomplished, since it has been with a lot of work and sacrifices! At the end of the day, nothing would have been possible without God and his mercy, which is something that I would love for people to understand. His mercy doesn’t have limits, and the impossible can become possible with him.”
+ + +
First, there is a smile, wide and without pretense.
“Looking back, I’ve always been a happy person. Like, life is good,” she said. “Life is good.”
The smile fades. She’s in her 20s, a professional having earned a bachelor’s degree. Yet, as a recipient of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), her future is in question.
“I come from a very humble background,” she said. “I remember seeing my mom struggling to find food for us, having to borrow money from other people or other family members because we were barely making it.”
She is weeping openly now as she recalls her childhood in a small town in Mexico.
“I remember my mom not having shoes because they were using everything they had so we wouldn’t suffer, so we wouldn’t go hungry,” she recalled. “And you know, at that point in my life, I never realized that we were struggling. My parents were very cautious to make sure that we wouldn’t know, that we would be okay. As long as we had food, we were okay.
“We had always been very strong in our faith. We were going through hard times, but God is with us, and we’re going to make it.”
At 10, her parents faced an impossible decision, the magnitude of which no one who has dug generations of roots into the soil of the United States could begin to imagine.
“Being in a small town, we always heard about the American dream,” she said. “You hear about how emigrating to the United States will help you, will better your kids’ lives. You want a better future for them. What wouldn’t you do for your children?
“We took the risk. We left everything behind.”
Here is where the question undoubtedly arises: Why didn’t you just “get in line”? Do it legally? Legalize your status, come to the States and not have to live in hiding?
The answer is simple to all those who live the nightmare: There is no line. There are categories. A category for immigrants. A category for family migration (also called “chain migration”) or employment. A category for refugees. And each one has thousands upon thousands of people on the waiting list. Only a limited number for each category are allowed into the United States each year.
“My parents always believed in education,” she said. “That was one of the main reasons we came here, being able to get that education and better ourselves and our communities. I remember having to walk to school on cold mornings because if we got pulled over, we would be taken to court. Of course, they would investigate our status, and that would mean we would be taken back to Mexico—back to the struggle.”
Most deportations happen to people who are either trying to get their proper documentation, or simply can’t afford it. Huddled masses aren’t known for their great wealth, which it what it costs just to get started. Once you have the money, you must follow a bureaucratic nightmare of red tape.
“At that point I’m thinking, I have to make this work because my parents put their lives at risk for us to be able to make it. And that was always my motivation. They made a sacrifice. We can do it. With God, anything is possible.”
Without the ability to drive, and without the ability to apply for financial aid, her dream of going to college would remain just that: “I’m thinking, Maybe college is not a possibility. Maybe the risk that my parents took, maybe everything that we’ve been through, is not going to be worth it.”
She paused for a moment.
“I’ve always been very blessed. I always wonder, God, why are you doing this? Why are you throwing in another obstacle? But God has always put a lot of really good people in my life. Teachers are angels. They encourage me. In the times when I thought about giving up, they were like, No, we’re going to find a way.”
A teacher advised her to apply for community-based scholarships.
“My dad, he worked. He worked all week except for one day a week. He’s always gone by 4 a.m., and he doesn’t get home until 5:30 p.m. And he worked and he worked and he’s still working. Without his help, I wouldn’t have been able to afford college. We had to cut back on a lot of things for me to be able to go to college.
“Even though I thought I wasn’t going to make it, everything is possible with God, and I was able to go to college.”
During her second semester—amid her struggles to pay tuition, to afford the unbelievably high costs of textbooks ($100 to $500, she said), and amid her inability to obtain employment, something occurred that only someone in her situation could clearly call a miracle.
“God puts everything in place,” she said, her wide smile back. “[Congress] passed DACA. That allowed me to be able to work, which helped me so much. It changed my life. It was perfect timing. I came back that summer to southwest Kansas and was able to go to work.”
DACA did not present a path to citizenship, but rather created a two-year period in which qualifying immigrants who passed a stringent background check could both obtain a driver’s license and work while their paperwork was being processed (a process which can take more than a decade). After two years, they could reapply.
“I graduated from the university with my bachelor’s degree,” she said, proudly. “You sometimes think, it’s not possible. It’s not possible! But it is! With God, everything’s possible. That’s why I’m so strong with my faith. That’s why I’m so passionate about helping others. I wouldn’t be right here right now if not for the people who helped me and motivated me when I almost gave up.”
With the renewed focus on DACA and its possible dismantling, so too has come misconceptions and, sadly, blatant racism regarding those who belong to the program.
“When people hear about DACA recipients or people with my status, they sometimes call us criminals. I’m not a criminal! The only thing I want is to work, to help better my community. My gosh! I want to make the world a better place! I just want to help. I don’t want anything in return! I just want to be able to help my parents and my brothers; I want to be able to help my community.
“It’s scary sometimes for me to share this story. I don’t want to be afraid anymore of saying that I am a dreamer. I’m proud to be a dreamer. Being a dreamer doesn’t mean that you are a criminal. Being a dreamer doesn’t mean that you are taking advantage of the system. We are not!
“When I was at the university I thought, I have to go back to that community that gave me scholarships when no one else would give me anything. I have to go back and help my parish that helped me grow in my faith. That’s who I am right now. That’s why I don’t give up. With God, anything is possible.”
Homelessness in our communities
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Have you ever wondered about the people who stand at the entrance to the Walmart parking lot, or other locations, seeking help? A few dollars, maybe a sandwich?
What are their circumstances? Where do they go at night? Are they homeless? Do they live in shelters? Are they in transition—on their way somewhere and just stopping to get a few bucks to keep going?
Now imagine instead of the faces you see standing on the corner, the faces of children.
Most don’t stand on street corners asking for help—in fact, you would never know that many of them are homeless.
Yet, in Garden City alone, more than 300 school students are considered homeless. Nationwide, 1 in 30 kids are homeless, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.
Kerri VanMeveren of Amazing Traditions, LLC, is conducting a Needs Assessment on behalf of the Kansas Statewide Homeless Coalition. The study will recognize unmet/ underserved community needs as they relate to services to support the homeless or at-risk homeless population. Additionally, data will be collected to be able to evaluate the demand of the transitional housing services in each region being offered.
VanMeveren explained to several people gathered for a focus group at the Ford County Library in Dodge City that many of those children who are considered homeless are living with extended family. They have a roof over their head, but not a home in the traditional sense. They may not have health insurance. They may experience food insecurity. Their providers may struggle to pay utilities. Their future is in question.
“They can’t call a doctor to keep a cold from turning into pneumonia,” VanMeveren said as an example.
Across Kansas, many other homeless children are living in shelters. They are awaiting foster care, living in cars, in parks or campgrounds, even abandoned buildings.
One hundred and fifty-six school districts throughout Kansas recently identified 9,265 students as being homeless. That’s just the children. Then there are the adults: More than 11 percent of the uninsured population in Kansas are veterans; veterans also account for more than 14 percent of those with “food insecurity” issues.
As a representative of the Kansas Homeless Coalition, VanMeveren was in Dodge City primarily to learn. Thus, the gathering, which included in the audience representatives of several charitable organizations, including Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas, as well as law enforcement officers, became a sounding board for ideas.
What are some of the causes of homelessness?
The answers came quickly from members of the audience: Loss of financial benefits; mental health issues (those who are uninsured cannot receive treatment or needed medication); and addictions.
“We’ve seen more examples of opioid and heroin addictions,” one person noted.
More causes of homelessness? With the rise in deportations, it’s not uncommon for the breadwinner of the family to be taken away, leaving his or her American-born children without means of support. It was also noted that at times, transients come to Dodge City because of its popular footnote in history. Other homeless persons have a poor rental history, while still others face difficulty due to the lack of affordable housing.
Adding to the problem are unscrupulous landlords: “We’ve seen cases of landlords not following the landlord/tenant act and making people leave within three days” instead of 30 days, as required by law, explained Debbie Snapp, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas.
Where do people go for help?
The first answer? “Churches.” They can offer guidance, perhaps a bit of money for emergency help, but parish funds are limited.
Other help organizations suggested included: United Way; Catholic Charities; Salvation Army; Compass Mental Health facility; Manna House in Dodge City; Emmaus House in Garden City; Friendship Feast soup kitchen in Dodge City; and Stepping Stone Shelter and soup kitchen in Liberal; among others. (See the listing at right.)
But soup kitchens are not always easy to find, and sheltered housing is limited.
A Dodge City police officer noted that “it would be nice if we had some sort of a resource guide, a pamphlet we could keep in our visor” that would offer a listing of charitable organizations and contact information designed to help those in any one of a myriad of difficult situations.
What does your community need?
When asked what southwest Kansas needed to offer help to those who are struggling, the first reply was “transportation”. The lack of transportation can be one of the primary reasons why people cannot find nor keep employment. Those communities that do have buses typically see but routes conclude by nightfall. And most rural areas don’t enjoy the luxury of having bus service.
Also suggested as a community need is “an increased awareness of homelessness,” and more advocacy for landlord/tenant issues.
“We’re very fortunate that the library welcomes the homeless, offering a place to get in from the cold during the day,” Snapp said. “We need a place for homeless people to shower, to wash their clothes, to get their mail. It’s very difficult to get a job without a permanent address.”
“Affordable health care,” noted one person, when asked for solutions.
Another participant suggested having a financial advocate available to those facing housing issues: “Slumlords know that people aren’t aware of their rights.”
The challenges can be great, especially in rural communities spread out across the southwest Kansas prairie. One of the greatest enemies to anyone in any difficult station of life is a lack of knowledge regarding what is available to offer them help.
For example, Catholic Charities offers the classes listed above right, along with a plethora of other programs designed with one thing in mind: to help people help themselves.
Also listed at right is the contact information for some of the many help organizations in Southwest Kansas.
VIBRANT MINISTRIES – UNITING OUR CHURCH APPEAL
Adult Formation: ‘We never stop taking that first step’
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
In the Catholic faith, we never stop taking that first step.
There is just so much to learn: Why do we celebrate Mass the way we do? What is God asking of us? What is the history of our faith … of our Church? What is Catholic social justice, and how do we differentiate it from those who equate it with political bias? How can our faith inform us when it comes to relationships? To making life choices? To reacting to the headlines?
Coleen Stein is the Director of Adult Formation for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, which includes Pastoral Ministry Formation, Catechist Formation, and other programs that are presented through the Interactive Television Network.
But that’s not all there is to adult formation in the diocese.
“For me,” Stein said, “any time we gather adults together to pray or to learn about our faith, that is adult formation: the Rite of Election; Scripture Day; RCIA; Stewardship Day.
“Formation has to be in all aspects of your life. When I watch the news, it’s my formation that allows me to say, ‘I can make a difference.’ It’s all so intertwined. I can’t pull it apart. I can’t hear the news without my formation entering into it.”
Methods of adult formation are varied. Most adult Catholics are taking part in some sort of adult formation, including the Mass.
“The Eucharist changes people,” Stein said. “Liturgy is the one piece of adult formation that reaches the most adults. Formation is education. Education is power. You can’t live your life faithfully if you’re not formed as an adult.”
VIBRANT MINISTRIES and ITV PROGRAMS
While funding from the Vibrant Ministries Appeal helps these varied adult formation activities in a multitude of ways, specific funding will be used to help Stein maintain what can be a complicated and sometimes pricey Interactive Television System — the system by which Pastoral Ministry Formation and Catechist Formation are taught.
Through this system, people can attend classes — even earning a bachelor’s degree — at sites throughout the diocese. One speaker at one primary location can interact with all those at the other locations.
“There are nine sites strategically located throughout the Dodge City diocese, and there are eight sites strategically located throughout the Salina diocese,” Stein said. “Two sites are located at Newman University in Wichita.
“The ITV format has proved to be the most effective way of building community with a large group in different locations. This format also works well for us; one instructor, one presentation, reaching many students over two large dioceses.”
Everyone, she added, “should know why we as Catholics practice our faith in the way that we do. This allows them to really listen at Mass. Someone said that we should leave Mass as if being shot out of a cannon, ready to make change. Non-Catholics should be asking, ‘Why are they like that? Why are they so intent on causing positive change?’ We’re Catholic! Every time we’re formed in some way, we are that person making a difference.
“I’m a better parent because of my formation,” she said. “We know forgiveness. We understand how Jesus forgave. My kids can do anything, and I forgive them.
“I can’t say that about everyone,” she added, laughing, “but that is my goal!”
The Dodge City and Salina dioceses collaborate with Newman University to form Church in Partnership. Through this partnership, people who already have a bachelor’s degree can obtain a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry Formation from Newman University without ever stepping foot on the Wichita campus.
If they do not have a bachelor’s degree, they can earn a diocesan diploma.
“The Pastoral Ministry Formation Program equips participants with the skills to fulfill roles to which their gifts and the needs of the time challenge them.”
Marlyne Peck, Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Mary Parish in Garden City, said, “To anyone contemplating participation of a study course through the Pastoral Ministry Formation Program, I can only say do it and don’t just think about it. I have been involved in Catechesis, Music Liturgy, Pastoral Ministry, etc... for many years ,and all I can say is that I wish I would have taken the classes from the beginning of my Stewardship Ministry life. Whether it is your choice to take these courses for personal enrichment or a certificate, you can’t go wrong.
“I was always busy with my kids’ activities and didn’t realize how the participation in Pastoral Ministry Formation classes would empower my ministries in the Stewardship Categories that I was involved with. Pastoral Ministry Formation Programs give you knowledge, encouragement, and a constant awareness of Spiritual Renewal. What a gift!”
Women, men and children on the journey to enter fully the Catholic Church are told
‘You have been called because you are special’
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Approximately 120 women, men and children on the road to entering fully the Catholic Church at Easter were officially welcomed along their faith journey Feb. 18 by the faithful of the diocese at the Call to Continuing Conversion and the Rite of Election celebration at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
One of the most significant events of the liturgical year, this is the official moment when candidates (baptized members of another Christian denomination — or baptized Catholics — who are seeking confirmation and first Eucharist) and catechumens (individuals who have not been baptized and who are seeking baptism, confirmation and first Eucharist) declare their commitment to entering fully the Catholic Church at Easter.
The candidates and catechumens, along with their families, godparents, and sponsors, came from every corner of the diocese, each waiting for that special moment when they would be called by name to sign the Book of the Elect, or to dip their fingers in the baptismal font.
The Most Rev. John B. Brungardt was unable to attend the celebration due to health concerns. In a letter to the gathering, the bishop wrote:
“Please know that you are in my prayer as you gather at our Cathedral to celebrate the Call to Continuing Conversion and the Rite of Election.
“Part of addressing health issues that I have had over these past two years is to seek further medical advice and to take time for rest and healing.
“Therefore I will not be with you for this celebration which marks such an important passage in your faith journey.
“I am keeping you in prayer at this time and throughout this holy season of Lent.
“Remember Jesus loves you more than you can imagine.”
+ Bishop John
Presiding at celebration was Father Robert Schremmer, Vicar General, who was assisted by Father Wesley Schawe, pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Sister Angela Erevia, Diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministry.
In his homily, Father Schremmer said to remember that even during those times when you may feel empty or without purpose, “You have been called because you are special.
“It can be so very easy for us to believe that we’re really not that special after all,” Father Schremmer said. “Wasn’t it on [Ash] Wednesday that we heard, Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return? Yet, we also—at the very same time—were reminded of the Spirit that breathes that life-giving divine breath into us.
“Our specialness in God’s eyes remains true even when our hearts might seem empty, anonymous, without any special purpose.
“…Our lives, they may be empty or they may be full. They may be ever so faithful, or struggling with temptation. Here we are—here to be reminded that we are God’s special blessings—daughters and sons.
“So, come now, touch the water that reminds you of your baptism,” he said, referring to the candidates.
And to the catechumens (the “Elect”), he said, “I invite you to come and to write your name in the book of life.
“Today is special. Remember you are elected, called, chosen.”
As the choir sang the haunting song, “Wade in the Water,” candidates were called by name, and together with their sponsors, came forward to dip their fingers in the baptismal font, led by an usher and a banner-bearer carrying a tall pole with long streamers.
Then, after their parish was announced, the catechumens were called by name, and together with their Godparents, came forward to sign the Book of the Elect.
This is the final step before these individuals will fully enter the Catholic Faith at Easter through Baptism and Confirmation.
Following the celebration, everyone was invited to meet in the Holy Family Social Hall for a dinner reception