CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
PLEASE NOTE: Due to our summer schedule, the next issue of the SKC will be dated September 2.
Aug. 12, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Prayer and Action; Totus Tuus; Janee Bernal; Diana Ramirez; Heidy Ramirez; Bishop Gilmore honored for 20 years ministry; suicide; contraception and abortion; Dead Sea Scrolls; Humanae Vitae; certification in youth ministry; Chuck Weber; Cathedral rectory chapel; Sister Viola Heichelbech; Adam Urban
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.)
Remembering El Salvador’s holy martyr:
Blessed Archbishop Romero
By Charlene Scott Myers
Special to the Catholic
An excellent film about the life and death of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero was shown recently on EWTN the evening of April 21.
Romero might have reached his 100th birthday last August 15, 2017 had he not been shot down at the altar while celebrating Mass at Divine Providence Church in San Salvador 38 years ago on March 24, 1980. Pope Francis declared him a martyr in May, 2015.
A faithful supporter of El Salvador’s people who were suffering under a brutal persecution by soldiers and government leaders, Romero was the gentle but brave and outspoken defender of the poor in San Salvador.
The fourth archbishop of El Salvador, he paid for his bravery with his life.
I visited El Salvador with 13 lay persons and clergymen after the murders of Romero and the three nuns and a lay woman who all worked with the indigenous poor in El Salvador. We drove down the lonely, rough road to the area where the four women had been raped and murdered, returning with tear-stained cheeks.
Following his murder, Archbishop Romero was not buried, but his body rested outside in a beautiful closed casket in the city of San Salvador for all to visit. I stood in tears twice at the casket to pray for the people and clergy of El Salvador who had suffered so much in recent years.
El Salvador’s poor had lived not only in terrible poverty, but also with constant fear of torture and death for themselves and their children. It is possible they suffered more from terror and sickness than any other country in Central or Latin America, including Guatemala.
Hundreds—perhaps thousands—of native inhabitants who dared to oppose the corrupt government in El Salvador were “disappeared” and never heard from again. The diabolic murderers of these missing persons had no fear of being brought to justice or held accountable for their dastardly deeds. They were protected by the corrupt government and military, as well as by some wealthy leaders of the country.
Archbishop Romero spoke out against those hideous killers of men, women, and children during his weekly radio broadcasts and from the pulpit of his church. His strong words brought hope to his stricken parishioners.
But there were many leaders among the wealthy and in the government and military of El Salvador who hated Romero and feared the power of the Catholic Church and the thousands of people he represented.
I have interviewed many persons of different races and backgrounds during my years as a journalist, but the saddest interview of my life was with the distraught “Mothers of the Disappeared” while I was in El Salvador.
The “disappeared” were mostly teenagers and college students, falsely accused by the government of being “dangerous and radical.” Some mothers wept as they told the heartbreaking stories of their kidnapped missing children, whom they would never see alive again. Other mothers had photos of their children—both boys and girls—who had been brutally beaten or shot to death.
I wrote an article about the pitiful children and their sorrowful mothers for the Oklahoma Observer newspaper when I returned to my job as director of the Canterbury Center’s Peace and Justice Office at the University of Tulsa. My office had sponsored the trip to El Salvador, and several of the 13 people with me on the trip to the torn country of brutal deaths were board members of the Peace and Justice office.
Our trip to El Salvador was long ago and far away. But I never will forget it, nor will I forget Archbishop Oscar Romero and his beautiful parishioners of San Salvador. Those of us on the trip were given a large poster of Romero before we left his country, and we drew lots for it. I had the winning (golden for me) ticket!
But a burly soldier stopped us at the airport check in and yanked the poster away from me. “You can’t take this out of the country!” he growled.
One of the ministers with me on the trip, an Episcopal priest, shouted at the soldier: “I will report your rudeness to us, and there will be an international incident if you keep that poster!”
The burly officer hesitated as he stared at us with obvious hatred. Finally he backed down, and with a scowl thrust the poster back into my hands. Every member of our tour group breathed a sigh of relief. What a blessing it was to travel to a dangerous foreign land with a brave and outspoken priest and friends of many different faiths!
I also believe that the Catholic Archbishop Romero in Heaven brought this prickly predicament to the notice of Our Good Lord. What a friend we have in Jesus, and what a friend I always will remember, although I never was blessed to meet him: the dearly beloved and brave Oscar Romero!