A snippet from the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration, Dec. 12, 2017
St. Nicholas School, Kinsley, Advent Cantata, Dec. 7, 2008
Click on the photo below for the 41-minute concert.
_____ . . . _____
CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
Dec. 17, 2017; Christmas Issue
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Celebrate Christmas 'unplugged'; Msgr. Matthew Smith; Klan; Catholic Charities Annual Appeal; Fr. Larry Rosebaugh; A Guadalupe Encounter; Laci and Joe Salazar; A Christmas Wish; Adoption; Confession; Advent; EWTN; Christmas Blues; Tilma; Pittsburgh; PSR
These priests were martyred for refusing to violate the seal of confession
CNA -- In recent years, some Catholics have been concerned by pushes from governments in locations such as Louisiana and Australia who challenge the secrecy of the sacrament of confession, asking that priests betray the solemnity of penitents’ confessions when they hear of serious crimes in the confessional.
However, Catholics should not be afraid, because keeping the secrecy of the sacrament of confession is one of the most important promises priests make.
The code of canon law states that “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.” Priests who violate this seal of confession are automatically excommunicated.
Priests take this solemnity of the seal of confession very seriously; these four priests who died protecting it are witnesses to the extreme lengths to which priests are willing to go to protect the seal of confession.
St. John Nepomucene
Born in Bohemia, or what is now the Czech Republic, between 1340 and 1350, St. John Nepomucene was an example of the protection of sacramental secrecy, being the first martyr who preferred to die rather than reveal the secret of confession.
When he was Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Prague, the now-saint served as confessor of Sofia of Bavaria, the wife of King Wenceslaus. The king, who had infamous outbursts of anger and jealousy, ordered the priest to reveal the sins of his wife. The saint’s refusal infuriated Wenceslaus, who threatened to kill the priest if he did not tell him his wife’s secrets.
King Wenceslaus and John Nepomucene came into conflict again when the monarch wanted to seize a convent in order to take its wealth and give it to a relative. The saint prohibited its seizure because those goods belonged to the Church.
Filled with rage, the king ordered the torture of the saint, whose body was then thrown to the Vltava River in 1393.
St. Mateo Correa Magallanes
Saint Mateo Correa Magallanes was another martyr of the seal of confession. He was shot in Mexico during the Cristero War for refusing to reveal the confessions of prisoners rebelling against the Mexican government.
He was born in Tepechitlán in the state of Zacateca on July 22, 1866 and was ordained a priest in 1893. Father Matteo served as chaplain in various towns and parishes and was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
In 1927, the priest was arrested by Mexican army forces under General Eulogio Ortiz. A few days later, the general sent Father Correa to hear the confessions of a group of people who were to be shot. After Father Mateo finished administering the sacrament, the general then demanded that the priest reveal what he had heard.
Father Mateo responded with a resounding “no” and was executed. Currently, his remains are venerated in the Cathedral of Durango.
He was beatified Nov. 22, 1992 and canonized by St. John Paul II May 21, 2000.
Father Felipe Císcar Puig
Father Felipe Císcar Puig was a Valencian priest who is also considered a martyr of the sacramental seal because he was martyred after keeping confessions secret during the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War.
During the war, revolutionary and republican forces engaged in violent battles for power, and many Catholics were targeted. This was especially true of the coastal province of Valencia, on the Mediterranean sea.
The Archdiocese of Valencia indicated that, according to the documents collected, Father Císcar was taken to a prison near the end of August 1936. There, a Franciscan friar named Andrés Ivars asked that Father Císcar hear his confession before the friar was executed be firing squad.
“After the confession, they tried to extract its contents and before his refusal to reveal it, the militiamen threatened to kill him,” says an archdiocesan statement by a witness to the event. The priest then replied, “Do what you want but I will not reveal the confession, I would die before that.”
“Seeing him so sure, they took him to a sham court where he was ordered to reveal the secrets.” Father Císar remained committed to his position, stating that he preferred to die, and the militiamen condemned him to death. Fathers Felipe Císcar and Andrés Ivars were taken by car to another location where they were shot on September 8, 1936. They were 71 and 51 years old, respectively.
Both Felipe Císcar and Andrés Ivars are part of the canonization cause of Ricardo Pelufo Esteve and 43 companions.
Father Fernando Olmedo Reguera
Father Fernando Olmedo Reguera was also a victim of the Spanish Civil War who opted to die rather than break the secrecy of confession.
Born in Santiago de Compostela Jan. 10, 1873 and ordained a priest in the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor on July 31, 1904, Father Olmedo was killed Aug. 12, 1936. He served the order as its provincial secretary until 1936, when he had to leave his convent due to the severe religious persecution in the area.
Father Olmedo was then arrested, and beaten in prison. He then was pressured into revealing the confessions of others, but Father Olmedo did not give in. According to reports, he was shot at a 19th century fortress outside of Madrid by a populist tribunal. His remains are entombed in the crypt of the Church of Jesus of Medinaceli in Madrid, and he was beatified in Tarragona Oct. 13, 2013.
Historic Windthorst church suffers major water damage
Rueb vows that 105-year-old Immaculate Heart of Mary ‘will be ready for Easter concert’
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
The historic Immaculate Heart of Mary Church at Windthorst suffered major damage Nov. 11 when hundreds of gallons of water leaked into the basement and worship area due to a boiler malfunction.
The exact nature of the malfunction has not been determined. Susan Rueb, president of the board of directors of Windthorst Heritage, Inc., which owns the building, said she expects the damage to exceed $250,000.
“We discovered it Saturday (Nov. 11) late afternoon,” said Rueb. “We had several community deaths, and Carol Correll came here to put the names on the board. She saw standing water in the church.”
Rueb’s husband, Kenny, a fourth generation Windthorst resident, was the first to enter the church following the discovery.
“When I stepped on the carpet, the water was about an inch deep,” he said. “The radiators, which supply steam heat to the worship area, were leaking water.”
When Kenny tried to adjust the valve, abnormally high pressure forced the water out like a fire hose, shooting from the back of the church nearly to the altar.
They turned off the main valve. Susan Rueb checked the basement and found nearly five inches of standing water. Much of the ceiling had caved in, revealing a burst pipe.
“We realized this was going to take more than a couple of shop-vacs,” she said.
The Diocese of Dodge City closed the church in 1997 and sold it to Windthorst Heritage Inc. for $1.
Since taking over the parish maintenance 20 years ago, Windthorst Heritage, Inc. has overseen numerous restoration projects. They hired a company to clean and refurbish all the century-old stained-glass windows. They replaced all the sidewalks around and in front of the church. They renovated the rectory’s exterior and interior. A new sewer system was installed, and maintenances were performed on the church roof.
Each effort required fund-raising, grant-writing, much sweat-equity and prayers.
Which made it all the more heart-breaking when Rueb found herself wading through five inches of water in the basement to a room off to the side in which she stored all the historic records of the church, including the 1870s document in which the Santa Fe Railroad deeded the land to the Catholic Church.
There were monstrances, chalices, a tabernacle from 1878. As she reached the room, Rueb prayed that they had been spared. When she opened the door, she saw that the ceiling had collapsed. Nothing was spared damage. The historic documents were soaked.
“ServiceMaster told us to place all the wet documents into Ziploc bags,” Rueb explained. “They told us to freeze them. Instead of calling all our neighbors and asking if they had room in their freezers, we called Kirby Meats in Dodge City. They stored them all in their freezer until they go to Chicago for restoration. God bless Kirby Meats!”
The restoration team from ServiceMaster showed up within an hour of Rueb’s call on Saturday afternoon. Their first job was to remove as much water as possible; that night more than 500 gallons were removed from the basement. The team brought 40 blowers, 17 dehumidifiers, and an industrial heater with 50,000 BTUs of heat working to dry the wooden floors of the former worship area.
One team ripped through the damaged ceiling in the basement. Another scraped linoleum from the floor of the worship area to allow the century-old hardwood floors to dry. ServiceMaster brought in two large storage units to allow them to store furniture and other items, allowing them space to work.
Meanwhile, Rueb and other volunteers labored to move all the historic items out of the basement. Community volunteers worked until 10 p.m. ServiceMaster continued until 2 a.m., and was there when volunteers returned the next morning.
While closed as an active church, the structure remains firmly in the heart of a multitude of people dispersed across southwest Kansas and beyond who attended the K-12 Catholic school and grew up celebrating Mass in one of the most beautiful churches in the diocese.
“We were the mother church of western Kansas,” Rueb said, proudly. “We existed in this prairie in the middle of nowhere. This is a monument to the history of the people who settled the plains of Kansas.
“In the 1950s, we had 350 families,” Rueb said. “When we closed we had 33 families. In 20 years, I’ve met a lot of descendants. From one family who lived nearby, the dad helped build the steeple. The kids watched from a distance—they could see Dad at work.”
Rueb is certainly heartbroken at the events of Nov. 11, but she is also deeply appreciative. She’s thankful for the efforts of the restoration team, which quickly took control of the situation and gave her the advice she needed to save the historic paperwork. She’s thankful for the community of volunteers and for the Windthorst Heritage, Inc. board.
“I’m just one of the caretakers,” she said. The success of the structure is “because of the people with whom I’ve been on the board for 20 years. I have a good foundation to work with.
“A tornado did not blow away the church. Nothing is damaged that cannot be fixed. I have a mess on my hands, and I have God looking over my shoulder.”
While the annual Christmas concert has been cancelled, she expects the structure to be ready and in good shape for the Easter concert. The event will not only celebrate the rebirth of our Savior, but yet another rebirth of this beloved church on the prairie.
Catholic schools have alreadybenefited from the appeal
The Catholic schools of the Diocese of Dodge City have already received benefits from the generosity of Catholics who donated to, or prayed for, the Vibrant Ministries -- Uniting Our Church Appeal.
According to Mark Roth, Director of Development for the diocese, each school has received what amounts to $75 per student enrolled at the school.
“Each school will be using the funds at their own discretion,” explained Trina Delgado, Superintendent of Schools for the diocese. This includes tuition assistance.
“All the Catholic schools already provide tuition assistance,” she stressed. “We never want a family who wishes to come to Catholics schools, and maybe can’t afford it, not to go without financial assistance. We don’t want that to be the reason they don’t come here.
“That being said, we know that we have to recoup that money in some manner, such as through various fund raisers, generous donors, parishes, and through the assistance of the Vibrant Ministries appeal.”
The funds from the Vibrant Ministries appeal came to the schools in early November, an early Christmas present.
“I was asked how much I thought the schools were expecting,” Delgado said. “I responded that they weren’t expecting anything. Everything we receive is a gift that will be used greatly and much appreciated. When we had our principal’s meeting, I posed the same question, and they all said the same thing: it’s a gift.
“It made me feel pretty good. It’s truly a gift to them to be used how it is most needed in their individual school. We felt so good that the bishop felt the schools were important enough to get the almsgiving to use right now when it’s key. We are moving almsgiving into action for our Catholic Schools!”
The Vibrant Ministries – Uniting our Church Appeal is designed to benefit the diocese in three ways: works of mercy, Catholic faith formation, and priestly formation.
Debbie Hagans, principal of Sacred Heart School in Ness City, said that thanks to the Vibrant Ministries appeal, students at her school will receive brand new science and math textbooks next spring.
“It was a nice surprise,” Hagans said. “I knew that we were getting funding, but I didn’t know how much it would be. I’m very thankful for Vibrant Ministries for providing that for us.”
For Karen Moeder, principal at Holy Family School in Great Bend, the money came as a complete surprise.
“We were told a couple of principal meetings ago that we might be getting something,” Moeder said. “We didn’t know when or how it would be calculated, or even if it would be this school year. It was not part of our plan. When you get told something like that, you think that it may be a couple of hundred dollars. It was way more than we expected. It was just a complete and total wow!”
Moeder said that the funding will go toward new text books as well as items on the schools wish list, such as a couple of new lunch room tables.
“It was totally unexpected, and very much appreciated!”
Slavery still going strong in the world, and U.S. tops the list
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
The facts are alarming—more than 60,000 people currently are living in slavery in the United States, the majority of whom are women and girls.
Half of those are minors.
Those facts should leave any parent desperately analyzing what they can do to better protect their children, because once they are trafficked, a very small percentage are rescued.
Cimarron resident Marca Deimund was left equally astounded after a presentation she heard back in 2011.
“Trafficking gangs were going into Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and bringing people down to Texas to be sold,” she told an audience at the Dodge City Public Library Nov. 14.
“This is the center of the United States! It’s not supposed to happen here! The more I learned about it, the more I learned it happens everywhere.”
She shared the vast amount of knowledge she’s learned on the subject since that initial presentation in a program entitled “Human Trafficking: Closer Than You Think,” cosponsored by the Dodge City Public Library and West Hopewell Community FCE.
“There’s actually a loop for human trafficking in the Midwest that starts in Chicago and goes down to St. Louis, comes over to Kansas City, Wichita, Dallas, Houston, and then back up again where these traffickers move the children around and around to different cities,” she said. “I-70 and I-35 are heavily used in moving trafficking victims. Kansas provides the perfect hub for traffickers.”
There are two primary types of human trafficking: sex and labor. Sex trafficking includes the recruitment and harboring of a person for the purpose of providing commercial sexual acts.
“The average age of a sex trafficking victim is 12 to 14 years old,” Deimund said.
She shocked the audience when she noted that “in one case, a six-month-old infant was rescued from sex traffickers.
“The average life span of someone being trafficked is seven years.” In other words, if recruited at 13, the victim will likely be dead by 20, either murdered, or dead from drugs or suicide, Deimund said.
“The United States is the number one destination for a ‘sex vacation,’” she said. “Atlanta is the number one destination for child sex tourism in the United States.” Along the highway you will often see signs for massage parlors. Many include prostitution.
The other kind human of trafficking is labor trafficking, in which a person is forced—through physical intimidation, fraud, or coercion—to perform physical labor.
This includes, in many countries, serving as soldiers or slaves.
Several years ago a young man living in southwest Kansas told the then-Register that at 16, he was snatched from his family by the Burmese military to serve as a “porter,” which, in Burmese terms, is just a breath away from a death sentence.
“If you work late at night, or if you are traveling at night, they will take you,” he said. “When you work as a porter, you have to do everything they tell you. You are like an animal. Everything they say, you have to do whether you like it or not.”
The military makes a practice of kidnapping mostly male villagers, including children, to carry their packs across roads laden with land mines and to act as shields when coming across rebel fighters -- often times their own people.
“Snatching” a young child from a grocery store or parking lot, for example, occurs right here in the United States. And some areas are far more at risk than others. In places such as Garden City and Dodge City, she said people have been urged to watch their youngsters every second while in a public setting.
“Every 30 seconds someone becomes a human trafficking victim,” Deimund said.
Most of these sad journeys begin with a conversation at a vulnerable moment.
“That’s all it takes to become a victim of human trafficking. Teenagers are at great risk because of the internet: Facebook, Instagram, Snap chat, etc…. It’s easy to pretend you are a 17-year-old boy when you are a 50-year-old balding sexual predator or sex trafficking recruiter or a grandmother looking to add girls to your gang’s inventory.
“Sexting on web cams or cameras where young girls or boys are ‘coaxed’ into posing for pictures makes them vulnerable to being blackmailed into becoming a sex trafficking victim. It’s hard for kids to comprehend how dangerous the world is. They are very knowledgeable about computers and the internet, but not at all about other people who are online.
“They think they are smarter than the traffickers. They are not.”
One girl she spoke of was attending high school and living with her parents, who had no idea that their daughter was being forced into prostitution in her off hours.
Human trafficking—labor or sex—can happen at truck stops, hotels, at restaurants, bars, farms, and beef packing houses, and even nail salons.
Most prostitutes, Deimund said, are victims of trafficking and do not want to be living that lifestyle.
While 83 percent of trafficking victims in the United States are U.S. citizens, others are coerced from overseas.
“After a natural disaster, traffickers will approach families and tell them that they will bring their child to the United States and give them shelter and education,” Deimund said.
Other families are simply fighting extreme poverty when someone offers an opportunity to help one of their children.
“Some families are desperate enough to do that. Poverty and a lack of education are huge detriments.”
In September, a Wichita man was arrested on a count of human trafficking. Another Wichita man recently was given a 187-month prison sentence for sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl. In August, a Garden City man was arrested on trafficking charges.
Deimund told those gathered that if you come across someone you think is a trafficking victim, don’t be tempted to try to rescue her or him.
“Do not try to intervene. Remember, one victim may be ‘sold’ several times a night.” Over time, she may be bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars. The trafficker will not let them go quietly.
Instead, contact 911 immediately, relating exactly what you saw or experienced, or you can call the National Human Exploitation Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.
Blessed Father Rother’s sister recalls his goodness
By Charlene Scott Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Sister Marita Rother, ASC, a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ religious order in Wichita, remembers her older brother, Father Stanley Rother, as a quiet, shy person who got along with most everyone.
In their childhood years following the Dust Bowl and Depression, the siblings learned at an early age that doing chores was part of a day’s work, along with school duties.
“We had to get up early on school days to get the milking done, separate the cream from the milk, eat breakfast, get ready for school and run to catch the school bus at the intersection three blocks away,” she said.
And more chores awaited the children when they arrived home from school.
“We had a large farm and raised cattle, pigs and chickens wheat, milo, alfalfa and a big garden in the summer.”
Father Stan was 14 months older than his sister; a brother, Jim, was born after Sister Marita, followed by Caroline (who died shortly after birth), and Tom, born three years later. Jim passed away at age 36 from leukemia.
Family life was important, she said.
“We had many extended family members within just a few miles of our home—both sets of grandparents lived within a mile in different directions, and many of our parents’ siblings lived within only a few miles. We knew our cousins very well, because we also went to school together.”
The parish priest, who had grown up on a farm not far from Okarche, often spent time with the different families of his parish and helped them with the harvest by driving the tractor or hauling wheat.
“He liked to be with the families, and they always like to have him come out, even if it was just to have dinner. I believe this may have encouraged some boys to consider being a priest. Perhaps Stanley received his call in that way.”
In the early summer of 1953—after the future priest graduated from high school and his sister completed her junior year—both of them notified their parents about their desires to serve the Church and God’s people.
“I told my mother on Mother’s Day that I wanted to join the convent the next school year,” Sister Marita said. “Of course she was surprised, but very supportive. My mother had two sisters who were Adorers of the Blood of Christ, the only community I really knew. Stanley told them not too long after that he wanted to go to the seminary.”
Sister Marita is one of approximately 200 Sister Adorers in the United states and 2,000 worldwide. She taught for many years and served in administration positions. She was Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Dodge City diocese from 1987-90, after which she became principal of Sacred Heart Cathedral School from 1989-91.
“I very much enjoyed serving in the Dodge City area,” she said. “I worked with, and met some very fine people.”
Her brother Stan, meanwhile, had entered the seminary, and after his ordination as a priest for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, served in several small parishes in Oklahoma. When the archdiocese had an opening in their mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, Father Stanley volunteered.
“I visited Stan in Guatemala during the summers of 1973 and 1978,” Sister Marita said. “I had never seen such poverty as I saw there. They had no running water—only that which they carried up from the lake where they washed their clothes and fished. Many children died of malnutrition until the missionaries opened a center where mothers could bring their children to feed them at least one nutritious meal a day. This is where I worked every morning my first summer. I saw many children improve in the six weeks I was there.
“I gained a deep appreciation of Stan in having the privilege of seeing him interact and work with the poor,” she added. “He felt so at home with the Tzutujil Indians. He took the time to learn their language, which had never been written before the Oklahoma missionaries began serving there. Eventually, he began celebrating Mass in their language, preaching and teaching them, which no priest had done before.
“They claimed him as their own. He loved the people and they knew it. They became his family. He taught them farming methods, and set up a weaving co-op to give them jobs and some income.”
By 1979 the presence of the army became more constant in Santiago Atitlan. Young men and catechists were disappearing; some were found tortured or mutilated along the roadside. By early 1981, Father Stan’s name was placed on the death-list.
At the request of his archbishop, Father Stan had to leave his Guatemala parish that he loved and return to Oklahoma.
During his time away from his people, he worried about them, prayed for them, and longed to be with them.
“’A shepherd does not run at the first sign of danger,’ he said. So, after a couple of months, he returned to Guatemala in time for Holy Week,” Sister Marita explained. “Though his name was down on the list, he kept a low profile. However, on July 28, three masked men broke into his rectory and forced a young man to take them to ‘his hiding place’. There they shot and killed him.
“Both of our parents were still alive when he was murdered,” Sister Marita said. “It was very painful for them, as you can imagine.
“Though Stan’s people wanted to keep his body in Santiago Atitlan, they agreed to keep his heart, and his body was returned to Oklahoma for burial. His heart is enshrined at the entrance of their Church.”
Sadly—and yet a remarkable commentary on the beloved priest—more than 3,000 people had to be turned away when the large convention center in Oklahoma City where his beatification was held was filled to capacity.
At National Catholic Youth Conference, 20,000 teens told they are
‘Beloved children of God, called by name’
Some 270 9th-12th graders and adult sponsors from the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City joined 20,000 youth from across the United States for the Nov. 16-18 National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.
After a few hours of raucous celebration with the music of Christian hip-hop band TobyMac, the massive crowd melted into silence as Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson greeted all those gathered.
He told the youth that although they represent many states and dioceses, “we are first and foremost children of God. And that God who knows us, desires to be known by us. … God wanted us to know him ... through a personal relationship with a human being, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“We are beloved children of God, called by name, claimed by Christ,” he said. “We begin this NCYC weekend by embracing that reality of who we are.”
Chris Stefanick, an internationally acclaimed author, speaker and founder of Real Life Catholic, said that we often forget the “love story” that is at the base of the Catholic faith.
“When you remove the love story, what are you left with?” he asked. “Rules that we have to follow. Rituals that we’re not sure why we keep them alive but they take a lot of time. Doctrines that have nothing to do with your life. That’s how the world has come to see Catholicism. … The world has forgotten the love story, and so often we’ve forgotten the love story.”
That story, he said, “begins very simply with the words ‘(I) believe in one God.’”
Not believing in God, he said, is like “a flea not believing in the dog. ... The universe did not put itself here, and the more we learn about the universe, the more it shouts to us about the existence of God....
“We feel so small in this world,” continued. “We feel so insignificant in this universe.
“I think God looks down from heaven and says, ‘You are huge next to all this.’ As big as a mountain is, can it know someone? As big as an ocean is, can it make a choice? As big as a galaxy is, can it choose to love? No, but you can. ... You’re a huge deal!”
Among those attending the event from the Diocese of Dodge City was Adam Urban, Director of Youth Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, who served as delegate leader, and Carleigh Albers, youth and young adult ministry intern.
“My favorite part of the conference was probably adoration and night prayer with the monks from St. Meinrad,” Albers said. “I also really enjoyed spending time with the kids from St. Dominic’s and getting to know them better.
“The young church is alive and is yearning for a deeper relationship with their Creator,” she added. “Jesus is not somewhere in a foreign land, but rather He is here and fully present—we just need to do what Pope Francis has told us which is to ‘ask Jesus what He wants from you and be brave’.”
— Natalie Hoefer, a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, contributed to this article.