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He sent them to every town and place...

By Bishop Emeritus, Ronald M. Gilmore

Catholic Diocese of Dodge City

On the Feast of Saint Luke, we read that the Lord singled out seventy others, and sent them into every town and every place where he himself was about to come (Luke 10: 1).  And that has remained true through all the checkered ages of the Church. 

It certainly does in our own heavily-checkered age.  It is true for each bishop, priest, monk, nun, and lay person of our time.  All of us are sent to hand on what we have seen and heard of God.  The Lord never stops coming to our towns and places, and so he never stops sending seventy, and another seventy.

What with all our failures, and scandals, and division, and fighting, it is very hard just now.  We have neglected the hurting least among us.  We are covered with confusion.  Our courage fails.  Our energy flags.  It is easy to feel like the lamb, when the wolves are snarling around you. 

But that’s all right.  Our sins have brought it upon us.  It can help us re-focus our eyes.  His message is his message, first, not our message.  It is not something we make.  Left to ourselves, John said, we can make nothing.  It is a gift he makes to us. 

He asks us to go to the heart of his message, and to proclaim nothing but Christ, and him crucified.  He wants us to sweep aside all peripheral and incidental things, and to see the substance, and to say the substance, and to cling to the substance. 

This is the time to bear the shock, and the shame, and the hurt of our own sinfulness.  It is the season to bow our heads to the deep purification now come upon us.  To set our faces like flint, and to go on to the next town: it may be there that he is to come today. 

 

Los envió a cada pueblo y lugar ...

 

En la fiesta de San Lucas, leemos que el Señor escogió a setenta discípulos y las envió a todas las ciudades y lugares adonde pensaba ir (Lucas 10, 1).  Y eso ha seguido siendo verdad a través de todas las edades de la Iglesia. 

Ciertamente lo es en nuestra propia época, muy accidentada.  Es cierto para cada obispo, sacerdote, monje, religiosa y laico de nuestro tiempo.  Todos nosotros somos enviados a entregar lo que hemos visto y oído de Dios.  El Señor nunca deja de venir a nuestros pueblos y lugares, y por eso nunca deja de enviar a setenta, y a otros setenta.

Con todos nuestros fracasos, escándalos, divisiones y luchas, esto es muy difícil ahora.  Hemos descuidado a los que más pequeños entre nosotros, que sufren.  Estamos cubiertos de confusión.  Nuestra valentía flaquea.  Nuestra energía flaquea.  Podemos fácilmente sentirnos como el cordero, cuando los lobos gruñen a su alrededor. 

Pero eso está bien.  Son nuestros pecados los que nos han traído esto sobre nosotros.  Esto puede ayudarnos a reenfocar nuestros ojos.  Primero: el mensaje de Jesús es de Él, no nuestro.  No es algo que nosotros hacemos.  Dejados a nosotros mismos, dijo Juan, no podemos hacer nada.  Es un regalo que él nos hace. 

Nos pide que vayamos al corazón de su mensaje, y que no proclamemos nada más que a Cristo, y a él crucificado.  Él quiere que barramos todas las cosas periféricas e incidentales, y que veamos la sustancia, y que proclamemos la sustancia, y que nos aferremos a la sustancia. 

Este es el momento de soportar el choque, la vergüenza y el dolor de nuestro propio pecado.  Es el momento de inclinar la cabeza ante la profunda purificación que ahora nos llega.  Para poner nuestras caras como el pedernal, e ir a la siguiente ciudad: tal vez Él llegue allí hoy. 

 

‘Clay in the hands of the Lord’

Remembering Bishop Gerber

Bishop Eugene J. Gerber was six years a Bishop in Dodge City, twenty-five years a Bishop in Wichita, and seventeen years a Bishop-Emeritus also in Wichita: after almost forty-two years a Bishop, he returned on Saturday to the Father who made him, and the Son who called him, and the Spirit who shaped him. 

That’s the outside of the story, but there is an inside to the story as well.  Some of that inside concerns you, the priests and people of the Diocese of Dodge City.  He wasn’t the same man, you see, when you were through with him in 1982.

He came back to Wichita a changed man.  Those who knew him longest, those who knew him best … they saw it right away, even if they could not quite put their finger on it.  He was just … well … different.

Monsignor John Gilsenan came close to getting at it when he said Bishop Gerber was more reflective somehow, after all he had seen and heard and done in Dodge City. 

He did not rightly know what you did for him.  I do not know now what you did for him, or how you did it.  But you, priests and people of Dodge City, you broadened him, that I do know.  You deepened him.  You molded him into the man who was so widely loved in Wichita and all of southeast Kansas. 

He took delight in his people, the psalmist said.  You helped him treasure that line.  The delight never left him all the days of his life. 

Nor is it any wonder.  From you he learned how to bishop.  The way you responded to him helped deepen him even as he learned.  He hoped that you delighted in him half as much as he delighted in you. 

Because you belonged to the Lord, he came to belong to the Lord, and in ways that surprised him right up to his last days.  He was clay in the hands of the Lord to the very end, because the Lord made him clay in your hands at the very beginning.

 

‘Arcilla en las manos del Señor’

Mons. Eugene J. Gerber fue obispo de Dodge City durante seis años, veinticinco años obispo en Wichita y diecisiete años obispo emérito también en Wichita: Después de casi cuarenta y dos años de obispo, regresó el sábado al Padre que lo creó, al Hijo que lo llamó y al Espíritu que lo formó. 

Ese es el exterior de la historia, pero también hay un interior de la historia.  Parte de eso tiene que ver con ustedes, los sacerdotes y el pueblo de la Diócesis de Dodge City.  No era el mismo hombre, cuando terminó su vida con ustedes en 1982.

Regresó a Wichita cambiado.  Los que lo conocieron por más tiempo, los que lo conocieron mejor... lo vieron enseguida, incluso aunque no pudieran identificarlo.  Solo estaba... digamos... diferente.

Monseñor John Gilsenan estuvo cerca de entenderlo cuando dijo que Mons. Gerber estaba más reflexivo de alguna manera, después de todo lo que había visto, oído y hecho en Dodge City. 

Él no sabía exactamente lo que ustedes le habían hecho.  No sé ahora lo que hicieron por él, o cómo lo hicieron.  Pero ustedes, sacerdotes y pueblo de Dodge City, hicieron de él un hombre más grande, eso sí lo sé.  Lo profundizaron.  Lo transformaron en el hombre que era tan amado en Wichita y en todo el sureste de Kansas. 

Se deleitaba con su pueblo, dijo el salmista.  Ustedes lo ayudaron a apreciar ese versículo.  El deleite nunca le abandonó todos los días de su vida. 

Tampoco es de extrañar.  De ustedes aprendió a ser obispo.  La forma en que ustedes respondieron a él lo ayudó a profundizar incluso mientras aprendía.  Él esperaba que ustedes se deleitaron en él al menos la mitad de lo que él se deleitó en ustedes. 

Debido a que ustedes pertenecían al Señor, él vino a pertenecer al Señor, y de una manera que lo sorprendió hasta sus últimos días.  Él fue arcilla en las manos del Señor hasta el final, porque el Señor lo hizo arcilla en las manos de ustedes desde el principio.

Remembering Father Schoenmakers

 On 28 July, we marked the death of an early Jesuit missionary, Father John Schoenmakers.  He died in 1883, late on a Saturday afternoon, in Osage Mission, now known as St. Paul, Kansas.   

He was in the 76th year of age, the 50th year of his priesthood, the 49th year as a Jesuit, and the 36th year of his service in Kansas.  His place gave birth to my place, the home parish where I grew up.  My work brought me to live, for some months in his place, on the very spot where he founded his Mission.  I was drawn again and again to his grave in that tiny parish cemetery.  He fills that whole place still.

“There was nothing dynamic about the man, nor was he unusually gifted,” an historian said.  I am not an individual, he said in a letter to his Superiors, I am an institution.  The first was submerged in the last. 

Superior of the local community, manager of the Mission, spiritual Father to the Sisters of Loretto, doctor, postmaster, steward, lawyer, judge, catechist, preacher to the Native Americans, he submerged himself … effaced himself … in his work, rarely spending time in his own rooms, and rarely leaving the Mission compound.

His Jesuit Superiors were not always pleased with him.  They were forever reprimanding him about his spending, forever reminding him to stay within his budget, forever shaking their heads at his seeming inability to understand and to follow instructions.  Some members of the Mission community found him too driven, too exacting, and too apt to interfere in their own work, which perplexed and discouraged them. 

But the members of the Osage Tribe, they came to love him with a fierce loyalty.  They had only a living oral language, passed down from person to person, no written language.   And when they came to make their own word for “priest,” the sound they chose was Schouminka.  His name, his presence, his energy, his work … he was priest to them.  We should all be so lucky.

 

 

‘…Make us whole’

By the Most Rev. RONALD M. GILMORE
Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City

For nearly 50 years, we have been praying you never cease to gather a people to yourself (3rd Eucharistic Prayer).  That has been a comfort to us, a reminder of the end-to-end power of the Redemption, a hint of the invisible working of Grace. 

But in these 50 years of gathering, Mass attendance has all but fallen off the table.  Only 23 percent of us go to Mass weekly these days.  Seventy-seven percent of us Catholics cannot be bothered.  If three-fourths of the family doesn’t see being with the family as something important, then the family has almost ceased to be a family. 

He is gathering; we are ungathered.  There is something way wrong with this picture.  What “is” going on here?

I am not smart enough to know the answer.  My Faith is not deep enough, perhaps.   My Hope is not energetic enough.  My Love is not lively enough.  I know one thing only (as the old Wisdom writers used to say), only two things do I know.

I know a young man who could look upon the consecrated Host, raised on high in a long, dark, Basilica, and he could see all of Hebrew history contained in that slight round wafer.  He could see all of Christian history there too, and all of world history there too, and even all of his own personal history there as well.  The Consecrated Host was like a concave mirror to him, drawing all those things from wide corners into itself.  Could I but grasp what is in that host, he thought, I would know all I need to know.   

I know an old man who now spends his time with the disappointed, the disenchanted, the wounded, the hurting, and the weary, with those who come to a religious retreat, sometimes out of desperation.  There is in them a hunger to make sense of their motley lives.  Where did they come from, why have these hard things fallen upon them, where are they going?  They are driven to make sense of all this.  Their thoughts and their feelings seek a center.  They need that concave mirror. 

Despite all the bare Churches they have known, they are drawn still … somehow … to the Bread … the Bread of the Word, and the Bread of the Altar.  I know one thing only, only two things do I know.   O slight, mute, wafer: fill us now and make us whole. 

 

 

‘Lord, renew your Church’

We have celebrated the great mysteries of our Faith: the Death of Jesus of Nazareth; the Resurrection of Christ; the Ascension of Christ; the coming of the Spirit of Christ; and the first steps of a fledgling Church, the new People of God for whom the Lord had come to draw them to himself. 

Those were “heady” days liturgically (big with meaning), and they were meant to flow into “hearty” days practically (to tumble over into visible action).  But look around you on this Monday after Pentecost, and what do you see? 

Our leaders and teachers at odds with one another.   They contradict one another, they fight with one another, they demean one another, they divide into warring camps.  They … We … give scandal to one and all.   

By this, they shall know we are Christians: by how we love one another.  But look around you.  Do we?  Are we?  Or, are we allowing … something … to get in the way?

The new Roman Missal has Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs, one of which is for the Church on the Path toward Unity.  In it we pray: Lord, renew your Church (in all the dioceses of the world) by the light of the Gospel. 

 

Strengthen the bond of unity

Between the Faithful and the pastors of your people.

Together with Francis our Pope, John our Bishop,

And the whole Order of Bishops:

That in a world torn by strife

Your people may shine forth

As a prophetic sign of unity and concord.

 

Lord, come down from above, and let it be so.

 

 

‘Señor, renueva tu Iglesia’

 

Hemos celebrado los grandes misterios de nuestra fe: la muerte de Jesús de Nazaret; la Resurrección de Cristo; la Ascensión de Cristo; la venida del Espíritu de Cristo; y los primeros pasos de una Iglesia incipiente, el nuevo Pueblo de Dios por quien el Señor había venido para atraerlo a sí.

Aquellos fueron días “embriagadores” litúrgicamente hablando (grandes de sentido), y estaban destinados a fluir prácticamente hacia días “abundantes” (transformándose en acción visible).  Pero mira a tu alrededor este lunes después de Pentecostés, y ¿qué ves?

Nuestros líderes y maestros en desacuerdo unos con otros.   Se contradicen entre sí, pelean entre sí, se degradan entre sí, se dividen en campos de batalla.  Ellos... nosotros... damos escándalo a todos.  

Por esto, ellos sabrán que somos cristianos: por la forma en que nos amamos unos a otros.  Pero mira a tu alrededor.  ¿Lo hacemos?  ¿Lo estamos?  O, ¿estamos permitiendo... que algo... se interponga en el camino?

El nuevo Misal Romano tiene plegarias eucarísticas para diversas necesidades, una de las cuales es para la Iglesia en el camino hacia la unidad.  En ella oramos: Haz que nuestra Iglesia de (nombre de la diócesis) se renueve constantemente a la luz del Evangelio y encuentre siempre nuevos impulsos de vida;

 

consolida los vínculos de unidad

entre los laicos y los pastores de tu Iglesia,

entre nuestro Obispo Juan, y sus presbíteros y diáconos,

entre todos los Obispos y el Papa Francisco;

que la Iglesia sea, en medio de nuestro mundo, dividido por las guerras y discordias,

instrumento de unidad,

de concordia y de paz.

 

Señor, desciende de lo alto y que así sea.

 

 

Bishop Emeritus Ronald M. Gilmore
Bishop Emeritus
Ronald M. Gilmore

Ordained & Installed
Bishop of Dodge City
July 16, 1998

 

Diocese of Dodge City


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