bishop tells those gathered to
‘Be street-preachers … of
action, example, personal witness’
By TIM WENZL
Southwest Kansas Register
The rain that preceded and then fell in Fowler during the Mass at St. Anthony Church was just one more blessing for the parish as it celebrated its centennial year on Oct. 10.
Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore celebrated the liturgy assisted by Father Jimmy Barrozo, parochial administrator; Father Angel Dy, a former pastor; and Father Colin Boor, a religious vocation from the parish. Bishop Gilmore alluded to the rain as he reminded those in the congregation old enough to remember the rains that came during the dedication of their present church in May 27, 1926.
“Some of the priests here that day had a time negotiating muddy roads to get back to their parishes,” he said.
In his homily, Bishop Gilmore related a story about one of the parish’s former pastors, Msgr. Alex Stremel, who later became his pastor at Pittsburg, Kans. Excerpts from his homily follow:
“Here in the 1930s, Msgr. Stremel concentrated on the youth, the Sodality, the Boy Scouts, and your first youth group, the St. Anthony Activity Club…. While he was here with you, he also turned his active pastoral attention to that new medium, the radio, and he used it as skillfully as anyone did in his weekly Shepherd’s Hour.
“He was a model of the imaginative, creative pastor. In spreading the Gospel during the Depression, he was doing things that continue to draw our admiration all these years later: things that we have not yet been able to do quite so well. He was also the man who helped me to become a diocesan priest, the first from his parish in Pittsburg, and thus, in God’s own circuitous way, he was the one who led me to become your Bishop.”
Bishop Gilmore spoke of Msgr. Stremel’s efforts at Street Preaching in neighboring towns during his assignment at the Fowler parish.
“In so many ways, that summarized what he wanted you to be about. He wanted you to be proud of your faith. He wanted you to live your faith. He wanted you to know your faith. He wanted you to be ready to give reasons for your faith. He wanted you to delight in being a member of a wider Catholic family, St. Anthony parish in Fowler, Kansas. In a phrase, he wanted you to be street-preachers.
“In so many ways, that is what I want you to be about as well. I too want you to be street-preachers. I want you to preach in the language of action, I want you to preach in the language of example. I want you to preach in the language of personal witness. I don’t want you to preach in the streets with your talks and your question-answering. I do want you to preach in the streets by your constant, wordless, example.
“By your example alone, I want you to open eyes. By your action alone, I want you to make people wonder at the change your faith has made in you. By your witness alone, I want you to attract all who see you to just such a life-changing faith.
“In that way you will be keeping faith with all who have gone before you in these 100 years. In that way you will be pouring new life into your parish. In that way you will be the best Street-Preachers the world has ever seen.”
The centennial celebration drew former parishioners from Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Wichita, Kingman, and St. Francis, as well as from towns in Colorado and Oklahoma.
Those in attendance were treated to a catered baked steak dinner and time to catch up with old friends in the parish hall. Kids played games outside while football fans watched the Chief’s game on big screen TVs under a large tent where picnic tables were set up for those who wanted to eat outdoors.
A hard bound centennial book of more than 200 pages was printed to document the parish’s 100 year history. The book includes biographies of more than 30 parishioners whose religious vocations were rooted in Fowler. Copies are available at a cost of $50 by writing: St. Anthony History Book, P.O. Box 80, Fowler, KS 67844-0080.