Mass of Thanksgiving follows cathedral mortgage burning
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Editor's Note: See the video at top to view the mortgage burning.
As winter skies threatened snow Feb. 12, inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City a small fire burned in a rounded pot. Bishop John B. Brungardt gingerly placed the cathedral mortgage into the pot, and in a puff of smoke he put an official end to 10 years of cathedral mortgage payments.
At his side stood a proud Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore, who led the diocese during the cathedral’s construction, and continued to do so for the next 10 years.
For Bishop Brungardt, the event was all about offering thanks.
Following the ceremony in the cathedral gathering space, the bishops, along with cathedral pastor Father Ted Skalsky, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, which was followed by a reception in the Holy Family Social Hall. Several priests and women Religious of the diocese attended, as did some of the cathedral artists and those who were on various building committees.
During his homily, Bishop Brungardt called forward the children of the congregation, many of whom weren’t yet born the day the cathedral was dedicated a decade ago. “Tell me,” the bishop said to the children as they sat on the steps leading to the altar, “throughout your full long lives, you’ve received many presents. Maybe at Thanksgiving? Well, maybe not Thanksgiving. Maybe at Christmas? Ahhh. Christmas. Maybe on your birthday. Did you get presents on your birthday?”
He asked the children to describe a particularly large present they had received. One child answered shyly, “A pogo stick.”
A little girl answered, “A pillow.”
“How about when you were older?” the bishop asked. “Did you get even a bigger gift? Maybe a gift of a tricycle? And when you were bigger yet, you got an even bigger gift. A gift of a bicycle?
“How about a horse? A cow?” When nobody responded, the bishop said with a grin, “I thought this was a farming and ranching place here! When I was growing up I got a pig!
“What is absolutely the biggest gift every one of you received?” he asked, looking at the children. “Everyone got the same gift.”
“Being born,” one child responded.
“Oh, that’s a big one!” the bishop replied.
“Jesus,” another said.
“Jesus; that’s the greatest gift,” the bishop replied. “How about the greatest gift that’s a thing,” the bishop said. When he heard no reply from the children, he gazed slowly upward at the ceiling, and around at the walls of the cathedral. Catching on to the bishop’s hint, there were twitters of laughter throughout the church.
Finally a child caught on as well.
“Ahhh, the cathedral,” the bishop said. “What an extraordinary gift! This is the biggest gift you have received! This is bigger than a 747 airplane! And who did you receive it from? Who gave you this wonderful gift?
“People sitting right here,” the bishop said, facing the congregation. “The Catholic Diocese of Dodge City gave you, your children, your grandchildren and your great grandchildren, this extraordinary gift. Thank you to all who contributed your stewardship to this cathedral, all the generous and sacrificial people in southwest Kansas.”
With the children following behind, the bishop led them to some of the significant areas of the worship space: the large crucifix, the baptismal font, the altar, the ambo, and the tabernacle, among others.
As he sent to the children back to their seats, he asked that they “say thank you to your families, that they have given to you this great gift, the biggest present ever, the cathedral.
“What an extraordinary blessing we have in our Catholic faith that we can come together as a family of God, as a pilgrim Church, as a sacred people, and listen to the Lord’s blessing in this house of God, this holy place, this place of grace.”
Bishop Brungardt offered his sincere appreciation for the support of many groups – organizers, volunteers, laborers, artists – and those who provided financial and prayerful support.
“We thank all those who made this possible; we thank our Loving God for this blessing of our Cathedral.”
After the Mass of Thanksgiving was a reception that included food, drink, a slide show, and a large collection of photographs detailing events at the cathedral over the last 10 years.