Annual Dechant Foundation Golf Classic honors, celebrates retired priests, bishops
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
DODGE CITY – The clouds were thick with moisture, like mammoth water balloons, dark grey and ready to burst.
Underneath the ocean of clouds filling the sky Sept. 7, lining the green grass of Mariah Hills Golf Course in Dodge City were dozens of golfers who were hoping that by some miracle they would be able to complete the course before being rained out, or worse yet, zapped by some 30,000 amperes.
If it had been any other golf outing, they may have called it quits. But this was special. This was for our retired priests, a fund-raiser to make sure they are served well after so many years of serving others.
In the end there was no thunder, not a drop of rain.
“I felt the day was a great success,” said event organizer Mark Roth, Development Director for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City. “The weather was perfect and the rains held off. I would like to thank all the sponsors and players who made the day possible. It is truly heartwarming to see so many people come out and support our retired priests.”
The day began with Mass at the chapel in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated by Bishop John B. Brungardt and Father Jacob Schneider. In his homily, the bishop reminded those gathered that in such troubled times as these, “We realize how weak we are and how much we need our Savior. … Trust in Him and He will act. … That’s the only way to make it in this world … to trust in the Lord and in His Sacred Heart.”
At Mariah Hills on the eastern edge of Dodge City, chancery staff signed in the teams. Individual golfers were offered the chance to buy mulligans for $20 each, which allows the golfer a second chance at a swing if the first one goes embarrassingly awry.
Just outside the clubhouse, members of KofC Council 2955 heated up charcoals for a hamburger and hotdog lunch as dozens of golf carts for the teams stood in a long line nearby.
Before the golfers hit the course, Bishop Brungardt led the blessing with St. Paul’s teaching that athletes “‘run so as to win’, a perishable award, yet we, with the help of our sacramental life, hope for an ‘imperishable’ award: eternal life. (1 Cor 9:24).
“The golf tourney is for the benefit our retired priests and bishops, who have given the flock decades of ministry: the sacraments, teaching, and shepherding,” he said.
“Thank you, golfers, sponsors, and organizers of this day, for your generosity for our retired priests and bishops.”
With excited anticipation, the golfers took to their assigned carts and headed out, each traversing the green hills to a different hole, some seeming to almost disappear into the distance. In one cart, Father Schneider let out a fun-filled howl as he raced to beat another cart, driven by Director of Youth Ministry Adam Urban, to the greens, where they competed on the same team.
On the closest hole to the clubhouse, Diocese Financial Officer Dan Stremel was one of the first to take to the tee. Team member Greg Vierthaler joked that he was going to take a few steps back in case the lightning decided to make an early appearance.
Retired priests Fathers Reggie Urban and Benjamin Martin were there, along with other priests and Sisters, as well as Newman University chaplain, Father John Fogliasso, and a bevy of lay people who combined faith and fun to serve our retired priests.