Diocese mourns death of Bishop Gerber, third bishop of diocese
Oct. 28, 2018
Oct. 14, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Bishop Gerber; Youth Rally; Patricia O'Brien; Daughters of Isabella; Hrencher; just immigration reform; Sister Rose Mary Stein; Janee Bernal; Sex Abuse; Five steps; Catholic Extension; priest and homeless
Diocese mourns death of Bishop Gerber, third bishop of diocese
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.
Local pair organizing hope, help for the
physically challenged, caregivers
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
John Trombley struggles daily due to a problem knee and shrapnel in his back, the latter of which he received while serving in Vietnam.
Sara Smith is a caregiver to her husband, Rawlin, who is suffering the latent effects of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon to which he was exposed—also while serving in Vietnam.
But this isn’t about Trombley and Smith.
This is about all veterans—and anyone else—who are living with disabilities and could use a helping hand, a bit of instruction or advice, maybe someone to talk to.
It started with Bob Hamilton, the Visually Impaired Service Coordinator at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita. His idea is to provide greater support for the physically challenged veterans and public throughout Western Kansas.
Hamilton shared his idea with Bishop John Brungardt, who notified Father Bob Schremmer, who contacted Smith.
“And Sara contacted me,” Trombley said. The pair are uniquely qualified to bring Hamilton’s dream to Southwest Kansas, both because of their personal experiences, and because they each house a heart- and faith-filled desire to help others.
While they have a special place in their hearts for disabled veterans (for whom, thanks to their experience and the support of Hamilton, they will be able to offer special attention) their goal is to serve all those with disabilities, and all those who care for them.
“We want to bring information and solutions to the challenges that persons with disabilities face,” Smith explained. “People are dying in the recesses of their home because they don’t know there is help out there.”
As “purveyors of information”, the group will offer helpful advice about (among many other things): Medicare and how to apply for it; how to use health care appliances properly; where to get help for simple, every-day challenges; what benefits are out there that can help financially; where you can go for help that doesn’t include driving across the state.
“We have experts in southwest Kansas,” Trombley said, experts that the two hope will offer some of their time and expertise to extend Hamilton’s mission to southwest Kansas so that no person facing physical challenges has to travel for answers, including disabled veterans who must travel to the Veterans Affairs facility in Wichita.
“If it’s a question of mobility in Sublette, we go to Sublette,” Trombley explained, “We don’t want them to come to us, but for us to go to them. We encourage sharing solutions between caregivers, the people with disabilities and the professionals.”
“We want more things from the Veterans Administration out here,” Smith added. “For us to get Rawlin to Wichita for treatment was a big deal. If we can save someone from that …. A 24-hour caregiver doesn’t have the energy to go to Wichita.”
The pair also wants to strengthen the emotional support between caregivers and people with disabilities, by sharing experiences, challenges and solutions, including care options.
“If you find something that works, share it!” Smith said. This summer, Rawlin [Smith’s husband] wanted to exercise in the lazy river at a water park but couldn’t because of his oxygen tank. Rather than feel sorry for himself, he got the creative juices flowing. He invented a special raft made to support his oxygen tank in the water.
“He figured out that he should share that knowledge,” Smith said, proudly.
“Sometimes these people are pitied,” she said, referring to people facing physical challenges. “They are not helpless or incapacitated. They are smart, inventive and creative. They are to be respected.”
The organization is still in its early stages. Eventually it will begin offering workshops throughout the diocese. Those wishing to volunteer their time to help Smith and Trombley may call the Catholic office at 620-227-1519. In the meantime, Smith and Trombley would like to gage the interest for such an organization. They are asking interested individuals to fill out the needs assessment survey included on this page, and to submit it to the office of the Southwest Kansas Catholic to: Disability Issues, 910 Central, P.O. Box 137, Dodge City, KS 67801.
“We have gotten to know a number of veteran couples who have gone through treatment programs,” Smith said. “We have to stand beside each other. There are people who can do it alone, but relationships make it so much easier.”
Return survey to:
Disability Issues, 910 Central,
P.O. Box 137, Dodge City, KS 67801.
Be sure and include your name, address and phone number:
NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEY
□ Hearing loss
□ Speech Communication Issues
□ Emphysema Lung/Breathing Issue
□ Meal Preparation
□ Managing Money
□ Light Housework
□ Transferring in and out of bed or chair
□ Using Telephone
□ Managing Medication
□ Heavy Housework
□ Household Chores
□ Legal Affairs
□ Obtaining information about services
□ Taking care of another person: □ Child under 18 years of age □ Adult
□ Receiving services/benefits
□ Health Care
□ Money to live on
□ Other ___________
Injecting God’s love into lives of student athletes
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Editor’s Note: The following is one of a series of articles that includes topics presented at the Aug. 25 Stewardship Conference in Dodge City. The Stewardship Conference, organized by Director of Stewardship, Eric Haselhorst, presents ways for participants to be better equipped to serve the Lord and each other. Complete lists of hand-outs from Stewardship Day can be found at dcdiocese.org/stewardship/stewardship-day.
For Dodge City High School teacher Taviana Lowery, one word brings with it a God-given answer to injecting the love of Christ back into the lives of young people: discipleship.
At the annual Stewardship Conference, Aug. 25 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Lowery addressed, “How to be a disciple while coaching.” It was a discussion ultimately pertaining to all students, not only student athletes.
Lowery is starting her 14th year as a teacher at the high school, instructing students from many corners of the globe how to speak English.
“Discipleship in a public-school setting is tricky,” she said, “but it doesn’t have to be nonexistent. There are many ways we can be disciples to our young people without offending anyone. I can go to my son’s team and pray with them.”
When an audience member asked if she had ever been taken to task for praying with the youth, she replied, “I’ve never gotten grief for praying with kids. Only thanks.”
“I’m a teacher. I see so much hurt. Poverty. Abuse. Youth who feel very worthless.” [Dodge City High School lost two young people to suicide earlier in the year.]
Yet, she adds, “I am amazed how God has turned so much tragedy into something so beautiful. I’ve seen so many in the community reaching out asking how to help.
“As parents, we have a tremendous amount of power,” she said. “You have an influence on your children; they can see the love of Christ in you. That’s discipleship. That is your mission.”
And coaches? “Coaches have a tremendous amount of influence over their student athletes.
“You have the power to disciple in a way that’s free from many of the restraints of the school setting. Maybe we’re not taking advantage. Are we focusing on baseball and only baseball, or are we focusing on something bigger?”
As a member of the worldwide Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Lowery has seen how Christianity in an athletic setting can affect youth.
“If they could just see how much He loves them, they’d be okay. They don’t know God loves them, that He’s there for them.
“I hope you will think about how you can reach out to our youth, because they are hurting. Today’s world is very broken. Our youth are dealing with things they should never have to deal with. I have a passion for Church and a passion for kids.
“Discipleship is a very personal decision and mission,” she said. “I tell my children, ‘Whatever you decide to do is your mission from Christ.’ If we want to share the love of Jesus Christ and be a disciple, He will guide us.”
PSR programs benefitting from home-grown generosity
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Thanks to the generosity of Catholics across the diocese and beyond, thousands of dollars from the Vibrant Ministries – Uniting Our Church Appeal have already been dispersed to local parishes for use in their Parish School of Religion (PSR), youth programs, and other faith formation programs.
This includes funding for such items as computers, projectors and televisions, computer equipment for video production, wireless interface, computer programs and videos, scholarships and Bibles.
At the heart of the Appeal grants is the desire of the diocese to educate and empower the educators.
VIDEOS FOR TEENS, RANSOM
Denise Flax spoke to the Catholic from the playground where she is a kindergarten and first grade teacher. The junior and senior high PSR teacher will be using the Appeal funding to spread the word of God to young people through videos made by young people.
“We’re really excited,” Flax said amid the sounds of children at recess. “We are making apologetic videos for teens. [Apologetics is the “science of explaining the Catholic Faith in a rational and reasonable manner with love and patience.”]
“What we’re wanting to do is to reach as many teens as possible. We’re making and posting on Youtube and social media to reach kids, making them stronger and more knowledgeable about their faith, so they will be able to answer questions or respond to attacks about their faith.”
Up until now, Flax and her class have been using an iPhone for video production, which resulted in one video called, “What is Apologetics?” The ability to utilize better equipment will enhance the video production and the final result, Flax said, which will ultimately attract more young people to the videos.
“The kids are so excited about it, but by the end of class I’m exhausted,” she said with a laugh. Making even a five-minute video can take a great deal of effort, including hours and hours of editing.
“It’s a huge project. I’m sort of like a referee. We have a curriculum that we use; we read and learn concepts. Some kids have an idea and get up and act it out. I say if it sounds good, whether it needs tweaking, or ‘we aren’t going to go down that road,’” Flax said with another laugh.
“They’re fun to make,” she added. “There’s a lot of humor.”
Flax didn’t receive the amount of funding that was requested in her grant application – a decision left to the money crunchers -- but it was “a good chunk” that will go toward the purchase of a new computer, video camera, software, a boom mic for better sound, and lighting. She admitted that the class will be doing a bit of fund-raising in order to get all the equipment they need, but she stressed that she appreciates every bit of funding from the Appeal that she received.
At the annual Stewardship Conference Aug. 25, Flax and members of her class provided a workshop on video production for PSR classes. (See pages 14-15.)
FAITH FORMATION, LIBERAL
St. Anthony Parish in Liberal benefited from the generosity of the people of the diocese via grants to several of their faith formation programs. St. Anthony, one of the larger parishes in the diocese with nearly 2,000 registered families (and many unregistered), received financial gifts for programs including adult formation (DVDs and materials), adult evangelization (Christlife program), PSR Catechist Coaching (outside speakers and manuals), youth and young adult (summer daycare program), RCIA (educational videos), and three Pastoral Ministry Formation scholarships at approximately $500 each.
One of the great blessings of the funding is the education of catechists.
“I think it is a much needed and great thing that these funds are being made available,” said Dan Diepenbrock, St. Anthony Parish Manager. “We have in our parish almost 50 dedicated catechists who volunteer their time at least once every week, sometimes twice a week. And we feel obligated to equip them the best we can so that they can do the best job they can passing on the faith to our youth.”
After discerning the need for a “sustained effort at forming our catechists,” the parish applied for a grant that would “compensate outside speakers, so that we can have them make presentations on classroom strategies techniques and tactics. We planned them three consecutive Wednesday evening sessions, where the catechists would hear presentations on those topics.”
The grant will pay these outside speakers, and will fund special materials for each cathechist.
“We were happy with the number of grants that were approved for us,” Diepenbrock said. “We submitted six grant requests and they were all approved, and we are very appreciative.”
WORLD YOUTH DAY, SATANTA
St. Alphonsus Parish in Satanta submitted a grant request for help offsetting the cost of sending its youth to World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.
While the good people of Satanta will still have to raise a great deal of funding, the diocese took a sizable chip out of the sizable chunk of funding required to send their youth to the Central American country in a mere four months. World Youth Day is set to occur Jan. 22-27 in Panama City.
“So far we have 15 youth going to Panama WYD in January 2019,” said Gaby Trejo, a Confirmation teacher at St. Aphonsus Parish.
“Most of the youth going this WYD were just confirmed in April, so I believe its important for our youth to go the year after confirmation to experience their faith and learn more about their faith outside of a classroom or within our community. I think this will help them to confirm and enhance their faith in many different ways.”
The $7,500 grant that the parish received for the trip was a “huge help for the youth and their families. Most of the families can’t afford to pay for the trip.... The funding we received is giving us the chance to make this dream happen.”
Thanks to the motivation of the St. Alphonsus parents and other parishioners, they began holding fundraising activities, “selling enchiladas, tamales, burritos, menudo, an IPAD raffle, and having garage sales. We are blessed with generous people from our parish and the Knights of Columbus with their donations.
“You will not believe how proud I feel of the youth and their families,” Gaby said. “Every activity we have, everyone helps — youth, parents, siblings, grandparents. We are like a little family trying to help each other. We’ve had long nights cooking the day before a food sale. The youth, coming and helping until late at night on weekdays ... were tired, but still worked hard to make this trip possible.
“All I can say is that our community is blessed to have youth like them,” Gaby said. “We will keep working hard fundraising; it will not be easy, but God knows this group deserves going to WYD to experience this unique opportunity.”
Stewardship Conference: Lessons for discipleship in troubled times
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Editor’s Note: Rather than condense the Stewardship Conference’s five 20-minute presentations into one- or two-paragraph snippets, the SKC is instead going to present in-depth articles in upcoming issues covering important topics discussed throughout the day-long event. Topics to be covered in upcoming issues: What to do if you are deported; Discipleship when coaching, when working with youth, while parenting; and how to get along with those with whom you disagree.
It’s not about the money
Stewardship has long been associated with the offering plate; being stewards of God’s gifts, after all, means sharing with others that with which you’ve been gifted.
Then, how do mass shootings enter into the stewardship picture?
The Stewardship Conference looks far beyond the offering plate, presenting ways for us to be better equipped to serve our Lord and each other.
And therein lies a sad reality. Nowadays, being better equipped to serve others means being prepared for violence.
At the Stewardship Conference Aug. 25, Deputy Steve Billinger of the Barton County Sheriff’s Office, shared a sad reality that hopefully will never hit home for those dozens of people in attendance.
His topic, “What to do if someone shows up with a gun,” was one of several presentations given at this year’s conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The annual conference is organized by Director of Stewardship, Eric Haselhorst. Sessions always manage to reflect the reality of the times, whether it is the tragedy of mass shootings, the how-tos of making social media videos for faith formation, or even how to get along with those you disagree—especially considering the political landscape.
ACTIVE SHOOTER RESPONSE
Tragically, the morning after Deputy Billinger discussed what to do in an “active shooter” situation, 15 people were shot while attending a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. At press time, three people had died, including the assailant.
“This topic is so critical for all of us,” Deputy Billinger said prior to the most recent shooting. “The world has changed. You can even walk into an active shooter environment in a movie theater.
“...On Nov. 5, 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley went into a small Baptist Church [near San Antonio] armed with an assault rifle…. A few minutes later, 28 parishioners had been killed. That tiny church in a town of 400—they never thought this would happen in their community. It always happens somewhere else.”
Looking around the large cathedral social hall, Deputy Billinger said that if a shooter came into the room, the first impulse would be to seek shelter under your chair. In this case, he said, you would simply be waiting to be executed.
“The key thing to think about is our own mind-set. Our own mind-set is our key to survival.
“...The best option,” he said, pointing to the large glass doors to the outside of the church, “is out those doors, escaping. Next is lockdown. If you are locked in a room with a good door, the shooter will not waste time trying to open the door.”
The next is to hide. Turn off the lights. Make no sound. Another option, he said, is to run, and to run in a zig-zag fashion. It’s very difficult for even seasoned shooters to hit a running target.
The last option is to fight.
“What are you willing to do to survive?” he asked. “If [I were the shooter], you people far outnumber me. Could you not act together?
“Everyone of you are sitting on a weapon that is very effective against my head,” he said, referring to the metal, folding chairs. “If you work together, you can defeat me. Fight aggressively.
“If you don’t become mentally prepared how to react, you won’t react effectively.”
EQUIPPING YOUTH TO SERVE YOUTH
Denise Flax, a Ransom High School teacher and religious education instructor at
St. Aloysius Parish in Ransom, brought two of her students to the gathering, her sons Daren and Jamie, who, with the rest of their PSR class, create social media videos designed to evangelize other young people.
Perfectly fitting the subject of their presentation, the three performed their talk from a prepared script, which was carefully injected with how-tos, valuable advice, and a good dose of humor.
“We must share our faith with kindness, not drill it into them like a jackhammer,” they said, referring to the lessons taught in their videos.
The presentation included a video the class made with a cell-phone camera, “What is Apologetics?”
While they await a grant from the Vibrant Ministries — Uniting Our Church Appeal to help upgrade their video equipment, the cell-phone video shows that even on a shoestring budget, it’s possible to produce a creative, fun, and faith-filled message to the young masses.
Being a Disciple as a Parent with Teens
Eric Haselhorst’s presentation was entitled “How to be a Disciple as a Parent with Teens.” He provided examples of how language matters when talking to teenagers.
“Don’t assume negative intent when you ask your kids questions. You can get the same information you need by assuming positive intent.”
Haselhorst spoke about the use of coaching questions when teens face problems.
He concluded with things kids ought to hear from their parents. Among these were: “I’m proud of you,” “I know you can do this,” and “I believe in you.”
Complete lists of these communication tools and other hand-outs from Stewardship Day can be found at dcdiocese.org/stewardship/stewardship-day.