Salina — For Beth Shearer, her new position as the Director of Stewardship and Development for the Salina Diocese is one that melds more than three decades of professional experience with her faith. “This is a way for me to merge a lifetime of fundraising/development experience with my Catholic faith,” Shearer said. “It’s humbling to be in this position, when you are able to merge your life experiences with your faith.”
The primary task of the office of development and stewardship is to The primary task of the office of stewardship and development is to guide the philanthropic efforts that will fund the current and future needs of the Salina diocese. Shearer has been in the Chancery in a consulting capacity since March 15. She is familiarizing herself with the diocesan operations, and will begin meeting with people across the diocese starting June 1.
“I am going to get to know the individuals in the diocese who are giving to the diocese and why they do that,” she said. “I want to get to know what people’s philanthropic goals are, and then match those to the philanthropic needs of the Salina Diocese.”
Pamela Sullivan, Chancellor for the Salina Diocese, said Shearer will continue the stewardship and development work that many throughout the diocese are familiar with. “Several of Beth’s first endeavors in her new position will be to contact our faithful donors throughout the diocese to solicit, receive and manage donations, bequests, endowments, current and deferred gifts on behalf of the diocese, its parishes, schools, agencies and ministries,” Sullivan said. “Beth will also be creating a campaign to promote legacy giving across the diocese, which will include workshops in our parishes diocesan-wide. Our hope is to have Beth nurture strong and healthy rapport with donors and potential donors throughout our entire diocese.”
A parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Salina, Shearer has lived in Salina since 1981. Her first development job was at Marymount College. She was also the Executive Director of the YWCA of Salina, Director of Development for Kansas State University — Salina, Director of Development for the Kansas Pediatric Foundation and a consultant for Betty Johnson & Assoc., as well as Paul J. Strawhecker Inc.
She has two adult sons: one in Florida and one in Wichita.
“Beth brings tremendous experience to our Stewardship and Development Office,” Bishop Edward Weisenburger said. “As a local Catholic she also has a rich understanding of our Diocese and people. I believe she will be a great blessing for us.”
Washington — About three dozen gathered May 15 to celebrate St. Isidore Day, which included Mass, blessing of flock and field, lunch and agricultural tours. The day began with Mass with Bishop Edward Weisenburger at St. Augustine Church.
Pat Klozenbucher and her husband, Duane, were among the group. Retired farmers, the duo heard about the gathering. “We enjoyed just about everything,” Pat Klozenbucher said. Following Mass, Bishop Weisenburger blessed seeds for attendees.
Don Martin, who lives in Hanover, attended with some corn seeds. “We had sweet corn and when we got home from the activity, we planted a couple rows,” he said. “The seeds were blessed, and then we had a wonderful rain the night we planted them.”
Martin said he attended the event once before when it was in Hanover. He and his wife, Susan, are parishioners at St. John in Hanover. They went with the group to the farm of James and Trudy Cole in Washington, where Bishop Weisenburger blessed the fields.
Father Richard Daise, moderator for the Rural Life Commission, said he was talking with the Cole family after the bishop headed back to the parish. “I said ‘It would be nice if you had cattle,’ ” Father Daise said. “And he said ‘I have some buffalo.’ So (Father Brian Lager) and I got to bless the buffalo.”
Following lunch, the group embarked on two agricultural tours: Fairview Mills, which is owned by J-Six Enterprises and KSDS. Father Daise said Fairview Mills is a corn cob processing facility. The cobs are used for a variety of animal bedding. “I am like a third grader, I soak it in. It was fantastic,” he said, and added he blessed the processing plant during the tour.
Martin said they always wondered what went on in the processing facility. “They work that 24 hours a day,” Pat Klozenbucher said. “They don’t waste any part of the cob. They use every bit of it.”
Following the tour of Fairview Mills, the group went to KSDS. Previously known as Kansas Specialty Dog Service, the organization trains service dogs. “It’s still ag-related, but a rural Kansas industry,” Father Daise said.
Martin said the day was a reminder of the importance of rural life and jobs. “Farming and ranching is the lifeblood of our community here,” he said. “I thought it was very nice we could have God’s blessing on the benefits of the life here in rural Kansas. This reminds us how important it is and to ask God’s blessing on all who work to make our food possible to us.”
The next event hosted by the Rural Life Commission is Rural Life Day. It will be held in Wilson on Aug. 20.
Throughout her journey with Cystic Fibrosis, double lung transplant, Junction City native Becky Keating deepens her relationship with God
Junction City — When Becky Keating tells her story, she always starts the same way.
“I always teach about the beauty of unanswered prayers,” the 27-year-old said. “This all came about because God didn’t answer my initial prayer.” Born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), her body produces an excess of mucus, which builds up on the lungs. She uses her journey as a starting point on Sunday nights when the high school youth gather at St. Francis Xavier parish.
“Just because your prayer wasn’t answered does not mean that God isn’t listening,” she said. “I preach to the kids all the time that no matter what you do — you can pray 600 Hail Marys and go to Confession every day … you can go to (Lourdes,) France. If (being healed from CF) is not God’s plan, no amount of negotiating will change that.” At 14 or 15 years old, she said she first learned about St. Bernadette and of the healing waters in Lourdes, France.
While she would not visit the site for nearly a decade, she was convinced that a visit to the location where bathing in the water would cure her CF. “I thought I’d be cured if I went to the grotto,” she said. “I wouldn’t have to be in the hospital or miss my friend’s birthday parties. I’d finally be normal.”
It was during high school that her team of doctors first tossed out the words “lung transplant.” Keating’s answer was immediate and firm: No. “I thought there was a miracle waiting for me in Lourdes,” she said. Yet she did not go to France. Not then. Instead, she graduated from St. Francis Xavier High School in 2008 and went to Benedictine College in Atchison.
“I got to get to go to college, which is something most CF patients never have the chance to do,” Keating said. She added that many people with CF are hospitalized three or four times per year. Additionally, the daily routine often consists of three hours of chest therapy to keep airways clear. “I inherited my father’s pure stubbornness and went to college and loved it,” she said.
Yet her lungs didn’t. Her body kept producing mucus that coated her lungs. By her senior year, they were functioning at only 20 percent. “I thought Lourdes needed to happen now or it wouldn’t happen at all,” Keating said.
The parish community at St. Francis Xavier, as well as friends in Kansas City, rallied around Keating and her parents, Jeff and Joan. Tickets were purchased and the trio went to Lourdes, France in 2012. “It’s beautiful,” Keating said. “You drive in and feel hope floating around in the city. “I remember my dad pointed out the grotto and a feeling leaped out of my chest.”
Salina — On June 10, Bishop Edward Weisenburger will ordain three permanent deacons who will serve in the Salina Diocese. Michael Brungardt of Oakley, Michael Robinson of Clay Center and Thomas Schrick of Colby will be ordained at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. All are welcome.
This is the third class of permanent deacons that will be ordained within the diocese, said Father Frank Coady, the director of deacons. The first class of seven men was ordained in 2009, the second class of 10 men was ordained in 2013.
Permanent deacons assist throughout the diocese in several ways: service, ministry of the word and assisting with the liturgy. “Preaching is a big part of their ministry,” Father Coady said. “Often deacons will organize or run scripture study groups. They also are involved in RCIA because it’s a preaching/teaching ministry.”
Another visible area is assisting at Mass: proclaiming the Gospel, preparing the altar, introduce the sign of peace and the dismissal at the end of Mass. “Part of their liturgical function is they can baptize, do funerals without Mass and do weddings without Mass,” Father Coady said.
The process of becoming a permanent deacon is similar to discerning the seminary. “We do the same psychological testing we do on seminarians,” Father Coady said, “and a lot of the same discernment process we use for potential priests is used for potential deacons. It’s a serious vetting process.”
Members of the Kansas Legislature have much to concern themselves with this year. A long-term fix to the state’s budget woes continues to elude lawmakers’ grasp. Proposals for major changes to tax and health care policy are on the table. Yet for some legislators, there is no issue more pressing than the need to kill a program that allows a small number of children from low-income families to attend the private school of their dreams.
In 2014, the Legislature passed the first school choice program in the state of Kansas. Under this law, children from low-income families can receive scholarships financed entirely by private donations that they can use for tuition at private schools. Donor corporations receive a tax credit from the state, but no taxpayer dollars go to the private schools.
It is telling that when taxpayers want to use Medicare or Medicaid at a private or religious hospital, nary an eyebrow is raised. But the idea of even indirect public support for private schools causes all too many politicians to run for cover. This may have something to do with the fact that public hospital interest groups are not fighting medical choice tooth and nail to the tune of millions in political campaign contributions.
Kansas’ nascent tax credit scholarship program has so many limitations on it that most Kansas kids have not been able to participate. For a sense of how small the program is, consider that there are almost 500,000 public school students in Kansas, while only 188 tax credit scholarships were awarded in 2016. Donor corporations received $553,000 in tax credits, while the state spent $4 billion on K-12 public education.
Yet rather than expanding the program, some very determined political activists and their allies in the Legislature are attempting to shut it down before it even gets off the ground. Everyone has to make a living, but when it’s your job to deny low-income, mostly minority kids a chance at a school that could change their life, maybe it’s time to reassess your career path.
Modern times are marked by unprecedented levels of consumer choice in almost all sectors of the human endeavor. Yet when it comes to parents being able to pick the school that is best for their kids, K-12 education is stuck in a time warp. Unless you have the financial means to pay for both private school tuition and taxes for public education, your kids are supposed to go to the government-run school that the government tells them to attend, much as a century ago.
Now, 188 kids have been given an alternative. A door to actual choices for parents and children in Kansas has been cracked open. Unfortunately, it is in very real danger of being slammed back shut.
Michael Schuttloffel is the Executive Director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, based in Topeka.
Salina — About 30 religious sisters from across the Diocese of Salina gathered May 17 at Sacred Heart Cathedral to join in prayer and celebration for religious life. Bishop Edward Weisenburger, along with nearly a dozen priests from the diocese, celebrated Mass. During his homily over the Gospel of John, he emphasized the importance of everyone as “the priestly people of God.” “As I was reflecting on this vine and branches … I think sisters, every time you take care of someone who is poor, you connected the branch to the vine,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “You fulfilled the call to be a priestly people of God.”
He said the task of the priestly people of God is to express love in a non sacramental way. “When each of us lives up to our vocation and we connect people to God we are being the priestly people,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “Every time you are with someone you work with someone in need, every time you are in prayer for someone, you are connecting the branch to the vine. You are fulfilling your vocation as a priestly people of heaven.”
Sister Carolyn Teter, a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia for more than 60 years, said she has not been to the annual Mass of recognition and appreciation for all religious sisters serving in the diocese for several years. “It was a joyful thing to see the bishop and priest and sisters,” she said. “I didn’t realize there were so many sisters in habit. It was neat to see.” Four habited sisters from Missionaries of the Eucharistic Heart of Christ the King serve the Hispanic community in Salina. Two habited sistsers from Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer and St. Bridget serve the Hispanic population in Hays.
Sister Betty Maschka, CSJ, said she always enjoys the annual event. “We really appreciate (the bishop’s) appreciation,” she said. “The bishop is always very gracious and has something inspiring to say.” The annual Mass and luncheon provides an opportunity for the sisters and priests to gather in a non-working capacity, which she said is nice. “I think it’s important because we do work together, but don’t often get together to celebrate and pray together,” Sister Betty said.
Salina — The fourth annual “An Evening with Our Seminarians” will take place June 1 at St. Mary Queen of the Universe Parish.
All of the diocese’s seminarians, several priests and Bishop Edward Weisenburger will be on hand to meet with guests.
The evening begins with Vespers (evening prayer) at 6:30 p.m., followed by a catered meal and a short program. The event is open to the public, but reservations are required. The cost is $50 per person, with reservations required by May 22.
“This event was started in 2014 as a way for me and those in the diocese to recognize and share the stories of the men studying for the priesthood in our diocese,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “Many parishioners across the diocese have been supporting and praying for these men as they continue their formation. This event is a way for these people to meet and visit with each seminarian and find out how called has called them to their discernment. The funds raised from the event are used exclusively for seminarian education. ”
On April 22, seminarian Andrew Hammeke was ordained as a transitional deacon. On June 3, three transitional deacons will be ordained to the priesthood: Deacon Leo Blasi, Deacon Ryan McCandless and Deacon Justin Palmer.
Katie Platten, the volunteer event coordinator, said that supporters many buy a table and fill it with family and friends. However, individual tickets are also available. It is a great way to meet not just the seminarians but also others from throughout the diocese.
“The diocese is blessed to have so many men who are faithfully inspired to heed and follow their calling,” Platten said. “We also celebrate the many people who support our seminarians, and to see them coming together to honor each other is amazing. This event is an opportunity to meet our seminarians and offer our support and recognition of their gift of stewardship to our diocese.”
The Diocese of Salina currently has 12 seminarians in formation, with continued inquiries about the seminary from others, Weisenburger said.
“We have a great group of men, each with their unique story to share,” he said.
Salina — After they ordained June 3 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, Deacon Leo Blasi, Deacon Ryan McCandless and Deacon Justin Palmer will celebrate their First Mass of Thanksgiving June 4.
Deacon Blasi has several special connections. St. Andrew Parish in Abilene, where he has been a parishioner since 2004, gifted a chalice and paten to him. They were left to the church by Father John Moeder, who died in 2012. Deacon Blasi’s siblings and children chipped in to have the chalice and paten refurbished. He also had his wedding ring re-cast and affixed to the stem of his chalice.
When it was time for him to head to St. Meinrad Seminary in St Meinrad, Ind., the Kellers hosted a party. “They bought dinner for the whole parish house and then surprised me with a gift a pewter chalice with a personal inscription,” Deacon McCandless said. “It was such a touching gift and an affirmation of their confidence in me of calling to be a priest.” He said he is looking forward to seeing the couple at his Mass of Thanksgiving.
In addition to the special pewter chalice, Deacon McCandless was recently granted permission to acquire a chalice from the diocesan archives. The chalice, which was a gift to Msgr. Christopher Roche from his home parish in Corofin, Ireland. Msgr. Roche came to the Diocese of Concordia in 1908 and served in Esbon, Mankato, Jewell City, Formosa, Burr Oak, Smith Center, Ogden, McDowell Creek and Abilene. He was also a military chaplain at Fort Riley during World War I.
Deacon Palmer said a special historic tie of his Mass of Thanksgiving is the location: St. Wenceslaus Church in Wilson. His great-uncle, Father Maurice Ptacek, celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving in the same church 55 years ago, on June 4, 1962. “Unfortunately, I don’t remember ever meeting him, because I was young when he passed away, but I have heard many stories about him from my family members, who have also sent me pictures of his First Mass,” Deacon Palmer said.