Charities fundraiser is July 20 in Salina

Salina — The main fundraising event for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas is critical because it primarily supports the agency’s annual operations.

“It’s so important to keep us working to keep our 14 programs going,” explained Michelle Martin, executive director.

The annual fundraiser is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 20 at the Ambassador Hotel and Conference Center (formerly the Ramada) at 1616 W. Crawford in Salina.

It begins with a social time and cash bar, then dinner at 5:30 p.m.

There is no cost to attend, but reservations are required by Tuesday, July 15. Donors have underwritten the cost of the venue and the meal.

Several supporters have come together to offer a $60,000 match for individual donations given from now through the event itself and for any new corporate sponsorships.

“This is really tremendous, and we want to thank them big time for helping us,” said Eric Frank, development director for Catholic Charities. “Everyone can supercharge their donation this year and turn $5 into $10 and $50 into $100. It’s an exciting opportunity to make your gift go twice as far and help our neighbors in need.”

Last year’s fundraiser netted a record $204,205.

“Each year it’s raised more money. It’s done very well,” Martin said of the event.

Past participants urge attendance at Catholic Men’s Conference

Russell — Participants at previous men’s conferences hosted by the Diocese of Salina speak of the importance of fathers and sons learning more about their faith.

The third annual Catholic Men’s Conference, “Shepherd Me O God,” is Saturday, Aug. 9 at St. Mary, Queen of Angels Parish in Russell. Registration is now being accepted online at, or registration forms are available at each parish.

“As a father and coach, I understand the importance of helping parents instill character within their sons while teaching them the Catholic faith,” said Pat Martin, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina.

“This conference is a good way of gaining more knowledge, while increasing our faith, values and morality as Christian men in our society,” he added.

This year’s speakers are Matt Fradd and Deacon Ralph Poyo.

Annual mission program starts ninth year in Ellis

Ellis — The sun was shining, and six crews of Catholic youth and their adult sponsors were fanned out across the town painting houses, cleaning up yards and learning more about their faith.

The second week of June marked the first of six weeks of Prayer and Action for high school youth in the diocese. The previous week, college-age youth — primarily veterans of the popular diocesan project — gathered for a week of their own.

In its ninth year in the diocese, Prayer and Action strives to offer youth the opportunity to do mission work within a hundred or so miles from their homes, combined with a heavy dose of prayer, reflection and fellowship.

“It’s our first high school week, and we’re at our maximum of 75 participants,” said Junior Hollerich, a member of the Prayer and Action leadership team. “We have a lot of great sponsors to help them grow in their faith — and work hard, too.”

Father Gale Hammerschmidt, then a seminarian, launched the program in 2006 with Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, diocesan director of youth ministry.

While traveling across the United States or even to another country for mission work is commendable, he reasoned, it would be more affordable for more youth if there was a project at home.

And, as he and other organizers have learned, there are plenty of people who need their help.

Each year the project operates in two towns in the diocese. This year, crews are in Ellis during June, and in July, they will be in Belleville.

For Norma Brack, having the teenagers and their sponsors paint her home across the street from St. Mary Church in Ellis was a godsend, and she was eager to show her appreciation.

“I promised them pizza today,” she said.

It was a treat for the missioners, who are expected to “rough it” just as they might at a far-away locale. They sleep on the floor at a parish hall or school, make peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches for lunch, forego their smartphones and other technology — and work hard.

“I like it. I like manual labor,” said Anna Hahn of Stockton, who was at her third Prayer and Action.

Multi-year participants like Hahn share their experiences back home and encourage others to sign up.

Hannah Wildeman, also from Stockton, was one of the first-timers.

“I came because my sister has been before,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

The sisters were on separate work crews, as was their father, Mark, who was one of Stockton’s St. Thomas Parish sponsors.

“It’s my third year,” he explained as he wielded a paint brush. “And it’s nice to be here together,” he said of Hannah and his older daughter Miranda.

New assignments for priests, Chancery staff member

Father Charles Awotwi returns as parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish and assistant chaplain at Comeau Catholic Campus Center, both in Hays. Those are assignments he held briefly until being transferred in December to fill a vacancy at Immaculate Conception Parish in Minneapolis and St. Patrick Parish in Lincoln. He was ordained in 2011 and has served parishes in Beloit, Glasco, Mankato, Esbon and Smith Center.

Herald of Good News Father Gnanasekar Kulandai will be pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Atwood, St. John Nepomucene Parish at Beardsley and Assumption of Mary Parish in Herndon. He was named parochial vicar at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Hays after his arrival last August from India. He was ordained in 2006.

Father Nicholas Parker will attend Mundelein Seminary in Chicago to study systematic theology, with plans to earn a licentiate in sacred theology and eventually a doctorate. He has been pastor of the Atwood, Beardsley and Herndon parishes since 2010. Ordained in 2008, he also has served at St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina.

Herald of Good News Father Soosai Rathinam Soosaimari will be parochial administrator of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Herington, St. Phillip Parish in Hope and St. Columba Parish in Elmo. He was named parochial vicar at St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina after his arrival last August from India. He was ordained in 2009. He and Father Kulandai are members of a missionary order that serves in Africa, Europe, North America and Oceania.

Father Randall Weber will be pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Clay Center and St. Anthony Parish in Miltonvale. He previously pastored the Minneapolis and Lincoln parishes. He also is a canon lawyer and serves as advocate for the diocesan Tribunal. Ordained in 1991, Father Weber also has served at Seven Dolors Parish in Manhattan and parishes in Junction City, Bird City, St. Francis, Beardsley, Herington, Hope, Elmo and Abilene.

Father Mark Wesely will be pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Minneapolis and St. Patrick Parish in Lincoln. He has been pastor of the Herington, Hope and Elmo parishes since 1999. Ordained in 1993, he has served at St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina, Seven Dolors Parish in Manhattan and parishes in St. Francis, Bird City and Beardsley.

Pamela Sullivan of Salina becomes the diocese’s first layperson to serve as chancellor. She succeeds Msgr. Barry Brinkman, who has held the administrative post since 2001. She was named vice chancellor in October. An attorney, she had been a public defender for the state of Kansas for nearly two decades. She and her husband, Pat, and two daughters are members of St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina.


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