Salina — Dressed in uniform, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, EMTs and firefighters filled the pews at St. Mary Queen of the Universe on Sept. 23 at the first Blue Mass celebrated in the Diocese of Salina.
“I think it is a proper time for us to do two very important things: The first is to say thank you,” Bishop Edward Weisenburger said. “We truly are grateful for who you are and for what you do.
“The second thing I need to do today is the more important. It is a joy for us to lift you up in prayer. To pray that God will keep you safe, give you strength in your duties.”
About 30 first responders attended the Mass, which was also attended by the students at St. Mary Grade School.
The bishop said it is important for students and clergy alike to extend thanks to those who protect and serve.
“The truth is you probably don’t need our thanks, but we need to say it,” he said. “Your presence allows us to pray for you and say thank you. It is one more kindness on your part for which we are grateful.”
Ed Feil is the chief of the Rice County Fire Dept, which is about 30 miles west of McPherson. He attended the Blue Mass at the invitation of his grandchildren: fifth grader Landen Pilcher and ninth grader Aidan Pilcher.
“I was very impressed with the entire ceremony,” he said. “The thing that bishop touched on that it’s an opportunity to say thank you — that’s very true. Everybody I have been associated with doesn’t do it for the thank you. They do it because that’s what they want to be doing.”
Andrew White lives in Salina but travels to Wichita to work a paramedic with Sedgwick County EMS. His two sons, Beckem and Leder Radke, are in second grade and kindergarten, respectively.
“I felt honored to be there,” White said. “I say a prayer before every shift that we help people who need help and still make it home safe.”
He said emergency services are all part of a big family. Feil agreed.
“It gave me the opportunity to meet a few people,” Fiel said. “(Law enforcement and emergency services) are a family. It didn’t matter if I didn’t know them before. I had the chance to meet some new guys.”
In the midst of the fifth grade class, Detective Calvin Sanders from the Riley County Police Department sat with his niece, Jordan Compagnone.
“This was completely new for me,” he said. “I’ve been to Mass with family before, but not for first responders.”
Sanders said the show of support is always appreciated.
“With recent events around the country it helps a little more knowing the community fully supports you,” he said.
During the homily, Bishop Weisenburger shared some of his history with first responders who responded to the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
“I was not prepared for what I walked into,” the bishop said of his assignment to serve as chaplain to emergency responders. “Two things stood out in my mind. One is the senseless act of violence that did so much destruction. The other was the commitment, compassion to victims and especially their family members, and the professionalism of the first responders.
“Their selfless actions were part of what really redeemed a act sense of senseless hatred and brought order to chaos.”
Salina — Teaching students the skills that will propel them into the future is the goal of the new technology lab at St. Mary Grade School.
A ribbon cutting was held Sept. 26 at the school for the lab, which will teach students not only computer coding skills, but graphic design as well.
“What these kids will see, experience, and be a part of as adults can hardly be imagined. The biggest difference by far? Technology,” said Michael Beeson, who teaches religion, math and English in addition to his new technology class. “It is increasingly, at a rate we really can’t comprehend, becoming their life. It is their life.”
The new lab includes 17 new MacBooks and software such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. The intention is to help equip the fifth and sixth grade students with technology skills early.
“A large percentage of computer-related fields may go unfilled in the years to come due to shortages of qualified applicants,” Beeson said. “Teachers must find ways to introduce and allow computer-based opportunities for kids, at even a very young age.”
In addition to coding during the his computer classes, Beeson said his class is working on building games.
“After eight weeks, kids in my class are currently building simple Atari-like games and are able to share their projects online,” he said. “This is how we need to prepare our kids for the mid-21st century work force.”
Beeson’s students are also creating stop-motion animation.
“In this class, kids are not only using computers, software, and cameras, but also are learning to brainstorm ideas with each other,” he said.
“The collaboration and team building in creating projects is a positive skill being learned,” said Nick Compagnone, executive director of St. Mary Grade School.
In addition to interactive programs with computers, art teacher Krista DeMars is working with students to create “products” using graphic design skills.
Students will produce pamphlets, brochures, book covers and other publications. Other applications for instruction include engineering design using simple designs in architecture, bridges and other structures.
Beeson said the new lab has pushed him to expand his teaching methods in the classroom.
“I’ve taken a different approach — recording my own math lessons and posting them on YouTube for students to view,” he said. “They love being able to pause or rewind Mr. Beeson at home.”
The computer hardware and software for the lab were obtained through a partnership with Smoky Valley Virtual School. Other partners include Consolidated Printing and The Salina Community Foundation.
Special to The Register
Manhattan — More than 100 students gathered Sept. 1 at St. Robert Bellarmine — St. Isidore Catholic Student Center to participate in the first Source and Summit of the fall semester.
The Source and Summit event is held the first Thursday of every month. Students gather to sing praise and worship music, listen to a guest speaker, adore Christ in Eucharistic adoration, and participate in Mass.
September’s guest speaker was Father Gale Hammerschmidt, the co-vocational director for the Diocese of Salina. He talked to the students about how their environment will shape them and their decisions. He was trying to make sure that the students change their environment instead of letting it negatively change them, and to question whether their environment would “make them a saint or not?”
Father Hammerschmidt said he was impressed by how many students gathered together to listen and learn about God’s love.
“With this being my third time speaking at Source and Summit, I continue to be impressed with the desire of the students to come to a deeper knowledge of the truth, and deeper love of God,” he said. “If somebody would have told me that this event would have grown to be so large, I would have laughed at them. This turnout was very impressive.”
Oakley — Slip ’N Slides, several dozen middle and high school students and a kickball might not sound like a religious gathering, but it’s exactly how the St. Joseph CYO in Oakley began its year.
“We made a baseball diamond out of Slip ’N Slides and had a kiddie pool where the bases were,” said sophomore Jeffrey Huffman. “You had to slide or you were out automatically.”
The youth at St. Joseph Parish, like many youth across the diocese, are gathering as the school year begins to renew and deepen friendships.
Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, C.S.J., is the director of youth ministry and religious education for the Diocese of Salina. She said engaging students while still in grade and high school is vital to the church.
“Our teens are not simply the ‘church of the future,’ ” she said. “The youth are an important part of the ‘church here and now.’ They became part of the church with baptism. They have gifts and talents that our church desperately needs, and they have the energy to affect the difference. We need to include them now, not just wait until they are older.”
Twin sisters Courtney and Caitlin Tinkham are juniors in the CYO at Sacred Heart Parish in Colby. The duo said they enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the group.
“During that 90 minutes, I don’t have to worry about other things I have to do,” Courtney Tinkham said. “I can just go to CYO, learn about God and relax.
“In high school, there are a lot of negative things that go on. I feel like CYO is something that helps you become a better person, helps you deal with negativity. When you go to CYO, all of the negativity drops.”
Like many, the Tinkhams have been involved in CYO convention and the National Catholic Youth Conference.
“When we had Mass, it was really cool because everyone was signing and participating,” Caitlin Tinkham said. “Some people think Catholics are strict, but at NCYC you know nobody will ask you questions about being Catholic. Everyone loves God as much as I do.”
Samantha Ptacek, one of the CYO leaders at St. Mary Queen of Angels Parish in Russell, is a high school senior. She said incorporating faith into her friendships through the organization is a natural progression.
“I’ve gained life-long friendships,” she said. “I’ve also learned how your faith can be fun. It needs to be serious, but you can have fun while you’re doing it.”
Ptacek said she is looking forward to a mixer event this fall where the group has invited some of the priests they have befriended via Prayer and Action and CYO camp. Several priests will join them for a cookout.
“It will be a good way for the freshman to meet priests we’ve gotten to know as upper classmen,” she said.
Ptacek said it is vital for youth organizations to have adult sponsors, such as Michelle and John Farmer, who are willing to invest in high schoolers.
“It means so much that they look at us as equals and treat us as young adults,” Ptacek said. “When you have adults in our church who are in charge of (CYO), you’re able to develop a friendship with an adult. You don’t have the opportunity to do that in other settings. It’s incredible to have adults who put time and efforts into us as high school kids.”
Sister credits the adult youth leaders who engage the teens at the parish level.
“The youth need the mentors to help guide their footsteps today,” she said. “These adults continue to provide opportunities and experiences that allow our youth to truly answer Jesus’ call to follow Him.”
By The Register
Salina — The annual fundraiser for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas had many firsts on July 24.
It was the most successful fundraiser in the organization’s history, raising nearly $300,000.
Eric Frank, director of development for Catholic Charities, said that the 2016 fundraiser was the most successful in history, with nearly $300,000 raised. He added that the money raised from the annual fundraiser will bring important services and necessities to families in crisis.
“Poverty is not seasonal,” he said. “People come to our doors all year long and because of our donors, families and individuals can find relief from the emotional and financial stresses they face.”
Another first was the location: The Salina Country Club. The evening included a cocktail hour, dinner and live auction.
Abilene — Grow in Holiness. The call letters of the St. Therese Radio station are a daily reminder to its founders and listeners alike to keep moving forward.
“It’s a labor of love and has become a passion,” said Katheryn Wilson, president of St. Therese radio. “It’s definitely a story of perseverance.”
On Oct. 5, 2015, the low power radio station received its FCC license to operate. Prior to that date, the station was in a test phase.
In the station’s first full year on air, Wilson said she has learned so many lessons.
“I wasn’t groomed to be a president or chairman of a station,” she said. “I’d never even been on a board. Surprisingly enough, God equips you along the way.
“There were many bumps in the road. Many doors closed and others opened.”
Wilson said she became interested in starting a Catholic radio station after hearing Teresa Tomeo speak at a Women of Grace Conference in Lincoln, Neb.
“I’ve been listening to Christian radio for 30 years and didn’t know there was such a thing as Catholic radio stations,” she said.
Yet the idea made sense to her, so Wilson spoke with fellow parishioners at St. Andrew Church in Abilene.
It is due to the support of friends and those in the parish that the station is up and running.
Once the station received permission from the bishop, the community rallied via fundraisers, including garage sales, to help purchase the tower, tower building and necessary equipment to begin the station.
“We’ve had many friends from Hays and Dodge City who have come along side us and sent us things we needed, even manpower, and wanted nothing in return. Just to help us,” Wilson said.
Men from the Salina Rescue Mission built the tower building.
The station, which is on the air 24 hours daily, broadcasts content from EWTN in Alabama.
While the station currently broadcasts national content, Wilson said they have used short clips from homilies of Father Gale Hammerschmidt, Father Jarett Konrade and Father Kyle Berens. She also recently interviewed Sister April Hoffman, who took her first vows in August with the Salesian Sisters.
“The interview with Sister April was our first attempt — it will be our beginning of local programing,” Wilson said.
Currently, only content from EWTN is available to stream on the website. Eventually, the goal is to include the local interviews on the site. The intention is for the station to be considered a community station, with local announcements and information.
St. Therese Radio is a low power station, which means its reach is between five and 15 miles. Wilson said the station is working toward the goal of a “listen live” button on the website, which will make the station’s content more widely available.
“In the future we hope to have live streaming, and we’re still trying to switch over to satellite,” Wilson said. “The other possibility is to get a translator which will rebroadcast our signal to another town.”
Another option is to open another low power FM station in another town in the diocese, but she said those are future dreams. To help accomplish them, the station will do an on air pledge drive, and seek out businesses that would like to underwrite the station.
For now, the station and its supporters keep moving forward, growing in holiness all the while.
St. Therese Radio is a 501 (C) (3), non profit that is run entirely by volunteers. For more information, visit kgih.org.