Bishop Weisenburger to join U.S. group in Holy Land

Salina — Bishop Edward Weisenburger said his upcoming trip to the Holy Land is even more important now in the midst of violent conflict.

He and 17 other U.S. bishops and archbishops will travel to Israel, the West Bank and possibly Gaza on a “Bishops’ Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land.”

Bishop Weisenburger will leave the United States on Sept. 10 and return Sept. 20.

Each of the nine days the bishops are in the Holy Land includes tours and official meetings, but prayer and liturgy are the focus, as is sharing their experiences with the faithful back home through social media.

“The goal is to talk to local people as much as possible. Both sides have a narrative and an important story that needs to be heard,” Bishop Weisenburger said.

The Vatican and the U.S. bishops support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with recognition and security for Israel and a viable and independent state for Palestinians.

But with escalating violence between the two sides, Bishop Weisenburger said he fears the Palestinians’ story won’t be heard by his group.

“I’m strongly certain that Gaza is out,” he said. “That’s why it’s very disappointing that we may not be able to get into Gaza. That side of the story may be limited.”

The latest hostilities began in early July, when Israel began launching airstrikes into Gaza in retaliation to missiles being fired into Israel by Hamas militants. Since then, more than 1,800 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than a quarter of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents have been displaced, according to Gazan officials. More than 60 Israeli soldiers have been killed.

The bishops’ trip, however, isn’t in response to the latest violence.

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Third man joins seminarian class; 12 in formation

Salina — The Diocese of Salina has gained one more seminarian, and another who took a year off from studies is returning to school.

Christopher Davis, 20, of Manhattan completed his second year at Kansas State University and will attend Conception Seminary College in Conception, M0.

The son of Greg and Sharon Davis, he is a parishioner of Seven Dolors in Manhattan.

He said his experiences at the diocese’s Prayer and Action summer mission project as well as the Kansas Catholic College Student Convention this past spring convinced him he should try the seminary.

“I was in college and found amidst the busyness of work and classes a longing to give God a chance to lead me to a deeper understanding of him, his Church and his will for my life,” he said.

“My older sister Katy, who is entering her final year of nursing school at Benedictine College, practically jumped for joy when I told her I would be going,” he added. “My parents and extended family have many mixed feelings, as do I, of course. There are so many unknowns, but we are learning to embrace them and be thankful for them, too.

“Life would be so dull if we had it all figured out, if there were never any surprises,” he added.

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Nearly $13 million collected in capital campaign

Salina — Four years after launching the first-ever capital campaign for the Diocese of Salina, the “Yesterday, Today and Forever” drive has received more than $12.8 million toward parishioners’ pledges.

The campaign, implemented by Bishop Paul Coakley, sought to raise $15 million to fund four critical components in the diocese: priest retirement, seminarian education, Catholic Charities and “Stewards of Hope,” the diocese’s pastoral plan.

Pledges totaled $17 million. Parishioners could support a particular component of the campaign or leave their gifts undesignated.

“This was truly a grass-roots campaign where we visited each parish and asked for the prayers and support of the faithful of the diocese,” said Syndi Larez, director of stewardship and development for the diocese. “The faith we share and the sacrifices made from the generations before us was the foundation on which this campaign was built.”

Now four years later, the campaign is producing the much-needed funds under the leadership of Bishop Edward Weisenburger.

The total raised likely will be less than the $17 million pledged because some donors have died, moved away or had a change in income status and are unable to fulfill their pledge.

“We are on track with fully funding the components of the capital campaign if all who have made pledges are able to fulfill them,” Larez said. “It is extremely important that donors continue to pay on their pledges to see that these efforts will be funded.”

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