I can get close but regrettably I cannot tell you exactly where my grandparents’ farm was located in Ellis County.
It wasn’t far from Catharine. Their small, wood-frame home was moved to Hays when my mother was a teenager and still stands, just a few blocks from St. Joseph Church. The lot where it originally stood in Catharine is now empty, leaving no evidence that a house once stood on this plot of earth facing the parish cemetery.
But that lot, that home and that community are all fundamental to my family origins, and the thread that weaves my heritage together with that of the people of our diocese is the livelihood that most all of us can trace our roots back to: farming.
St. Paul, Minn. — A national organization devoted to Catholic rural life didn’t come about just recently.
Catholic Rural Life is in its 91st year, and while some of the issues have evolved over the decades, the institution remains devoted to supporting rural communities and the Catholic faith.
“Why be concerned about rural? We are concerned because 50 million people live in rural America,” said Jim Ennis, executive director.
“Food is essential to life, and therefore all Catholics and Christians should be concerned about our farms and way of living and continuing to support that way of life because that way of life ultimately sustains all our lives,” he said.
The Salina Diocese Rural Life Commission seeks to “serve the mission of the Church by promoting the care of God’s creation and the welfare of the people who depend on it.” We answer to the bishop and support the national Catholic Rural Life organization.
Pope Francis recently stated there is no humanity without farmers. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the shepherd of one of the most urban dioceses in the country, is a native of Missouri who said, “As the countryside goes, so goes the Church.”
Bishop Edward Weisenburger, a member of Catholic Rural Life’s national board of directors, noted at a recent Mass for Catholic Schools Week that the majority of Catholics in the diocese either grew up on a farm or their ancestors were farmers. Bishop Weisenburger’s grandparents farmed near Catharine.
The Rural Life Commission dates back to the 1920s and 1930s, when Msgr. Arthur Luckey and others expressed concern about the decline of family farms and rural communities. Seminars and workshops provoked public interest and thought about spiritual, social, economic and environmental issues affecting rural America.
Trego County — Fifty years ago, the standard farm family in Kansas featured father and mother both at home. They worked side by side, rearing their children to do likewise.
Six days a week they cared for the land, then worshipped on Sundays. It was a time when the rural school bus route made three stops and the bus was full, thanks to the large farm families.
That is not the norm anymore, but neither has that lifestyle vanished.
Marvin and Arlene Riedel, who live near Ellis in Trego County, are one of those couples whose lives still exemplify that model of long ago.
One of 10 children and a twin to his brother Melvin, Marvin was already helping on the farm along side his parents and siblings at an early age. By seventh grade he was driving a tractor, much like every other boy his age. They worked the land and lived off it as well.
“We ate chicken all the time and sometimes turkey or fish,” Melvin said, adding that they never butchered beef because it had to age and they simply did not have the facilities for that particular process.
For Catholics in western Kansas, appointing a committee to promote Catholic rural life seems a mite unnecessary.
For many people in the diocese — like Father Richard Daise, pastor of St. Mary Church in Ellis — it really is a way of living.
“It’s the only life I know,” Father Daise said, explaining that even though he had a career in the military as a veterinarian before being ordained a priest, his rural roots never left him.
“I grew up going to Mass every week. The one-room schoolhouse I went to, the kids took turns saying grace at lunch,” he said.
His rural background comes into play as moderator of the Salina Diocese Rural Life Commission.
Colby — Tony Horinek wasn’t even sure he’d have the opportunity to farm when he finished college, let alone see that his sons would be farming with him or that perhaps, one day, a grandchild might take over the operation.
“It’s just been wonderful,” he said. “When I started college, I didn’t know if I’d be a farmer because I didn’t have a farm to go to. The Lord directed us. We’re so blessed to have grown to the size we are. I didn’t figure the boys would come back, and I didn’t need them, but then the farm grew. It worked out so beautifully in God’s plan.”
Tony and his wife, Anita, married in 1980 and began farming in 1981 west of Colby.
“Neither of us had a farm to move on to,” Tony said. His father was a mechanic and farmed on the side. Anita’s grandfather had farm ground, and he wanted a grandchild to farm it, but he also wanted them to live on it.
“Our home was out in the middle of the wheat field,” Tony said.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan says one of the virtues of rural life is the number of priests who come from country parishes.
The Diocese of Salina would seem to confirm that.
Of the 53 active and retired diocesan priests, 26 grew up in a parish of fewer than 150 families. Of the current seminarian class of 14 men, four are from rural parishes.
That shows that half of the current priests in the diocese are from small parishes that make up about one-fifth of the total Catholic population in the diocese.
You could look at the Diocese of Salina to learn how Catholic Extension supports the Church in rural America.
“The Diocese of Salina is a great example of the variety of things we support,” said Rob Anderson, director of mission for Catholic Extension.
In fact, Catholic Extension was founded in 1905 in part because of the Salina Diocese.
Father Francis Clement Kelley, a priest from Michigan, visited Ellsworth in 1905 during a tour of Catholic parishes in the Midwest.
Pawnee Rock — When it comes to the mission statement of Catholic Rural Life — “to apply the teaching of Jesus Christ for the social, economic and spiritual development of rural America with responsibility for the care of God’s creation” — the Dominican Sisters of Peace take it seriously.
The community was concerned about the effect agribusiness was having on small family farms and the distance that was steadily increasing between city and rural people. They began to focus on holistic health, spirituality and organic farming.
In 1987, the community purchased an 80-acre farm in Rush County 13 miles west of Great Bend and named it “Heartland Farm.”
At the time, they were the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend. In 2009, the community merged with six other Dominican congregations from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana.
At Heartland Farm, located just south of the Diocese of Salina’s border, Sister Betty Jean Gobel began creating a lifestyle of sustainability with Sister Rosalita Weber and Sister Imelda Schmidt. A family soon joined them to live and work together.
Twenty-five years later, four Dominican Sisters live and minister at Heartland Farm. It has four homes; two straw bale structures, one a hermitage and the other an art studio; and the original three cabins that are used as a residence, gift shop and art studio. The silo, next to the 100-year-old barn, has been converted to a place of meditation and reflection.
Angelus — Farm families living along an eight-mile stretch of road near here have produced five vocations in the last four decades.
And while they all have taken different paths in service to the Church, one thing in common binds them together.
“I really think the vocations are a tribute to the faith of the people and the good, wholesome lifestyle,” said Mercy Father Anthony Stephens.
“Father Brian and I have talked about it, how interesting that there are five of us. It’s either that faith or it’s something in the water,” Father Stephens added, laughing.
He, Father Brian Lager and Capuchin Father John Lager are the most recent priestly vocations from St. Paul Parish in Angelus. Growing up just east of them along what historically was known as Red Line Road were Sister Rose Marie Weber, a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Wichita, and Sister Mary Beata Ziegler, a Sister of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George of Alton, Ill. Both are vocations from St. Francis Cabrini Parish in Hoxie.
Salina — The Catholic Relief Services Collection on March 14 and 15 funds six Catholic agencies that work to serve the suffering around the world through humanitarian aid, resettling displaced individuals and families, and providing legal and advocacy services for migrants.
One example is in northern Pakistan, where CRS works with religious leaders and families to promote education for girls. In most rural areas of the country, education is only available and encouraged for boys. Some girls are taught to read and write at home, but for most of the girls their education stops there.
CRS staff realized that mothers could become primary facilitators of their daughters’ education and met with groups of mothers to discuss the value of education for girls. After receiving information and meeting with teachers, several mothers decided to enroll their girls in school. This often meant sending them off some distance to a neighboring village, but the mothers began to play an active role in supporting and encouraging their daughters.
Salina — A Catholic in the Diocese of Salina would be hard-pressed not to be directly affected by one of the ministries supported by the Catholic Community Annual Appeal.
The 2015 drive seeks $1.125 million to support diocesan and parish ministries, seminarian education, priests’ health care and retirement and Catholic schools.
“Our annual appeal funds the day-to-day operations of the diocesan church for the coming year,” Bishop Edward Weisenburger says in an audio message shared with parishioners. “Those ministries affect people in every corner of our diocese.”
He continues, “The ‘Lift Up Your Hearts’ appeal is your opportunity to contribute this year for the immediate needs of the Church. I am asking you prayerfully to consider a gift to the annual appeal. Every gift, regardless of its amount, makes a difference, and every gift is truly appreciated.”
Although the goal for this year remains the same as 2014, “we would really like to see an increase in participation,” noted Syndi Larez, director of stewardship and development for the Diocese of Salina.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 18. Easter Sunday is April 5.
Both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of abstinence from meat and fasting, as well as self-denial and mortification. Other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, although Bishop Edward Weisenburger has asked the people to observe Friday abstinence year-round. Weekdays of Lent should be considered days of penance.
The obligation of abstinence begins at age 14. Fasting means eating only one full meal a day with the other two meals being without meat and together not equaling a full meal. The obligation of fasting begins at age 18 and ends at age 60.
St. Francis —El padre Carlos Ruiz Santos quiere trabajar basado en los logros pastorales actuales en favor de la población hispana de la diócesis de Salina.
Como el nuevo encargado de la Oficina de Pastoral Hispana en la diócesis, dice que todavía hay mucho por hacer.
Ya hay comunidades católicas hispanas presentes en Manhattan, Salina, Hays y Goodland; pero, como dice el padre, aún hay familias hispanas viviendo en las parroquias que todavía no se integran a las comunidades parroquiales.
“Mi primer objetivo será establecer una relación con las parroquias que tienen familias hispanas católicas para ayudar a esas familias a que formen parte de la parroquia”, dijo el padre desde su parroquia de San Francisco de Asís en St. Francis. El padre es también párroco de San José en Bird City y vicario parroquial de la parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro en Goodland.
St. Francis — Father Carlos Ruiz Santos wants to build on the successes in reaching out to the Hispanic community in the Diocese of Salina.
As the new Hispanic ministry coordinator for the diocese, he says there is still much to do.
There are vibrant Hispanic Catholic communities in Manhattan, Salina, Hays and Goodland, but he said there are Hispanic families living in every parish who have not made that transition.
“My primary goal is to have an outreach to all parishes with Hispanic Catholic families to help those families transition into membership,” he said from his parish, St. Francis of Assisi in St. Francis. He also is pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Bird City and parochial vicar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Goodland.
A native of Mexico, Father Ruiz was ordained for the diocese in 2003 and spent the next nine years at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. He moved to St. Francis in 2012.
Even though there are concentrations of Hispanic Catholics in four parishes, he knows there are families all across the diocese.
“These families are there, but they don’t go to church. Others are going but aren’t becoming active. They need to be invited, welcomed and energized,” he said.
Washington — A federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction Feb. 16 blocking the Obama administration’s deferred deportation program known as DACA.
In a 123-page memorandum released by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, District Court Judge Andrew Hanen granted the request of Texas and 25 other states to temporarily block a planned expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to certain people who were ineligible for the original 2012 program.
The expansion of DACA was to be rolled out Feb. 18, but Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, said Feb. 17 that the implementation would be delayed while the administration appeals.
Meanwhile, organizations that have been helping people prepare to apply for the programs said they would continue that work, in anticipation of what they hope will be a reversal of the injunction.
“The news regarding Texas v. United States is deeply disappointing, but our efforts will not be averted,” said Michelle Martin, CEO and executive director of Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas in Salina. “The ruling from the Texas District Court is not the final word, and it will most definitely be appealed.
“I would urge clients to gather necessary documents to prepare for filing but do not pay any filing fees or proceed with any filing at this time. Have everything ready so when a window of opportunity does open, you may act quickly,” she added.
More information about how to prepare the required documents will be offered by Catholic Charities at a free presentation from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 30. Call (785) 825-0208 for more information.
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Salina — Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas is gearing up to help people apply for immigration relief under new rules announced Nov. 20 by President Barack Obama.
But Catholic Charities has a few words of advice: It’s too soon to apply, and beware of scams.
It likely will be February before some of the federal applications will be available, said Maria Triana-Jones, an immigration specialist at Catholic Charities in Salina.
“Anyone who says you can apply now or that you can pay to reserve a spot is fraudulent,” stressed Michelle Martin, the agency’s executive director. “We’ve heard rumor of several already making such claims.”
Because the application process is complex, nearly everyone who can apply under the new guidelines will need some assistance, Triana-Jones said.
Catholic Charities is certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals under the U.S. Department of Justice to assist people in the application process. Martin stressed people should use only BIA-certified organizations or a knowledgeable attorney.
Washington — Un poco más de un día antes que una expansión había de entrar en vigor en un programa de deportación diferida conocido como DACA, un juez federal de Texas emitió un interdicto preliminar bloqueando los esfuerzos de la administración Obama.
En un memorándum de 123 páginas emitido tarde el 16 de febrero por el gobernador de Texas, Greg Abbott, el juez de distrito Andrew Hanen concedió la petición de Texas y otros 25 estados de bloquear temporalmente una expansión planificada para ciertas personas que eran inelegibles para el programa original Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia del 2012.
La expansión del DACA había de entrar en vigor el 18 de febrero, pero Jeh Johnson, secretario del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, dijo el 17 de febrero que la implementación sería retrasada mientras la administración apela.
Mientras tanto, las organizaciones que han estado ayudando a la gente a prepararse para solicitar bajo el programa dijeron que continuarían ese trabajo en anticipación de lo que tienen la esperanza que sea una reversión del interdicto.
“El fallo de la Corte de Distrito de Texas no es la última palabra. Definitivamente habrá apelación”, afirmó Michelle Martin, directora general y ejecutiva de Caridades Católicas del Norte de Kansas en Salina.
“Recomiendo a los interesados que reúnan la documentación necesaria para preparar su petición, pero no hagan ningún tipo de pago ni llenen ninguna forma de petición en este momento. Tengan todo listo para que cuando se abra una ventana de oportunidad puedan actuar rápido”, agregó.
Para más información sobre cómo preparar la documentación requerida, Caridades Católicas ofrecerá una presentación gratuita el 30 de marzo, 5:30-7:30 p.m. O llame al (785) 825-0208.
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Salina – Caridades Católicas de Norte Kansas se prepara para ayudar a la gente solicitar para la orden ejecutiva que anunció el presidente Barack Obama anuncio el 20 de noviembre, 2014.
Pero Caridades Católicas tiene unas palabras de consejo: Es mue temprano para aplicar, no hay ninguna forma de aplicar todavía, y que tengan cuidado con las estafas.
“Probablemente será antes de febrero cuando algunas de las aplicaciones serán disponible” dijo Maria Triana-Jones una de las consultantes de inmigración en Caridades Católicas.
“Las personas que dicen que se puede aplicar ahora o que se puede pagar para reservar su lugar en la línea es fraudulento” subrayo Michelle Martin la directora ejecutiva de la agencia. “Hemos escuchado rumores de varios ya haciendo tales afirmaciones.”
Salina — A year ago, the Salina Diocese announced a substantial change in the way its newspaper, The Register, is made available to parishioners.
For 76 years, the weekly newspaper was delivered to subscribers, but in 2013, that number had dwindled to only about one-third of all registered parishioners.
Plans were made to send the newspaper to every Catholic household, beginning in January 2014.
To accommodate the increased printing and mailing costs — from about 5,500 to nearly 18,000 copies — the decision was made to reduce publication from weekly to twice monthly — on the second and fourth Fridays.
And instead of selling subscriptions, The Register would seek a $20 donation from each family to underwrite the additional costs.
Parishioners responded, donating more than $105,000. More than 4,100 donors gave an average of just over $25.
The same distribution system will continue for 2015. A donation envelope is included in this issue.
The changes have been positive, said Father Steve Heina, who is moderator of the diocesan Office of the New Evangelization.
Washington — In an effort to help lay Catholics gain a deeper understanding of religious life, priests, brothers and women religious intend to open their convents, monasteries, abbeys and religious houses to the public one day next February.
“If you’ve ever wondered what a brother or religious sister does all day, you will find out,” said Dominican Sister Marie Bernadette Thompson in announcing the open house scheduled for Feb. 8, 2015.
The open house is just one of the events for the upcoming Year of Consecrated Life, which begins the weekend of Nov. 29-30 — the first Sunday of Advent is Nov. 30. It will end Feb. 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated life.
The special year dedicated to consecrated life was announced by Pope Francis and is similar to previous themed years announced by popes such as Year of the Priest (2009-10) or Year of St. Paul. (2008-09).
The year also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The purpose of the yearlong celebration, according to a Vatican statement, is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future with hope.”
Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, announced the Year of Consecrated Life events at an Oct. 1 news conference at the USCCB headquarters in Washington.
He said the scheduled events will provide an opportunity, especially for young people, to see how men and women religious live. He also urged heads of religious orders to let his committee know of activities they are planning so they can be publicized.
Sister Marie Bernadette, council coordinator of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, said the purpose of the open house gatherings will be to provide people with an encounter with men and women religious and also an encounter with Christ.
Sister Marcia Allen, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and president-elect of Leadership Conference of Women Religious, said another initiative for the upcoming year is called “Days with Religious,” during which laypeople will have opportunities to join men and women religious in works of service throughout the summer of 2015.
Victoria — Capuchin Father Jeff Ernst’s voice leapt with emotion when he heard the news: St. Fidelis Church would be named a minor basilica.
“It’s exciting,” he said from his office at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence. “The state of Kansas doesn’t have any.”
Bishop Edward Weisenburger received the news from the Vatican last week that the diocese’s application to name St. Fidelis a minor basilica had been granted. He will dedicate the church as a minor basilica beginning at 10:30 a.m. June 7.
“This is a great day for the people of Victoria but an equally great day for the people of the Diocese of Salina,” the bishop said. “St. Fidelis Church has long been a place of pilgrimage and prayer. Indeed, many have been drawn to the mystery and love of God by spending time in this inspiring church.”
Father Ernst thought much the same when he was walking through the front doors one day.
“This could become a minor basilica,” Father Ernst said to himself.
“I thought about it for a few days and then ran it by the bishop, and he really liked the idea,” Father Ernst said.
After receiving permission from his Capuchin provincial to proceed, he contacted people at the most recently named minor basilica in the United States, the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Canton, Ohio, to inquire about how to do it.
Bishop Weisenburger had just been named bishop of Salina, and when he traveled to Rome with other bishops from the region to meet with Pope Benedict XVI, he told Father Ernst he would check with Vatican officials about the process.
“He found out they were discouraging applications,” Father Ernst said, but when the bishop sometime later met with other U.S. bishops, they encouraged him to proceed.
“He said, ‘Let’s do this,’ ” Father Ernst said.
The Capuchin priest had only been at the Victoria parish since August 2011, and with his parish council’s support, he began assembling the information he needed.
The application asks for specific information about the structure of the church, the participation of the parishioners and the art and architecture.
“One thing people at Canton said was send lots of pictures, so we did,” Father Ernst said.
It took him about six months to complete the application, which then was sent to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for its approval. By September 2013, it was on its way to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican.