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Nov. 27, 2015

In this issue

Holy Year of Mercy to begin
Bishop Weisenburger addresss: Why a Year of Mercy?
Pope Francis explains the Year of Mercy
Diocese plans events for jubilee year

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Diocese plans events for jubilee year

Salina — For Father Steve Heina, the upcoming Year of Mercy means just one thing:

“It’s all about hope,” he said.

On Divine Mercy Sunday in April, Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year of Mercy to be celebrated from Dec. 8 until Nov. 20, 2016.

The theme of the year is “Merciful Like the Father,” but Father Heina has his own take on it: “To set free those entrapped by darkness, sin and death: not to accuse, but to give hope.”

“It’s all about hope — a balance of justice and mercy, in the words of Pope Francis,” he added.


Catholic Charities program provides assistance for families at Christmas

Salina — More than 150 families will receive much-needed clothing, health and hygiene products and toys as part of this year’s Adopt a Family for Christmas Program.

The project of Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas matches families in need with individuals, families or groups who would like to provide them gifts for Christmas.

Michelle Martin, executive director of Catholic Charities, said the agency approved 110 applications for assistance. Most will be helped out of the Salina office. About 30 will be served through the Manhattan office, and about 10 will be served through the Hays office.


‘Register’ your support

Salina — The Register, the newspaper of the Diocese of Salina, is delivered to all registered parishioners.

To be able to continue to do that, however, requires some help on their part.

Today’s issue mailed to parishioners includes a donation envelope. Every household is asked each year to donate $20, roughly the cost of printing and mailing the newspaper.

Until two years ago, The Register was mailed only to those who subscribed. That number, however, had dwindled to about one-third of registered parishioners. Plans were made to send the newspaper to every household, beginning in January 2014.

To accommodate the increased printing and mailing costs — from 5,500 to about 17,500 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.

Last year, about 22 percent of households receiving the newspaper responding, giving an average of $25.

In addition to each household receiving the newspaper, each Register edition also is available online at

Forming diocese’s clergy possible with parishioners’ support of their education

Salina — The annual collection to help pay for seminarian education had tangible results this year: Two priests were ordained for the Diocese of Salina.

The collection, which takes place the weekend of Nov. 14-15, funds about one-fourth of the cost to prepare men for the priesthood.

This year’s new priests — Father Andrew Rockers and Father Kyle Berens — entered the seminary in 2009. Following them on the path to becoming priests are 12 men now attending seminary, plus a transitional deacon awaiting ordination.

For Father Rockers, his ordination transformed him in many ways.

“It’s a whole other level, how immediately people relate to you as a priest. Your relationship with people changes as they recognize you in that role,” he said.

And even though he attended seminary for six years, on top of first earning a bachelor’s degree, “there’s obviously a learning curve,” he said.

“There’s so much knowledge you get in seminary, and they try to give you an idea of how to apply it, but then there are situations that you never foresee or expect,” he said. “The beauty of it is we have experienced priests to talk to.”

He is serving as parochial vicar with a 42-year veteran, Father Donald Zimmerman, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina and St. Joseph Parish in Brookville. Father Berens is parochial vicar with Father Norbert Dlabal, a priest for 43 years. He is serving the parishes of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Goodland, Holy Ghost in Sharon Springs, St. Francis of Assisi in St. Francis and St. Joseph in Bird City.

Father Berens says it’s impossible to say what his favorite part of being a priest is, but he says he has found “a deep-founded joy.”

“The essential nature of a priest is to offer sacrifice. Every day I am more and more excited to offer the sacrifice of the Mass — for the people in the pews, for me, my family, the nation, the world. I know it transforms the world, and I’ve been chosen to do something like that,” he said.


Support our seminarians by donating to our annual collection

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As our Holy Father has said, “There is nothing more beautiful for a man than to be called to the priesthood.” We are a diocese blessed with 12 men discerning their call to the priesthood.

Recently we published articles about our seminarians in The Register. I am hopeful that you enjoyed the articles and were able to learn a little more about these fine men who are discerning a call to priesthood. God willing, these are the men who one day will serve as priests for the Diocese of Salina. They are exceptional men and I am proud to be their bishop.

In April I was privileged to ordain Rev. Mr. Luke Thielen to the order of deacon, and in May I ordained two of our men to the order of priesthood. Rev. Kyle Berens is serving as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Goodland, Holy Ghost in Sharon Springs, St. Francis of Assisi in St. Francis and St. Joseph in Bird City, and Rev. Andrew Rockers is serving as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina and St. Joseph in Brookville.

I look forward to next year in anticipation of the ordinations that will take place.

While we are blessed to have such a fine group of seminarians, it cannot be denied that along with this blessing is the challenge of paying for their education and formation. What a wonderful challenge to have, but a challenge nonetheless. With the need for future priestly ministry in our diocese already so evident, there is no more worthy cause than their educational support.

The annual seminarian collection will take place in your parish on the weekend of Nov. 14-15. This special collection assists us with current seminarian expenses. You may recall that our capital campaign, “Yesterday, Today and Forever,” reached our goal of $3 million for seminarian education. That money, however, is entirely restricted to our endowment. The interest generated by the endowment (about $100,000 this year) pays for about one-fourth of the actual cost of seminarian education, which currently is almost $500,000 per year! While these endowed funds will help immensely in the future, it is for our current needs that we now seek your help. In discerning God’s call, these men are doing all that we have asked of them. Please join me in likewise responding well by providing for their educational needs.

In today’s Register is your copy of this year’s seminarian poster. I would encourage you to place it in your home where you will see it daily and remember these men in your prayers. I would add too that we also have other men continuing to make inquiries about priesthood. We are fortunate to have both Rev. Kevin Weber and Rev. Gale Hammerschmidt as our vocation directors. They are very involved not only with our seminarians but also with many young men considering a priestly vocation. They serve our diocese well and I am grateful for their ministry.

Our seminarians are among some of our greatest examples of stewardship — giving God and his Church the gift of our lives. I continue to be grateful to you for your support for these men. I humbly invite you to prayerfully consider a gift to this critical collection.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger
Bishop of Salina

Apoyar a nuestros seminaristas donando a la colecta anual

Estimados hermanos y hermanas en Cristo:

Como el Santo Padre lo ha dicho: “No hay nada más hermoso para un hombre que ser llamado al sacerdocio” Nuestra diócesis ha sido bendecida con 12 hombres que actualmente están discerniendo su vocación al sacerdocio.

Hace poco en el periódico Register apareció un artículo sobre los seminaristas. Espero que les haya gustado leerlo y conocer un poco más sobre estos hombres valientes que siguen discerniendo su vocación al sacerdocio. Dios mediante, estos hombres un día serán sacerdotes para la diócesis de Salina. Son hombres excepcionales y me siento orgulloso de ser su obispo.

En abril pasado tuve el privilegio de ordenar como diácoco a Luke Thielen, y en mayo ordené a dos para el sacerdocio: El Padre Kyle Berens quien es vicario parroquial de Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro en Goodland, Iglesia del Espíritu Santo en Sharon Springs, Iglesia de San Francisco de Asís en St. Francis y Iglesia de San José en Bird City. El Padre Andrew Rockers quien es vicario parroquial de la Catedral del Sagrado Corazón en Salina y la Iglesia de San José en Brookville.

Ahora espero el próximo año para las siguientes ordenaciones.

Y no podemos negar que junto con esta bendición también está el reto de pagar por la educación y formación de estos hombres. Viendo la necesidad que tendremos para el futuro de más sacerdotes, esta causa es digna de atención para apoyar la formación de más vocaciones.

La colecta anual por los seminaristas se llevará a cabo el 14 y 15 de noviembre. Esta colecta nos ayuda con los gastos del día a día para los seminaristas. Quizá recuerden que la Campaña “Ayer, hoy y siempre” logró recaudar los $3 millones de dólares para la educación de los seminaristas. Pero esa cantidad está destinada exclusivamente al fondo de apoyo. Los intereses generados por ese fondo (alrededor de $100,000 en este año) son para cubrir solo una cuarta parte del costo total para los seminaristas, y el total nos cuesta casi $500,000 dólares cada año. Aunque este fondo nos ayudará mucho para el futuro, estoy pidiendo tu ayuda en esta colecta para los gastos del presente. Estos hombres están haciendo lo que se requiere de ellos: discernir su vocación. Pido por favor tu apoyo para que mientras ellos se preparan, nosotros nos ocupemos de su educación.

En el periódico Register de hoy vas a encontrar un poster con los seminaristas. Colócalo en un lugar visible en tu casa para que los recuerdes todos los días en tus oraciones. Y junto con ellos recuerdes a otros jóvenes que empiezan a tener inquietud por el sacerdocio. Tenemos la fortuna de contar con los padres Kevin Weber y Gale Hammerschmidt como nuestros promotores vocacionales. Ellos siguen de cerca no solo a nuestros seminaristas sino también a otros jóvenes que están considerando la vocación sacerdotal. Estoy profundamente agradecido con ellos y su trabajo a favor de la diócesis.

Los seminaristas son un ejemplo de servicio y entrega, le quieren entregar a Dios y a su Iglesia el don de sus propias vidas. Agradezco el apoyo que ustedes puedan dar por estos hombres. Y con humildad les invito a que consideren cooperar en esta colecta especial por los seminaristas.

Sinceramente suyo en Cristo,

El Reverendo Edward J. Weisenburger
Obispo de Salina

Salinan wants to provide 175,000 meals for starving children

Update Nov. 20: Salina — The Feed My Starving Children Mobile Pack scheduled in January has increased its goal to provide hunger relief.

The organizers of the event now seek to pack 175,000 meals for children around the world. Volunteers will be packaging MannaPack rice, a scientifically formulated food formula that is used to feed children in 70 countries.

The event will now start Sunday afternoon, Jan. 17, and continue Monday, Jan. 18, at Kansas Wesleyan University’s Hauptli Student Center in Salina. Jan. 18 is Martin Luther King Day.

Linda Ourada, a parishioner of St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina, is co-organizer of the event with Cameron Jackson, director of spiritual development at KWU.

“We invite you to join us in producing these meals. We will need 800 volunteers and 22 cents for each meal,” Ourada said, stating the fundraising goal as been increased to $38,500.

Also on the MobilePack event days, they will be accepting non-perishable food items to be distributed to local food banks.

Information about Feed My Starving Children is on its website at FMSC says that 92 of all the donations go to the feeding program and that 99.6 percent of the meals safely reach the intended location. Each meal is prayed over at least twice. FMSC is in the top 1 percent of more than 8,000 nationally rated charities for integrity and trustworthiness, according to Charity Navigator.

To donate online, go to, click on “donate” then click on “give now.” Checks also can be mailed to Feed My Starving Children, Attn: MobilePack #1601-234EA, 401 93rd Ave. NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433. Checks should be payable to FMSC, and in the memo line, write Mobile Pack #1601-234EA. Donations are tax deductible.

To volunteer, go to the same website, kansas, and click on “volunteer to pack.” Individuals and groups can sign up for two-hour shifts at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Jan. 17 and 9 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 18. Ourada said 160 volunteers are needed for each shift.

For more information, contact Ourada at ljourada

Following story was published Sept. 11:

Salina — When Linda Ourada sees pictures of starving children, she can’t get them out of her mind.

So when she encountered a charity that provides life-saving, high-nutritious meals to children overseas, she wanted to be a part of it.

On Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18, thanks to her efforts, volunteers in Salina will package those meals for the organization, Feed My Starving Children. Ourada’s goal is to raise $22,000, find 500 volunteers and prepare 100,000 meals.

Most people have no idea what extreme poverty and starvation looks like, said Father Jerome Morgan of Salina, who is working with Ourada on the project.

“Each day, 6,000 children in developing countries die because of hunger and starvation,” he said.

One serving a day of the fortified rice and soy protein meal that Feed My Starving Children distributes can make all the difference, Ourada said. She points to before-and-after photos illustrating the dramatic effect.

“I’m a former teacher — and a mom — so my heart aches for these kids,” said Ourada, a parishioner at St. Mary, Queen of the Universe in Salina. “This is so critical. If children don’t get the proper nutrition at first, they can be developmentally delayed forever.”

She and her husband, John, have been longtime supporters of Unbound, formerly the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. They sponsor several children in developing nations, and their monthly donations help pay for food, clothing, education and housing.

Father Morgan also is part of Unbound and travels to Catholic parishes across the country appealing for support.

“Many programs in the U.S. are targeted to alleviate poverty and hunger in the world,” he said, “No group can alleviate all world hunger, but each group can make an impact. I like the Feed My Starving Children program because they target the developing countries and the refugee children in the world.”

Ourada discovered the group when she and her husband were visiting their son in Minnesota. There, Feed My Starving Children operates one of its permanent packaging and distribution sites. The Ouradas measured and scooped ingredients, sealed bags and prepared the meals for shipping.

“I wanted Salina to have that gratifying, rewarding experience,” she said.

Feed My Starving Children also organizes mobile meal-packaging efforts, called a MobilePack, and Ourada began working nearly two years ago to bring one to Salina.

“I prayed about it,” she said, saying the Holy Spirit guided her to continue.

She formed an ecumenical steering committee, and Kansas Wesleyan University officials agreed to host the event at Hauptli Student Activities Center.

Cameron Jackson, director of spiritual development at KWU, a Methodist-sponsored college, is co-leader with Ourada. He noted that Jan. 18 also is a national day of service, and KWU is trying to promote volunteer work among its students.

“College students might not have a lot of cash, but they can work,” he said.

The team is working now to raise the $22,000. Donations can be made at, or a check can be mailed to Feed My Starving Children, Attn: Mobile Pack #1601-234EA, 401 93rd Ave. NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433. Checks should be payable to FMSC, with MobilePack #1601-234EA written in the memo line.

In November, people can sign up online for two-hour shifts.

Feed My Starving Children has tackled world hunger since its founding in 1987. In 2014, nearly 900,000 volunteers packaged more than 229 million meals.

Go to, or contact Ourada at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , (785) 452-9638 or (785) 452-5075, or Jackson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (785) 827-5541, ext. 1164.

Our pro-life work must begin with each of us

On Aug. 22 the Respect Life Commission for the Diocese of Salina hosted our annual Respect Life Conference. Diocesan directors Jaclyn and Eric Brown put together an excellent group of speakers, and the information shared was thought-provoking, insightful and significant.

The lead speaker, Stephen Wagner of Justice For All, focused on how we can better engage those with whom we disagree about life issues, especially abortion. Instead of caustic shouting matches that inevitably fail to move hearts or change minds, we were actually led through practical exercises in how we can share the truth about the inherent dignity of human life in a way that is respectful and worthy of our Christian vocation, and at the same time prophetic.

We were reminded that all of us who recognize the image of God in every human being must take part in the public discussion. Without being abrasive or condemning, each of us must use our voice to speak up — in our friendships, our families, and our communities — to give a loving and thoughtful witness to human life.

As I drove home from the conference I reflected upon the fact that most of us need a day like that now and then to be reminded of how crucial this issue is. Indeed, one of our speakers noted that most Americans really are not pro-abortion. Rather, most Americans are actually ambivalent about abortion. Most Americans don’t want to think about it, and the pro-abortion movement in the U.S. has been exceptionally clever in keeping it out of sight and out of mind. The less people think about it the more socially acceptable — if not ignored — it becomes.

If I could use a sad analogy, it’s as though abortion has become our culture’s “dirty family secret.” We all know about it, we don’t talk about it, and while we regret it, we would prefer that no one bring it up in public or in any way make us look at it. In so doing, abortion becomes culturally and quietly all the more acceptable, while the inherent dignity of life deteriorates in life issues across the board.

But the stakes are simply too high. One abortion is too many; but over a million abortions a year is an almost unfathomable holocaust. And while abortion has a central role in the pro-life arena, as noted earlier, the issues actually extend well beyond the death of an infant and the damage resulting for the child’s mother flowing from abortion. The dignity of life is increasingly eroded in many areas of our culture. In “The Gospel of Life” (18) we read, “Today, when human rights are proudly proclaimed and the value of life itself given public affirmation, the most basic of all human rights, ‘the very right to life,’ is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.”

Related to this, the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities points out “a policy and practice that result in well over a million deaths from abortions each year cannot but diminish respect for life in other areas.”

Having degraded the inherent value of human life through abortion, we are now seeing life degraded in the elderly and terminally ill; immigrants are viewed more as a “problem to be dealt with” than human beings; and international refugees — fleeing starvation and death — are equally dismissed.

Again, we who participated in the annual conference were reminded that the starting point to turn the tide in our culture involves each of us using our voice to speak the truth. Abortion needs to come out of the shadows. When made clear by us, the facts related to abortion will themselves move people to the truth. Ambivalence can be moved to zeal and activity. Lives will be saved and life will triumph. But it must begin with each of us.

Sister of St. Joseph takes helm of national group

Houston — The woman who has led the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia for nearly 16 years is now president of the organization that represents the majority of Catholic sisters nationwide.

Sister Marcia Allen stepped up to the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on Aug. 14 in Houston before the 800 members attending the group’s annual weeklong meeting.

A year ago she was selected to serve as president-elect in the three-member governing body of the LCWR.

Sister Marcia, a native of Plainville, was received into the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia in 1959 and professed her final vows in 1963. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and French from Marymount College in Salina and then a master’s in school administration from Kansas State University.


Reflexiones del obispo Weisenburger acerca de la encíclica

Por Obispo Edward Weisenburger

Es algo raro que un documento tan esperado, haya captado nuestra atención, como lo ha hecho la encíclica Laudato Sí. Después de haberla leído detenidamente, me doy cuenta que esta encíclica supera mis expectativas porque ofrece a la comunidad humana verdades para nos harán reflexionar mirando hacia el futuro.

Intentar resumir el contenido del documento es hacerle una injustica, por ello, solo señalaré algunos puntos importantes que espero animen a muchos a leer la encíclica, la cual se puede encontrar fácilmente en el internet:

El primer punto que me gustaría llamar a su atención es que Laudato Sí es ante todo un documento teológico. De hecho, el título en italiano Laudato Sí fue tomado de un verso del “Cántico de las Creaturas de San Francisco”: “Alabado seas mi Señor”.


Bishop asks Salina Diocese faithful to resume Friday abstinence year-round

First published March 1, 2013

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, through its Committee for Pro-Life Activities and Religious Liberty, has urged bishops to recommend Friday abstinence for the people of their dioceses.

The bishops’ committee sees Friday abstinence as a spiritual effort undertaken for the sake of the protection of human life, the sanctity of marriage and religious liberty. While these are more than worthwhile reasons, I would add that abstinence is likewise an ancient Church discipline that helps free us from what might otherwise own us (and our souls). It helps to make room for the joy and hope that only God can give.

For all these reasons, I am asking that the faithful of the Diocese of Salina immediately return to this ancient practice of the Church.

There are other factors at issue here, as well. Many are unaware that the Church, after the Second Vatican Council, never changed its ancient custom of observing Fridays as penitential days. Friday abstinence was never abolished. Rather, the Church allowed bishops conferences around the world to determine whether or not Friday abstinence could be substituted with a different penance.

When the U.S. bishops conference permitted Catholics to exchange the Friday abstinence for a different form of penance, it seems that the notion of a Friday penance disappeared entirely. This was never the intention of the bishops at the Second Vatican Council. I fear that we were unwise in our rush to get rid of this ancient practice, allowing ourselves to blend in with our generally non-believing culture.

While I believe a return to Friday abstinence a true benefit for the Church, I would note that this is a strongly recommended spiritual endeavor. It is not law, and scrupulosity is to be avoided. Children in public schools, residents of nursing homes and care facilities and others without control over their diet may substitute a different form of penance on Fridays, as is already allowed by the bishops’ conference legislation. Moreover, pastors may dispense their parishioners or even their entire parish for special celebrations.

Three additional points are worth noting. The first is that abstinence from certain foods for spiritual purposes is well-grounded in Scripture. In Daniel 10:2-3, we read of Daniel taking no delicacies, no meat, no wine and not anointing himself for three weeks while he was in mourning. As Jesus was crucified on a Friday, abstinence from meat on that day each week is a way of entering into the penitential spirit of the day. The fish, typically consumed in its place (but not required), is a symbol of Christ. It should be noted that those who cannot eat meat for medical or dietary reasons may continue to substitute a different penance, such as abstinence from a different but still preferred food.

Secondly, it is good for us to stand out, to be a little prophetic and not to blend in with a culture that is harming its members in so many ways. The English historian Eamon Duffy published a 2004 call for a return to Friday abstinence in the journal The Tablet. He noted that Friday abstinence was a focus of Catholic identity that transcended class and educational barriers, even uniting “good” and “bad” Catholics in a single eloquent observance. And finally, while it may be trendy to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle for health, environmental or ethical reasons, we enter into the Friday abstinence for matters of the soul. If the world thinks us odd, then we are in good company with St. Paul, who was known to call himself “a fool for Christ.” If we want to be different from the culture around us — and different for all the right reasons — then we need to do things in a different way.

The purpose of the abstinence remains primarily spiritual as a penance, a recalling of the Lord’s passion. It also can unite us spiritually to those who do not have enough food for the day. But as a public witness, it clearly adds to our Catholic identity. For that reason, it may be far more needed today than when it was observed more faithfully 50 years ago.

Farming and rural life have played a sacred role

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.


Farming, faith bound together, says national director

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.


Local commission seeks to care for creation, its people

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.


Life, then and now, revolves around farm, parish

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.


Rural members maintain active role in Ellis parish life

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.


Second generation part of Colby area operation

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.


Rural parishes have been a source for vocations

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.


Catholic Extension has deep roots in Salina 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.


Dominicans focus on sustainability at farm

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.