I had the recent blessing of being invited to a symposium at Notre Dame University. The topic was recapturing the Catholic imagination. In short, in a previous era Catholics were formed in a Catholic culture: committed Catholic parents, strong parish life, Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals, extended Catholic family, Catholic friendships, Catholic sporting and other pleasure activities; all of these helped to embed the Catholic faith in our young people. Today we live in a highly secularized environment where the Catholic faith is perceived as one very small piece of the pie. The result is that we see many young adults wandering from the church. One of the best lectures of the symposium was by Dr. Chris Smith, a sociologist at Notre Dame, who has done a multi-generational study with thousands of Catholics. I do not pretend to list his work in great detail but I hope to share with you some of the information that I found intriguing, challenging, and at times quite hopeful.
I would recall that the Catechism of the Catholic Church stresses that parents are “the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith.” Dr. Smith’s research seems to confirm this in a unique way. He noted that there was a previous time when parents could sort of “plug our children in” to the Catholic culture and support them somewhat passively in the background. By plugging them in to Catholic schools, Sunday Mass, Catholic sporting events, Catholic extended family, Catholic neighborhoods, and all the rest … the faith was woven into the fabric of their lives. Today, with that Catholic subculture mostly gone, extensive research reveals that the likelihood of teenagers and young adults embracing the Catholic faith is heavily dependent now upon the witness of their parents. Indeed, in Dr. Smith’s research, parental commitment emerges as the number one determining factor on whether or not children embrace the faith.
I must note that there are wonderful and noble examples of excellent Catholic parents who have experienced the pain of seeing an adult child wander from the church. Likewise, there have been young adults — especially in college environments — who overcame very challenging, if not negative parental example to embrace the faith with great passion. In short, there are no guarantees, perfect predictions, or impossibilities. But Notre Dame’s ongoing research does confirm powerful trends about young people remaining or leaving the Church, and the primary influence is indeed parents.
For The Register
Colby — Chad and Angela Zimmerman have been married for 20 years and counting, but they have participated in 50 Engaged Encounter weekends.
“People ask us if we’re ever going to stop, but we just keep coming back,” Chad said.
Members of Sacred Heart Parish, the couple is entering their 13th year of service with Engaged Encounter.
The retreat takes place over a weekend and involves 20 engaged couples, two married couples and a priest. The purpose is to allow the engaged couple to deepen their relationship with not only one another, but also God as they prepare for marriage. Typically there are five Engaged Encounter weekends from September through June.
The couple has guided 497 couples over their 13 years of service. They mentioned that the weekends not only help the couples attending the retreat, but them as well. It is a key factor as to why they have kept participating in the program.
“We probably as a couple get more out of the weekend than the couple themselves if I am being honest,” Chad said. “It is a time where we can get away from the kids and relax.”
Father Damian Richards, a priest who oversees the retreat weekend with the Zimmermans, said the sacramental aspect of the weekend is important for those preparing to wed.
“We have Confession as part of the weekend,” Father Richards said. “There’s an opportunity for them to go and it’s a very moving moment. Sometimes they haven’t been for years, maybe since a CYO camp. It’s a powerful moment to be a part of those Confessions. It is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a priest.”
For The Register
Russell — End of the year festivities and celebrations are starting to head into full gear, but not everyone is able to celebrate the holidays as much as they would like.
The Catholic Youth Organization of St. Mary Queen of Angels in Russell decided to help foster kids who visit the KVC Wheatland Hospital in Hays this holiday season. The CYO bought duffle bags and filled them with teddy bears, blankets, toothbrush kits, coloring books and crayons.
Michelle Farmer, sponsor for CYO, explained she was on Facebook one day and came across Together We Rise, an organization that helps foster care children, and saw that they have a “sweet case” project. The project was created to give the children duffle bags rather than only two trash bags to carry their personal items in. She had heard about the project before seeing it on social media from Stephanie Cross, who is the Milieu Manager at the KVC Wheatland Hospital.
“Everything they say on that website is exactly what Stephanie said to me,” Farmer said. “These kids have nothing.”
Cross said that the hospital receives many foster care children on a daily basis and most come in with little to no belongings.
“Most of the kids show up at our facility with merely the clothes on their back and a trash bag full of all of their belongings,” she said. “Many have been to so many different placements that they cannot keep track. We get children with significant trauma who are no longer able to be in the community for the time being. Many do not have any biological family involved in their lives anymore. Any and all acts of kindness to these children helps to provide hope in their lives.”
Salina — The new face of the Office of Family Life won’t be a new one for the Diocese of Salina.
Starting Jan. 1, Corey Lyon will assume the duties of the office vacated by Reg and Jan Konrade’s retirement.
“The domestic church, the family, is the foundation of the Catholic world,” Lyon said. “It’s an area where people are struggling at the moment. If you don’t have strong families, you don’t have a strong church.”
He is currently the Vice Chancellor, Director of the Office of Safety and Security and is a canon lawyer in the Marriage Tribunal.
While his multiple positions might seem disparate, Lyon said there is unifying element of each.
“They’re all intimately related to family,” he said. “It gives a full spectrum of life from birth to death. This ranges from someone’s birth, to their marriage to when they have a family — their children and the education of the children and their family.”
Lyon began working in the Chancery in July 2015 in the Marriage Tribunal as a canon lawyer.
Salina — With a simple prayer, Bishop Edward Weisenburger concluded the Year of Mercy celebration in Salina Nov. 12 during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
“The holy doors are closed, but the closing does not mean that we quietly put the business of mercy behind us and move into the future unchanged,” Bishop Weisenburger said during the homily. “Love is the essence of our God. The number one attribute of love is mercy.”
The Year of Mercy, which is an Extraordinary Jubilee, was from Dec. 8, 2015 to Nov. 20, 2016. In each diocese throughout the world, specific Jubilee Doors were designated. The doors at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina and the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria were designated Holy Doors in the Diocese of Salina. The doors in Victoria were closed Nov. 13 by Capuchin Father John Schmeidler at the 10 a.m. Mass.
“Our Holy Father had what I think is a vision of the saints,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “I think he looked out as soon as he became pope and he saw so much suffering in the world. The greatest gift working through him could be for us to each recognize that we have a God who is merciful.”
Pauline and Abe Holzmeister are parishioners at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina and attended the closing Mass.
Pauline Holzmeister said she appreciates the pope’s focus on mercy.
“When life gets tough and things hare hard, we can forget God, but he doesn’t forget us,” she said. “We don’t have to be holy to be loved by God.”
Bishop Weisenburger said when Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy, it was within the context of a homily Luke 7, when Jesus extended mercy to the sinful woman and she washed his feet, drying them with her hair.
“He’s all about merciful love and he doesn’t wait for that woman to repent first before he loves her any more than with the parable of the prodigal son. He doesn’t wait for the son to repent before the father loves him,” the bishop said. “(God is) always loving us and giving us mercy first.”
Salina — After eight years of focusing on promoting and fostering family life for the Diocese of Salina, Reg and Jan Konrade will retire from being coordinators of the Office of Family Life.
While the Konrades have enjoyed their years with the diocese, they said they are looking forward to pursuing other interests, especially spending more time with their 21 grandchildren.
“We haven’t always had enough time to spend with them or take advantage of going to their different activities,” Jan said. “We hope to do more of that.”
Their last day in the office is Dec. 15.
Bishop Edward Weisenburger said he appreciates the leadership the couple brought to the office.
“The Konrades have made a profound and lasting commitment to the quality of family life in our diocese,” he said. “I am grateful for their dedication and service.”
The Konrades began working for the Diocese of Salina in 2006, when they were in charge of the Respect Life Office. In 2009, the couple took over responsibility for the Office of Family Life.
Archbishop Paul Coakley, who was Bishop of the Salina Diocese at the time, tasked the Konrades with focusing on marriage preparation, marriage enrichment and natural family planning.
Jan said family life is a foundation of the work that happens within the diocese.
“Unless you have strong families, I don’t think you’re going to have a strong church or a lot of vocations,” she said. “You need strong family life to promote those things. Parents need to teach children about their faith in order to carry it on.”
By The Register
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 includes a donation envelope. Every household is asked each year to donate $25, roughly the cost of printing and mailing the newspaper.
Until three years ago, The Register was mailed only to those who subscribed. In January 2014, the publication model changed, and the newspaper was sent to every household registered with a parish in the diocese.
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.
Instead of selling subscriptions, The Register would seek a $25 donation from each family to underwrite the additional costs.
In addition to each household receiving the newspaper, each Register edition also is available online at salinadiocese.org/the-register.