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.
Russell — Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This was at the heart of the message of the fourth annual Salina Diocesan Catholic Men’s Conference on Aug. 8 in Russell.
About 320 men from across the Diocese of Salina and 30 priests and deacons attended. Bishop Edward Weisenburger welcomed the group and celebrated Mass.
The morning’s first challenge was addressed by Tom Peterson, an award-winning corporate advertising executive whose life radically changed after receiving a transforming conversion while on a Catholic men’s retreat.
Peterson, who went on to found VirtueMedia and Catholics Come Home, illustrated the power of the media with commercials that have been shown on secular television by his Catholics Come Home campaign.
His challenge was to “swim against the tide” of the secular media, which is everywhere and influences nearly everyone’s thoughts.
He urged participants to ask themselves, “Do you need to get right with God?” It was answering this question, he said, that made him realize he needed to come home to the Catholic Church.
Peter Herbeck, vice president and director of missions for Renewal Ministries, spoke in the afternoon about his own experiences of encountering the Holy Spirit in others that came about simply by asking someone a few simple questions.
While people might be afraid to ask someone to pray with them or to come to church with them because they might say no, Herbeck said such a question might change their life.
He urged the men, “Let your life be a witness. Do not be afraid.”
Father Gale Hammerschmidt, who served as master of ceremonies, said that fathers affect their sons and that by changing themselves, they can change others. This, in turn, changes the parish, and a parish can change the world, he said.
Ethan Hamel, 15, and his brother Gabe, 17, of Damar attended with their father, Gregory. They said they weren’t told they “had to come” but instead were inspired to attend after someone spoke about it at St. Joseph Church in Damar.
Their father, who is a teacher and coach, noted the conference helped affirm his beliefs.
“Being a teacher has made me a better parent, and being a parent has made me a better teacher,” he said.
Bird City — The Salina Diocese Rural Life Commission hosted its annual Rural Life Day on Aug. 16 at St Joseph Parish.
The Msgr. John George Weber Century Farm Award was presented to three families in the West Vicariate.
“Their family stories are full of faith, determination and endurance in the sometimes harsh conditions of the western Kansas environment,” said Father Richard Daise, moderator of the Rural Life Commission.
The commission began a new award this year, the Catholic Rural Service Award, to be presented to an individual, couple or parish that has been active in rural life.
The award was presented to Sister Marilyn Wall, who grew up in Aurora, Ill., near Chicago. Before beginning ministry in the rural areas of the diocese, Sister Marilyn taught, served at Manna House of Prayer, did social work and served on the executive council for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.
She has worked as a parish life coordinator or pastoral associate at parishes in Oberlin, Leoville, Selden, Hanover, Greenleaf, Washington, Morrowville, Wilson, Dorrance and Holyrood. She currently is pastoral associate at St. Augustine Parish in Washington.
The Rural Life Commission will host a Rural Life Conference on Saturday, Oct. 3, at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School in Hays.
Featured speaker will be Jim Ennis, executive director of the national organization Catholic Rural Life. Ennis will address Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Laudato Sí, On Care of Our Common Home.”
Registration will begin at 9 a.m., and Bishop Edward Weisenburger will celebrate Mass at 9:30 a.m. The first session will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch. The second session will begin at 1 p.m., followed by questions and answers and adjournment at 3 p.m.
Advanced registration is available at salinadiocese. org/rural-life.
For more information, call Father Daise at (785) 726-4522, or commission member Father Brian Lager at (785) 243-1099.
See pages 12 and 13 of The Register for histories about the three recipients of the Century Farm Award: the Burk-Sis, Riener and Moellering farms.
Salina — A Salina attorney has been appointed to the U.S. bishops’ National Advisory Council, a 48-member group that meets in tandem twice a year with the bishops.
Norman Kelly, a member of St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina and a longtime adviser to the Diocese of Salina and Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas, begins his four-year term in September in Baltimore.
Bishop Edward Weisenburger recommended Kelly for the at-large position representing the dioceses in Region IX, comprising Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.
“I am still somewhat in awe of having been appointed to this position and remain so very blessed and grateful for Bishop Weisenburger getting and urging me to apply and then providing the excellent reference and support letter that he provided for me in the appointment process,” Kelly said.
Council membership is drawn from the laity, deacons, priests, religious and bishops nationwide.
Salina — The Diocese of Salina has hired its first non-clergy canon lawyer, following a trend of employing lay people to do what once had been the domain of priests.
Corey Lyon began work at the Chancery on July 15 after completing two years of study at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, where he earned a master’s degree and licentiate of canon law.
Bishop Edward Weisenburger appointed him a judge and auditor in the Marriage Tribunal.
“As vicar general in Oklahoma City, I had a woman religious, a laywoman and a layman — all three non-clergy — trained as professionals in canon law,” explained Bishop Weisenburger.
“The degree is very versatile. It enables one to work in the Tribunal but also in many different areas of Church administration,” he added.
Lyon previously attended Conception Seminary College in Missouri for the Diocese of Jefferson City; he’s a native of Marshall, Mo.
By Doug Weller
Schoenchen —Russian Bishop Joseph Werth will return next month to reconnect with long-lost relatives.
The newly consecrated bishop first visited Ellis County in 1992. There, many residents, like him, are descendants of the German immigrants who had settled the Volga River region of Russia in the late 1700s.
With Bishop Werth’s return, residents will have a chance to learn what has changed in Russia in the two decades since his last visit.
He will be in Kansas from Sept. 15 to 20. Plans include a morning talk on Sept. 16 at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School in Hays; visits with Salina Bishop Edward Weisenburger and Dodge City Bishop John Brungardt, both descendants of Ellis County’s Volga-Germans; an afternoon Mass on Sept. 19 at the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria; and a morning Mass on Sept. 20 at St. Anthony Church in Schoenchen.
Bishop Werth is traveling to the United States for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which Pope Francis also will attend.
The bishop contacted Capuchin Father Blaine Burkey, formerly of Hays, to tell him he planned to visit again.
Father Burkey, now of Denver, was head of the Center for Research at TMP-Marian when he first discovered that a Father Joseph Werth was back in the old Volga-German region of Russia ministering to the Catholics who had returned after being exiled.
Father Burkey wrote the priest and discovered his grandfather was born in Schoenchen, Russia, the home of the immigrants who founded Schoenchen, Kan.
Local residents quickly raised the funds to pay for his trip. By then, the Soviet Union had dissolved, and Pope John Paul II had made the 38-year-old Jesuit priest one of two bishops of Russia. He was put in charge of the massive Apostolic Administration of Siberia, which encompassed 4.6 million square miles.
Bishop Werth, now 62, heads the Diocese of the Transfiguration at Novosibirsk. It covers 772,000 square miles, or roughly the size of Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
“He’s had a big change. The pope cut down the amount of space he’s responsible for,” Father Burkey, now 79, quipped.
The Capuchin priest last saw Bishop Werth in Italy in 2001. He also attended the 1997 dedication of the cathedral in Novosibirsk. But he has had difficulty keeping in touch with the bishop.
“He doesn’t speak English, and I don’t speak German or Russian. Any communication has to be between someone else,” Father Burkey said.
Salina — A sixth member of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate of India has begun ministering in the Diocese of Salina.
Carmelite Father Jose Kumblumkal (his first name sounds like Joe’s) was named parochial vicar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Concordia, St. Edward Parish in Belleville, St. George Parish in Munden and St. Isidore Parish in Cuba.
He is living at the rectory in Belleville and will work with Father Brian Lager, pastor of the four parishes.
Father Kumblumkal, 57, was ordained in 1990 in India and served as secretary to the prior general of the Carmelites. He then studied health care administration and was administrator of Mary Queen’s Mission Hospital in Kanjirappilly, in Kerala state in southwest India.
He came to the United States in 1997 and later became a U.S. citizen. He served at two parishes in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, until 2013 and at a parish in the Diocese of Alexandria, La., until June of this year.
The six Carmelites in the diocese currently minister in 19 parishes.
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: w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/es.html.
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”.
Salina — Bishop Edward Weisenburger is hosting a pilgrimage to Italy the last week of October.
The tour will spend eight days in Rome and the vicinity. The group leaves Wichita on Oct. 22 and returns Oct. 31.
“After my arrival in 2012, I was asked by several people to consider leading a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “Now after almost three years as your bishop, I feel this is a good time to host one.”
“I believe that this pilgrimage will share several cities in Italy that we, as Christians, have a desire to visit,” he added.
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 — 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.