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February 12, 2016

In this issue

Catholic Community Annual Appeal launched
Religious freedom rally Feb. 17 in Topeka
Storm cuts short diocesan trip to march
Concordia sisters elect leadership

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Volunteers package 186,624 meals at Salina event

Salina — Linda Ourada couldn’t be more pleased with the result of a two-day meal-packing operation to aid starving children.

“It was a dream of mine, and this surpassed it — the volunteers, the donations, the meals packed. I’m on Cloud 10 and I don’t want to fall off,” she said. “I’m very proud of our community.’

The MobilePack event was part of the organization Feed My Starving Children of Coon Rapids, Minn. The Christian-based group packages nutritionally dense meals to feed children in 70 countries.

Ourada, a member of St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina, had volunteered at one of FMSC’s permanent packing sites in Minnesota and wanted to bring a MobilePack to Salina.

She formed an organizing team — many of them fellow Catholics from the area — and set a goal of raising $22,000 to provide 100,000 meals.

Soon after their project was publicized, the fund-raising goal was met and the group set their sights higher: 175,000 meals.

In the end, 1,013 volunteers packaged 186,624 meals.


Catholic Community Annual Appeal for 2016 launched

Salina — This year’s Catholic Community Annual Appeal focuses on Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy.

The 2016 appeal, “Open the Door to Mercy,” has set a goal of $1 million to help support the work and ministries of the Diocese of Salina.

Gifts to this year’s appeal will “open the door” to numerous ministries, noted Syndi Larez, director of stewardship and development for the diocese.

The CCAA supports the health care and retirement for the diocesan priests who have spent their lives bringing the sacraments to parishioners. The appeal also supports the education of the 13 men currently in formation for the priesthood.

In addition, the annual drive helps fund the education of young people through Catholic schools and religious education programs and assists with the operation of diocesan departments where many of these ministries originate.

In a letter to parishioners, Bishop Edward Weisenburger stressed the importance of the annual appeal.


Storm cuts short diocesan trip to march

Washington — Although an impending blizzard forced the Diocese of Salina’s pilgrims to cut short their trip and miss the annual March for Life, one man stayed behind to represent them.

Christian Lutz of Hays said that after praying the morning of the march, he decided not to return on the buses heading back to Salina

“Friday morning, I was packed and ready to return on the bus,” Lutz wrote in an e-mail. “We were leaving at 10 a.m. Instead of sleeping in, I walked to St. Matthew Cathedral on Rhode Island Avenue, only a 15-minute walk away. I arrived at 6:30 and began the Rosary. During that time I decided that if I did not have to go back, I would stay, and I made up my mind to stay.”

Because he wasn’t a chaperone of young people riding on the buses, he received permission to stay from Jaclyn Brown, who with her husband, Eric, are coordinators of the diocesan Office of Respect Life.

The Browns had made the decision to leave Washington early with the news that several feet of snow was forecast to fall.

“The decision was very hard after we went all that way and to turn around in less than 24 hours to come back home,” she said. “We had many people praying for us during our travels, and those prayers were felt. Although it was a disappointment not getting to march, it was just as important to get everyone home safely.”


Observando la Cuaresma

Cuaresma comienza con el miércoles de ceniza el 10 de febrero. El domingo de Pascua es el 27 de marzo.

Ambos el Miércoles de Ceniza y el Viernes Santo son días de abstinencia de comer carne y de ayunar, así como la abnegación y mortificación.

Los otros viernes de la cuaresma son días de abstinencia de carne, aunque el Obispo Edward Weisenburger le ha pedido a la gente de su diócesis que continúen la abstinencia todos los viernes del año. Todos los días de la semana de la cuaresma se deben considerar días de penitencia.

La obligación de abstinencia comienza a los 14 años. Ayunar es comer solo una comida completa al día con las otras dos comidas siendo sin carne y juntas no igualan una comida completa. La obligación del ayuno comienza a los 18 años y termina los 60 años.

Las formas tradicionales de penitencia son abstinencia de la carne; ayuno de alimentos; práctica de abnegación; los actos de la religión (aumentar la vida de oración, participación en la Misa cotidiana, y otras devociones, lectura espiritual y bíblica); y actos de caridad y testimonio cristiano.

• • •

Los participantes en el Rito de Iniciación Cristiana de Adultos continúan su camino para ser recibido en la comunión plena en la Iglesia Católica.

A las 3 pm 14 de febrero en la Catedral del Sagrado Corazón en Salina y a las 3 pm 21 de febrero en San Nicolás de Myra Iglesia en Hays, sus jornadas serán marcados durante una ceremonia conocida como el Rito de Elección y el Llamado a la Conversión Continua. Serán recibidos en la Iglesia durante la Vigilia de Pascua.

• • •

Hace 40 años, los católicos en los Estados Unidos querían responder a la hambruna en África. ¿Podría­mos alimentar a los hambrientos a través de las oraciones, el ayuno y los donativos de Cuaresma? La respuesta fue que sí — y llegó en la forma de una pequeña caja de cartón.

Hoy, Plato de Arroz de CRS es el programa de Cuaresma de Catholic Relief Services de fe en acción para las familias y comunidades de fe.

A través de Plato de Arroz de CRS, escuchamos historias de nuestros hermanos y hermanas necesitados en todo el mundo, y dedi­camos nuestras oraciones, ayuno y donativos de Cuaresma para cambiar las vidas de los pobres.

Impulsados por nuestra fe, estamos comprometidos a ayudar a los necesitados, sin importar dónde vivan. En ese espíritu, el 75 por ciento de tus donativos apoya los programas de CRS en todo el mundo. El 25 por ciento de tus donativos apoya los esfuerzos para aliviar el hambre y la pobreza en tu comunidad.

Para obtener más información, visite crsricebowl. org/es.

Observing Lent

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10. Easter Sunday is March 27.

Both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of abstinence from meat and fasting, as well as self-denial.

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.

Traditional forms of penance are abstinence from meat; fasting from food; practices of self-denial; acts of religion (increased prayer life, participation in daily Mass and other devotions, spiritual and Scriptural reading); and acts of charity and Christian witness.

• • •

Participants in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults are continuing their journey to be received into full communion in the Catholic Church.

At 3 p.m. Feb. 14 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina and at 3 p.m. Feb. 21 at St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Hays, their journeys will be marked during a ceremony known as the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. They will be welcomed into the Church during the Easter Vigil.

• • •

Forty years ago, Catholics in the United States wanted to respond to famine in Africa. Could we feed the hungry through Lenten prayers, fasting and almsgiving? The answer was yes — and it came in the form of a small cardboard box.

Today, CRS Rice Bowl is Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities.

Through CRS Rice Bowl, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need worldwide and devote our Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.

Seventy-five percent of your gift supports CRS’ programs around the world. Twenty-five percent of your donations go to hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in your own community.

For more information, go to

Catholic schools: Communities of faith, knowledge and service

“Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space. This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be. …”

— Pope Francis

There are 13 communities that sponsor Catholic schools in our diocese. This represents 2,300 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade. Our school communities serve the rural part of our diocese as well as small municipalities.

Communities of Faith

Our parishes provide for a large portion of the cost of operating Catholic schools. This takes up a substantial share of the ministerial capacity of our parishes. In many of our communities, parents make financial sacrifices to assist the parish in bearing the cost of education. Parishes sponsor schools because it is part of our faith and ministry as Church and a sign of our discipleship of Jesus Christ.

The cost of operating our schools is a fraction of the cost of public schools. This is primarily due to two things: our teachers and staff are not compensated at the same level as public school staff and our schools are financially supported by parishes, school-level fundraising and advancement efforts. Why do our teachers and staff choose to work for less pay? It is because working in Catholic education is a ministry, a vocation and a calling to serve children and pass on the faith to the next generation.

The most important part of a Catholic education is spiritual formation. It is the day-to-day teaching of faith and values, praying together and putting faith into action through service to others that exemplifies this spirituality. This is an essential part of the witness we pass on to students each and every day. It is this daily, ordinary witness that changes lives.

All of our students receive daily religious instruction. The curriculum is based on the Four Pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These are “Knowledge in the Profession of Faith,” “Understanding of Liturgy and Sacraments,” “The Life of Christ” and “Christian Prayer.”

Students also have many opportunities to attend liturgies. Liturgy is part of school life. They participate as readers, cantors, servers, cross bearers and musicians.


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.


‘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

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.

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.

Vatican designates Victoria church as a minor basilica

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.


Dedicated parishioners complete a landmark church in 1911

Victoria — Anyone traveling Interstate 70 in western Kansas has seen the twin towers of St. Fidelis Church standing out against the relatively flat plains.

Those who exit the highway, their curiosity piqued, learn an amazing history of what is known as the Cathedral of the Plains. The church towers, which rise 141 feet into the sky, are a stark difference from the first church: a humble wooden structure.

Victoria was founded in 1873 by English farmers. German Catholics from the Volga River region of Russia began arriving in 1876. Their ancestors had left Germany at the invitation of Catherine the Great. A century later, when guarantees of autonomy, religious freedom and exemption from military service were revoked, thousands came to America, and many settled north of Victoria in a village they named Herzog. The two towns eventually merged and used the name of the older settlement.

The first Catholic church was a 40-by-20-foot addition built onto a settler’s home. Later, parishioners quarried and hauled stone for a new church, completed in 1878. Capuchin Franciscan priests have served the parish since.

In just a few years, the second church proved too small. The new church, completed in 1884, held 600.

By the turn of the century, even that larger church wasn’t big enough, and plans were announced in 1904 for an imposing new structure.

To build it, each communicant 12 years of age or older was assessed $45 annually and asked to deliver six wagon loads of stone to the building site. Many large families were responsible for 70 to 80 wagon loads of stone. The limestone was quarried about seven miles south of town. Parishioners also learned to dress the stone. The old church was dismantled and the stone set aside for the new inner walls.

The resulting Romanesque structure is 220 feet long, 110 feet wide at the transepts, 75 feet tall and seats 1,100. At the time of its dedication in 1911, it was considered the largest church in the state. Builders used 125,000 cubic feet of rock, 150,000 board feet of lumber, 4,000 cubic yards of sand and more than 400 tons of concrete.

The 14 solid granite pillars, each weighing 8,500 pounds, were transported to the site from railroad cars using a wagon placed on the reinforced axles of a threshing machine. Four horses pulled the wagon to the church, and horse-powered block and tackle and hand winches were used to erect the pillars in place.

Colored-glass windows made in Munich were installed in 1916, and stations of the cross were imported from Austria in 1917.

The cost to build the church and furnish it totaled more than $95,000.

William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic presidential candidate, dubbed it the Cathedral of the Plains when he visited in 1912.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 2008, it was named one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas. Since 1994, the parish has spent nearly $1 million on restoration, repairs and mechanical and physical updates.

Victoria church becomes nation’s 78th minor basilica

Salina — What is a basilica?

Beginning in the 18th century, a church only could be named a minor basilica by the pope. Before then, some churches that were designed in a particular style were generally called basilicas although never granted that title by the pontiff.

There are only four major (“greater”) basilicas: St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and Basilica of St. Mary Major, all in Rome.

There are more than 1,600 minor basilicas worldwide, but only 78 in the United States, including the newest in Victoria. In the last several years, anywhere from two to four churches in the United States have been designated a minor basilica.

The others closest to the Diocese of Salina are the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Conception Abbey in Conception, Mo., which was designated a minor basilica in 1940, and the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, designated in 1979. The first named basilica in the United States was the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1926.

The title of minor basilica is granted to churches that have been found to have particular importance for liturgical and pastoral life, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The diocese’s bishop must initiate the request through the U.S. bishop’s conference, which, if approved, is forwarded to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican.

The cathedral holds first place and the greatest dignity in a diocese, but a minor basilica stands out as a center of active and pastoral liturgy and typically has historic, architectural and artistic importance.