“In Imitation of Our Master, we Christians are asked to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.” (Pope Francis)
Our Holy Father designated 2016 as a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Since biblical times, one of the hallmarks of a Jubilee Year has been the cancellation of debts that were beyond the ability of the poor to pay. Liberation from the psychological and material “prison” of indebtedness is the perfect metaphor for God’s mercy.
In keeping with this spirit of mercy, I would like to invite all Kansans to take Pope Francis’ words to heart so we may, together, confront and touch a particular form of unjust poverty afflicting tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters: payday loan indebtedness. To confront this situation, in the words of Pope Francis, means we must begin with hard facts about the industry. Touching this poverty, building on the Holy Father’s quote, means resisting the temptation to turn our eyes away from the suffering of our neighbors; shrugging it off as the result of financial irresponsibility or ignorance that has nothing to do with me.
Beginning with hard facts, we must note that abusing the poor by lending money to those in crisis at astonishingly high interest rates is a practice that was condemned or restricted by every civilization. This abusive behavior was rightly recognized as destructive and corrosive for communities and society. However, with the modern payday loan industry, what was correctly labeled reprehensible and predatory is now presented as friendly, safe and legitimate; indeed, it is presented as an altruistic financial service. The fact is nothing could be further from the truth. So what is the truth?
Nuestro Santo Padre designó 2016 como Año Jubilar de la Merced. Desde los tiempos bíblicos, una de las características de un Año Jubilar ha sido la cancelación de las deudas que estaban más allá de la capacidad de los pobres para pagar. Liberación de la psicológica y material “prisión” de la deuda es la metáfora perfecta de la misericordia de Dios.
En consonancia con el espíritu de la misericordia, me gustaría invitar a todos los ciudadanos de Kansas a tomar las palabras del Papa Francisco 'a pecho para que, juntos, confrontemos y tocemos a una forma particular de pobreza injusta que afecta a decenas de miles de nuestros hermanos y hermanas: préstamo de día de pago endeudamiento. Para hacer frente a esta situación, en palabras del Papa Francisco, significa que debemos comenzar con datos concretos acerca de la industria. Tocar esta pobreza, construyendo sobre la quota del Santo Padre, significa resistir la tentación de voltiar los ojos lejos del sufrimiento de nuestros vecinos; encogiéndose de apagado como el resultado de la irresponsabilidad financiera o la ignorancia que no tiene nada que ver conmigo.
Comenzando con hechos concretos, debemos tomar nota que abusar de los pobres al prestar dinero a las personas en crisis en asombrosamente altas tasas de interés es una práctica que fue condenado o restringido por todas las civilizaciones. Este comportamiento abusivo fue reconocido como destructivo y corrosivo para las comunidades y la sociedad. Sin embargo, con la moderna industria de préstamo de día de pago, lo que estaba correctamente etiquetada reprobable y depredador ahora se presenta como amigable, seguro y legítimo; De hecho, se presenta como un servicio financiero altruista. El hecho es que nada podría estar más lejos de la verdad. Entonces, ¿qué es la verdad?
Editor’s Note: Due to the intensely private nature of sterilization, we have changed the couple’s names to respect their privacy because they live, work and have family in the Salina Diocese.
Three years and two children into their marriage, Sarah and Thomas felt the easiest way to avoid another pregnancy was for Thomas to undergo a vasectomy.
“We were pregnant five months into our marriage,” Thomas said.
Their second child was born four moths after their two-year wedding anniversary.
To say life happened all at once would be an understatement. A young couple, they married when Sarah was 19. Thomas was 24. She was working to finish college and he was working to provide for the young family.
“Our hands were really really full really really fast,” Sarah said.
While Sarah was raised Catholic and Thomas converted upon their marriage, the couple was only vaguely familiar with Natural Family Planning (NFP). According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, NFP is defined as “The general title for the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies. NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
“Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) nature of the conjugal act, they support God's design for married love.”
“We used NFP for a short time but after (our oldest) was born, but life was so overwhelming,” Sarah said.
She was also a full-time college student, in addition to being a wife and new mother.
Salina — Seventeen years after entering religious life, John Tran greeted the congregation at St. Mary Queen of the Universe as Father John Tran.
“It’s been a long journey for me to get to this point,” Father Tran said during his homily. “It’s been almost 17 years to the day that I left this parish, this town, this state, to figure out what God was calling me to do and be. And after 17 years, now I can echo the words of St. Paul today when he says: ‘From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.’
“No more questions like: ‘When are you going to be ordained?’ Or, ‘How much longer?’ Or, ‘Hi Father, oh wait, you’re still not a priest yet?’ ”
By The Register
Lexington, Ky. — The first ordination Deacon Steven Frueh ever attended was his own.
On June 4, Frueh was ordained a permanent deacon in at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington, Ky.
While he was ordained in Kentucky, Frueh now lives in Salina where he is assigned as a permanent deacon at St. Mary Queen of the Universe Parish.
He began his studies toward the permanent diaconate while a Kentucky resident, but once his move to Kansas was finalized, Bishop Edward Weisenburger requested Frueh complete the five-year program with his class and be ordained by Bishop John Stowe.
Becoming a permanent deacon didn’t happen overnight. Frueh said he and his wife, Kelli, were married in the church and baptized their children, Kyle and Katelyn, Catholic.
“It’s been a progression in my faith over the years,” he said.
As a young boy, Frueh said he would dress up as a priest and “play Mass” for his siblings. As he entered grade school, his interest changed and his objective was to become a state trooper when he grew up.
By The Register
Mundelein, Ill. — While going back to school after completing the seminary could seem daunting, Father Nick Parker said he has a focus for his continuing education.
“I’m going back with a clear purpose in mind,” Father Parker said. “I’ve experienced personally what life is like in a parish, so I can apply my studies to how this will help me in future ministry.”
With two years down and one to go, Father Parker has completed one of his two advanced degrees.
In May he received the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.). He is now working on his doctorate in sacred theology (S.T.D.) at the same school.
“I read and write,” Father Parker said of his tasks.
The current objective is to complete his doctoral dissertation, which will be between 150 and 400 pages. His chosen topic is the sanctity of marriage, more specifically, sacrifice within marriage according to Catholic philosopher and tehologian Dietrich von Hildebrand.
“In the end it will be somewhat of a commentary and critique of his works,” Father Parker said.
The dissertation will have to be approved by three readers, and he will have to give a public defense of the paper.
Father Parker said the years of parish life before working on his advanced degrees were invaluable. The experience inspired his topic of marriage as a doctoral dissertation.
“Marriage affects everybody,” Father Parker said. “I wanted to write a dissertation that is academic, but relevant and something I could use for the average person in the parish.”
By The Register
Ottawa, Canada —Father Peter O’Donnell is continuing Canon Law studies, a process to receive a licentiate in Canon Law (J.C.L.) that will conclude in June 2017.
Father O’Donnell completed the first portion of the degree via online course work. He completed six hours per week of course material while assuming duties as the associate pastor of St. Francis Xavier in Junction City. He moved to St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in April.
“I miss the regular interaction with parishioners,” Father O’Donnell said. “I miss bringing the sacraments to people and all the elements of parish life that I have come to love.”
One of the primary reasons to train Father O’Donnell in Canon Law is to serve on the Tribunal, which is the judicial branch of the Salina Diocese. The Tribunal primarily handles marriage annulments. Additionally, he said “(Canon lawyers) are in place to assist the bishop with important decisions. They offer expertise for more difficult ecclesiastical duties. They are interested in preserving the law of the Church based on Divine Revelation.”
Advanced studies wasn’t something Father O’Donnell said was a goal as a seminarian.
By The Register
Hays — The fifth annual Salina Diocesan Men’s Conference will be Saturday, August 13 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
The convention, themed “Come Follow Me” is open to all men high school and older.
The keynote speaker is Curtis Martin, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. In January 1998, FOCUS established its pilot program at Benedictine College in Atchison with two staff members and 24 students. FOCUS now has more than 500 missionaries on 113 campuses, with two new locations opening in Kansas this year: Wichita State University and Emporia State University.
“Christ is not calling a few select to be saints, but he is calling everyone to come to encounter him in a personal way, so that our lives are forever changed,” Martin said in one of his talks. “Like St. Peter, after encountering Jesus in a personal way, you drop your nets and take up our role, following him and become who we are meant to be.”
The conference is open to men within the Diocese of Salina, and those who are from other dioceses are welcome as well.
Doug Haverkamp from St. George said this will be his third men’s conference.
“The guest speakers have been excellent,” he said, adding he is excited to hear what Martin has to say.
Haverkamp said including his adult son, Jacob, is something he’s done during all of the conferences he’s attended.
“This give the opportunity to truly make time and take time to really think about the Catholic religion and the true meaning of being able to give and reflect upon your own life and how you would like to be able to be a better person,” he said.
By The Register
Colby — The biennial convention of the Salina Diocesan Council of Catholic Women will be Saturday, Aug. 20 at Sacred Heart Church in Colby.
The convention, themed “Growing in Faith,” includes Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Weisenburger at 11 a.m.
The trilogy of conference speakers includes Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart, founders of Casting Nets Ministries, and musician Noelle Garcia.
Brandt and Stewart will address how women can evangelize within their homes and families.
“I look at how much good my wife does in evangelization and what good she does with other ladies in the parish,” Brandt said. “(Women) have a unique role at home but also with other women in their parishes for evangelization.”
Brandt and Stewart are husbands and fathers who speak about the seven pillars of evangelization. Their topic is: “Growing your Faith by Sharing Your Faith.”
“Evangelization isn’t just Protestant/Catholic stuff,” Brandt said. “It’s evangelizing people in the pew, our family at home, our children and our spouses. This is what the church is. The church don’t have a mission, the church is a mission.”
Ellsworth — Behind a fence trimmed with razor wire sits the white steeple of the Spiritual Life Center in the Ellsworth Correctional Facility.
Across the empty yard, three small figures walk toward the only circular building amidst a sea of sharp edges.
Volunteer Chuck Huslig trails behind the black-clad figures of Bishop Edward Weisenburger and Father Joshua Werth on the way into the worship space.
“I think there’s a tremendous need for these men to have more of a spiritual life,” said Huslig, who has been a Catholic volunteer at the facility since 2003.
“They’re at a place where they may be drawn to our worship service because it’s someplace different to go or because they’re bored,” he said. “They often have other reasons to start coming, but some of them are going to really develop a much deeper spirituality.”
Huslig’s ministry at began when he worked a rotating shift at a nearby refinery. He was one of three lay ministers who would visit the correctional facility.
“Then one passed away, so I became a regular,” Huslig said. “The other guy passed away, so I was it.”
He said the current Year of Mercy gives him the opportunity to reflect on the corporal works of mercy, especially “visiting the imprisoned.” He credits eight years of parochial school under the Dominican nuns in Great Bend with instilling those values.
“(The Dominican nuns) taught us a lot more than our school subjects,” Huslig said. “They taught us about social responsibility, especially the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Those nuns lived that.”
When Huslig started volunteering, Mass was said only once a month. Huslig and the other retired volunteers hosted a weekly communion service.
After awhile, the frequency of Mass increased to the first and third Wednesday. He held a Communion service on the other Wednesdays so the inmates could receive communion weekly.
Ellsworth — Inmates sauntered into the worship space in the Spiritual Life Center inside of the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. When they entered for Mass June 9, they were greeted by their new priest, Father Joshua Werth.
“How long have you been a priest?” one inmate asked.
“Seven years,” Father Werth responded.
“Is this your first time in prison?” another queried.
“I worked with people in a juvenile prison in Chicago,” Father Werth replied.
Twenty-eight inmates gathered for their weekly celebration of the Mass. Like clockwork, men moved the altar into place and prepared it for Mass.
As a seminarian, Father Werth had a pastoral education assignment at the Cook County Juvenile Detention outside Chicago. This experience helped pave the way for his new assignment as priest of the Ellsworth State Correctional Facility, which goes into effect June 30.
“I have had my own run-ins with the law that God used for the good to focus me in the right direction,” Father Werth said. “That’s an experience that helped me in Cook County and hopefully will help with those in Ellsworth.
“In his own mysterious way God has prepared me for this type of ministry.”
A little welcome goes a long way with a new priest.
Many parishes throughout the diocese will welcome a new pastor soon.
Some priests are outgoing and are comfortable initiating friendships with parishioners. Others are daunted by the task, but would gladly accept an invitation.
Here are some common excuses about not extending an invite to our parish priest, as well as why we should bust through those excuses to welcome our new clergy members:
• I’m not “Catholic enough” / Father will only want to talk about religious or spiritual topics.
While it is true religion is a central aspect of the priest’s life, it is likely not his only interest. Maybe your priest is an enthusiastic sports fan. Perhaps he has an unusual hobby.
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.