For Catholics in Northwest Kansas, the biggest story of the year here came on Oct. 3, when Pope Francis announced that Bishop Edward Weisenburger would become the next bishop of Tucson, Ariz. Nearly six years after he became bishop of the Diocese of Salina, the faithful learned he would be leaving. On Nov. 29, he was installed as the Diocese of Tucson’s seventh bishop.
Absent a bishop, the Salina Diocese is overseen by an administrator, Father Frank Coady, who was appointed Dec. 1 by the diocesan consultors — a board of nine priests from the Salina Diocese — to serve until a new bishop is installed.
During his press converence in Tucson, Bishop Weisenburger lauded some of the diocese’s high points from 2017. The first was the opening of a new headquarters for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas. The new building, located at 1500 S. Ninth in Salina, is more than 16,000 square feet. It more than doubles the amount of space for the organization. The new building was blessed March 25 and open for business April 3.
“We are very excited about the possibilities with our new facilities to help more people in poverty,” said Michelle Martin, executive director of Catholic Charities. Permanent Deacon Larry Erpelding, who is the president of the Catholic Charities Board, said: “It is a new home, a home which has great promise in terms of potential for what Catholic Charities will be able to do in the future.”
The purchase of the building and the bulk of the construction was made possible by an anonymous donor. Even though it is in a new facility, the majority of Catholic Charities’ budget continues to come from donations.
“As we have moved away from government-supported grants, the support of donors has become even increasingly important,” Martin said. “We have been blessed by the faithful support of so many people and remain humbled and grateful.”
Another highlight of 2017 was the ordination of three men to the priesthood. Father Leo Blasi, Father Ryan McCandless and Father Justin Palmer were ordained as priests June 3 in Sacred Heart Cathedral. The last time three were ordained to the priesthood on the same date was June 2, 1962 in the cathedral. Father Palmer celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Wenceslaus on June 4, exactly 55 years after his late great-uncle, Father Maurice Ptacek, offered his own Mass of Thanksgiving at the same church.