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Three priests ordained

The Register

Salina — For the first time in 55 years, three priests were ordained on the same date in Sacred Heart Cathedral.  Father Leo Blasi, Father Ryan McCandless and Father Justin Palmer were ordained as priests June 3 in a filled Sacred Heart Cathedral. The last time three were ordained to the priesthood on the same date was June 2, 1962 in the cathedral.

Bishop Edward Weisenburger likened the men to prisms.  “It dawned on me often times we see clearest into the light when it is refracted by a prism,” he said. “I think each of you as a refraction of that light gives us a little more insight into the light of priesthood itself.”

The bishop spoke first to Father Leo Blasi.  “May each of us take from your wonderful example that there is no time of life that we are truly finished,” Bishop Weisenburger, said referring to Father Blasi’s entry into the seminary following a military career. “For those who are open to it, God has something in store for us at every step of the journey.”

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Archbishop Emeritus Daniel Kucera, OSB, dies at 94

Dubuque, Iowa — Archbishop Emeritus Daniel Kucera, OSB, died May 30, 2017, at Stonehill Care Center in Dubuque, Iowa. He was 94 years old. 

Archbishop Kucera was the bishop of the Salina Diocese from March 5, 1980 until Dec. 20, 1983 as the eighth bishop of the diocese. During his three years as bishop of the diocese the Diocesan Office of Planning, the Bishop’s Council for Catholic Education and the Office of Youth Ministries were established. The chancery and other administrative offices of the diocese were moved into The United Building in downtown Salina.

Archbishop Kucera was born May 7, 1923, to Joseph and Lillian (Petrzelka) Kucera of Chicago. He attended St. Procopius College in Lisle, Ill. and was professed a Benedictine monk on June 16, 1944. He completed his theological training at St. Procopius Seminary, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1949. He earned masters and doctoral degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and held several positions in addition to teaching at St. Procopius College. In 1959, at the age of 36, he was named the youngest president of St. Procopius College, Lisle, Ill.

He was elected abbot of St. Procopius Abbey in 1964, and in 1971, was called again to be president of the college, now renamed Illinois Benedictine College. He remained in that position until 1976. In 1977, he was ordained auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Joliet, Ill. He was named bishop of Salina in March of 1980 and served there until 1983, when he was appointed archbishop of Dubuque. He welcomed Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB, as coadjutor in August of 1994 and retired in October of 1995.

Archbishop Kucera also served on several committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was elected treasurer of the Conference from 1987-1990 and 1992-1993. From 1992-1996 he was the Grand Prior of the Northern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Funeral Mass was June 6 at St. Raphael Cathedral in Dubuque, Iowa. Burial was in cemetery of St. Procopius Abbey, Lisle, Ill.

He is survived by one brother, Father Edward Kucera, OSB of Lisle, Ill.

Crowd gathers for annual evening with seminarians

The Register

Salina — One quarter of the seminarians for the Salina Diocese are leaving, Father Gale Hammerschmidt told a crowd of more than 200 at the fourth annual “An Evening with Our Seminarians” June 1 at St. Mary, Queen of the Universe Parish in Salina.

“I’m talking about the quarter of our seminarians who are leaving because they’re going to be priests,” the co-vocation director said in reference to the upcoming of Father Leo Blasi, Father Ryan McCandless and Father Justin Palmer. “That’s an amazing thing. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had three guys ordained on the same day.  “We will have more priests ordained this decade than we have had since I think the 1950’s,” Father Hammerschmidt said. “Keep praying.”

He said in talking with other chaplains from around the country, the consensus is that men lack courage on college campuses.  “I can stand here with these guys who are loaded with courage,” Father Hammerschmidt said. “To say yes to entering the seminary is a scary thing. Maybe they’re not being called, maybe they are, but to just go and figure it out is an incredible thing.”

The evening began with Vespers, also known as evening prayer, in the church. Following the time of prayer, cocktail hour, dinner and a recognition of the seminarians followed in the parish hall.

Each seminarian introduced himself, as well as any family and pastor who was in attendance.  “Hello, my name is Andy Hammeke and I’m from Hays, Kansas,” Deacon Andy Hammeke said.  Father Hammerschmidt interrupted: “What’s your name?”  “Deacon Andy,” he corrected himself.

The others who were deacons at the time also chimed in about the support of the diocese.  “I went to school at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, but I’m not going back,” said Father Justin Palmer. “I’m going to be ordained a priest in two days.”

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Junior CYO Camp builds memories, faith

Junction City — Nearly 300 Catholic youth from across the Diocese of Salina gathered May 27-30 at Rock Springs Ranch for the annual Junior CYO Camp.  This is the second year Anna Hegarty has attended as a counselor, primarily because of the influence of the college students who were her counselors as a camper.

“I think that as a camper that is one of the things I always found so cool … these older kids are super cool people, have an awesome faith life and a strong belief in God,” said Hegarty, a Manhattan resident who just completed her freshman year at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The camp is for students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Counselors are college youth from across the diocese.  “It’s rewarding because you get to see your girls grow and make new friendships,” Hegarty said. “(Being a counselor) is a little bit more challenging because you’re focusing on nine other girls’ faith journey, not just your own. You want to make sure each of them get something out of the weekend and have a great time.”

Because she attended camp four times as a youth, Hegarty said she thinks a diocesan-wide camp is important.  “I think it’s really good to start them young … for them to know that they aren’t the only Catholic teenager in Kansas,” she said. “I think a big part of it is us counselors not being afraid to show our love for Christ and our faith. I hope they see that and find it refreshing and super cool to know that being Catholic and having a faith life can be a fun thing.”

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  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The CompassBy Cindy WoodenQUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- Faith and films have been lifelong obsessions for director Martin Scorsese, obsessions that he said have given him moments of peace amid turmoil, but also challenges and frustrations that, in hindsight, he will accept as lessons in humility. "For me, the stories have always been about how we should live who we are, and have a lot to do with love, trust and betrayal," he said, explaining that those themes have been with him since his boyhood spent in the rambunctious tenements of New York and in the peace of the city's St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, where he was an altar server. Scorsese spoke June 21 in Quebec City at a joint session of the Catholic Press Association's Catholic Media Conference and the world congress of Signis, the international association of Catholic media professionals. That evening, both groups presented him with a lifetime achievement award for excellence in filmmaking. Before Scorsese answered questions posed by author Paul Elie, conference participants watched his film "Silence," which is based on the novel by Shusaku Endo. The book and film are a fictionalized account of the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan; the central figures are Jesuit missionaries, who are ordered to deny the faith or face death after witnessing the death of their parishioners. Although "Silence" was not nearly as controversial as his 1988 film, "The Last Temptation of Christ," Scorsese said the two films are connected and not just because an Episcopalian bishop gave him Endo's book after seeing the 1988 film. Even before filming began on "The Last Temptation of Christ," which is based on a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis and explores the human side of Jesus, people were writing letters to the studio and producers complaining about plans to bring it to the big screen. Recounting the story, Scorsese said a studio executive asked him why he wanted so badly to make the film. "To get to know Jesus better," Scorsese said he blurted out. "That was the answer that came to mind. I didn't know what else to say." If one affirms that Jesus is fully divine and fully human, he said, people should be able to look at his humanity. But Scorsese told his Quebec City audience that his explorations of who Jesus is and what faith really means were by no means exhausted by "The Last Temptation of Christ." "The journey is much more involved," Scorsese said. "It's just not finished." In reading Endo's novel, working on and off for two decades to make the film and in finally bringing it to completion, Scorsese said he was "looking for the core of faith." The climax of the film is when one of the Jesuits gives in and, in order to save his faithful who are being tortured, he tramples a religious image. However, the character believes that act of official apostasy is, in reality, a higher form of faith because, by sacrificing his own soul, he is saving the lives of others. "It's almost like a special gift to be called on to face that challenge, because he is given an opportunity to really go beyond and to really get to the core of faith and Christianity," Scorsese said. In the end, the priest "has nothing left to be proud of" -- not his faith or his courage -- and "it's just pure selflessness," the director said. "It's like a gift for him." "I think there is no doubt it is a believer's movie," he said. "At least for me."- - -Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Carol GlatzBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With a trip to South Sudan postponed indefinitely, Pope Francis is sending close to a half-million dollars to help two church-run hospitals, a teacher training center and farming projects for families as a way to show the people there his solidarity and support. Because a planned trip with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury couldn't happen this year as hoped, Pope Francis "wants to make tangible the presence and closeness of the church with the suffering people through this initiative 'The Pope for South Sudan,'" Cardinal Peter Turkson told reporters at a Vatican news conference June 21. "He fervently hopes to be able to go there as soon as possible on an official visit to the nation; the church does not shut hope out of such an afflicted area," said the cardinal, who is prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. An official visit was meant to draw the world's attention to a silent tragedy, give voice to those suffering, and encourage conflicting parties to make renewed and greater efforts in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, the cardinal said. Already in March, Pope Francis had expressed doubts about the possibility of making the trip, saying in an interview with Germany's Die Zeit newspaper, that visiting South Sudan would be "important," but that "I don't believe that it is possible." The pope approved the project funding in April, a month before the Vatican announced the trip's delay. The initiative is meant to supplement, support and encourage the ongoing work of religious congregations, Catholic organizations and international aid groups on the ground that "generously and tirelessly" help the people and promote peace and development, the cardinal said. South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war. But just two years after independence, political tensions erupted into violence and abuses. The fighting, displacement, insecurity and drought have led to large-scale hunger and malnutrition across the country. It's estimated that 3.8 million people have been displaced and at least 28 million are in need of food aid. A papal donation of about $200,000 will support a program run by Caritas South Sudan, providing fast-growing seeds and farming tools for 2,500 families in areas where it is still possible to grow food. Some $112,000 will go to fund Solidarity With South Sudan -- an international Catholic network, supporting 16 scholarships and a training program for primary school teachers. The teacher training center takes in students from every ethnic group so they can learn and later teach values of tolerance and reconciliation along with basic education. A contribution of $150,000 will go to fund two hospitals run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters. Comboni Sister Laura Gemignani told reporters that they have extremely few resources to support their small staff and numerous patients. For example, she said their hospital in Wau sees 300 patients a day -- 40,000 a year -- but there is only one doctor, who comes in every day and responds to every emergency. "It's hard to pay his salary," she said, but he, the nurses and other staff stay on despite the insecurity and danger. When they were told to evacuate because of intensified fighting, she said the staff said that as long as they had even just one patient to attend to, they would never leave. Cardinal Turkson said, "The Holy Father does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhumane conflict, does not forget all those people who are forced to flee from their homes because of abuses of power, injustice and war. He holds all of them in his prayers and his heart." - - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Being a saint doesn't require spending long hours in prayer, but rather living life open to God in good times and in bad, Pope Francis said. Christians should live with the "hope of becoming saints" and with the desire that "work, even in sickness and suffering, even in difficulties, is open to God," the pope said June 21 during his weekly general audience. "We think that it is something difficult, that it is easier to be delinquents than saints. No! We can become saints because the Lord helps us. It is he who helps us," he told the estimated 12,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis rode around in his popemobile, stopping along the way to greet pilgrims and kiss babies. One child casually waved goodbye to the pope as he was handed back to his parents. In his talk, the pope reflected on the intercession of the saints, who are "older brothers and sisters who have gone along our same path, (gone through) our same struggles and live forever in God's embrace." "Their existence tells us above all that Christian life isn't an unattainable ideal. And together, they comfort us: We are not alone, the church is made up of innumerable brothers and sisters, often anonymous, who have preceded us and who, through the action of the Holy Spirit, are involved in the affairs of those who still live here," he said. Just as their intercession is invoked in Baptism, the pope continued, the church asks for their help in the sacrament of marriage so couples "can have the courage to say 'forever.'" "To live married life forever; not like some who say, 'as long as love lasts.' No, it is forever. On the contrary, it is better you don't get married. It's either forever or nothing. That is why their presence is invoked in the nuptial liturgy," he said. The lives of the saints, he continued, served as a reminder that "God never abandons us" and in times of trial and suffering, he "sends one of his angels to comfort us and fill us with consolation." There are "angels, sometimes with a face and a human heart because God's saints are always here, hidden among us," the pope said. Another sacrament in which the saints are invoked is Holy Orders, in which candidates for the priesthood lay prostrate on the ground while the bishop and the entire assembly pray the litany of the saints, he said. "A man would be crushed under the weight of the mission entrusted to him but, in feeling that all of paradise is behind him, that the grace of God will not fail because Jesus is always faithful, he can go forward serenely and refreshed. We are not alone," the pope said. Pope Francis told the pilgrims that Christians need saints who lived their lives "aspiring to charity and brotherhood" because without them, the world would not have hope." "May the Lord give us the grace to believe so profoundly in him that we become images of Christ for this world," he said. Before the general audience, Pope Francis met with members of the U.S. Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who will be inducted into the prestigious association Aug. 5. "As many of you know, I am an avid follower of 'football,' but where I come from, the game is played very differently!" the pope said, referring to the fact that "football" refers to the game of soccer in most parts of the world. The pope said the values of "teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence" aren't just important on the field, but are "urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community." "Our world, and especially our young people, need models, people who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents and, in doing so, to point the way to a better future for our communities," he said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Just two years after being hired to help with the Vatican's efforts in finance reform, Libero Milone -- the Vatican's first independent auditor who answered only to the pope -- handed a request for his resignation to Pope Francis. The pope accepted Milone's request, the Vatican announced June 20, after Milone personally presented it to the pope a day earlier. "While wishing Milone the best in his future endeavors, the Holy See wishes to inform (everyone) that the process of naming a new director of the auditor-general's office will be underway as soon as possible," the Vatican's written statement said. Pope Francis named Milone to fill the new position of auditor general in June 2015, more than a year after establishing special structures to oversee the Vatican's finances -- the Council for the Economy and the Secretariat for the Economy. The auditor general has the power to audit the books of any Vatican office and reports directly to the pope. The auditing office currently has 12 people on staff. Milone, 68, an Italian accountant and expert in corporate risk management, was born in Holland and educated in London. He was chairman and managing partner of Milone Associates and had worked for Falck Renewables, Wind Telecom and Fiat. Until 2007, he was chairman of Deloitte Italy and served three years as a member of the audit committee of the United Nations' World Food Program. An independent auditor was a key part of the "separation of powers" necessary for reforming the Vatican's economic activity, Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, wrote in 2015. "These reforms are designed to make all Vatican financial agencies boringly successful, so that they do not merit much press attention," the cardinal wrote. No reason was given for Milone's request to step down. In an interview in March with the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, Milone said the previous 18 months had been very busy because he had to learn the way things had worked and then oversee 120 offices and foundations that make up the Roman Curia or are associated with the Holy See. The office had just been completing preliminary studies of all the major assets, finances and economic data of 2015 and 2016. "The next step is auditing the balance sheet up to Dec. 31, 2017, so as to be able to get ready for auditing the whole budget ending Dec. 31, 2018," he said. He felt their efforts had paid off by bringing in "a new model of managing the budget and introducing the best international standards," adding that the real work in reform was, "first of all, cultural." When asked if he had met with any resistance, he said, "more than real or actual resistance, often it was about being unaware" of more modern, integrated and transparent accounting standards. They did a lot of training to help people "overcome foreseeable difficulties," he said. He said he never regretted accepting the job, which had been offered to him by an international headhunting agency, he said. "On the contrary, I will go all the way with great enthusiasm." He said, "I am very motivated by the privilege of being at the service of the pope ... and to be able to do my small part of a decisive reform for the Vatican ... A reform whose full extent has perhaps still not been well understood." Back in September 2015, an employee of the auditor general's office notified Vatican police that Milone's computer had been tampered with, the investigation into that tampering led to the second VatiLeaks investigation and trial, according to Vatican Radio. That trial found Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and Francesca Chaouqui, a member of the former Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See, guilty of having roles in the leaking of confidential documents about Vatican finances and acquitted an associate and two journalists.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Giorgio Onorati, EPABy Junno Arocho EstevesROME (CNS) -- Instead of "pretending to be adolescents," parents must help young people see the blessing of growing into adulthood, Pope Francis told priests, religious, catechists and parish council members from the Diocese of Rome. The belief that youthfulness is a model of success "is one of the most dangerous 'unwitting' menaces in the education of our adolescents" that hinders their personal growth because "adults have taken their place," the pope said June 19, opening the Rome Diocese's annual convention. This "can increase a natural tendency young people have to isolate themselves or to curb their process of growth" because they have no role models, the pope said. In his nearly 45-minute talk, Pope Francis reflected on the convention's theme, "Do not leave them alone! Accompanying parents in educating adolescent children." The pope said the first step in reaching out to young people in Rome is to "speak in the Roman dialect, that is, concretely" rather than in general or abstract terms that do not speak to teens' problems. Families in big cities such as Rome face different problems than those in rural areas. For this reason, the pope said, parents must educate their adolescent children "within the context of a big city" and speak to them concretely with "healthy and stimulating realism." Families, the pope continued, also must confront the challenge of educating their children in an "uprooted society" where people are disconnecting from their roots and feel no sense of belonging. "An uprooted culture, an uprooted family is a family without a history and without memory," he said. Although social networking has allowed more people to connect and feel part of a group, its virtual nature can also create a certain alienation where people "feel that they do not have roots, that they belong to no one," the pope said. "If we want our children to be formed and prepared for tomorrow, it is not just by learning languages, for example, that they will succeed in doing so. They need to connect, to know their roots. Only then can they fly high," he said. Departing from his prepared speech, Pope Francis said parents "should make room for their children to speak with their grandparents," who have the gift of passing on "faith, history and belonging with wisdom." Often disregarded and cast aside, grandparents must be given the opportunity to "give young people the sense of belonging that they need." Pope Francis said parents, catechists and pastors must understand that adolescence is a challenging time in young people's lives where "they are neither children (and do not want to be treated as such) and are not adults (but want to be treated as such, especially on the level of privileges.)" He also said he was worried about the current trend in society to view adolescence as a "pathology that must be fought" and that leads some parents to "prematurely medicate our youths." "It seems that everything is solved by medicating or controlling everything with the slogan 'making the most of time' and in the end, the young people's schedules are worse than that of a high-level executive," he said. Instead, schools, parishes and youth movements can take a pivotal role in helping young men and women want to feel challenged so they can achieve their goals. In this way, "they can discover that all the potential they have is a bridge, a passage toward a vocation (in the broadest and most beautiful sense of the word)," he said. However, he warned parents about people who may wield influence over their children, including aunts and uncles, and especially those who "have no children or who are not married." "I learned my first bad words from a bachelor uncle," the pope recalled. "Aunts and uncles often don't do good things to get their nephews and nieces to like them. There was an uncle who would secretly give us cigarettes... things of that sort. And now, I am not saying they are evil but you must beware." Young people, Pope Francis added, need educators that help grow within them "the life of the spirit of Jesus" and help them see that "to become Christians requires courage and it is a beautiful thing." "I think it is important to live the education of children starting from the perspective as a calling that the Lord has made to us as a family, to make this step a step of growth, to learn to enjoy the life that he has given us," Pope Francis said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.