Tucson, Ariz. — The first time Bishop Edward Weisenburger traveled to Arizona was for the announcement that Pope Francis appointed him to serve as the bishop of Tucson. The announcement came almost one year after Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., tendered his resignation upon reaching his 75th birthday. Canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation when they reach age 75. “I am very grateful for our Holy Father,” Bishop Weisenburger said in an Oct. 3 press conference in Tucson. “The Diocese of Tucson is a very prominent Church with a rich history. I am humbled to be here.”
Bishop Weisenburger is now considered the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Salina until he is installed in Arizona on Nov. 29. The installation is by invitation only. He calls the appointment “bittersweet.” “I feel as though I had a very happy home here,” he told staff in a meeting after returning from Arizona. “I thought if I was going to move that I would have five more years. “They are about to spend $144 million upgrading Salina. I’m sad to be leaving at that time because such wonderful things are happening.”
Bishop Weisenburger was ordained and installed as the 11th bishop of the Salina Diocese on May 1, 2012. The changes were announced in Washington Oct. 3 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d’affaires at the Vatican’s nunciature in Washington. During the press conference, he was asked about accomplishments in the Salina Diocese. “I don’t think I have any,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “I think the people (of the diocese) have some great accomplishments.”
He pointed to the newly opened Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas office in Salina, which was strongly supported by donors. Bishop Weisenburger also said he values the priests of the Salina Diocese. “It’s a small group of priests, but they are good men,” he said. “I enjoy that very much.”
It was announced by the Holy See on Oct. 3 that our current bishop, Bishop Edward Weisenburger will be transferred to become bishop of the Diocese of Tucson. He will be installed on Nov. 29. What happens next in our diocese? Shortly after his installation, a group of priests called the “consultors” elect a priest to serve as “Diocesan Administrator.” According to Church law, they must meet within eight days of the vacancy of the diocese to elect the Administrator.
The consultors in the Salina Diocese are Father Keith Weber, Father Donald Zimmerman, Father Gale Hammerschmidt, Father Michael Elanjimattathil, Father Kerry Ninemire, Msgr. James Hake and Msgr. Barry Brinkman.
Once appointed, the Administrator has the responsibility of coordinating and managing the affairs of the diocese while we await the appointment of a new bishop. The Administrator has some of the authority of a bishop but he is prohibited from doing anything ‘innovative’ or making major changes in the diocese; he is charged with maintaining current ministries and initiatives.
What is the process for the selection of a new bishop? The Congregation for Bishops, an office of the Roman Curia, has the responsibility of naming the world’s bishops. Each year, hundreds of vacancies are effected by death, retirement, illness, or expansion of a diocese, as in the case of a need for auxiliary bishops. The Congregation for Bishops, in conjunction with the papal representative of a country (Papal Nuncio), makes inquiry into the suitability of one priest or another and submits to the Holy Father nominees for each post to be filled.
It is not as simple a process as it seems. First of all, the congregation must gather information on the exact needs of the diocese so that any appointment would meet the need of the local Church. This is done by sending questionnaires to priests within the diocese needing a bishop. When seeking potential new candidates for the office of bishop, Congregation for Bishop canvasses the local bishops as well as the priests and lay leaders of the diocese to see if they believe one among them to be worthy of the office of bishop.
As soon as it becomes apparent that one or two persons within a jurisdiction are considered by his peers and by the laity to be worthy of consideration, the diocesan bishop consults with the metropolitan of the province (archbishop), as well as with his brother bishops of the province, to ascertain their opinions on any candidates. The name of candidates are submitted to the Papal Nuncio of the country (who serves as a representative of the Pope), who also make separate inquiries (via questionnaires) on various candidates. From these consultations, the nuncio begins to compile a list of suitable candidates.
Three names are eventually submitted to the Congregation for Bishops. After consultation and investigation within the Congregation of Bishop, the cardinal-prefect, during his weekly meeting with the Holy Father, submits the name deemed to be most suitable. The pope is not bound by the official nomination list yet almost always trusts the Congregation’s competency in these matters.
After the Holy Father has made his decision, the candidate is notified. He is bound by secrecy until the announcement is made at noon on the following (usually a Tuesday). Once the hour of noon passes in Rome, he is free to break the news to family, friends, and the faithful of the diocese. The Holy Father ordains new bishops in Rome only once each year; This happens on the Feast of the Epiphany. Any bishop nominated at other times throughout the year is traditionally ordained to the episcopacy at the cathedral of the new diocese he is to lead and govern. If he is already ordained a bishop, the bishop is “installed” if he has been transferred to serve another diocese.
Oklahoma City — Among the tens of thousands gathered to witness the beatification of Blessed Stanley Rother were a few familiar faces from the Diocese of Salina. Father Don McCarthy, who was a seminary classmate of Blessed Rother’s, was among more than 50 bishops, 200 priests and 200 deacons to celebrate Sept. 23 in the Cox Convention Center. “It was surreal,” Father McCarthy said. “I’d never seen a beatification before. It was beyond my expectations.”
The event was open to the public, and Salina resident Jeannie Hrabe said she was thankful to attend. “It was beyond anything I ever imagined,” she said. “I’ve gone to weekend retreats, but not anything to this effect. It was breathtaking to see all of the people packed in there.” Hrabe attended the event with her husband, Chris, and brother-in-law Brad. The trio stayed across the street from the convention center, and Hrabe said when they walked across the street before 7 a.m. “there were probably 500 people ahead of us in line. “They were going to open the doors at 8:15, but they opened them shortly after 7 a.m. because the line was wrapped down the street.”
The beatification began with a 20-minute documentary about Blessed Stanley Rother. “It gave the explanation of who Father Stanly is and what he stood for,” she said. “It explained how he worked with the people and how it crescendoed to this magnificent celebration. It really helped set the stage for the beatification.”
Trying to put the experience into words isn’t easy for Hrabe. “It was more than what I expected,” she said. “These events can help feed our souls. It was very moving. Needless to say, I cried most of the Mass. It was very emotional, very uplifting, very spiritual.”
The Hrabe group made a trip out of it, stopping to visit Okarche, his hometown, the day before the beatification. Likewise, Father McCarthy visited Holy Trinity Parish the day after the beatification with Father Daryl Olmstead, whose sister is married to a permanent deacon of the parish. The priests were among a small group who concelebrated Mass on Sunday. “I’m so grateful I was able to experience that with my husband and brother-in-law,” Hrabe said of the beatification. “Father Stanley was an ordinary man. We are all ordinary and are all called to be saints.”
Dear fellow Catholic of the Salina Diocese,
I want to express my gratitude as well as speak a word of profound thanks on behalf of those who suffered immense losses following the tornadic winds (70 - 90 mph) and baseball-size hail of the Aug. 10 storm. Once the storm passed, I stepped outside where I found myself overwhelmed by the damage all around me. The roof of every home in WaKeeney was destroyed and 900 vehicles were totaled. In many instances the destroyed cars belonged to the working poor. Too, a tremendous amount of windows were shattered, with many homes exposed to the elements. Those who were uninsured or under-insured were facing the worst of the losses.
I asked Bishop Weisenburger what help might be available for those in need. With the consent of our Diocesan Council of Priests, he immediately transferred $3,000 from the Priests Council Aid Fund to Catholic Charities of Salina. Their office in Hays is responsible for distributing the funds in our area and they responded wonderfully with the resources the good people of our diocese provided them. In addition, Michelle Martin, Executive Director of our Diocesan Catholic Charities, applied for a $10,000 grant from Catholic Charities U.S.A. (the National branch of Catholic Charities). The grant was accepted and Catholic Charities was able to use some of these funds in collaborative efforts with Trego County Emergency Management.
Jeannie Riedel from Catholic Charities of Hays set up a table on four different days in front of the local library to hand out application forms for assistance. She also has met with our local Ministerial Alliance multiple times, coordinating with the Alliance to make sure that all who are suffering receive the help they need. We are blessed in our diocese to have such dedicated staff at Catholic Charities. As of this date, the people our Diocese have generously donated $47,000 for this disaster relief. I've never been more proud of Catholic Charities or more grateful for the generosity of our people.
My gratitude is profound for each of you who gave sacrificially to help those in need. I should note that Christ the King Parish of WaKeeney has full replacement insurance coverage, and for that reason the parish itself was not a recipient of any of these funds. Your donations will be used only for victims in our diocese with inadequate or no means to repair their damages. Your incredible response is truly heartwarming. Again, I thank you in the name of Christ the King Parish and the entire community of Wakeeney.
Fr. Charlie Steier, Pastor
Salina — In her 105 years, Dorothy LaRocque has said a lot of rosaries. “I think you’ve said more rosaries in life than I have,” Bishop Edward Weisenburger quipped prior to blessing the longtime member of Sacred Heart Cathedral. Friends, relatives and the bishop gathered Sept. 28 to celebrate 105 years of life for LaRocque.
“Heavenly father, we especially thank you for the gift of life that you have given generously to Dorothy. Strengthen her so that she might continue to be a sign of grace and favor in our midst,” Bishop Weisenburger prayed. “May she know graces and joys through her family, many friends, the staff of this fine institution and all those who look upon her with kindness and love.”
Prayer is a central aspect of LaRocque’s life said Mary Bridges, chaplain at Presbyterian Manor. “If she’s sleeping, she has her hands folded in prayer,” Bridges said. “If you go by and she’s taking a nap, she’s prayerfully in bed.” LaRocque said her favorite prayer is “The Eternal Father” from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. “It’s just a prayer that can be said anywhere,” she said.
Bishop Weisenburger said it was a treat to celebrate with a saint. “Well, I don’t know ….” LaRocque said. “Leave it to me, I’m supposed to know those things,” he told the centenarian.
Born on the family farm in Glasco, LaRocque is the oldest of Paul and Anna LaRocque’s six children. She worked in Wichita at the Veteran’s Hospital as a nurse anesthetist. As her parents aged and retired in Beloit, LaRocque returned to the Salina Diocese to care for them. She never married and has no children.
“I didn’t do anything to be 105,” LaRocque said simply. Bridges said the faith shown daily by LaRocque is a powerful witness. “She just seems so focused on her faith,” Bridges said. “(On her birthday), she apparently didn’t want to get up but she did and she has a smile on her face and a sense of calm. I think it’s a testimony to her faith. I think young people can see that in her.”
For her part, LaRocque said she never expected to live to be 105, and certainly didn’t expect to have the bishop visit. “I didn’t expect nothing, not even a party,” she said. After the blessing, the group visited, and Bishop Weisenburger said his goodbye. “I’ll see you next year,” the bishop said. “Me too,” LaRocque quickly responded.
Salina — The Catholic Community Foundation is currently accepting grant applications for the 2018 Bishop’s Fund.
Any Catholic entity with innovative ideas or projects within the Diocese of Salina is welcome to apply. The maximum amount of funding for each grant is $5,000. The Bishop and the board of the Catholic Community Foundation will review and determine grant awards at their December meeting. Funding will be available for the 2018 calendar year.
The application process is completely online at the diocesan website, salinadiocese.org. Click here to go to the "Grants" page. All applications are due Dec. 1, 2017.
“This is a helpful way for parishes, schools and ministries to access funding for a project that could not be funded in their annual budget,” said Beth Shearer, executive director of the foundation. “The board is delighted to make these innovative and new projects possible. This follows the original intent of the Bishop’s Fund. We are proud partners with our grantees in fulfilling their missions across our diocese. Together we are strengthening our Catholic community of faith.”
Last year, the Bishop’s Fund awarded $33,272 for various projects. Donors wanting to help the Bishop underwrite important projects established the Bishop’s Fund in 2008. Each year the diocese continues to receive donations to the Bishop’s Fund.
Applications are open to all parishes, Catholic schools and Catholic ministries within the diocese. The following are examples of grants that will be considered.
The Foundation will NOT consider grants to the following:
Inquiries CAN be directed to Shearer at (785) 827-8746, ext. 42, or beth.shearer@ salinadiocese.org.
Racism and bigotry are among the great evils of our age, and the resurgence of neo-Nazi and white-supremacist movements is profoundly troubling. The follower of Jesus Christ can see something of God’s image in every human being. For this reason, people of faith must unite and speak truth to this evil in our midst. Let us renew our firm commitment to truth, equality, and universal human dignity.
– Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger
Most Reverend Edward J. Weisenburger, Bishop of the Diocese of Salina, cordially invites you to celebrate a White Mass.
Wednesday, October 18th at 7:00 p.m.
at Sacred Heart Cathedral
118 N. 9th Street
Traditionally a “White Mass” is celebrated for members of the healthcare profession. Equally welcome are those who do not work or minister in the healthcare profession but wish to gather with us to pray for all healthcare professionals. A reception will follow the Mass in the Hall of Bishops.