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Junction City family has members in Catholic school for more than five decades

The Register

Junction City — Graduation season brings many bittersweet moments to students and families across the nation as one journey ends and another begins. For one Junction City family, graduation will be particularly poignant this year as it closes an era more than five decades in the making. For 52 consecutive years, the Keating family has had at least one of its members in the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School system. This chapter in both the family’s and school’s history will conclude as Jacob Keating, the youngest son of Jeff and Joan Keating, graduates with the St. Xavier Class of 2019 on May 18. The family matriarch, ­Marcena, knew the value a Catholic school education could bring to a family as she and her nine siblings grew up attending Catholic school in Tipton. She said her husband Francis had no objections to sending their five children to be educated at St. Francis Xavier. “I knew they’d go to church two times a week and they would have religion classes,” Marcena said.

Additionally, Marcena said she and Francis took comfort in the fact that everyone at the school knew everyone else and that created a small town feel within the Catholic school community. The couple’s oldest daughter Judy began the family’s long history at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School with her enrollment in first grade in 1967. Over the next 17 years, Jeff, Jim, John and Jacki followed.

The Keating children’s time at the school was not limited to their role as students. For John, the school provided the opportunity for his first teaching and coaching job following his graduation from Kansas State University. “I really enjoyed my time there and seeing the school and all the traditions from a different perspective,” John said.  That new perspective was in one way very different from that of the teachers John taught alongside. In his new position, he now had his youngest sister, Jacki, lovingly referred to as “Little Keating,” as one of his students. This crossing of personal and professional roles was an interesting situation, but Jacki jokingly explained they had a mutual understanding about their roles. “I told him I would absolutely not call him Mr. Keating,” she said with a laugh. “That would just be too weird. He asked what else I would call him, so I told him I would call him ‘Coach.’ ” “A lot of people thought I would act out in his class,” Jacki recalled, “but I knew if I did, he would just tell Mom!”
“That situation definitely brought us closer,” she added. “It was actually kind of fun having him as a teacher.”

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Five priests celebrate anniversaries

Five priests for the Salina Diocese will celebrate anniversaries this year. Celebrating 60 years of priesthood are Father Alvin Werth and Father Roger Meitl. Celebrating 50 years is Capuchin Father Earl Befort and Father James Dallen. Celebrating 25 years is Father Henry Saw Lone.

Father Alvin Werth

Fr. Alvin Werth

Father Werth said his hometown pastor, Msgr. Frank Reidel, who was assigned to St. Anthony Parish in Schoenchen, encouraged his priestly vocation. “When I grew up, I was on the farm west of Schoenchen,” he said. “I was a little withdrawn, shy. I grew out of that, and enjoy serving, celebrating Mass, and working with people.” Msgr. Reidel talked with his family as he neared the end of high school, and encouraged Father Werth to enter the seminary. The parish priest was a constant in the life of his family.
“He married my parents, was there for my baptism, all the sacraments and was there for my ordination,” he said. “He also paid for my entire education. He sponsored me all the way through.”

Father Werth attended seminary at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. The trip from his western Kansas farm to Kansas City was an adventure. “It wasn’t by car in those days. It was by train,” he said. “We left Hays about midnight. We went to Kansas City on Union Pacific and got there about seven in the morning.” Father Werth was ordained April 6, 1959, at St. Anthony Church in Schoenchen by Bishop Frederick Frecking. He was assigned to 19 parishes across the diocese during his service as a priest. “I found people to be very good in all the parishes,” Father Werth said. “There are some differences, but as a whole, they respected the priests.”

One hobby he enjoyed throughout his life is flying. “I got my pilot’s license in ’69,” Father Werth said. “When I was at Oberlin, we formed a club and 10 of us bought a small, used plane. “I used the plane to go to Atwood a number of times and also to go to meetings in Salina.” He was a member of the National Association of Priest Pilots, and gathered regionally and nationally with fellow priest pilots. “It was a good experience with the priest pilots because I got to meet priests from all over the United States. We still do meet,” he said. “I sold my plane last year. As I’m getting rid of things, I’m now working on getting my angel wings.”
While he formally retired in 2003, Father Werth said he still enjoys being in parishes. “Now, it’s my greatest joy to substitute in parishes,” he said.

St. Anthony Parish in Schoenchen hosted a joint celebration for Father Werth and Father Befort, for their 60th and 50th anniversaries, with Mass and breakfast on April 28. Father Werth retired to Hays in 2003.

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Kansas bishops denounce Kansas Supreme Court’s ‘shocking’ abortion ruling

The Leaven

Topeka — The Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling on April 26 discovering a “right to abortion” in the 159-year-old Kansas Constitution was called “shocking” and “an exercise in creative writing” by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City. The state high court’s 6-1 ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Derek Schmidt comes after a two-year deliberation of an appeal of a Kansas Court of Appeals ruling.

A temporary injunction against the 2015 law that prohibited dismemberment abortions, also known as the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, had been appealed. The Kansas Court of Appeals, however, split 7-7 on its ruling, leaving upheld a lower court’s temporary injunction against the implementation of the law. After another appeal, the case then went to the state’s high court. Governor Sam Brownback — who hailed it at the time as a significant piece of pro-life legislation — signed SB 95, also known as “The Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.”

The law never took effect because of legal challenges. Abortion providers Herbert C. Hodes, M.D., and Traci Lynn Nauser, M.D., of the Center for Women’s Health at 4840 College Blvd., Overland Park, were the plaintiffs in the case. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who defended the state law, said, “the far-reaching implications of the court’s decision are breathtaking.” Further, he said, “Wholly uninhibited by traditional judicial restraint, the court’s sweeping and voluminous language foreshadows an ever- expanding role for Kansas courts in public policy questions that ... were reserved for Kansans to settle through the democratic process.”

The bishops of Kansas called the ruling “a grotesque caricature of emancipation.” “There is no way to sanitize the barbaric procedure defended by the court,” said Chuck Weber, the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, quoting from the bishops’ statement. “The issue under review — live dismemberment abortion — is a most excruciating death. The nonanesthetized severing of a living child’s arms and legs and subsequent removal of the body is beyond our comprehension.

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Let us remember that Jesus is alive, invites us to see him

Bishop Vincke

By Bishop Vincke

“When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place (Jn 20:6-7).”

A little more than two hours from Rome in the Abruzzo region of Italy is a small town called Manoppello. In the Catholic Church there is what many believe the burial cloth that covered Jesus’ face in the tomb. On the cloth is an imprint of Jesus’ face. This image is not a reflection of a dead Jesus, but is instead what many believe to be a reflection of what Jesus’ face resembled the moment he rose from the dead. It’s an amazing image of the face of Christ. The material is made of sea silk, only found in the Holy Land. It’s impossible to dye or paint. This living image of the face of Christ matches identically to the burial cloth of the Shroud of Turin.

When I visited there, this image gave me so much hope. Jesus is God. Jesus is alive. Jesus is with us!!! A religious sister who has served there for decades and has meditated on this image often said that she believes Jesus’ first words when he rose were “Abba” (Father). What is fascinating is that Pope Benedict XVI’s first pastoral visit as pope was to see the image of the face of God in Manoppello. He was seeking the face of God. Psalm 27:8 tells us:“ ‘Come,’ says my heart, “see his face.” Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

While we don’t have to see the veil in order to believe and have faith, it offers us hope that we, too, will see Jesus face to face for all eternity. Our hope rests in that, what happened to Jesus will happen to us — that we will inevitably die, but rise from the dead and see the face of God.

Easter represents the fulfillment of God’s promises and the triumph of good over sin and evil. He desires to be in eternal communion with each person he has created. Love awaits us.
Obviously, many people struggle with illnesses and other hardships. As we carry our crosses, we can feel like Jesus did, “My God, why have you abandoned me.” God has a plan that is better than we can ever imagine. St. Paul tells us that the sufferings of this world are as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in us. St. John Paul II once said, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

There are times in our life, too, when we don’t feel loveable, that God couldn’t possibly forgive us for the mistakes that we have made. One of my favorite Scripture passages comes from Chapter 21 of the Gospel of John. We find Peter fishing with other disciples. The resurrected Jesus appears on the shore and tells them to cast their nets onto the right side of the boat and sure enough they catch so many fish that they are unable to haul all of them in. When Jesus invites them for breakfast on the shore, he is cooking fish on a charcoal fire. Why is this significant? Because the only other time in Scripture where a charcoal fire is mentioned is the time when Peter was warming himself by the fire as he denied knowing Jesus. Jesus was redeeming Peter’s denial at the charcoal fire, a place that surely Peter remembered with much pain and sorrow. And yet, Jesus doesn’t condemn him but invites him to love him. Jesus is the great redeemer. We surrender to Jesus all the things in our life that weigh us down trusting that he will redeem all things in his time.

Many blessings to you and your families as we celebrate with joy the 50 days of Easter!

Bishop celebrates his first Chrism Mass

The Register

Salina — It was another first for Bishop Jerry Vincke when he consecrated and blessed oil at the annual Chrism Mass April 11 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. “I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous as a new bishop, presiding at my first Chrism Mass here,” Bishop Vincke said.

The bishop reflected briefly on his eight months in the diocese. “I really love it here, I love this diocese,” he said. “It’s been a tremendous joy to meet so many of you as I travel.” While this is his first time presiding as a bishop at the Chrism Mass, it’s a liturgical celebration Bishop Vincke said he always enjoyed. “For me, I always look forward to this moment in the Chrism Mass, an opportunity to renew our promises,” he said.

All priests present renewed the vows made during their ordination. Bishop Vincke highlighted five priests celebrating jubilee anniversaries. Father Roger Meitl and Father Alvin Werth are celebrating 60 years; Father James Dallen and Capuchin Father Earl Befort are celebrating 50 and Father Henry Saw Lone is celebrating 25 years.

“Between the five of them, that’s 245 years of priestly service,” Bishop Vincke said.
“I know the priests are excited to renew their promises they made many years ago on the day of their ordination, but I think they’re more excited knowing there is a roast beef dinner waiting for them right after Mass,” the bishop quipped. “I think they want me to hurry up.”

Bishop offered a few brief reflections for the clergy, who were renewing their vows. First, he said, pray for the Church. “We an often think that the work we have to do is more important than prayer. The truth is that prayer is the most important pastoral priority that we have,” Bishop Vincke said. “When we pray, sometimes God can be very silent, but he is working in the midst of our prayer.”

The next reflection involved obedience to the bishop and his successors. “I’ve been on the other side of that fence,” Bishop Vincke said. “It’s a beautiful gift, obedience, because it unites all of us into the one body in Christ, to the heart of the Church. It really is a matter of not repressing one’s desires or opinions, but all for the good of the Church or the diocese.”

The final reflection was on celibacy for the sake of the kingdom. “What a gift it is to imitate Christ our Lord for the sake of the kingdom,” he said. “This is not a rejection of the goodness of marriage. It builds it up. It’s a sign for all of us, for the whole world, that the kingdom of God is worth giving our lives to. Everything we have and we are. “So please pray for our priests. Pray for me. Pray for more vocations to the priesthood.”

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Seminarian recognition dinner is May 30 in Salina


Salina — The sixth annual “Evening with Our Seminarians” will take place May 30. The evening begins with a social at 6 p.m. at the Salina Country Club, 2101 E. Country Club Rd., Salina, followed by Vespers (evening prayer), then a meal and a short program. The event is open to the public, but reservations are required. The cost is $50 per person, with reservations required by May 23.

All of the diocese’s seminarians, several priests and Bishop Jerry Vincke will be on hand to meet with guests. “I am deeply inspired by how many parishes pray for vocations to the priesthood,” Bishop Vincke said. “I am so thankful that people across the diocese are praying for and supporting our seminarians as they continue their formation to become priests The seminarian dinner gives an opportunity to meet these seminarians and hear how they are discerning their call and growing spiritually and intellectually toward ordination.”

Katie Platten, Mary Thompson and Cathy Boos are co-chairs for this year’s event. “This event is primarily for all of us to honor and celebrate the commitment these young men have made to the priesthood,” Platten said. “It is also a great way for parishioners to get acquainted with our seminarians, while helping to raise funds to support current and future seminarian education for our diocese.”

The event began in 2014 as part of a matching grant. The event has become popular with attendees, and continues to draw more than 200 people to the evening. Platten added many will buy a table and fill it with family and friends, but individual tickets are available as well. “This is a fun way to meet not just seminarians, but also others from across the diocese, who support the seminarians,” she said. On June 1, transitional Deacon Mike Leiker will be ordained to the priesthood.

The Diocese of Salina currently has 12 seminarians in formation and expects to have 14 next year. In addition, young men continue to inquire about the seminary. “As with all education, the cost of seminary formation continues to rise,” Bishop Vincke said. “The funds raised from this event are used exclusively for seminarian education and formation.” Cost is $50 per person. For more information, contact Beth Shearer or Lois Yost at (785) 827-8746 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To register, click here.

Catholic Home Missions supports ministries throughout the Salina Diocese

The Register

Salina — ­The Diocese of Salina is one of 84 dioceses considered a “mission” diocese by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. According to the USCCB website, “ ‘Home Missions’ is the name for dioceses and parishes in the United States, including its territories and former territories, which cannot provide basic pastoral services to Catholics without outside help. Basic pastoral services include Mass and sacraments, religious education, and ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and lay people.” In an April 15 news release, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of Jefferson City, Mo., and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, encouraged support for the annual collection, which is April 27-28. “People across the United States long to grow closer to Christ but too many cannot access even basic pastoral programs,” Bishop McKnight said. “The Catholic Home Missions Appeal helps dioceses overcome obstacles of geography, poverty, and limited resources, and fosters solidarity to help others experience the presence of the risen Lord.” In 2018, the Subcommittee approved more than $9.4 million in grants to assist dioceses and eparchies. Currently, more than 37 percent of all US dioceses and territories receive support from the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions, including the Salina Diocese.


The Diocese of Salina spans more than 26,000 square miles across northwest Kansas, and serves more than 40,000 Catholics with 35 active diocesan priests, 11 international priests and four religious order priests. In 2018, the Catholic Home Mission Appeal funded more than $10.5 million worth of projects in mission dioceses throughout the country. During the 2018 funding cycle, CHM funded three areas in the Salina Diocese: an advanced degree in bioethics, seminarian education and Hispanic ministry.

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St. Isidore Day is May 15 in Plainville/Stockton

Plainville — All are invited to join in celebrating St. Isidore, one of the patron saints for the Salina Diocese, May 15 at Sacred Heart Church in Plainville with Bishop Jerry Vincke. 

Farmers and ranchers are invited to bring seeds and soil to Mass for a special blessing. Following Mass, all are invited to drive to Stockton for a blessing of the flock/field. Following the blessing, two tours will be available. The first is Wilkens Manufacturing in Stockton. The location manufactures walking floor and self unloading trailers. The next tour will be of the Rooks County Hospital in Plainville at 4 p.m. The event will conclude with dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Plainville at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact Father Rich Daise, (785) 462-2179 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
The event is sponsored by the Salina Diocese Rural Life Commission. The commission will sponsor a Rural Life Workshop, “Thriving (not just surviving) in Ag” at Sacred Heart Parish in Colby Aug. 17. It will also host the annual Rural Life Day at St. Frances Cabrini parish in Hoxie Aug. 18. The Msgr. John George Weber Century Farm Awards will be presented during Rural Life Day.

All are invited to help support Call to Share appeal

Salina — If not you – who? If not now – when?

At all Masses April 6 and 7, Catholics who had not yet responded, were invited to make their commitment to the 2019 Bishop’s Annual Appeal – Call to Share. The $1.4 million appeal directly touches everyone in the diocese.

Call to Share, announced in mid-February has received commitments of almost $1.2 million, or nearly 86 percent of goal from 2,690 families, or about 15 percent of registered families.
“I wish to share my deepest gratitude to all who have already made a sacrificial pledge to the Call to Share appeal,” Bishop Jerry Vincke said. “Respectfully, every family is encouraged to participate to its ability and make a gift of personal significance, knowing that every gift allows us to meet critical needs of our Church.”

Support of the appeal works in direct and indirect ways to touch every family. Often, people mention the work of the appeal doesn’t impact them.

In the most direct of way the appeal touches each person. Support of the formation and care of the clergy accounts for nearly 50 percent of the goal of Call to Share. Together, through these gifts, the diocese educates seminarians to prepare for ordination and service to the faithful as pastors and other administrative leadership positions. It ensures those priests who have often served in multiple assignments are assured of a retirement deserving of their­­ decades of service.

Further, support to 15 Catholic schools works to help ensure K-12 education is available to the children. Many Catholics grew up in a period where Catholic school was an expectation supported by families with and without children of their own.

“Nearly 90 percent of the funds we raise are spent in direct benefit to individuals and parishes in every corner of the diocese,” Bishop Vincke said. “The remaining balance is what we collectively need to support general diocesan administrative operations, as well as our endeavors to establish a new communication office and focus on evangelization.”

All families are asked to prayerfully consider the importance of the Church, its role in the family and the difference it can make through a gift that works with thousands of others to address these needs.

For more information contact Beth Shearer at (785) 872-8746 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also make a pledge or gift online at https://salinadiocese.org/development/bishops-annual-appeal.

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