Last Friday, Pope Francis delivered a message to the world. If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, I encourage you to do so. You can find the message here. Pope Francis encourages us to continue to place our trust in Jesus amid this “stormy sea” of COVID-19. He challenges us by saying, “This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”
In last month’s email to you, I mentioned that we don’t know when the coronavirus will end. It’s still the case. I am very saddened that we will not be celebrating public Masses during Holy Week. I am especially disappointed that this year’s Candidates and Catechumens will have to wait for a future undetermined date to join the Church. Please continue to pray for them. We do not know when Masses will be made public again. During these difficult times, it is encouraging to remember that our priests continue to celebrate the Mass every single day. I am praying for all of you too. We miss being with you at Mass. Just a reminder, as this question came up, all the faithful are dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday.
Yesterday, we celebrated the Chrism Mass for our diocese. We blessed the oils and the priests renewed the vows (most of them from their homes) they made at their priestly ordination. If you would like, you can view the Chrism Mass on the diocesan website or on Facebook. Yesterday was also the 15th Anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II. We remember his deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother. St. John Paul II relied on Our Blessed Mother, and so do we. I invite all of you to join me in a daily rosary as we pray for an end of COVID-19.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. I encourage you to watch the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil) together as a family through our diocesan website or your own parish website. For a list of available online Masses, please click here.
Additionally, there are many opportunities on FORMED for the Easter season. One talk that I’d like to suggest it “Holy Week” by Dr. Brant Pitre. Additionally, there will be reflections on our diocesan website for each day of Holy Week. I hope you are able to take advantage of all the resources which allows us to grow in our love for Jesus.
On Good Friday, at 11 am please join others in our country in praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For those that pray the litany there is a plenary indulgence attached to it. To receive the indulgence, you must: a) pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart on Good Friday b) be truly repentant of any sins they have committed and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (at the earliest opportunity) c) pray for the Holy Father’s intentions. Good Friday Collection: Due to the current situation, the very important Good Friday Collection has been rescheduled to take place on September 13, 2020.
A priest from western Kansas mentioned to me that some non-Catholics told him how much they appreciate hearing the bells from the Catholic Church. They told him that their church is locked and hearing the bells bring them hope. Our churches remain open. It’s great to hear from priests how many people stop throughout the day to pray. At the same time, I would like to encourage you to continue to follow the state guidelines and stay home if at all possible.
This year, Divine Mercy Sunday is on April 19. Jesus appeared to St. Faustina and said to her, “This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.” We continue to trust in Jesus’ love and mercy. Additionally, on this day, I will preside at a special holy hour at the Cathedral at 3 pm. I hope you can participate with me via online on our website.
Brian McCaffrey’s ordination to the diaconate will take place on April 18 at 10:30 am at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. The ordination will be closed to the public. However, I encourage you to watch it online if you are able.
I am so grateful to our parishes and schools for their continued service to the people. I appreciate their sacrifice and hard work. If at all possible, please continue to financially support our parishes and schools during this time. I know that a lot of them have already had to make some changes. We have recently made it possible for online giving to occur at each parish and school. To give to your parish, please click here. To give to your school, please click here. Additionally, thank you so much for your continued support to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. I appreciate your ongoing kindness and generosity.
Some of the staff at St. Mary’s Grade School in Salina are providing meals for any student during the week. People pick up their lunches drive-thru style. On average, they are helping to feed 165 young people every day. Wow! Additionally, Catholic Charities continues to do a tremendous job in serving our people within the diocese. I am extremely grateful to Michelle Martin and her team. They have continued to provide their Mobile Outreach Program to several locations throughout the diocese. Please consider financially supporting Catholic Charities. They could really use your help.
At the Rural Life Workshop that took place on March 7, Retired Army Colonel Gary LaGrange gave a presentation. He said that many veterans express a desire to start farming. Farming has proven to be very healing for the men and women who are adjusting to civilian life. So he started a “farming school” called S.A.V.E (Soldier Agricultural Vocational Education Farm). The program began in Manhattan, KS and will soon be expanding to another location in the diocese. What a great idea!
I have a good friend that graduated from Villanova University who is good friends with the women’s basketball coach. He referred me to a fascinating story on the ESPN website about a woman named Shelly Pennefather, a former basketball star. You can read her story here.
“Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity.” – Pope Francis
“We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” – St. John Paul II