Greetings in Christ and Happy New Year!
This Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. A voice from
heaven cries out, “This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well
pleased.” When we are baptized, we become beloved sons and
daughters of our Heavenly Father. Pope Saint John Paul II said that,
“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of
the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of
His Son Jesus.” Is there anything greater in life than to be a child of
This year, Pope Francis established that the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary
Time as a feast day for the Sunday of the Word. This year, it will take
place on January 26. He states that we should continue to read, pray
with, and appreciate Sacred Scripture. As a suggestion, perhaps we can
read the Sunday readings before Mass as a family or in a Bible study
I returned Wednesday evening from a week-long retreat with several
other bishops from our region (this is something that is held every
year). It was held at the Prince of Peace Abbey in San Diego. I spent a
lot of time praying for our diocese. Our retreat master was Fr. Paul
Murray, a Dominican priest who teaches at the Angelicum University in
Rome. Fr. Murray is a wonderful preacher and his reflections were very
inspirational. He is also a good storyteller. At one point, he discussed
the importance of the Eucharist and how is should lead us to charity.
He then shared an example. After a Mass, a priest at a monastery went
to take communion to a religious sister who was on her deathbed. Two
novices carrying candles went with the priest. The priest noticed that
one of the candles was a little too close to the dying religious sister’s
oxygen tank. When he warned the novice of this, she simply shut off
the oxygen tank!
At the retreat center, a little note on one of the doors made me
chuckle. It read: ATTENTION: Please cooperate with the Retreat House
Staff by keeping this door closed at all times. The critters and
creatures have a tendency of coming into the retreat house. Recently
the staff found a scorpion (large) and a garter snake as well. Rattle
snakes are in the area as well it would not be pleasant to encounter
one in the retreat house.” No, it wouldn’t. Needless to say, I kept the
door to my room shut at all times.
This Saturday, I leave with the other bishops from our region (Region
IX, which includes Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas) for Rome for
what is called the ad limina visit. Ad limina comes from the Latin ad
limina apostorolum, which means “to the threshold of the apostles.”
Every five to seven years bishops are obligated to go to Rome to meet
with all the various Vatican committees and the Holy Father. I return
next Saturday evening.
I also had a chance to attend the Fellowship of Catholic University
Students (FOCUS) gathering for a couple of days over the break. I am
wonderfully amazed at how many college students have a deep desire
to grow in their relationship with the Lord and then go and make other
disciples. We are really blessed to have FOCUS Missionaries at the
campuses of Fort Hays State University and Kansas State University.
From the earthquake in Puerto Rico, to the fires in Australia and to the
threats of war, what is our response? We cling to Jesus through our
prayer and we place our trust in Him. Personally, I offer my rosary
every day for peace in the world and for peace in our families.
Additionally, please keep Fr. Charles Awotwi, one of our diocesan
priests, in your prayers. He is a military chaplain who has been sent to
the Middle East to minister to our soldiers.
As you may know by now, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick moved out
of the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria last week.
D.C. March for Life:
I am looking forward to being with the Knights of Columbus and my
brother bishops for Kansas for our yearly meeting in Topeka. I will
attend the Right to Life rally in Topeka. Afterward, I will join hundreds
of young people in our diocese for the Right to Life rally in Washington
The last week of January is Catholic Schools Week. I look forward to
visiting numerous Catholic schools during that week. Saint John Paul II
said, “In a cultural climate in which moral norms are often thought to
be matters of personal preference, Catholic schools have a crucial role
to play in leading the younger generation to realize that freedom
consists above all in being able to respond to the demands of the
truth.” Additionally, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that, “A good
school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good
Catholic school, over and above this, should help all its students to
A few quotes from St. Francis de Sales, whose feast day is January 24.
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not
lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole
world seems upset.”
“The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least
damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged
and fresh, just as he found them.”