The living example of St. Thomas the Apostle, whose feast we celebrate today, seems especially applicable to our times. First, Jesus tells the apostles to not let their hearts be troubled, to have faith in him, that he is preparing a place for them and they know the way. Thomas responds honestly, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” Jesus states, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” After the resurrection, Thomas again is quite honest when he doubts that Jesus is risen stating that he will only believe if he touches the wounds of Jesus. Our Lord replies to Thomas, “Blessed are those who do not see and believe.” Amid all that is taking place in our world, Jesus is risen from the dead. He is with us and desires us to trust him and listen to him rather than so many other opinions. St. John Paul II said, “The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity.”
As many of you are aware, yesterday Governor Laura Kelly issued Executive Order No. 20-52 requiring persons to cover their mouth and nose with a mask or other face covering if they are in a public setting. This includes persons attending Mass, funerals or other religious services. This Order became effective at 12:01 am this morning (July 3). However, the Kansas legislature passed a law in late June, which Governor Kelly signed. It states that if the Governor issued an executive order such as she did yesterday, each county commission could agree, reject or make something less or more restrictive. For example, last evening the Saline County Commission voted 4 – 1 against requiring masks. Sedwick County made a similar decision. However, although not required in these counties, masks are still highly recommended. In our very large territorial diocese, we have some hotspots of COVID and other areas where there aren’t as many cases. Therefore, it is imperative that each parish follow their local county commission to determine what is best for the people they serve. To the extent possible, persons attending Mass should continue to maintain a 6-foot distance between themselves and others
Wearing masks has become a very controversial topic. There are some people, especially in areas with lower COVID cases, who feel that masks are unnecessary and infringe upon their personal rights. There are others who want everyone to wear masks because it will help stop the spread of COVID and it’s a way of being charitable to their neighbors. Regardless of what side one takes, please be respectful to others.
I think all of us have regretted something we have said whether it be by our voices, email, Facebook, twitter, etc. I know I have regretted things I have said and some emails I wrote to others and I am sorry for that. It seems much of the media news these days is a reaction to what this person said or tweeted or wrote. Recently, someone put a flyer in our chancery building that recommended that we think before we send something out. It asks the questions: “Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”
Speaking of charity, the annual fundraiser for Catholic Charities will take place on July 18. It will be a virtual event beginning at 7 pm. I hope you can join me in supporting Catholic Charities. There are so many more people in need during these days. Please help if you are able.
I was talking with another bishop the other day about all that is going on in our world. He then told me about one of his younger priests being diagnosed with cancer with only a few months to live. It certainly puts things in perspective for all of us. There will always be storms in life, but the most important thing is to be ready to meet our Lord. God loves us and desires for us to be with Him for all eternity. How each human person responds to this love is the great drama of life.
This past week, I visited with several farmers throughout the diocese for the wheat harvest. There is something so peaceful and gratifying riding on a combine watching the wheat being harvested. Blessings to all our farmers throughout the diocese. Please know of my prayers for all of you.
Next week, I am going on a pilgrimage for a few days with our seminarians and our vocation directors, Fr. Andy Hammeke and Fr. Joshua Werth. First, we are going to visit the site of the future Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Blessed Stanley was a priest of the archdiocese but was killed doing missionary work in Guatemala in 1981. While in Oklahoma City, we are blessed to have the opportunity to join Archbishop Coakley for dinner. Afterward, we are visiting the Fr. Emil Kapaun Center in Pilsen, Kansas. Fr. Kapaun, who is on his way for canonization, grew up as a farm boy in Pilsen, became a priest and served as a chaplain during World War II and the Korean War.
Many of you know the story of Fr. Michael Leiker and his liver transplant surgery. A reporter from EWTN recently interviewed Fr. Michael and his donor. The story will be aired sometime next week and will also appear in the National Catholic Register. By the way, Fr. Michael’s recovery is going very well.
Congratulations to Karen Bonar and her work with The Register. Recently, The Register received several awards at the 2020 Catholic Media Conference. This included first place for the “best front page” as well as receiving awards for her work on suicide prevention month and cultivating mental health awareness. You can find more information at https://salinadiocese.org/publications.
Speaking of the media, last weekend I blessed the radio tower for the new Catholic radio station based in Lindsborg. Please tune in to 101.7 FM while driving through the area and thank you for your support of Catholic radio.
The week of July 19 – 25 is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. Thank you for your support of this beautiful teaching that God has given to humanity through the Church.
I hope you have a blessed and safe 4th of July weekend. Please be assured of my love and prayers.