Feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Today, we celebrate the memorial of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus also known as St. Thérèse of Lisieux. St. Therese was very aware of her littleness and imperfections. She said, “It is impossible for me to grow up, so I must bear with myself such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short and totally new.” She continued, “I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched then in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: ‘Whoever is a little one let him come to me.’ The elevator which must raise me to heaven is your arms, O Jesus, and for this I have no need to grow up, but rather I have to remain little and become this more and more.” She once said that even if she had all the sins committed in the world upon her, she would trust in God’s mercy. Known as the Little Flower, she desired to be a martyr or a missionary, but found her vocation to love as a Carmelite nun. When I was in the seminary and working with seminarians, some did not care for her spirituality—too naïve, too simplistic, too childlike. It’s good to keep in mind that St. Thérèse had heard similar comments in the monastery. Some sisters were jealous of her youth and perplexed by her charity. Such misunderstanding was part of her life.
Attending the funeral Mass for Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun at the Hartman Center in Wichita was certainly inspiring and moved me to tears several times. Bishop Kemme repeated the words of Jesus lived in Fr. Kapaun, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” He suffered greatly at the hands of the North Korean and Chinese soldiers. The day before he died, he told a fellow soldier, “I am going somewhere I have always wanted to go. I will pray for you.” I invite you to ask for Fr. Kapaun’s intercession for those with illness.
This month, we celebrate the month of Our Lady of the Rosary (feast day on October 7). Thank you for loving our Blessed Mother! Please know that she gazes on you with much love and tenderness. Many of our parishes are participating in a Diocesan Rosary Congress being held the week of October 3-9.
This Sunday is Respect Life Sunday. We are actively promoting the Value Them Both amendment so that we may vote “yes” in the August 2022 elections. We feel blessed that three Sisters of Life from New York will be with our junior and senior high school students from the diocese at a Respect Life event at the Cathedral on Wednesday, October 6.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is calling every diocese in the world to participate in a diocesan phase of the Vatican synod on synodality which means the form, the style, and the structure of the church. The theme for the synod is “For a Synodal Church: Communion – Participation – Mission.” This phase will last until April 2022 and is the first of a many that will happen over the next three years. I will kick-off the synod in our diocese with Mass at the Cathedral at 3 pm on October 17. All our welcome to attend. The goal of the synod is to discuss the Church and her dreams as we journey together through prayer to the Holy Spirit and listening to others. More information on how you can participate will be found through our diocesan website, the Register and other communication platforms.
Last evening, I attended the Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas Board of Directors meeting. We are blessed by all your support of this wonderful organization that helps so many of our brothers and sisters in need. They have offices in Hays, Salina, and Manhattan, but they also reach out to nearly every county in our diocese. At the meeting, they shared a story about a 10-year-old girl who made a donation to Catholic Charities with a letter that stated she stumbled across some money and wanted to give it to Catholic Charities. Awesome!
I am looking forward to once again celebrating special Masses in the diocese to honor our married couples. The first Mass will be held at 3 pm on October 24 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Hays. The second Mass will be held at 3 pm on November 7 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Salina. If you have not already registered to attend, please consider joining us.
All our Catholic Schools are doing well. Geoff Andrews, our superintendent who is always on the road visiting schools, told me that it is a joy to see the smiles of the children at every school he has visited. We continue to pray that Our Blessed Mother wraps her mantle of protection around all our schools, public and Catholic, throughout our diocese.
Speaking of our schools, for the first time our schools have been able to award a tax credit scholarship to new students who qualify. Although the State has had this in place for a few years, none of our schools could take advantage due to restrictions. We are pleased to announce that we will award 54 new students in grades K-8 $170,000+ in scholarships. We will have more information in the coming months about how to give to the Scholarship Granting Fund.
Last week, I attended the Catholic Extension 2021 Mission Bishops’ Conference meeting in Chicago along with 70 other bishops. Catholic Extension helps financially support dioceses like ours. The guest speakers were fantastic as they encouraged us to continue to reach out to the peripheries.
We are happy to announce that Bill Meagher is the new Director of Youth Ministry and Religious Education for the diocese. Many of you know Bill from his service at TMP-Marian, including him being the head basketball coach, as well as being the Director of Religious Education at St. Nicholas Parish in Hays. We are so blessed to have Bill working for the entire diocese. I know he is eager to serve our young people.
Recently, our safe environment office at the diocese was audited by an independent organization. Our safe environment office has annual paper audit, but every third year we participate in what they call an “On-site Audit”, which a more extensive process. While the interviews were conducted via phone and zoom this year, typically auditors would physically come to the diocese to review files and conduct interviews. I am happy to say that we passed with flying colors. I am thankful for Wendy Backes, Corey Lyon, and Kim Hoelting for their excellent work. May we remain vigilant in protecting the safety of our young people.
Not sure if all of you know this, but St. Francis of Assisi is the secondary patron of the diocese (Our Lady of Perpetual Help is our patron). On Monday, October 4, I will be celebrating Mass at the three parishes named after this saint in the towns of St. Francis at 7:30 am, Norton at 12:00 pm and Munjor at 5:30 pm. You are welcome to attend if you are in the vicinity.
Our beloved Fr. Merlin Kieffer passed away last Sunday at the age of 86. He was a great priest who served in many of our schools and parishes and was much loved. Please pray for him and his family. His nephew is Fr. Joseph Kieffer.A
Thinking ahead to the month of November when we traditionally remember those who have gone before us, I want to invite you to some special memorial Masses I will celebrate for those who died during the shutdowns of the Covid Pandemic. Many families were unable to gather for funerals during this time. These Masses are open to anyone who wishes to attend and offer prayers for all who have died. Two Masses will be celebrated on November 2 the Feast of All Souls 7:30 am at St. Joseph Church in Damar, and 6 pm at Sacred Heart Church in Colby. Two others will be celebrated on the Saturdays that follow, 10 am on November 6 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Concordia, and 10 am on November 13 at SS. Peter and Paul in Clay Center.
Two of my brothers and one of my sisters and their spouses are visiting me during the month of October. I look forward to spending time with them and showing them our diocese!
Fr. John Ederer, a priest from the Diocese of Saginaw, recently passed away. He was an associate pastor at the parish I attended during high school. I always sensed he was filled with the Holy Spirit. When I was a senior in high school, I went to Mass with my girlfriend at that time. After one Mass as we walked out together, he stopped me, looked me in the eye and said, “have you ever thought about being a priest?” What an awkward question. I hadn’t thought about the priesthood at that time, but it was his question that planted the seed of a possible vocation to the priesthood in my heart. I am forever grateful for his question. Please don’t be afraid to ask if you feel like someone is being called to the priesthood.
Our next faith magazine comes out in a few weeks. The content is all about the Mass and why we do what we do. I hope you enjoy it! Additionally, in that magazine and in the Oct. 23 issue of The Register will be a donation envelope for the Catholic Conversations Drive (formerly called the Publications Drive). Currently, our publications are mailed to every registered household in the diocese at no cost! Please consider making a gift to support our evangelization efforts through our publications.
This weekend, I will be celebrating Confirmation Masses in Selden and Oberlin while also celebrating Mass in Leoville. I look forward to being there!
In Christ’s service,
Inspiration from the Saints
Some quotes from St. Thérèse on Love.
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
“Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.”
“I understood that love comprises all vocations – that love is everything, and because it is eternal, embraces all times and places.”
“To live in love is to sail forever, spreading seeds of joy and peace in hearts.”
“Kindness is my only guiding star. In its light, I sail a straight route, I have my motto written on my sail: ‘To live in love.'”
“Let us love, since that is what our hearts were made for.”
“Love can accomplish all things. Things that are most impossible become easy where love is at work.”
“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.”
“I am the smallest of creatures and I recognize my worthlessness, but I also know how hearts that are generous and noble love to do good.”
“When one loves, one does not calculate.”