Parish news, May 4, 2018

Tea (proceeds) for two — Mary Santiago, a member of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Altar Society, donated $1,000, part of the proceeds of a high tea, to George Dinkel, director of the Center of Hope in Wichita. The money was raised by a Ladies of Grace Tea hosted by the Altar Society and attended by over 100 women from across the diocese. A check was also given to the Cathedral’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul. A table decorating competition was also part of the event. (Courtesy photo)

Parsons native Br. Leistikow marks his 60th jubilee with the Marianists
Brother Earl Leistikow, a native of Parsons is celebrating his 60th jubilee this year.
He first professed his vows as a Marianist on Sept. 8, 1958, in Galesville, Wisconsin.
Brother Leistikow served as a teacher in high schools in Missouri and Toronto, Canada. He was editor at the North American Center for Marianist Studies in Dayton, Ohio; and was the archivist for the order’s archives in San Antonio. He is currently the assistant archivist for the National Archives, Marianist Province of the United States in San Antonio.
Brother Leistikow was born on Oct. 24, 1938, in Parsons, where he attended St. Mary Catholic School and St. Patrick High School.
He attended Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, and St. Mary’s University, in San Antonio, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1961. He attended the University of Notre Dame where he earned a master’s in foreign language in 1974.
“My life as a religious has been filled with good times and difficult times, both in the classroom and in personal life,” he said in a news release.
“I am grateful for the many brothers and priests who influenced me. I am most grateful for the time God has given me to serve as a teacher and to serve the province of St. Louis and now the Province of the U.S., and the society. I remember the joy with which the Te Deum was sung at our first profession and continue to say, ‘You are God, we praise you!’”

Wellington Knights donate to food bank
Knights of Columbus Council 2227 of St. Anthony-St. Rose Parish in Wellington donated over a half of a ton of food last month to the Wellington Food Bank.
The 1,180 pounds of food was the result of the Knights first 40 Cans for Lent food drive.

SFA scouts to celebrate their 55th anniversary
St. Francis of Assisi’s Boy Scout Troop 762 will celebrate 55 years of scouting at the Wichita parish.
Scouts, Eagle Scouts, and Scoutmasters are invited along with family and friends to attend the Court of Honor at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6, in Stewardship Hall in honor of all involved in scouting at the parish.

A sweet donation — Knight of Columbus Gerard Landwehr accepts a donation from Sophia and Ava Nichols, and their mother, Kendra, after a Mass Sunday, April 22, at St. Mary Church in Derby. Knights solicited donations that weekend to benefit A Better Choice, a Wichita crisis pregnancy center. (Photo courtesy Davi Stuhlsatz)

Spiritual Life Center news, May 4, 2018

Still time to register for the SLC’s Catholic Culture Conference June 1-3
The Spiritual Life Center will hold the Fourth Annual Catholic Culture Conference, “Catholic Thought in an Age of Confusion,” Friday through Sunday, June 1-3.
Three national speakers, Dale Ahlquist, Bradley Birzer, and Joseph Pearce, have been invited to the event. Ahlquist is one of the most respected G.K. Chesterton scholars in the world, is the creator and host of the popular EWTN series “The Apostle of Common Sense,” and is the author of three books on Chesterton.
Birzer holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and is Professor of History at Hillsdale College, Michigan. He is author of books about St. Augustine, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others. Pearce, who presented at the center last November, is an internationally acclaimed author of many books including bestsellers such as “Tolkien: Man and Myth” and “C.S .Lewis and the Catholic Church”.
In today’s politically charged media atmosphere, we often look for answers to the biggest questions in the wrong places. Our surest answers come not from a particular school or party, but from our Lord, who teaches us through his church. We don’t as much need so called conservative or so called liberal solutions, as much as we need truly Catholic ones.
The conference will consist of multiple sessions, each geared towards some particular component of Catholic life in our modern age. The talks and discussions will give each participant the opportunity to learn more about how Catholicism relates to – and is intended to positively change – our culture.
The conference will begin on Friday evening with an opening lecture by Joseph Pearce at 7 p.m., followed by a reception. Saturday will feature talks by Joseph Pearce and Dale Ahlquist and a banquet dinner. On Sunday, we will be joined by Bradley Birzer for the closing session.
Want to attend the conference?
Space is limited, so sign up early by calling the Spiritual Life Center at 316-744-0167 or vis Overnight full weekend rate (includes bedroom Friday and Saturday, and all meals, socials, and lectures); Early bird, $145 per person (single occupancy) or $120 per person (double occupancy).
Commuter full weekend rate, includes all lectures, meals, and socials, is $100.
Partial weekend attendance options: Friday night only, $20; Full Saturday, $65; Saturday, daytime only, $45 (includes breakfast, morning and afternoon talks, and lunch). Half day, $25; banquet only, $25; Sunday only, $20 (lunch and lecture).

May 25-27 will be a weekend of silence at the Spiritual Life Center
The Spiritual Life Center will offer a truly silent retreat on Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-27.
There are few weekends in the year when the diocesan retreat center is not bustling with many retreats and programs, but that particular weekend is one of those rare times of quiet. The center invites all who are interested to enjoy a truly silent retreat.
Beginning 7:30 p.m. Friday evening and concluding Sunday Morning with 10:30 a.m. Mass, that weekend participants will be enveloped in silence. There will be no conferences, but participants will have the opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration, individual spiritual direction with Father Ken Van Haverbeke, and confession.
With very few staff scheduled that weekend, retreatants are asked to bring their own food, or plan to eat locally. Pricing reflects bedroom rates and programming only; no meals are included.
Want to attend?
Register online at or call (316) 744-0167. Single occupancy room rates are $120 for the entire weekend; double occupancy, $100.

SLC’s annual Mothers Retreat Day May 12
WICHITA – The Spiritual Life Center will host its annual retreat for mothers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 12. The theme is “Find Rest in the Lord.”
The retreat will focus on helping moms figure out how to enter more deeply into prayer and how to make a Holy Hour. The day includes a talk on prayer, a Mediterranean style lunch including desserts and mimosas, daily Mass, social time, and time for silence with our Lord in adoration to conclude.
The cost for the Saturday program is $15 per person. Register by visiting the Spiritual Life Center’s web page at or by calling (316) 744-0167.

SLC introduces two new free programs to aid prayer life
Father Ken Van Haverbeke, director of the Spiritual Life Center, is launching two programs to foster the prayer lives of the faithful.
The first program, which had its first go this past Sunday, is called “A Nature and Prayer Walk with Father Ken.” The second program is an evening of Eucharistic adoration with a particular saint as the guide.
The next nature and prayer walk will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6. Father Van Haverbeke will guide participants on a nature walk around the grounds at the retreat center. The walks will integrate both contemplative prayer and wildlife observations. There is no charge, but the center requests guests register in advance so we can limit the size to manageable number. Families are welcome.
The first adoration program of the spring will be “Eucharistic Adoration with Father Damien, the Leper Saint.” On Thursday, May 10, Saint Damien’s feast day, participants will gather in the Chapel of Mary for exposition of the Eucharist, followed by a short conference talk on the life of Father Damien.
The evening will conclude with time for prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament and an opportunity for confession. The program begins at 7 p.m. and goes until 8:30 p.m.
Both of these programs are free of charge. Register at the center’s website or by calling (316) 744-0167.

‘Parenting a Challenging Child’ May 9 at the Spiritual Life Center
Mika Gross, counselor at The Parent’s Place, will address the struggles that many challenging children have and how parents can learn to manage those struggles at “Parenting a Challenging Child” which will be offered at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita.
Parents are in the perfect position to observe their children and look for spiritual gifts or charisms, special abilities given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit. Helping your child see their own gifts and learn to put them to work can be a wonderful joy for parents.
Many challenging children will naturally mature through difficult periods, but some have underlying problems that need solved. In either case, children need a calm, observant, and patient parent. Underneath challenging behaviors are amazing gifts. It’s not uncommon for the most challenging children to grow into people who later serve mankind in amazing ways.
Want to sign up for the course?
Learn more about this topic and tactics towards better parenting on Wednesday, May 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita. Registration may be found at The cost is $10 which includes the program and refreshments.

Marriage getaway June 16 at the SLC
Married couples are invited to a Marriage Enrichment Day Saturday, June 16, at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita.
This day is designed to draw couples closer to God and closer to each other so that their marriages thrive. Couples will spend the day looking at ways in which they can be more united in love by uniting their marriage to Christ.
Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. The event begins at 9 and ends with Mass at 5 p.m.
The cost is $60 per couple and includes materials, lunch, breakfast items, snacks, coffee, and water. For more information contact Jake Samour at 316-685-5240. Register by visiting

Youth and school news, May 4, 2018

Spiffing up Ascension Cemetery — Catholic youth from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita pulled weeds for several hours on April 22, Earth Day Sunday, at Ascension Cemetery in Wichita. They cleaned up the Natural Burial Area at the cemetery, located just east of the Spiritual Life Center. Earth Day Sunday, held the day before Earth Day, has religious connotations to raise awareness about the environment. (Courtesy photo)

St. Gianna offering sports physicals
St. Gianna Family Medicine is offering sports physicals from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 5.
The office is located at 2135 N. Ridge Rd., suite 400, in Wichita.
The cost is $20 and no appointment is necessary.
All of the proceeds will be donated to the diocesan Holy Family Special Needs Foundation to support students with special needs.

KMC’s Paladin honored by KSPA
Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School’s Paladin newsmagazine received the All-Kansas Award, the highest possible rating, from the Kansas Scholastic Press Association April 25.
The judge awarded the publication All-Kansas distinctions in each of the five categories: Coverage, Reporting, Visuals, Design and Leadership. The editor-in-chief is Kinta Kail.

Chaplain Kapaun High class reunion planned for June
The Chaplain Kapaun Memorial High School class of 1958 is hosting a class reunion June 2-3.
For more information, contact Gary Smith at or 316-806-9736.

National and world news, May 4, 2018

A woman looks at flowers, candles and toys left as a memorial to Alfie Evans in Liverpool, England, April 28. The 23-month-year-old died April 28 from complications of a degenerative brain condition. (CNS photo)

Pope, others mourn death of toddler Alfie Evans
LIVERPOOL, England (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he was mourning the death of English toddler Alfie Evans, who died four days after doctors withdrew his life support system.
The 23-month-old boy died at about 2:30 a.m. April 28 after his father, Tom Evans, spent 10 minutes trying to revive him by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, according to reports in the British media.
Tom Evans, a Catholic, announced the death of his son on Facebook later that day with words: “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30 ... absolutely heartbroken ... I LOVE YOU MY GUY.”
Alfie’s mother, Kate James, wrote: “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 a.m. We are heartbroken.”
Soon afterward, Pope Francis, who had met Tom Evans at the Vatican April 18, tweeted: “I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”
The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome offered to care for Alfie, although doctors who examined him said not much could be done but to make him comfortable. On April 23, the Italian government granted citizenship to the boy so he could be evacuated by a waiting air ambulance.
But that same day, Alfie was taken off his ventilator, and he was expected to die imminently. He began breathing unaided, prompting appeals by his parents to the High Court and then the Court of Appeal to allow their son to leave the country.
Judges upheld the original decision that it was in the “best interests” of Alfie, who suffered from a severe degenerative brain condition, to be allowed to die.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas April 27. (CNS photo)

Pope asks Catholics to pray the rosary for peace each day in May
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis prayed that the hopes for peace strengthened by the meeting of the leaders of North and South Korea will not be dashed, and he urged Catholics during the month of May to pray the rosary for peace.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a “courageous commitment” April 27 to ongoing dialogue to achieve “a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons,” Pope Francis said April 29 after leading some 30,000 people in praying the “Regina Coeli.”
“I pray to the Lord that the hopes for a future of peace and more brotherly friendship will not be disappointed and that the collaboration may continue bringing good fruits for the beloved Korean people and the whole world,” the pope said.

Pittsburgh diocese plan will see number of parishes drop from 188 to 57
PITTSBURGH (CNS) — After three years of discussions, Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik said the 188 parishes of the diocese will be placed into 57 groupings that will eventually become new parishes.
Bishop Zubik announced the plan April 28 during a media conference, saying the effort was designed to promote vibrant faith and revitalize parishes.
The announcement detailed the maximum number of weekend Masses per grouping and timelines for each grouping to work toward mergers and clergy assignments.
The move to groupings — part of a diocesan planning initiative called On Mission for The Church Alive! — were to take effect Oct. 15. No church closings are part of the plan’s first phase.

Dismissal of Fr. Pat Conroy, Catholic House of Representatives chaplain, sparks outrage
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The apparent forced resignation of the chaplain who tends to the spiritual needs of the U.S. House of Representatives and is Catholic has drawn fire against the Speaker of the House, who also is Catholic.
Earlier in April, news trickled out that Jesuit Father Patrick Conroy, a beloved figure on Capitol Hill, was set to retire in May, but various news outlets on April 26 began reporting that he was “ousted” and forced to resign by House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin.
NBC News reported April 26 that it had obtained a letter penned by the chaplain to Speaker Ryan saying: “As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives.”
Father Conroy’s office declined an interview request by Catholic News Service about the resignation, but in an interview published by The New York Times, he said he was asked to resign but didn’t know why and expects to leave the post he’s held since 2011 by May 24.
In a June 2017 interview with CNS, he said he had opinions about politics, like most people, but knew his job was focused on his role helping members of Congress without paying attention to political stripes.
“I can think anything I want,” he said. “But I can’t say it. Some people say, ‘You’re there, why don’t you say prophetic things?’ If I did, a week from now, there would be a different person here and nothing would have changed.”
Some speculate that the following prayer is what led to his ouster.
“May all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans,” he prayed as lawmakers considered the tax bill in November.
Via Twitter, fellow Jesuit Father James Martin, editor at large of America, the Jesuits’ national magazine, said if that prayer is what led to the firing, “then a Catholic Speaker of the House fired a Catholic chaplain for praying for the poor.”
Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying organization, in a message posted via Twitter, said she was “outraged.”
“From my work with Father Conroy, it was clear that his ministry is bipartisan, and he holds the needs of all -- including both Republicans and Democrats -- in his heart,” she said.
She said she had “serious questions” about the firing, whether it was for the prayer surrounding the tax vote or because Father Conroy had invited a Muslim cleric to pray.
Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor with The Catholic Association -- a Washington-based group that describes itself as “dedicated to being a faithful Catholic voice in the public square -- defended Speaker Ryan and said anyone who knows him “knows he is a devoted Catholic.” She said in a statement that the criticisms surrounding Ryan’s “decision to ask the House chaplain to step aside are baseless and downright absurd. Reportedly, there were numerous complaints from members about the pastoral care offered by the chaplain, and he was asked to leave based on job performance alone. The Speaker attempted to give Father Conroy a gracious and dignified exit, but as is frequently the case in Washington, much ado is being made about nothing.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley proposed on April 27 establishing a committee to look into the ouster, but House Republicans overwhelmingly voted to kill the resolution.

U.S. State Department removes ‘reproductive rights’ section from human rights report
WASHINGTON D.C., April 30 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. State Department has removed the term “reproductive rights” from its annual human rights report, drawing praise from pro-life leaders who say that the phrase had become a thinly veiled reference to abortion.
“‘Reproductive rights’ has long been a euphemism for destroying human life in the womb,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of the pro-life group Live Action.
“A phrase that sounds like empowerment is a really only code for the subjugation of preborn children.”
The U.S. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017 were released last week, and now feature statistics on “coercion in population control” instead of “reproductive rights.”
Michael G. Kozak, a senior official with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said in a press briefing that the changes are “not a diminishment of women’s rights or a desire to get away from it,” but rather were done in order “to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend.”

Ohio diocese announces bishop undergoing treatment for leukemia
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (CNS) -- Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown has been diagnosed with “a form of acute leukemia” and will be undergoing chemotherapy, the diocese announced April 30.
In 2017, Bishop Murry, 69, a Jesuit, became the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. He also serves as chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education.
The diocese said in its statement that he was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic April 29 and will undergo intensive treatment throughout the month of May. He will not be taking visitors, the statement said.
“Please keep Bishop Murry in your prayers,” said the statement, adding that it will provide periodic updates on his health.
Bishop Murray was ordained in 1979 as a priest for the Society of Jesus and has served as auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and bishop of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Pope: Catholic media must not fall behind in digital age
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an age when technology is ever-evolving, Catholic news organizations must be willing to adapt to effectively proclaim the Gospel to all, Pope Francis said.
Speaking to directors and employees of Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, the pope said that the use of new digital platforms not only requires significant technological updates but also a willingness to accept that “the attachment to the past may prove to be a dangerous temptation.”
“Authentic servants of tradition are those who, while keeping memory alive, know how to discern the signs of the times and open new paths,” he said May 1.
Marking the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and International Workers’ Day, which is a public holiday in Italy and many other countries, Pope Francis noted that Jesus’ foster father was a “man of silence,” which at first “may seem the opposite of a communicator.”
But, he said, Catholic journalists and news organizations must realize that “only by shutting down the noise of the world and our own gossip will it be possible to listen, which remains the first condition of every communication.”
Particularly in today’s world where “the speed of information surpasses our capacity of reflection,” he said, church members are exposed “to the impact and influence of a culture of haste and superficiality” and risk reducing the church’s mission to a “pastoral ministry of applause, to a dumbing down of thought and to a widespread disorientation of opinions that are not in agreement.”
The example set forth by St. Joseph, he added, is a reminder for all Christians working in the field of communications to “recover a sense of healthy slowness, tranquility and patience.”
“With his silence, he reminds us that everything begins from listening, from transcending oneself in order to be open to another person’s word and history,” the pope said.
Recalling the words of Blessed Paul VI, Pope Francis said that Catholic newspapers shouldn’t just report news to “make an impression or gain clients” but rather to educate their readers “to think, to judge” for themselves.
“Catholic communicators avoid rigidities that stifle or imprison,” he said. “They do not cage the Holy Spirit, but seek to let it fly, to let it breathe within the soul. They never allow reality to give way to appearances, beauty to vulgarity, social friendship to conflict. They cultivate and strengthen every sprout of life and goodness.”
Pope Francis encouraged Avvenire’s directors, journalists and employees to be heralds of the Gospel and, like St. Joseph, be true guardians who protect society’s well-being and dignity.

The pope’s intention
Here is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for this month:
The Mission of the Laity: That the lay faithful may fulfil their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.

There is a place for you at Charities

By Charlie Moon
I can eat lunch. I have that skill. I can talk. I have that skill.
I can ask former executive director Janet Pape (yes, this story started many years ago!) to go to lunch with me. I have that ability.
I did. We did. It was that easy. Our lunch was the start of something new. It was 10…12…15 years ago. I don’t remember, just seems as I’ve always been involved. I asked Janet to lunch to see if there was a place for me to help at Catholic Charities. There was and there still is.
That lunch has led to me being on the Catholic Charities’ development committee. Later, I was asked to be on the Catholic Charities board for two terms. It was because of that lunch I was at the first Bags to Riches. I’ve conducted the live auction at Cruise Night several times to help alleviate poverty and help struggling families.
A handful of years ago I was on the hiring committee when Wendy Glick was hired as the development director and was around when she became the executive director. I’ve watched Catholic Charities struggle. Watched us celebrate. Said goodbye to friends. And it all started with lunch. This multi-year journey started with easy. I’ve met great people and made close friends. I’ve gotten more than I gave. I promise. You can’t out-give God.
I think we all have responsibility to help others. I’m not a Bible scholar, but I can Google. From my recent search I see that Luke 12:48 tells us “to whom much is given much is required.” Much has been given to us. Much has been given to you if you are able to read these words. Maybe it’s time to give back. Reinvest in something bigger than yourself. Reinvest in people in need. Help build a better community.
Please consider getting involved in the “Charlie Challenge.” That’s where I get people to consider investing some time in figuring out how they can help. How they can start with easy. Invest some time thinking about how you could help Catholic Charities alleviate poverty and build strong families.
Maybe easy for you is calling me and letting me take you on a tour of one of the programs. Or volunteering at one of the programs. Or maybe in writing a check. Whatever your easy is, we’ll help you find it.
I know, I know. Some of you out there are saying “I wouldn’t even know where to start?” Start with easy. God gives us tasks that we can handle. I can handle lunch. We get all amped up and worried and conflicted about not being able to “do enough” or “do it right.”
Let’s do this. Let’s start. Start with easy. We never know where God is taking us. God does. Let God handle the complicated, the intricate, the convoluted, the knotty, tricky and messy. Start with easy.
Every day the good people at Catholic Charities go to work to help alleviate poverty and build strong families. Alleviating poverty and building strong families. That is good work. Maybe somewhere in all that you could find a place to help. You can thank me later.

Want to ‘start with easy?’
When you would like to “start with easy” (or volunteer), contact Linda Howard at Catholic Charities. Or, if that’s too much, call Charlie Moon at (316) 990-9945.

The graces of assignment changes

The View from the Rectory Window
By Fr. Ken Van Haverbeke
Second in a series of four.
It is rarely the intention to rotate pastors every couple of years in a parish, but sometimes it happens.
A grace of being in a parish where pastors change often is that parishioners accept real leadership of the parish. Sometimes however, it’s difficult to come into a parish who expects you not to stay very long.
You experience this when the ushers tell you, “You know Father, we’ll be here long after you are gone.” This after I insisted that the ushers take on the added responsibility of opening the doors of the church for parishioners coming to and leaving Mass. These doors were big, huge doors, in which elderly ladies were hammering with their canes trying to get them open….okay, a bit of exaggeration, but close!
Or when the parishioners wait for you to go on vacation before they renovate a part of the church or school that you said was not necessary to do at this time. Admittedly the renovation was done well, but done well after the pastor had crossed the state line.
These are clues that the parish might be used to a pastors coming and going, and where the parishioners do not receive their identity from their shepherd, but have a strong sense of who they are, independent of their current shepherd. But it’s never that cut and dry.
Father gets the call
The call from the bishop was not unexpected, yet a surprise. It was a Tuesday morning, 10:20 a.m. Funny how a priest remembers almost every call he receives to be moved. I was assured by the bishop I was not on the short list or even long list of priests to be moved that year. Yet, knowing how circumstances can sometimes take a drastic change, I was half expecting the call.
Usually the communication comes from the bishop’s secretary. “The bishop would like to meet with you,” she will say. This is never a good thing. I’m sorry, but I’ve never had a bishop have his secretary call me to arrange a dinner date or to arrange going to a baseball game together.
No, such a communication means one of two things, and I’ve been the recipient of both. Either you did something dumb and you have to explain yourself, or you are getting moved.
In the first case, I’m surprised I don’t have a standing appointment with my bishops, because I always seem to do dumb things; but getting moved is a time-sensitive affair. Usually in the springtime, around March, April, and even possibly as late as May, is when you get the call for a move, like flowers blooming in the spring. The “explain what you were thinking” appointments can occur year round, like an evergreen tree.
This particular call at 10:20 a.m. Tuesday morning was about a move – a move to a parish that had seen more than one pastor come and go. Circumstances dictated the move, not the pastor or parishioners. Generally it happens that way.
I am always amazed at parishioners who seem to believe there is a big “master plan” on a bulletin board in the bishop’s office, outlining the future moves of each priest and parish. No, more often than not, circumstances create moves, or if you are a religious person, you might even believe it is the Holy Spirit.
It was definitely the Holy Spirit that created this particular move for me and for the parish. I was not ready for a change, nor was the parish I was assigned to ready for a reception of a new pastor, but there we were: I, not open to a change; and a parish, not open to changing. Yet we both did.
I grew; and the parish grew. I had certain skills, ways of explaining the Gospel, certain gifts for the sick and administration, all needed by this parish.
The parish, on the other hand, had certain gifts too. They taught me that I didn’t always have the right pastoral solution and many of the lay leaders had solutions upon which I learned to depend upon. They helped me to understand my limitations and that I sometimes try too hard to do too much without help. But most of all, they taught me how to accept their leadership alongside mine.
In the theology according to Nanny McPhee (a movie and book character) who said: “There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It’s rather sad, really, but there it is.” This is what happened to me and this parish.
A grace of a change of assignment for both a priest and a parish is greater mission. The priest brings his gifts, talents, and particular charism from the Holy Spirit to a new parish; and the parish in turn, reshapes changes, even challenges a priest to grow in holiness and pastoral skills.
In leaving this assignment, I knew I had given some of my very best homilies, energy, and pastoring, and I also knew I was forever changed by both the love and resistance I received from the parish.
I comprehended this as I walked out of the church at the final Mass to huge doors opened and held by the ushers; ushers with both grins on their faces and even a hint of moisture in their eyes.

Doctors criticize court refusal to allow Alfie Evans to go to Italy

By Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service
LIVERPOOL, England (CNS) -- A group of doctors has criticized the refusal of some of their colleagues and a court to allow Alfie Evans to travel to Italy for treatment as "medical tyranny."
Dr. Anthony Cole, the Catholic chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance, has written an open letter saying that the treatment of Alfie and his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, brought the medical profession in the U.K. into disrepute.
"The parents are being tortured as they watch the hospital take actions expected to lead to his death," said the April 24 letter, which was co-signed by nearly 60 others, including a number of prominent Catholic doctors.
"Despite a viable alternative being available (namely transfer by air ambulance for further assessment to a specialist hospital in Rome), the hospital and doctors responsible for his care insist that he remains under their care and on a pathway toward death," the letter said.
"While he now has some oxygen and some fluid, this has taken huge effort to obtain for him," it said.
The letter continued: "Actions such as these have now brought the Alder Hey (Children's) Hospital to worldwide attention and, by extension, bring our whole profession into disrepute."
"Medical tyranny must stop," it said. "Poor Alfie must not be killed in this way," they said, demanding his safe passage to Rome.
The Italian government granted citizenship to Alfie, and Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome has offered to care for the child. Doctors in the U.K. have not been able to make a definitive diagnosis of the 23-month-old child's degenerative neurological condition, but they have said keeping him on life-support would be "futile."
Three specialists from Bambino Gesu had flown to Liverpool and examined Alfie. According to the president of Bambino Gesu, "a positive outcome would be difficult, but the baby's suffering can be alleviated."
The doctors' letter also called on the General Medical Council to investigate the actions of the staff at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.
The intervention of the Medical Ethics Alliance, an umbrella group of medical associations committed to upholding the principles of Hippocratic medicine, came the same day a High Court judge refused to allow the 23-month-old Alfie to go to Italy for treatment. On April 25, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court decision.
Speaking to ITV News April 24, Evans noted that the High Court judge suggested Alfie might be sent home to die.
But Evans said he had been told the hospital believed such a transfer would take up to six days to complete.
"In reality we could be in Italy right now," he said, adding that a German air ambulance was already in Liverpool waiting to evacuate Alfie.
"These people are eager to get him out of the country," said Evans, a Catholic. "I am not giving up because Alfie is breathing away, he is not suffering and he is not struggling."
He said that although his son was being given oxygen and fluids -- after six hours of requests by the family -- he had received no nutrition.
"They are just starving him at the moment," Evans said. "The doctors should let us go and stop making up excuses. They just don't want him to come out of here. They want him to deteriorate in the next few hours so they can say 'we told you.'"
Alfie was removed from a ventilator April 23 for the first time since he was admitted to Alder Hey in December 2016 with an undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition. Since coming off the ventilator, he has breathed unaided, which Evans said was a "shock" both to him and the boy's mother.
Evans flew to Rome April 18 and begged Pope Francis to help get his son "asylum" in Italy.
That same day, a statement issued by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales put its weight behind the hospital and the decisions of the courts.
"The professionalism and care for severely ill children shown at Alder Hey Hospital is to be recognized and affirmed," it said. "We know that recently reported public criticism of their work is unfounded."
"We note the offer of the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome to care for Alfie Evans. It is for that hospital to present to the British Courts ... the medical reasons for an exception to be made in this tragic case."

Imprisoned clergy of Dachau remembered for fearless faith

An image of Father Alois Andritzki hangs above the altar during his Mass of beatification in Dresden, Germany, in this 2011 file photo. The young German priest was executed in 1943 at the Nazi death camp of Dachau. (CNS photo/KNA-Bild)

By George Matysek, Catholic News Service

EMMITSBURG, Md. (CNS) -- When a virulent typhus epidemic swept through a World War II concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, in early 1945, many imprisoned Polish priests volunteered to minister to the dying men.
Eighteen clerics were chosen to go to the typhus block, each knowing he was almost certainly agreeing to a death sentence. All the priestly volunteers contracted the disease, with only two surviving it.
The heroism of those Polish priests is but one example of many feats of faith among the more than 2,500 Catholic priests, brothers and seminarians imprisoned at the Nazi-run camp.
Eileen Lyon, professor of history at State University of New York at Fredonia, has researched the "priest barracks" of Dachau. She recently discussed her study during the spring meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association April 12-14 at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg.
In an interview with the Catholic Review, news outlet of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Lyon said that more than 1,000 Catholic clerical prisoners died at Dachau, sometimes by torture.
She noted that the Catholic Church already has beatified 56 of the clergymen and the causes of many more are being studied.
Catholic priests, brothers and seminarians, along with clergy from other denominations, were sent to Dachau because they posed a threat to the Nazi regime. They included German clergy who had spoken out against Hitler or his policies. A much larger group was composed of clerics from the occupied territories, including many from Poland.
At Dachau, a political re-education camp established in 1933 in an abandoned munitions factory near Munich, three barracks were designated for priests: numbers 26, 28 and 30.
In December 1940, clergy held at other camps began to be transferred to Dachau, Lyon said, following intervention from the Vatican and German bishops who were concerned about the "very harsh" treatment they were undergoing. At the Gusen concentration camp near Linz, Austria, for example, many died working in a quarry.
Because clergy were exempt from heavy labor, she said, the Nazis decided to find other "uses" for them at Dachau.
"They did horrific experiments with malaria and with temperature," the historian said. "They were pseudo-medical experiments that had no scientific value."
Nazis permitted ethnically German priests to celebrate Mass in a chapel erected in Barrack 26. But Polish priests, for significant periods of time, were barred from the chapel. They celebrated Masses in their barracks or work sites, Lyon said, or German priests smuggled consecrated hosts to them so they could receive the Eucharist.
A common tactic among the Nazis was to offer freedom to any priest who promised to renounce his priesthood.
"I can't find anyone who took them up on that," Lyon said. "It's not possible to say whether that's because of their deep commitment to the priesthood or they didn't trust the deal."
Lyon said one of the most extraordinary moments in the history of the concentration camp was the priestly ordination of Blessed Karl Leisner, a young German who received the sacrament by an imprisoned French bishop. Blessed Leisner had already been ordained a deacon prior to his arrest by the Gestapo.
"He was terminally ill (with tuberculosis)," Lyon said, "and just so desired to receive that sacrament of ordination."
Diaries and reflections written after their release show many clerical prisoners found their faith deepened after surviving Dachau.
"They felt they were contemplating the faith in a much purer way," she said. "They talk about the way it really deepens their experience, and they understand what it is to rely upon God in a way they didn't before."
After Americans liberated Dachau in April 1945, many clerical prisoners returned to academia and pastoral ministry within months. Others were so weakened by their ordeal that they were physically unable to continue ministry.
About a dozen of the former prisoners became bishops, and some participated in the Second Vatican Council.
"In their memoirs, they really talk about reconciliation," Lyon said. "There is not a sense of bitterness, a sense of blame, particularly in terms of the Germans who had perpetrated this."
Rebuilding the Catholic Church after World War II was a tremendous task, Lyon said. Some dioceses in Poland lost more than half their priests, with many summarily executed at the outset of the Nazi invasion.
"The task of rebuilding the church is a very difficult one," Lyon said. "There's also the coming to terms and trying to address the fact that the torture they endured (and) the genocide that had been committed was something perpetrated by the baptized. So how do you try and restart the spiritual life of Europe after that?"
Lyon said researching the Holocaust is difficult because "you are confronted with evil on a scale that's hard to imagine."
"When you see them able to forgive all they had suffered," she said, "it's a very powerful witness to the faith that they have."
Editor's Note: The interview with Lyon was broadcast on the radio program "Catholic Baltimore" and can be heard at
Matysek is digital editor for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Thousands venerate relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Rachel Stuhlsatz instructs her children about one of the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina Friday, April 13, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. The children, from left, are Ella, Will and Gwen. They are with their grandmother, Marian Stuhlsatz. (Advance photo)

By Christopher M. Riggs
The love for one of the church’s contemporary mystics was evident Friday, April 13, when thousands from the Diocese of Wichita and surrounding dioceses venerated relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
About 4,000 of the faithful stood throughout the day in lines that wound from the front of the cathedral, around the entrance lobby, through the walkway from the gathering space – and at times out into the parking lot. And that figure doesn’t count those who only attended Mass or visited without getting into the line.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Bishop Kemme’s homily
Bishop Carl A. Kemme told the faithful at the evening Mass that he learned about Padre Pio just seven years after the saint’s death in 1968, while in minor seminary.
“As a young man, his life intrigued me, especially since he lived a life of the priesthood in such a radical way, that he bore the physical wounds of the crucified Lord, that he reportedly was capable of bilocation, and that he spent hours in intense prayer and confessing sinners,” he said in his homily.
Years later, Bishop Kemme said he was able to make a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotundo, just months before Padre Pio was beatified, on May 2, 1999, by Pope John Paul II.
“How amazing to think that now, even years later, his relics are here with us today in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Wichita, where I am blessed to serve as bishop.”
After discussing how relics are venerated in an act of honor – not worshipped, which belongs only to God, Bishop Kemme said, “Even from Apostolic times, the bones of the martyrs and saints were reverently kept as reminders of the lives they lived. Holy Mass was celebrated in the catacombs, where the saints’ bodies were often taken for burial. Thus we have the tradition, though not required, of placing relics in the altars of our churches.”
Relics are not magical, they are mystical, he said, “windows, if you will, into the life and times of the men, women, and children who lived extraordinarily godly lives.”
Padre Pio’s mystical vision was evidence of the saint’s godly life, the bishop said. “It is said that when looking into his eyes, it was as if looking into a higher dimension of reality, peering into heavenly realms.”
The saint spent long hours daily in prayer, Bishop Kemme added, which gave Padre Pio the supernatural ability to endure the suffering that resulted from his gift of the stigmata and an ability to give spiritual remedies to the thousands who flocked to him.
Bishop Kemme closed by sharing some expressions Padre Pio frequently shared:
“Pray, hope and don’t worry,” “My past, O Lord to your mercy, my present, to your love; my future to your providence,” and “Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart.”

Father Keiter’s homily
Father Adam Keiter, rector of the Cathedral said at the noon Mass that the very center of Padre Pio’s life was the Eucharist, the Holy Mass. “His love for the Eucharist was experienced as a burning fire in his heart,” said.
After giving a brief biography about the saint and about Padre Pio’s stigmata, Father Keiter asked rhetorically, “Why did God give him the stigmata?”
Pope Saint John Paul II said at Padre Pio’s canonization that the life and mission of Padre Pio “testify that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of holiness which opens the person to a greater good known only to the Lord.”
“The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self,” Father Keiter said, quoting the saint. “There is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection, except at the price of pain.”
Padres Pio’s greatest gift to us is his example of suffering, his words about suffering, he said.
There isn’t a person in the church who doesn’t have some form of suffering,” Father Keiter said.
“Padre Pio says don’t be afraid of that suffering. It’s necessary for us to love Jesus Christ. The only way for a soul to flower, the only way that baptismal Grace truly unfolds, is by uniting our suffering to the suffering of Jesus Christ.”
Those who wish to carry their cross and carry it well, like Padre Pio, Fr. Keiter said, “seek to find your strength in the Holy Eucharist, seek to find your strength in the holy sacrifice of the Mass that takes place every day in our church all throughout the world.”
The Saint Pio Foundation, the tour’s sponsor, sold religious articles with St Pio’s image in the Cathedral gathering space.
The relics are on tour through the Unites States, Canada, and Mexico as part of a 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s death. The relics included Saint Pio’s glove, crusts of his wounds, cotton-gauze with Saint Pio’s blood stains, a lock of his hair, his mantle, and Saint Pio’s handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died.
St. Pio was born on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy, and baptized Francesco Forgione. He first expressed his desire for priesthood at age 10. In order to pay for the preparatory education, his father, Grazio Forgione, emigrated in the United States in 1899, where he worked for several years.
The future saint entered the Capuchin order at age 15, taking the name Pio. He was ordained a priest in 1910 at the age of 23. Padre Pio was known as a mystic with miraculous powers of healing and knowledge who bore the stigmata. Stigmata is the term the church uses to speak about the wounds an individual receives that correspond to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. They can appear on the forehead, hands, wrists, and feet.
His stigmata emerged during World War I, after Pope Benedict XV asked Christians to pray for an end to the war. Padre Pio had a vision in which Christ pierced his side. A few weeks later, on Sept. 20, 1918, Jesus again appeared to him, and he received the full stigmata. It remained with him until his death on Sept. 23, 1968. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002.

A Knight of Columbus helps a woman return a photo of Padre Pio to her bag after she touched the image to one of the saint’s relics. (Advance photo)
Fr. Drew Hoffman venerates the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina at the morning Mass Friday, April 13, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Advance photo)

St. Joseph House of Formation expanding to three-year program beginning in the fall

Father Chad Arnold, left, and Father Michael Simone in front of the St. Joseph House of Formation on the St. Joseph Parish campus in Wichita. (Advance photo)

The St. Joseph House of Formation will expand beginning next school year.
The seminary formation was originally going to be a two-year program for freshman and sophomores who would begin their formation and studies for bachelor’s degrees in philosophy while being housed at a former rectory at St. Joseph Parish in Wichita.
But, Father Chad Arnold, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Wichita, said Bishop Carl A. Kemme has announced an expansion.
“We’re going to expand that to a third year because Bishop Kemme has been very pleased with how the House has been running – as are Father Mike (Simone) and I,” he said.
Father Simone is director of the St. Joseph House of Formation. Father Arnold is also assistant director of the House.
This year’s sophomores, instead of leaving for their junior year to continue their formation and studies, will instead stay at the house of formation in Wichita and continue their studies at Newman University.
Exact class numbers of seminarians are not yet available, Father Arnold said.
The house of formation was established in the Fall of 2017 for several reasons, Father Simone said when the program was announced last year.
“One of them is so that we can have a local program of formation, and also so that they can be exposed directly to parish ministry,” he said.
“There’s a tradition at St. Joseph Parish for hosting religious men and women on campus since they’ve been in existence, so we’re hopeful that this is a natural way to extend that to a diocesan family as well.”