Grandparents can be a calming force in a divorce

By Sharon Witzell
Grandparents can be a calming force when the storm of divorce hits a home. Your grandchildren need your presence during this time more than ever. You need to be like Jesus and love on those kids like he would if he were here.
If your grandchildren live a long distance away, call them on the phone and talk to them about their feelings at least once a week. Pick a day and a time, such as Sunday afternoons, and commit to calling them at the same time every week when they are most likely to be home. Write letters to them and send little gifts. If possible, make brief trips to see them on the weekends.
Get involved in their lives as much as you can, and with each contact, be prayerful about how God can use you to encourage your grandchildren to find comfort and peace in Jesus. Don’t let your grandkids fool you into thinking they are not afraid when their parents are going through a divorce. They will be afraid but they may not tell you.
Take the opportunity to help them realize that they were not the cause of the divorce. They need reassurance that they aren’t the problem. By not saying anything negative about the parent or other grandparents you can bring peace to the family. You might be upset or have bad feelings toward one of the spouses but you must remember these are your grandchildren’s parent, so you should never say hurtful things or show bitterness toward them.
Divorce is one of the most heartbreaking issues a child may face. As grandparents you can be an immense help in lifting up your precious grandchildren. Jesus said in Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” He sends grandparents in his place to heal the hurts.
Witzell is program coordinator for Senior Adult Ministries in the Office of Marriage and Family Life.

Want more news for grandparents?
Those who wish to receive news and information about programs for Catholic grandparents in the Diocese of Wichita may call 316-685-5240 or email

Stewardship conference on April 21 to feature Curtis Martin, Fr. Jarrod Lies

Curtis Martin, the founder and CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, and Father Jarrod Lies, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish will be the keynote speakers at the diocesan Stewardship Conference Saturday, April 21, at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita.
The conference will begin at 9 a.m. with a Mass to be celebrated by Bishop Carl A. Kemme. The event will end at 3:30 p.m.
FOCUS is a national outreach to college students that Martin founded in 1998. In 2004, Curtis and his wife, Michaelann, were awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Saint John Paul II for their outstanding service to the church. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Curtis as a consultor to the Pontifical Council of the New Evangelization.
Father Ken Van Haverbeke, director of Stewardship for the diocese, said the event will inspire attendees and give them practical help in changing the practice of their faith from simply maintaining it to becoming missionaries.
“In addition to deepening the faith of those attending,” he said, “participants will learn about ways about how to encounter and follow Jesus and how to share that encounter with their family, parish and community.”
A panel will answer questions from those attending. In addition to Martin and Fr. Lies, the panel will feature Fr. John Jirak, pastor of Church of the Magdalen; Renee Riter, stewardship coordinator at Church of the Blessed Sacrament; and Kim Scripsick, stewardship coordinator at Our Lady of Lourdes Pittsburg. Joe Dellasega, of The Dellasega Group, will facilitate the discussion.
Wichita Adore Ministries will close the conference with Eucharist adoration enhanced by beautiful lighting and music.
Registration is $20 per person and includes lunch, snacks, beverages, handouts, and other materials. No parish or parishioner will be turned away due to finances. The event is free for priests and religious.

Want to near Martin, Father Lies?
To register or for more information visit

Missionaries getting ‘dirty’ in the spiritual trenches

Andy Churray and Jennie Padilla are working in the spiritual trenches for Jesus.
The two Dirty Vagabond Ministries missionaries work in and around North High School, a school that may have more Catholic youth enrolled than any other public high school in the state.
Churray said the ministry is looking for youth who might “be slipping through the cracks” in the Northside neighborhoods.
“We want to step in and be the hands and feet of Christ and really enculturate ourselves with the surroundings and with the area that we go into and try to reach young people,” he said in an interview at the Underground, their youth center on the southwest corner of Waco and Thirteenth streets, about a block away from North High.
“We want to go where the kids are. We go into North High twice a week. We hang out around the street corners after school, we go to parks to play basketball, we run this youth center – even placing this youth center in the area that we serve, right next to the high school.”
The youth center is open three days a week after school. It is also the venue for Breakout, an outreach night. The center also hosts Bible studies and worship nights.
“We have started to do community service where we go downtown and serve the homeless with some of our kids,” Churray said. “We take kids to Mass on Sunday and outside of that, you know, we really just spend time being with the kids.”
Pope Francis has echoed the idea that true evangelization occurs in the context of friendship, Churray said. “That’s what we seek to do with Dirty Vagabond. You know that saying, I think it’s from Cursillo: ‘Make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.’ That’s really what I think sets us apart as a ministry, is that we seek to really, truly be a part of the teens’ lives. From taking a kid on a retreat, visiting another kid at JDF, or taking kids to buy groceries when they don’t have any food at home... we seek to accompany, not just hold an event or offer programs.
Churray’s connection to Wichita began while a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he met his wife, Meg (Rott), who is from Wichita. After college they worked for the ministry in Brooklyn, New York, and then moved to Wichita where he taught religion at St. Thomas Aquinas School for three years. They now have three young daughters.
“I just felt like God was calling us back to Dirty Vagabond, to this type of work,” he said.
After investigating various areas of the city, meeting with pastors of parishes in need, and getting the blessing of Bishop Carl A. Kemme, the ministry started fundraising. It has been working on the Northside of Wichita for about a year and a half.
When thinking about missionaries, Churray said, most people think of Asia, Africa, or Latin America. “But, they say that this generation of adolescents is going to be the most non-religious generation we’ve ever had in America, you know. More and more of them are identifying as non-religious than ever before.”
Many of the youth the ministry works with are Latino who are culturally Catholic or have been raised Catholic, some are nominally Christian. But across the board, the majority of the teens we encounter are apathetic, ignorant and indifferent towards the ideas of faith, religion or God.
“The teens that we work with have faced tremendous struggles in their lives,” he said, “whether it’s being in foster care or suffering from mental health issues or parental drug addiction or broken homes.”
One commonality is the lack of a father in the lives of many of the youth they serve, he said. “I can think of maybe a handful of our kids who have a father figure present out the…probably 125 or so that we see on a regular rotation.”
The ministry is befriending youth who are in need of a family, he said, a community that will love them unconditionally.
Many of the young men and women don’t know what they have missed by not having a family, by not being raised in a healthy, loving environment, Churray said. “But despite it all, they have this resilience and determination to get through the chaos they have experienced and walk into school every morning, still be functioning, and put a smile on their face. It’s incredible, really incredible.”
Several of the ministry’s youth put a smile on Bishop Kemme’s face the weekend of Feb. 18 at the Rite of Election for youth and adults who will become Catholic on Holy Saturday – or soon after. Dirty Vagabond Ministries is mentoring two catechumens, those who are unbaptized, and five candidates, those validly baptized in another Christian faith community.
Several of them are telling others that they are now Catholic and have begun praying in front of their friends, who are non-religious or atheist, Churray said.
“I think one thing people don’t realize is how long it takes to break the soil, to till the soil, to plant the seeds, to water, to help it grow, to prune before something bears fruit,” he said, adding that even if nothing had happened in the first five years of his ministry, that would be fine.
“So this truly is miraculous, you know, the Holy Spirit colliding with an open heart, wow!”

What is a ‘dirty’ vagabond?
Dirty Vagabond Ministries is a Catholic non-profit ministry to inner city and urban area youth. “Inspired by the Incarnation, we go after the lost, not waiting for them to come to us,” the ministry states in its mission statement. “Dirty Vagabond missionaries meet teens where they are, build relationships, mentor, and introduce them to Jesus. Dirty Vagabond Ministries brings the joy and peace of the Gospel into their lives.”
In addition to Wichita, the ministry has outreaches in Pittsburgh and Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania; Greenville, North Carolina; Benton Harbor, Michigan; and Steubenville, Ohio, where it is based.
Each site has two full-time missionaries who actively reach out to students – wherever they are. Each also has a youth center where they welcome teens after school, feed youth and host outreach events and Bible studies. They bring teens to Mass and adoration, lead small discipleship groups, in addition to working with juvenile detention and police departments when needed.
For more information, visit

Bishop Gerber sculpture installed at Newman U.

By Dana Beitey
A forklift hoisting a nearly 400-pound bronze sculpture made its way across the Newman University campus on the afternoon of Feb. 26.
The much-anticipated statue was that of Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber, the namesake of the university’s newest building, the Bishop Gerber Science Center.
When talk of the sculpture began more than a year ago, a friend of Newman, Myra Devlin, suggested the board of trustees contact artist Lori Norwood of Lawrence, Kansas.
After interviewing Norwood and other artists, the board decided that she was indeed a great choice for their vision.
Former board Chair Linda Davis said, “We saw some of her work and felt like she would capture him well, and I think she’s done a wonderful job doing that.”
Norwood said the 16-month process from beginning to end consisted of four months of planning, six months with the clay and six months in the Loveland, Colorado, foundry.
“This was a really cool project,” said Norwood. “We started with this loose idea of capturing (the bishop); the details, at what age, what guise and how to best represent him.
“The nuance of what makes character can be very subtle; the tilt of the head, the way they hold their hands and so much more,” she continued. “So I spent a great deal of time concentrating on how to find that nuance. Finding the character of someone that so many people know and love — and finding him physically in sculpture so that it resonates with the people who know him — that’s what my job is all about.”
Norwood said she even met with the bishop in order to get to know him a little better.
“One of my favorite things about my work is getting to meet the people I portray. I felt honored to meet him. … He’s a pretty cool guy and I wanted that to come across. He deserves a really good sculpture.”
President Noreen M. Carrocci said she was excited to finally have the sculpture in its permanent place in front of the Bishop Gerber Science Center.
“It’s like a dream come true – we’ve waited so long. Lori has been so attentive to detail, so loving and caring. And she’s been amazing.”
Beitey is Content Marketing coordinator for Newman.

Clinic pilgrims visit S. America

Bishop Carl A. Kemme and Father Floyd McKinney led a group from the Diocese of Wichita on a pilgrimage to Peru, Brazil, and Argentina Jan 29-Feb. 8. The trip was part of a benefit for the Guadalupe Clinic, a diocesan health ministry.
Some of the highlights included the Church of Santa Domingo in Peru with the remains of Santa Rosa – the first person in the Americas to be canonized, San Martin de Porres and San Juan Macias. They also visited Macau Picchu, a 15th century Inca citadel.
Because Bishop Kemme had to leave early for Bishop Shawn McKnight’s ordination, Father McKinney celebrated a Mass in a chapel under the Christ Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. In Argentina, the group visited the area in Buenos Aires where Pope Francis was born and raised.
David Gear, executive director of Guadalupe Clinic thanked Bishop Kemme and all the travelers for their support that the trip provided for the clinic to continue to offer quality healthcare for the uninsured and poor of the community.
Anyone interested in assisting the clinic with their time, talent, or treasure may visit their website at

Racial justice, community and the church topic of April 7 discussion

By JoAnne Batiste
A “beloved community,” as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote invites and welcomes everybody to the table with love and without judgment – unconditionally. Unfortunately, we all have pre-conceived notions of our fellow human beings based on attitudes that have been handed down, or learned, which keep us at a distance from one another.
On Feb. 24, a diverse group of people came together at Wichita’s historic St. Peter Claver Church in community and love for an opportunity to takes steps to build a more beloved community. St. Peter Claver was the foundation for Wichita’s Black Catholic Community and the training ground for the Dockum Drug Store sit-in, arguably the first such demonstration in our country’s history.
Last month’s gathering, hosted by Fr. Jim Billinger and Holy Savior Parish, began with a discussion of “Racial Justice and the Catholic Church,” a book by Fr. Bryan Massingale. We also shared stories, which were painful to disclose, regarding experiences of prejudice in an atmosphere of love and healing compassion.
Racial justice is not just about revisiting the past, but planning for a more inclusive future. Fr. Massingale’s writes: “We are a desegregated nation; we are not yet truly integrated.” Yes, much progress has been made, but there is so much more to do; subtle and not so subtle forms of racism are felt not just by African Americans but by other people of color.
On April 7, come help us build a more beloved community, a “welcoming table,” a term also used by Dr. King. Your presence at such a discussion is so important to the Catholic Church and our community of Wichita.
As Father Massingale said: “What human beings break, divide, and separate, we can – with God’s help – also heal, unite, and restore.”
Batiste is a member of Holy Savior Parish.

Want to help build a ‘beloved community’?
The faithful are invited to the next discussion about building a “beloved community” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 7, at St. Peter Claver Church, 1207 N. Indiana, in Wichita. The event is free and a light lunch will be provided. For more information, contact Maryon Habtemariam at, or JoAnne Batiste at

Input needed regarding federal conscience protection legislation

By Bonnie Toombs
Conscience protection is a civil right guaranteed by numerous federal laws, but in many cases those laws haven’t been enforced. That can change – with your help.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is taking action to ensure conscience protections laws are enforced. An HHS rule regarding conscience protection includes a public comment period of 60 days, which ends March 27.
On Jan. 26, the HHS published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government, a proposal to enforce 25 existing statutory conscience protections for Americans involved in HHS-funded programs. It would protect citizens from being coerced into activities that violate their consciences, such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide.
Several federal laws protecting conscientious objection to abortion have not been effective because the only current remedy for violations is to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Although the conscience protections laws were passed on a bipartisan basis and have been on the books for years, some legislators and abortion activists are becoming more emboldened to violate them. This proposed rule seeks to ensure that these laws are enforced.
As the department of Health and Human Services noted in its press release, “The proposed rule provides practical protections for Americans’ conscience rights and is modeled on existing regulations for other civil rights laws.”
Now is the time to contact your members of Congress and advocate for the protection of life and freedom of conscience.
This much-needed legislation will ensure that those who provide health care and health coverage can do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children.
Please take a moment to let your representatives in Congress know that we expect them to protect our most cherished liberties.
Toombs is director of the diocesan Respect Life and Social Justice Office.

Want to comment?
The faithful are invited to voice their opinion regarding the lack of enforcement of conscience protection laws by visiting Human Life Action’s website at or the Respect Life Office’s web page at A prayer for conscience rights is also on the diocesan page.

Help others only when help is needed

By Sharon Witzell
Enablers are wonderful Christian people who, acting out of a sincere sense of love, loyalty, and concern, step in to protect, cover up for, make excuses for and become responsible for dependent people.
But, enabling hurts the ones you love. It prevents the individual from a crisis that might bring about change. Enabling occurs not only in families but in businesses, schools, the government and other organizations.
There’s a fine line between enabling and helping a person. Knowing the difference is hard work. Enablers do things for others that they can and should be doing for themselves. Helpers do something for someone else that they are not capable of doing for themselves. Enablers try to fix others while helpers give others the freedom to make their own mistakes. Enablers focus so much on the needs of others they neglect their own needs.
Helpers remain alert to their own needs and consider meeting these needs as important as meeting the needs of others. Enablers often feel tired, burdened, and resentful because much of their personal energy is tied up in the welfare of others. Helpers feel relaxed, free, and peaceful because they have more energy within themselves.
As an enabler of my loved ones I turned a blind eye toward negative behaviors, listened to only one side of the story, and nagged instead of taking action. I was over care-taking them making them go to counseling when it was really me that needed help to change my behavior. Jesus wasn’t an enabler, he didn’t nag and he didn’t try to cover up or fix others.
Remember when he caught the money changers not doing the right thing in the temple? He sent them packing right away. He told the woman at the well one time “Go and sin no more,” then he walked away from her.
None of us like to see someone suffer, but preventing suffering is often not wise. Our whole Catholic faith is based on the struggle and suffering of Christ and his rising again to bring us new life.
I learned when I had the courage and trust to turn my loved ones over to God and let them struggle and suffer the consequences of their irresponsible behaviors or harmful addictions they quickly became responsible, capable independent adults. When I intervened I was limiting how God could work in their lives. Allowing another to suffer consequences is, in effect, partnering with God.
Remember: comfortable people have zero motivation to change their behavior. Meditate on Christ’s struggle and suffering and the new life it brings, this Easter season.
Trust God with your loved ones. Turn them over to him so they can find themselves and become the persons that God created them to be instead of the one you want them to be.
Witzell is coordinator of Senior Adult Ministries for the diocese.

Parent U workshop April 11

By Mika Gross
There are significant long-term benefits to children when parents are successful in setting and enforcing reasonable limits in the home.
“No,” “Not now,” and “Just because,” are facts of life we all deal with, even into adulthood. Children who learn to accept limits when they are young have an easier time adjusting to rules in new situations and different authority figures. They learn to find an effective voice and give up whining, pestering, and focusing on what they cannot have. They get busy figuring out how to make good things happen for themselves, even in the presence of real limits, because they gain wonderful skills in self-motivated problem solving.
Although few will argue the value in setting and enforcing limits with children, many will admit it isn’t easy. Sometimes the “right” limits are hard to find and enforce. Sometimes children respond so negatively to limits that parents lose sight of good limits because they are busy managing emotional and behavioral problems. Some kids, rather than taking a path of acceptance, put their energy into finding ways around limits, mastering manipulation and undermining their parents’ authority. In all these situations, power struggles between parents and kids can become paramount.
When problems with setting and enforcing limits occur, parents need to find a way to uphold reasonable limits while also finding a healthy pathway for the child’s natural resistance. Sometimes digging in is needed, but other times a path around is the smarter approach. Strategic language changes, collaboration exercises, use of choices, and specific types of redirection in discipline are all ways that parents can uphold limits, avoid power struggles, and help children gain acceptance of inevitable limits.
This topic will be explored in more detail at the Wednesday, April 11, Parent U program from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita. Future presentations are planned.
Gross is a counselor at The Parent’s Place in Wichita.

Blessed Sacrament parishioner loves to pray, go to Mass, and go shopping

Voice of Ability
By Allison Dondlinger
I have a disability, it’s Down Syndrome. I want you to see all the things I can do, not what I can’t do. My abilities, not disabilities. Give me a job to do and I can do it. Give me a song, and I’ll sing it. Give me a smile and I’ll give you love. Give me love and I’ll give you a hug. Give me routines and I’m content.
I am a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. At Blessed Sacrament I belong to the Ladies Altar Society. I like to help with funeral dinner clean up, help at the parish office stuffing envelopes, and even help with cleaning the church on Saturdays with mom. Once a month I go with mom and dad to The Lord’s Diner to serve the hungry. I like to go and help there because I know I’m doing God’s work, helping the homeless and those in need.
My favorite things to do at home are coloring, painting, and making necklaces and bracelets with different colored beads. Arts and crafts keep me very busy. I like to use my talents to paint colorful pictures to give to others. I also like to write letters to others to make their day brighter.
My favorite thing to do in the summer is to attend Holy Family Camp. The priests, deacons, supervisors, and all my camp buddies are so wonderful. We all yell, jump and scream, dance, and sing. (My favorite things to do!) And swim too! There are many many activities there that keep us busy. It’s so much fun to see my friends and even more to make new ones. I can’t wait for summer!!
My mom and dad appointed me to be the prayer warrior of the family since I love to pray and go to Mass. It’s my job to remind everyone to pray grace before meals no matter where we are at or who we are with. I also love to make colorful holy pictures and paintings to hang on my wall.
My favorite times of the year are Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, birthdays and any day, which is often, that I go shopping. I love to shop. As they say, shop until you drop. That’s me!
I have a brother, Raymond, who is very special also. When he was younger he would always stick up for me and protect me. He is now married to Vanessa and has two children, Reece and Ryker. God has blessed me in many ways and besides my family I am especially thankful for my wonderful parish family and priests. God bless everyone!