Catholic Charities serves all in need

By Melissa Grelinger
It is our diamond anniversary! That means Catholic Charities has been providing services in the Diocese of Wichita for 75 years.
Through the commitment to alleviate poverty, build strong families, and care for the neglected and abused, Catholic Charities has improved the quality of life for thousands throughout our diocese, many of which are children.
Even though 80 percent of the clients do not identify as being Catholic, our philosophy from day one in 1943 has been to preserve the dignity of families and individuals we serve regardless of faith or no faith.
The “hand up” approach to improving lives is evident throughout the 13 programs offered through Catholic Charities. Services go far beyond providing food and shelter.
Whether it is a family or a previously abused mother with her children leaving one of the shelters, clients leave with hope, joy, and anticipation for a future better than they had when they arrived. Housing, employment and education issues are addressed while in shelter so these families can look forward to a more stable future.
Hope and joy are not limited to the shelter clients. Smiles are in abundance at Adult Day Services where seniors who are aging and those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as adults with disabilities acquire, maintain, and enhance daily living skills.
The warmth and compassion of a Foster Grandparent has provided thousands of children in our schools, shelters, day care centers and hospitals improved psychological, social and educational development.
While not all of our clients stories have been ones of success, Catholic Charities strives to see the face of God in each client and that is why we have done what we do for the past 75 years.
Grelinger is chairperson of Catholic Charities Board of Directors.

How to grow in humility in the social media era this Lent

By Fr. Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.
When I was in college, a classmate posted on Ash Wednesday that she was giving up Facebook for Lent. Thursday, she joined Twitter. Funny? Yes. Inconceivable? No.
This begs the question, What was she hoping to get out of giving up Facebook for Lent?
When I was younger, it seemed like everyone gave up chocolate for Lent. Now the popular thing seems to be giving up your social media platform of choice. Perhaps that’s merely a reflection of my aging and maturing, or a reflection of the social media dominated “millennial era,” of which I find myself right in the middle.
Just as we can ask the question, why give up Facebook? We could ask the same of sweets. Are we giving up those things because we want to lose weight in time for the summer? Are we giving up Facebook or candy because they are the easy and popular thing to do? What’s the point?
Lent is a time of growing closer in our relationship with Christ through purification from sin. Giving up candy could be a good way to build up self-discipline in avoiding more serious or debilitating temptations. Giving up social media could help you to reprioritize your relationship with God in your life.
In turning away from sin, we are called to seek virtue. Part of the problem with our societal dependence on – or dare I say, addiction to – social media is that it blinds us from the virtue we should be seeking, humility.
Social media has a tendency to force us into broadcasting ourselves. Our laptops and cellphones become very expensive self-promoting bullhorns.
Humility is the opposite. It seeks to put others first and ourselves last. For the Christian, it is about putting Christ first.
Humility recognizes that same sinfulness in need of purification during Lent, whereas social media recognizes our accomplishments worth posting for the world to see.
While various social media platforms haven’t been around all that long, it’s safe to say they are here to stay. The particular names might rise and fall – remember Vine and Myspace? – but the phenomenon is permanent.
So what are we to do? How can we grow in humility in the social media era?
Fleeing social media completely neglects the exhortations of both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. We must figure out how to embrace and use social media for good, for Christ.
Fr. Brooke writes for the Catholic News Service.

St. Katharine Drexel Catholic School Fund emulates the stewardship of its namesake

By Mike Wescott
The story of the St. Katharine Drexel Catholic School Fund goes back 20 years to the Catholic School Congress which was held in the late 1990s to consider the future of our Catholic schools. The idea of creating a fund to assist parishes that struggle financially to support Catholic school education was initially conceived there. Coincidentally, I was a participant in that Congress, having at the time all six of our kids enrolled in diocesan Catholic schools.
Several efforts were made over the course of the subsequent five years to build on that vision. One was “Supper with the Superintendent,” a creative way Superintendent of Schools Bob Voboril helped Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish send more kids to Catholic Schools. For some time before that, Holy Savior Catholic Academy had hosted auctions and dinners to support their school.
In 2005, soon after the arrival of Bishop Michael O. Jackels, the fund was named after the first American born saint, St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955), as a tribute to a woman who gave away her family fortune to help the Indian and Black children needing an education. Bishop Jackels went further to provide an initial gift to the fund of the proceeds from his episcopal ordination as the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Wichita. It was then that the process for asking for the generous support from those who have a strong belief in Catholic school education started.
The TOGETHER Vision, a diocesan capital campaign from 2010 to 2012, provided support to the Drexel fund endowment, eventually adding $6 million to the several endowments that benefit Drexel supported schools.
In 2013 the fund expanded to include support from our Wichita area high schools, Wichita metro area parishes, and a new diocesan-wide appeal. The expansion allowed area pastors to send more of their grade school students to Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel high schools.
For the 24 parishes that support a Catholic school education and meet the criteria for participation, the fund has been a life line. No longer are there conversations about whether or not a school can reopen next year – and hopefully those days are gone.
Students leaving the schools that feed into Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel are no longer uncertain if they can attend a Catholic high school due to lack of funding – and hopefully those days are also over. In addition, pastors and principals are better assured of the sustainability of funds such that they can build programs at their schools for the future.
Many thanks are due to the alumni of our schools, many generous households that annually support Catholic education and the great vision of our bishops and pastors who work tirelessly to promote and advance the cause of Catholic school education. We are a blessed and enriched diocese for many reasons, most especially for the gift that Catholic school education is available to many in our diocese.
Wescott is director of Development and Planned Giving for the diocese.

Winter shelter numbers steady for men, up for women; some help still needed

The number of men staying in the overnight homeless shelter is about the same as last year, according to Bonnie Toombs, but the number staying in a nearby women’s shelter is up about 20 percent.
“I’m not sure why,” Toombs said. “The reasons are probably as different as each of the women seeking shelter.”
What stays the same every year is the need to feed those in the shelters.
The Diocese of Wichita’s Warming Souls ministry works with Interfaith Ministries to look after the men and women who stay in the shelter from Jan. 1 through March 31, usually the coldest months of the year. Interfaith manages the Emergency Winter Shelter, located at 841 N. Market in Wichita, and the women’s shelter across the street at Villa Courts.
Toombs, director of the diocesan Respect Life and Social Justice Office, said last week that they were seeing from 95 to 110 men and 20 to 25 women nightly.
Although the shelters are staffed, she said, parishes and Knights of Columbus councils – and some families – are feeding the men and women seeking a warm place to sleep.
The women are served dinner at The Lord’s Diner and breakfast and lunches are provided by volunteers.
Because of the greater number of men, providing meals for them is more of a challenge.
“It’s really important to give them a hot meal before they go out into the cold weather,” she said.
“What we try to do is provide three meals a day for the men,” Toombs said. “So they get a breakfast at the shelter, they get a lunch to take out when they leave in the morning, and then they get a hot dinner in the evening.”
Some Catholic schools and Girl and Boy Scout troops have demonstrated their stewardship by collecting foodstuff for sack lunches, assembling the lunches, and delivering them to the shelter.
“Right now we have a large number of parishes helping, but we still have about six or seven days at the end of March that we need to fill for dinner,” she said.
Although The Lord’s Diner is just a few blocks away, the ministries are distinct.
“The men at the shelter, they’re not going anywhere, they’re there for the evening. So, you have a much greater opportunity to visit with them and learn their stories,” she said.
“It’s important for them to be able to tell their stories. It helps them recognize that there are people out who really care for them. We’re telling them that, we as the Catholic Church, we haven’t forgotten about them. We don’t just drive past them or walk past them, we’re trying to help as much as we can.”

Want to warm a tummy and a soul?
There are about seven open dates to serve dinner at the men’s homeless shelter at the end of this month. Parishes, Knights of Columbus, or other groups or families who might wish to feed the homeless on one of the evenings may contact Bonnie Toombs at toombsb@CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org or at 316-269-3935.

Padre Pio relics to stop in the diocese on April 13

Relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina will visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, April 13.
They are on tour through the Unites States, Canada, and Mexico as part of a 50th anniversary of Padre Pio’s death.
The relics available for veneration include 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.
Bishop Carl A. Kemme will celebrate a Mass in honor of Saint Pio at 7 p.m.
The Saint Pio Foundation, which is sponsoring the tour, will sell books and items related to Padre Pio in the entryway of the Cathedral.
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 to the United States on 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.

Details about the visit
• The relics will arrive at the Cathedral at 7 a.m. April 13 and may be venerated at any time, except during Mass.
• Three Masses in honor of St. Pio will be celebrated: at 8 a.m., noon; and by Bishop Carl A. Kemme at 7 p.m.
• Confessions will be heard from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., including during the noon Mass.
• The event ends at 11 p.m. when the relics will be removed.

Catholic teaching about relics
Relics are physical objects associated with a saint or candidate for sainthood – part of the person’s body or an object with which he or she was in contact.
Relics are not worshiped, but are treated with religious respect. Touching or praying in the presence of such an object helps a faithful individual focus on the saint’s life and virtues, so that through the saint’s prayer or intercession before God, the individual will be drawn closer to God.

Edmonds elected to national Catholic youth ministry board

Christine Edmonds, program coordinator for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, was recently elected as second vice chair of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, which is based in Washington, D.C.
As part of the organization’s executive committee, she will oversee the governance of over 400 Catholic diocesan directors, organizations, and youth ministry leaders across the country.
“It is a huge organization that works very hard to serve the needs of Catholic youth across the country,” she said. “I am both humbled and honored to be selected to serve as a leader among leaders. I ask for everyone’s prayers to serve well.”
Edmonds said the position is a perfect fit for her personality. “I really love to meet and support all of our members. I don’t know a stranger! Also, I really enjoy preparing the various prayer services for our meetings. It is very important for me that we ground all that we do in prayer.”
Two of the biggest events the federation oversees are the National Catholic Youth Conference and the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry. The federation has also created numerous other projects, including True Love Waits, Youth on the Margins, Catholic Youth Sports Network, High School Campus Ministry Networks, The National Dialogue, and Holy Fire, which is for middle school youth.
As second vice chair, Edmonds is primarily responsible for “Member Engagement,” which includes planning the annual membership meeting, overseeing the selection of National Youth Ministry Award Winners, and for leading prayer at board meetings.

IHM sister attends meetings at the Vatican

Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Marie Bernadette Mertens, who was recently elected to the Executive Board of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States, attended meetings last month at the Vatican with the other officers of the council.
The executive board met Feb. 3-8 with four dicasteries to discuss the council’s activities and to learn if there were any requests for the organization
A dicastery is an official congregation of the Holy See through which the pope conducts the regular administration of the universal church.
At the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the sisters met with Archbishop José R. Carballo and Father Hank Lemoncelli about the increasing awareness of the necessity for on-going, lifelong formation for sisters, as well as the dicastery’s work in delineating the different types of consecration in the various types of consecrated life.
The sisters also visited the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
On their free weekend, the group took a short pilgrimage, beginning with Mass at the tomb of Pope St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica. After a bus ride to Florence, the sisters visited the Convent of San Marco and viewed the frescos of Fra Angelico. They then traveled to Orvieto and Bolsena to view the Eucharistic miracle which took place in 1263.
Sunday afternoon, while in Bolsena, the sisters received a phone call informing them that they had been invited to participate in Pope Francis’ celebration of Mass on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
After the Mass, the Holy Father greeted the sisters, asked for prayers since being pope “is not easy,” and then gave them his blessing.

Plans for Christendom Academy under way

Academy will be offered this summer at the Spiritual Life Center
By Dusty Gates
“Why would anyone want to get together and talk about these old books with us?” I asked Howard Clark and Matthew Umbarger as we huddled around my office table, littered with copies of Bible commentaries, epic poems, and classic novels.
“Well, that’s a good question,” said Howard. After a short pause, followed by a hearty laugh, we realized that the answer to this question might not be easily articulated, but was an important one nonetheless.
Starting last summer, I’ve had the privilege to begin working on a new program of study with Howard Clark and Mathew Umbarger, Ph.D., two fascinating and talented teachers in the Diocese of Wichita. Clark is the former headmaster of the nationally-known St. Gregory’s Academy, and currently teaches English at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School. Umbarger teaches theology at Newman University, and lived almost a decade in Israel studying and teaching scripture.
Together we’ve been reading and re-reading some of the books that make up our cultural patrimony, and discussing the ways in which those books have shaped our understanding of ourselves, our fellow man, and our Lord.
These books aren’t always easy to get through, and are not for the faint of heart. They require perseverance, honest consideration, and sober reflection. They demand our attention, and a healthy reverence as we recognize the presence of something greater than ourselves, which calls us out of our particular time and place. They make us move outwards from our own situations, our own sins, our own minds – in search of that which is finally good, true, and beautiful.
“We live in a ‘meme’ culture,” Umbarger said, adding that we tend to want information only in small pieces which pertain exclusively to the here and now. “Reading these books connects me to the past, which is part of my past too, from which I’ve been disconnected.”
Clark agreed, lamenting that “we are bombarded with superficial information,” and “spend so much time on ephemeral things.” Reading the important books of the past, Clark said, is different, both in the way we consume it and the way it changes us. A classic story, for example, “doesn’t give up its pleasures or insights easily.”
While mass entertainment desires and creates passive consumers who want things quickly and easily, he said, good books are “nourishing, and provide something necessary. There is a different way of dealing with things, slowly, reflectively.
When we give that up, we are diminished human beings,” he said.
Clark said the extra effort needed to read the best literature is well worth it. “When I’m reading, I think about how great it is and how glad I am to be doing this. I never feel that way when I’m listening to the radio or watching TV.”
Mr. Clark, Dr. Umbarger, and I are thrilled to announce the launching of Christendom Academy, a new study program for adults beginning in the summer of 2018 at the Spiritual Life Center.
This program will highlight the unique contributions Western Civilization has made to our understanding of philosophy, theology, spirituality, morality, and citizenship. Students will be invited to learn new ways to answer perennial questions like who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going? What contribution am I called to make for my own salvation, for the good of my family, and the good of the world?

Details about Christendom Academy
Christendom Academy will meet once a week for eight weeks from June 19 through Aug. 7, focusing on one cultural epoch, a module, each week.
Course content will be drawn from a handful of writings essential to the development of Christian culture. The modules in succession will be: The Greeks, The Romans, The Hebrews, The Evangelists, The Fathers, The Early Medievals, The Late Medievals, and The Moderns.
The class will meet from 9 a.m. to noon, and will include lunch.

Kansas Catholic Conference asking for support for faith-based adoption agencies

By Michael Schuttloffel
There was a time not long ago when almost every living human recognized that the ideal situation for a child was a home with a married mother and father. Of course, the world being what it is this side of Eden, life’s messiness often intervened to thwart such arrangements. In those cases, people did the best they could to deal with difficult circumstances, often through heroic efforts by single mothers. But the ideal was a given, made obvious by the basic facts of biology and lived experience.
However, recent years have witnessed the swiftest social transformation in the history of mankind.
Without congressional hearings, or any other semblance of the proverbial “national conversation” one would expect from a democracy about to undertake such a dramatic rupture with 5,000 years of human civilization, it became suddenly understood that children do not need mothers and fathers. Instead, they need only what arrangements adults want them to need. To hesitate in accepting the new dispensation became not merely out of date, but bigotry.
Thus it was that in 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston was forced to close its adoption ministry because it would only place children in homes where they would have a mother and a father. After over 100 years of serving those in need, and achieving a national reputation for placing the hardest-to-place kids, Catholic Charities’ policy that every child wants and deserves a mom and a dad was deemed discrimination by the State of Massachusetts. And they were shut down.
Similar closures have followed in Illinois, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The ACLU and other agents of militant secularism are on the warpath, determined to crush faith-based adoption ministries who operate according to religious principles they don’t like. The forces of love and tolerance will not rest until anyone who disagrees with them is reduced to the status of second-class citizenship.
In response, seven states have passed laws protecting faith-based adoption agencies. Kansas is considering similar legislation that needs your support, dear reader.
The bill before the Kansas Legislature does not in any way affect the legal right of same-sex couples to adopt children, which has been established nationwide. What the legislation would do is ensure that faith-based adoption providers will not be punished by the government for operating according to their religious principles.
Consider that somewhere, there is a birthmother about to make the agonizing choice to let go of her child. Her final wish for her baby is a forever home where the child will be raised to share her religious beliefs, and will have the gift of a mom and a dad. At the same time, there are those out there who would use the coercive power of the government to deny her this choice.
Whose side are you on?
Schuttloffel is executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

Stewardship is sharing what God has given

Editor’s note: The following is excerpts from a lay witness talk by Nick Crockett from Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in South Hutchinson. Nick and his wife, Amy, have two children, Hanna and Addison.
This year’s stewardship theme is “Who are you following?”
I think the theme is about looking deep within ourselves and reflecting on our priorities in life. When we do this, we may find some changes need to be made in our lives. The question I asked myself was “Is what I’m living for worth what Christ died for?” I challenge you to ask yourself the same question.
Stewardship is defined as: “The grateful response of a Christian disciple, who recognizes and receives God’s gifts, and who shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.” When we discern the theme “Who are you following?,” we have to ask ourselves are we truly giving everything we have to God?
Stewardship comes in many forms. We have all heard about the three Ts of time, talent and treasure. These are all equally important because if we lack in one or more of these, our church suffers. Stewardship is about saying “yes” when asked to help – no matter what. Just being present is enough sometimes. We don’t always need to know how to do something at the church before we say yes to helping. We will learn from other parishioners. Being another set of hands and having the willingness to help is powerful in large numbers.
One of the ways my family participates in stewardship is that my wife teachers kindergarten PSR. She loves to help the kids learn about God. She says it is refreshing to see their innocence and eagerness to learn. They are just learning the lessons we all continue to work on throughout our lives.
There are so many ways to use our time and unique talents God has given each one of us. All of us have time, granted some have less than others, but to keep our parish going, it takes all of us. It is a blessing to work with other parishioners for the good of our church.
We also believe in looking at our tithing every year and try to increase it even if just a little each year. This is a sacrifice, but it is worth it. By increasing our tithing a little each year, we don’t miss the extra amount we give to the church and believe we gain so much more from God in return. We feel his blessings throughout our family life.
We think it is important to show our children that giving to the church, whether it be with time, talent or treasure, are all very important.