Baby Boomer seniors meeting to create vision for active older Catholics in diocese

Seniors are much more active today and want more opportunities
By Sharon Witzell
A group of energetic baby boomers from our diocese have been meeting for several months to prepare and plan for the senior population explosion. Currently they’re working on coming up with a process to create a vision, mission, and goals for a new senior ministry for the Diocese of Wichita.
They hope to eventually generate ideas and suggestions for programs and activities from parishioners that cover the diverse needs of all ages and stages of the senior population of our diocese.
Bill Clarke, a man who is in his 80s and who writes for the Diocese of Atlanta’s Georgia Bulletin has written for years about a “the senior population explosion.”
He writes that researcher and gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, says, “Our country is rapidly aging and many social scientists believe the senior population explosion will produce the most significant social revolution in American history. It’s going to be of a significance that matches the dawn of the industrial age or the invention of the microchip.”
He goes on to say, the challenge imbedded in the senior explosion is the need to create new ministries that focus on senior issues and needs.
The new ministries must address the unique requirements of young seniors ages 50 to 60; middle seniors ages 60 to 70; older seniors, ages 70 to 80; and elders, those over 80. Each segment has unique characteristics and issues, both practical and spiritual.
Unfortunately, most churches continue to operate on traditional assumptions that seniors are quite content with a social-based ministry: replete with bingo, covered dish dinners and day trips. The new seniors believe that retirement is not the end of a prior life, but the beginning of a new one. This new life provides opportunities to do new things, gain new insights, go new places, support new causes, and meet new people.
Most seniors would rather serve than be served, Clarke writes. The new breed of senior has discovered that in giving, one gains far more than in receiving. New seniors want to pass on their experience and wisdom. Parish programs that allow participants to give time, effort, money, and energy to meaningful causes will attract new senior volunteers.
When the church recognizes and addresses the needs of seniors, he says, parishes will receive tenfold in return. It is the senior population that has the experience, the wisdom, time, talent, and treasure to help a parish address all their operational and spiritual needs.
In fact there probably isn’t anything that needs doing in a parish that could not be covered by the experience base of senior parishioners.
In summary, the senior population explosion is real. All aspects of society, including the church, must recognize and plan for the impact. If we fail to recognize and prepare for this social phenomenon, we will miss out on one of the greatest challenges and opportunities in the history of the world.
Witzell is program coordinator for diocesan Senior Adult Ministries.

DiRT teams helping colleges with confirmation formation

By Austin Greathouse
All those who attended an Ash Wednesday Mass can relate to the Diocesan Retreat Team’s acronym: DiRT.
The team, which reminds participants of their mortality as part of their ministry, has begun working with the two college Catholic student centers in the Diocese of Wichita to assist with their Confirmation retreats.
Fr. John Hay, pastor of the St. Paul Catholic Student Center at Wichita State University, and his student parishioners, as well as Fr. David Voss, pastor of the St. Pius X Catholic Student Center at Pittsburg State University and his parishioners, have been working with the diocesan Office of Faith Formation to host retreats and help those preparing for Confirmation enter into a deeper intimacy with the Lord.
The retreats are designed to spark the faith in college students and youth. The self-lead retreats allow college students to structure the day in a way that is conducive to young Catholic learning, proving love of Jesus can be fun during all stages of life.
Most of the retreats take place at the student centers, showcasing the opportunities that a college Catholic student center has to offer in terms of facilities, and gives insight to the relationships and activities which help keep these students connected to Catholicism after graduation.
The structure of the retreat follows a testimony-based format, where the college students share how the love of Christ has impacted their journey in life. Each high school student is placed into a small group for sharing and to delve deeper into the messages being presented. There are also games and activities, as well as Eucharistic adoration and confession.
The DiRT teams will serve just under 60 percent of all the parishes in the diocese who have students receiving the sacrament this year – just under 500 youth and young adults at about 25 different parishes.
Greathouse is a member of St. Paul Parish in Wichita.

Want help from DiRT?
The cost of a DiRT retreat is $10 per participant, which includes lunch and snacks. Scholarships are available for those unable to pay the fee. For more information, visit the Diocesan Retreat Team page at, or contact Chris Barnard at

Young man loves St. Michael, a wave and giving you a hug

Voice of Ability
By Nathan Baalmann
I have Down Syndrome which causes me to have a mild-moderate learning delay. This includes the areas of speech, education, and normal daily living activities.
I love to be social and talk to people and I manage daily life well. I am a very kind person who will always give you a smile! I love to listen to music, watch action movies (the Avengers are my favorite), and to eat food.
I love playing basketball and soccer at school. I have seven brothers and one sister, and right now I live with my mom and dad on my family’s farm.
I love staying over at my brothers’ houses and playing video games with them. I always win!
One of my favorite saints is St. Michael, and my confirmation saint is St. Andre. I go to Sunday Mass every week. I help my family members play and sing at Masses. I love to sing in church. I love Easter and Christmas Masses at church. We go to the Christmas Eve Mass and the Easter vigil Mass every year. I love all of the flowers and the music! My favorite prayer to say is the Glory Be.
When I’m out and about, I like to hold the door open for people, that’s nice. I ask them how they’re doing, I like when they tell me how they are doing. I would love it if people would let me shake their hand, wave at them, and even give me a hug!
Nathan is the son of Mark and Diane Baalmann, and is a member of St. Joseph Parish in Andale.

Make a plan to give here and to give in the hereafter

Balance your giving today with tomorrow’s
By Travis Pearson
Think of everything we balance: work schedules, tires, checkbooks, meals, kids’ schedules, in-laws (just kidding Bernie and Fritzie), and so much more. Yet, for all we so carefully keep in tune, few of us consider balancing our charitable giving. But just like everything else that runs better when aligned or properly tuned, our charitable giving can be more powerful and effective when it takes into account both the present and the future.
If you make annual gifts to your parish or other chosen ministries, you may be interested in ways to continue your giving into the future. If you have already included your parish or other favorite ministries in your will, or created another type of planned gift, you may wish to see the benefits of your giving today. If you have given primarily through annual fund donations, consider making a planned gift.
A planned gift such as a gift made through a provision in your will costs nothing. But when you include a planned gift for a ministry you already give to each year, you will find those annual gifts have a new, deeper meaning. For maximum balance, consider helping your parish or other favorite ministries through a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust that pays money back to you each year. Your planned gift could actually fund your lifestyle and help you continue your annual gifts for the rest of your life!
Many people who have already created planned gifts for their parish or other ministries want to begin seeing the results of their giving today. If this is your goal, you might consider supplementing your giving with annual gifts. It’s not the amount that matters. It’s the routine, consistent giving that complements the planned gift to come.
People tell us that when they balance their annual and future giving they find both more fulfilling. While we are grateful for all gifts, whatever the size, when donors create a balanced plan we are better able to plan for the needs of today with the goals of tomorrow.
We can help you find the mixture that is right for you. Call or email us and we will help you develop a personal solution to meet your goals.
Pearson is Planned Giving coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita.

How to give now – and later
To learn about charitable gift annuities and other gifts to the church, contact Travis Pearson at 316-269-3917 or at

Diocesan news, March 2, 2018

Bishop Kemme’s calendar
Here is Bishop Carl A. Kemme’s calendar for the next several weeks.
March 2: Mass for Serra Club Vocation Day at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita at 9:45 a.m.
March 3: Mass and Dinner for Persons with Disabilities, their families and caregivers at Blessed Sacrament at 5:15 p.m.
March 4: Confirmation Mass at 10:30 a.m. at St. Anthony/St. Rose in Wellington
March 5-7: Recently Ordained Priest Retreat at Spiritual Life Center, Wichita
March 7: Confirmation Mass at 6:30 p.m. at St. Cecilia in Haysville
March 8-10: Conception Seminary visit and Board of Regents meeting
March 11: Closing Mass for DCYC at DoubleTree Hilton at 10 a.m.; New rectory blessing at St. Joseph in Ost
March 13: Regional Priest meeting at Spiritual Life Center, Wichita
March 14: Confirmation Mass at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joan of Arc in Harper County
March 15: Confirmation Mass at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph in Andale
March 16: Regional Priest meeting at Spiritual Life Center, Wichita
March 17: Confirmation Mass at 5:30 p.m. at St. Patrick, Chanute, with St. Joseph, Humboldt
March 18: Altar consecration and installation of new pastor at Church of the Magdalen, Wichita
March 20: Regional priests meeting for retired priests at Catholic Care Center, Wichita
March 22: Salina diocese Chrism Mass
March 23-25: Palm Sunday Retreat at Spiritual Life Center, Wichita
March 25: Palm Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral, Wichita
March 26: Acolyte and Lector Installation Mass at the Cathedral, Wichita, at 7 p.m.
March 27: Chrism Mass at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral, Wichita
March 29: Holy Thursday Mass at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral, Wichita
March 30: Good Friday service at noon, followed by confessions at the Cathedral, Wichita
March 31: Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral, Wichita
April 1: Easter Mass at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral, Wichita

Mass for People with Disabilities March 3
The 4th Annual Mass for People with Disabilities, their families and caregivers, will be celebrated Saturday, March 3, in Blessed Sacrament Church, located at 124 N. Roosevelt in Wichita.
A dinner will immediately follow. A free will offering will be accepted for the meal. The Faithful Flock Band will entertain, and activities will be available for children.
For reservations contact Rosemary Brooks at or 316-686-4422.

Local EWTN FM translator broadcasting
An FM translator for KPHN 1360 AM, based in El Dorado, is now on the air.
The translator at 96.7 MHz, is located in Wichita, and is accessible throughout the city
KPHM primarily airs EWTN programs.

Catholic seniors invited to Bible study
Catholic adults are invited to a video-based Catholic Bible study for seniors on the second and fourth Fridays of the month at Reflection Ridge, 2300 N. Tyler Road in Wichita.
For more information, call 316-721-0500.

Holy Family Camp set for June 11-14
Applications for Holy Family Camp will be available in early March.
Holy Family Camp is an annual, week-long summer spiritual experience for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Campers enjoy a week of prayer, Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a variety of lessons, music, swimming, games, crafts, special events – and friends.
A volunteer staff travels from throughout the diocese to participate in the event sponsored by the Ministry With Persons With Disabilities.
A previous camper, Hannah Metcalfe, says she enjoys sleeping in the cabins, having her own “buddy,” swimming, dancing, and getting to meet other campers.
“I like the talent show and I got to sing with my boyfriend last summer,” she said, adding that her favorite meal is “all of them!”

Susan Peters to speak at fundraiser April 6
Wichita television personality Susan Peters will be the guest speaker at the Sarah’s Hope Foundation’s 17th annual dinner and silent auction Friday, April 6, at St. Jude Hall, 3030 N. Amidon in Wichita.
Father Jim Mainzer and seminarian Andy Beugelsdijk will be guests of honor at the event.
The doors open at 6 p.m. Dinner by Ray’s Catering begins at 6:30. The cost is $20 per person. A silent auction will also be held.
For reservations, to be a sponsor, or to donate to the auction may call 316-209-5029.

Bicycle camp for disabled children set for July 16-18
A bike camp will be offered this summer to help persons with disabilities learn how to ride a bicycle.
The iCan Bike Camp, for persons eight years and older, will be hosted July 16-18 in Wichita by the Independent Living Resources Center.
To register for the camp or for more information, visit, call Cindi at 316-942-6300, ext. 222, or email her at

Movie Day for grandparents and grandchildren April 2
Grandparents and their school-aged grandchildren are invited to a movie day to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Monday, April 2, in the Reflection Ridge Theatre Room, 2300 N. Tyler Road in Wichita.
Admission is free with a homemade Easter Card for the residents of Reflection Ridge. Free popcorn and bottled water will be served. This event is limited to the first 120 people who register. To do so, call 685-5240.
The event is sponsored by senior adult ministries Office of Marriage and Family Life.

Want to pray the Angelus with others?
The Angelus, a commemoration of the Incarnation, is available online at
It features windows from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

Parish news, March 2, 2018

St. Catherine of Siena Lenten family retreat set for March 17-18
St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Wichita will host “Lord, Teach us to Pray,” a Lenten family retreat, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 17-18, in the Parish Education Center.
The weekend event includes adoration for adults and children, Mass, sessions for adults and children, snacks, and lunch both days.
The cost is $25 per person, $40 per couple, and $60 per family. To register visit Registration closes on March 5.

Scout soup dinner March 3 at St. Jude
Boy Scout Troop 420 will host its 37th Annual Soup Dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in the St. Jude School Activity Center, 3130 N. Amidon in Wichita.
The dinner, along with a gift basket raffle, is the troop’s major fund raiser. Proceeds are used to send scouts to summer camp, buy camping equipment, and support other activities.
The dinner will feature all-you-can-eat ham and bean or vegetable beef soups, corn bread, drink, and a dessert.
Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 3 to 9. Children under 3 eat free. Carryout will be available.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help to host meatless Friday Lenten dinners
WICHITA – Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners will continue their long tradition of serving meatless Mexican dinners on the Fridays of Lent.
Cheese and onion enchiladas, tostadas, potato tacos, chile rellenos and other Mexican dishes will be served beginning at 5 p.m. on the Fridays of Lent from Feb. 16 to March 23 in the Parish Center.
Justin Kelley, coordinator for the event, said the food is prepared fresh each week to order and that the parish will again offer dine in and carry out options.
Proceeds finance scholarships to send Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish children to Catholic schools. Students receiving scholarships and their parents volunteer to work in a variety of roles at one or more of the six Friday dinners.

Pittsburg Walk for Charity April 14
PITTSBURG – The Fourth Annual Walk for Charity will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 14, at the St. Mary’s Colgan track.
Participants may walk or run for a free-will donation. A $5 minimum donation per walker is suggested.
The proceeds will go to Catholic Charities in Southeast Kansas which assists with rent and utility payments for those in need.
The first 30 registrants will receive a Walk for Charity T-shirt. Prizes will be awarded to those who raised the most money and pledges.
To register before the event, call Megan Goetz at 316-670-6910 or email her at
Goetz, a member of the St. Pius X Catholic Student Center at Pittsburg State University, said the walk has raised between $1000 and $2000 in its first three years. She hopes to raise $3000 this year.
“The purpose of the event is for people to come out to exercise and socialize – as well as raise money for Catholic Charities,” she wrote in an email. “We’ll have raffle prizes as well as games and inflatables, so the whole family can come out and have fun!”

Bingo March 4, 11 at Sacred Heart, Colwich
Cash bingo games will be held beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 4 and 11, in the Religious Education Building at Sacred Heart Parish in Colwich.
Doors open at 1 p.m. The suggested donation is $8 for three cards for all 21 games. Snacks and desserts will be available.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the retired priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Wichita and other Catholic charities.

St. Joe Catholic School, Ost, hosting dinner Sunday, March 4
St. Joseph Catholic School in Ost is hosting its annual German Dinner from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 4. The all-you-can-eat event features homemade bierocks, rope sausage, and more.
The annual basket raffle will be held at the dinner with 13 huge baskets. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m.
This year a silent auction will be held throughout the day. It will feature two unique prizes: a dinner for six adults with Father Dan Duling and a mystery guest; and a pizza party for one household with Father Dan Duling.
Both dinners will take place at the new rectory. Bids will be taken in person and by phone until 5:45 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the school.

St. James School auction Saturday
St. James Catholic School in Augusta will host its annual auction Saturday, March 3.
Kathleen Fleming, the auction coordinator, said those planning to attend will enjoy an evening of excitement, socializing, drinks, dinner, and fundraising for the school.
The event is for adults only. Tickets are $35 and may be ordered by calling the school office at 316-775-5721. They will also be available at the door.
The evening begins with Mass at 4 p.m. A silent auction will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. with dinner at 7. A live auction begins at 8 o’clock.

Spiritual Life Center news, March 2, 2018

Bishop Kemme to lead Palm Sunday Weekend Retreat
The bishop of a diocese is the primary teacher of the faith. Bishop Carl A. Kemme assumes this role as he leads the faithful on the annual Palm Sunday Retreat at the Spiritual Life Center the weekend of March 23-25.
The annual retreat has become a popular Lenten activity for many of the faithful of the diocese. The entire center is set aside so that as many people as possible may attend.
Check-in begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 23. The first conference with Bishop Kemme begins at 7:30. The retreat concludes Sunday after lunch.
In addition to conferences presented by the bishop throughout the weekend, there is time for group and individual prayer, solitude, rest, Stations of the Cross, Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The early bird rates for the retreat are $120 per person (double occupancy), or $145 per person (single occupancy), and includes a $50 non-refundable deposit. The registration deadline is Wednesday, March 21 but early bird rates end March 12.
Registration can be made online at Registration by phone is available by calling the center at (316) 744-0167. As always, scholarships are available.

Way of the Cross by torchlight at SLC Saturday, March 24
The Spiritual Life Center will host a Way of the Cross by Torchlight at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24. The annual event draws many of the faithful for a solemn procession around the outdoor stations with torches and flashlights. Participants are asked to gather indoors around 8:15 that evening at the center.
The faithful are reminded to dress appropriately for the weather and to bring a flashlight. No registration necessary.

Docentium returns to the SLC with a presentation on Catholic music
Rachel Dugan will make a presentation about Catholic music in Western Culture Thursday, March 15, at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita. The program includes dinner.
Dugan will focus on how the development of Catholic music fits in the midst of church and cultural history. What wars, emperors, composers, papal dictates and cultural influences shaped what we view today as Catholic Church music? The faithful are invited to discover the rich history and tradition behind Catholic music for the Mass.
Docentium programs include food, friendship, and learning. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., dinner is served at 6:30, and a lecture follows given on a topic related to religion and culture. The cost is $15 per person. More information can be found on the SLC website.
Visit the Spiritual Life Center’s webpage at to register or call (316) 744-0167. Advance registration appreciated.

Youth and school news, March 2, 2018

Scout emblem applications are due April 1
The Catholic Committee on Scouting is accepting religious emblem applications for youth who have completed the God is Love, Family of God, I Live My Faith, Marian Medal, Light of Christ, Parvuli Dei, Ad Altare Dei, and Pope Pius XII programs.
The cost is $10 per application, which includes a professional photo taken at the annual Mass. Applications are due by April 1 and may be sent to Kathy Petr, 3128 Applewood, Wichita, 67220.
This year’s Mass is at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 10, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita. For more information, contact Kathy Petr at 316-686-7893 or

Scout soup dinner March 3 at St. Jude
Boy Scout Troop 420 will host its 37th Annual Soup Dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in the St. Jude School Activity Center, 3130 N. Amidon in Wichita.
The dinner, along with a gift basket raffle, is the troop’s major fund raiser. Proceeds are used to send scouts to summer camp, buy camping equipment, and support other activities.
The dinner will feature all-you-can-eat ham and bean or vegetable beef soups, corn bread, drink, and a dessert.
Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 3 to 9. Children under 3 eat free. Carryout will be available.

St. Joe Catholic School, Ost, hosting dinner Sunday, March 4
St. Joseph Catholic School in Ost is hosting its annual German Dinner from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 4. The all-you-can-eat event features homemade bierocks, rope sausage, and more.
The annual basket raffle will be held at the dinner with 13 huge baskets. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m.
This year a silent auction will be held throughout the day. It will feature two unique prizes: a dinner for six adults with Father Dan Duling and a mystery guest; and a pizza party for one household with Father Dan Duling.
Both dinners will take place at the new rectory. Bids will be taken in person and by phone until 5:45 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the school.

St. James School auction Saturday
St. James Catholic School in Augusta will host its annual auction Saturday, March 3.
Kathleen Fleming, the auction coordinator, said those planning to attend will enjoy an evening of excitement, socializing, drinks, dinner, and fundraising for the school.
The event is for adults only. Tickets are $35 and may be ordered by calling the school office at 316-775-5721. They will also be available at the door.
The evening begins with Mass at 4 p.m. A silent auction will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. with dinner at 7. A live auction begins at 8 o’clock.

National and world news, March 2, 2018

Christian leaders shut Church of Holy Sepulcher to protest taxes
JERUSALEM (CNS) — Protesting several recent actions they described as a “systematic campaign ... against the churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land,” the heads of Christian churches announced Feb. 25 they were closing of the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for an undisclosed period of time.
Bewildered pilgrims milled around the square in front of the church as Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III — flanked by Franciscan Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, and Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian — read a short statement to the press. At the same time, the only two people allowed to close the doors — the Muslim custodian of the key, Adeeb Jawad Joudeh Al Husseini, and Muslim door keeper Wajeeh Nuseibeh — closed and locked the doors.
“This systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land severely violates the most basic ... and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian community and the authorities for decades,” the heads of churches said in their statement.
The church leaders were protesting the Jerusalem municipality’s intention to impose property taxes on church property, such as hotels and convention centers, not used for worship purposes. The proposal to levy taxes on some properties would run contrary to the unofficial historical tax-exempt status the churches have enjoyed for centuries.
In addition, the church leaders said they oppose a bill in the Israeli parliament that would limit the ability to sell church-owned land to private owners. The bill, whose vote was postponed following the church protest, would be specifically detrimental to the Greek Orthodox Church, which owns large tracts of land in central Jerusalem upon which many private homes are built; many of those 99-year-old building rental contracts will soon expire. The church already has sold some of the land to private owners, and homeowners whose apartments are on the land worry about losing their homes.
Rachel Azaria, the member of Parliament who sponsored the bill, said it is not meant to affect what the church can do with its property, but what happens when the land rights are sold to a third party.
As media gathered to hear the church leaders, pilgrims wandered around the church square, some kneeling in front of the massive wooden doors — the closest they would come to entering the church.
“We had one shot,” said Flavia Falcone, 25, an Italian Catholic living in Poland, who had come to Israel for four days. “This was a bad decision. Faith and politics are two different things. I came here all this way to see the church and I find it closed. It is not very pleasant.”
It is only the second time the doors to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher have been closed in the middle of the day, other than for traditional religious ceremonies.

The pope’s intention
Here is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for this month:
Evangelization: Formation in Spiritual Discernment That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.

Inmates at Louisiana prison built casket for the Rev. Billy Graham
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — In 1995, as inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola lowered the makeshift, cardboard casket containing the body of fellow inmate Joseph Siegel into freshly dug ground at the prison’s cemetery, Siegel’s body fell through the bottom of the coffin.
Then, as the pallbearers positioned the casket with care over his body and began shoveling dirt, the top collapsed.
Burl Cain, in his first year as warden at the nation’s largest maximum-security prison, where all but a fraction of the 5,000 men will die without ever walking back through the gates, had seen enough.
Cain gathered inmates for what, by Angola standards, would be an unusual warden-prisoner talk. Many of the prisoners were skilled craftsmen, who had worked for years to set up the popular Angola Prison Rodeo.
“I told them, ‘Men, you’re going to die here, and we’ve got to do this with dignity,’” Cain recalled. “’Y’all are going to build a coffin, and it’s going to be a nice coffin. When you die, you’ve served your sentence, and there’s no reason for anybody to kick your body.’”
That event more than two decades ago led to inmates at the prison building the casket for the Rev. Billy Graham, the charismatic evangelical Christian leader who died Feb. 21 at age 99.
Cain served as warden at Angola for 21 years and is credited with changing the violent and deadly prison culture through an emphasis on what he calls “moral rehabilitation.”
“I coined that term because everybody liked ‘morality’ and everybody liked ‘rehabilitation,’ and the ACLU would leave me alone,” Cain said. “I couldn’t say ‘faith-based’ and I couldn’t say ‘Christian.’ That would get me sued.”
Cain established seminary education, sponsored by the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and built several interdenominational chapels, including a hospice chapel funded by Catholic entities and an Alamo chapel, a replica of the original Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, used often by Catholic inmates.
Cain said he was being “selfish” when he decided to open Angola to the outside world, with an emphasis on theological training.
“I realized this: Moral people don’t rape, pilfer and steal,” Cain said. “So, if I could get these guys to become moral, I’d have a safer prison, I could survive.”
In 1997, Chuck Colson, an evangelical Christian who had served prison time for obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal and who had begun a national prison ministry, visited Angola with Tex Reardon, who was associated with the Rev. Graham and his worldwide evangelical crusades.
“In the 1950s, my mother would send a check for $5 every month to Billy Graham, even though she was a school teacher and my parents were poor,” Cain said. “So, I asked Tex Reardon if there was any way he could get Billy Graham to come here — because this prison needed him.”
Not long after that, Graham’s son Franklin visited Angola and was so impressed he set the wheels in motion for the construction of two more chapels — one for the inmates and another, Cain said, for “the employees of our little city.”
“They wanted their own people to come build it, because it was a ministry for them,” Cain said. “They wanted the pews to be just old-timey so that it would look like an old-timey church.”

Change your heart, change your abortion votes, Bishop Paprocki tells Sen. Durbin
SPRINGFIELD, (CNA) - Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois has reiterated that U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin should not receive Holy Communion due to the Catholic lawmaker’s support for abortion, including a recent procedural vote against a bill that would bar abortion after 20 weeks into pregnancy.
“Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life,” Bishop Paprocki said Thursday. “Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart.”

Rare snowfall leads to fun, frenzy in Rome
VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - Many were skeptical, but when Romans awoke Monday morning the forecast was right: the city was covered in a blanket of snow – a phenomenon so rare that schools were closed and public transport largely suspended throughout the day.
However, while much of the city is closed indoors sipping tea or hot cocoa, many of those near the Vatican zipped to St. Peter's Square for a bit of snow-filled fun: some instigated snowball fights, some built miniature snowmen, and at least one man even donned skis to make his way through the slush.
Nuns, priests and seminarians also joined in the excitement, and as locals slowly began to emerge from their houses, wrapped head to toe, they stopped to admire and snap photos of their major landmarks covered in a dusting of white, including the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Euthanasia in hospices ‘a serious error,’ says Archbishop Miller
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CNS) — Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver said the British Columbia provincial government must stop attempts to force hospices and care homes to provide euthanasia.
Provincial health authorities are “making a serious error” in trying to coerce caregivers — “committed to making the final stages of life for the elderly, sick, and suffering meaningful and dignified” — into supporting assisted suicide, the archbishop said in a Feb. 22 statement.
“Assisted suicide stands in stark contrast” to the care that hospices offer, and none should be compelled to provide it, he said.
More than 2,000 Canadians have died of assisted suicide since the practice was made legal in June 2016. Archbishop Miller said that points to a dire need for better end-of-life care, not increased access to a lethal injection.
“If the elderly, sick, and suffering in our population feel that euthanasia is their best option, it means we as a society and as individuals are letting them down,” he wrote.
“In nearly every case, we can provide adequate pain management to comfort patients. But what about the lonely, the abandoned, and those who see themselves as a burden to others or society? How do we address their needs and assure them life has meaning?”

Catholics protest threats to life in the Philippines
Cardinal Tagle leads priests, nuns, and laypeople round the capital’s main park
MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Catholics came out strongly against what they described as “threats to life” in rallies held in major cities across the Philippines Feb. 24.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila led priests, nuns, and laypeople in an early morning “Walk for Life” around the capital’s main park, reported
The cardinal appealed to Catholics to value all lives, even those of their enemies and society’s so-called outcasts. reported that among the issues raised during the march were drug-related killings, a proposal in Congress to legalize divorce and changes to the constitution.
“Let us bring back the belief that the lives of other people, even of our enemies, are a gift from God,” Cardinal Tagle said.
Relatives of those who died in the government’s “war against drugs” joined the candlelit procession in which an estimated 2,000 people took part.
“Life is a gift from God. But when we start thinking of other people’s lives in terms of their usefulness to us, it becomes so easy for us to just do away and discard life,” Cardinal Tagle said.
He said it is “easy to walk for one’s loved ones, but quite difficult to do the same for one’s enemies.”
In the central Philippines, an estimated 5,000 Catholics joined a “Walk for Life With Mary” led by Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu.
The archbishop said Catholics support the government’s war against drugs but “question the manner it is done because of questionable motives and circumstances.”
“No man has the right to (end) another’s life. God is the beginning and end of life. Let us protect life from womb to tomb,” he said.
Rights groups say that close to 12,000 suspected drug users and peddlers have been killed in the government’s campaign against narcotics.
“I hope all threats to life and the series of killings will stop because we are all brothers and sisters in Jesus and Mary,” said Archbishop Palma.
In Cagayan de Oro City, in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma warned that the drug-related killings “will create more problems.”
“While we are trying to solve one problem, we are creating another,” he said, adding that it is the hope of the church “for the government to promote due process” in the campaign against illegal drugs.

Colosseum bathed in red in honor of modern martyrs
ROME (CNS) — Rome’s Colosseum, long a symbol of the persecution of early Christians, was bathed in red light late Feb. 24 as a reminder of and a prayer for the thousands of Christians being persecuted for their faith today.
The family of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s highly criticized anti-blasphemy laws, and Rebecca Bitrus, a Nigerian Christian who was held in captivity for two years by Boko Haram terrorists, told their stories before the red lights were shined on the Colosseum.
Bitrus and Bibi’s husband and daughter had met earlier in the day with Pope Francis at the Vatican. They were accompanied by leaders of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic foundation that has a long history of assisting persecuted Christians.
Alessandro Monteduro, director of the Italian section of Aid to the Church, said the 40-minute meeting with Pope Francis was “extraordinary,” particularly because the entire encounter took place in an atmosphere of prayer by the pope and by his guests.
The pope “wanted everyone to pray together in their own languages,” he said. So Eisham, Asia Bibi’s youngest daughter, prayed in Urdu and Bitrus prayed in Hausa. “It was a moment of extraordinarily intense emotion,” Monteduro said.
Eisham had visited her mother in prison Feb. 17 and told her about the trip to Rome, he said. Asia Bibi told her, “If you meet the pope, give him a kiss from me.” And the young woman did.

Congo’s bishops: Two killed in protests against ‘dictatorship’
KINSHASA, Congo (CNS) — Congo’s bishops said a young Catholic was killed at point-blank range and another was shot dead while trying to return home from anti-government protests.
The protests, organized by the church’s Lay Coordination Committee, were designed to be peaceful marches “to say no to dictatorship,” said a statement on the bishops’ website Feb. 26, the day after the marches. They said police used tear gas and live bullets.
The bishops said Rossy Tshimanga was shot outside Kinshasa’s St. Benedict Church. After a second youth was shot, young people set fire to police buildings, the bishops said.
The confrontation was the third in two months to occur after Sunday Masses. Clashes Dec. 31 and Jan. 21 left 15 people dead, 70 injured and 115 arrested, including a dozen clergy, according to church and United Nations data.
“Human rights defenders are denouncing the brutality shown by police in scattering these peaceful demonstrators,” the bishops said. “But if we believe the city of Kinshasa’s police commissioner, no such slip-ups took place.”
A police spokesman said no one was killed as police broke up the protests.
The bishops said others were injured and detained around the country as more than 3 million protesters rallied nationwide, demanding President Joseph Kabila step down. A 2016 church-brokered accord required Kabila to resign after his second five-year term, with elections by late 2017. The country’s elections currently are scheduled for December.
“The Congolese national police suppressed peaceful marches in several Kinshasa parishes, notably at St. Francis de Sales, where riot police were deployed in the road facing the church and fired warning shots after Mass,” the bishops said.
“At Our Lady of Fatima Parish, the demonstrators were also restrained by police after scuffles, while those at Holy Trinity Parish marched along back roads before encountering the security forces.”
In a Feb. 26 statement, Leila Zerrougui, head of the U.N. stabilization mission in Congo, demanded an inquiry and said she regretted more deaths had occurred, “despite orders given to security forces to show greatest restraint in handling the demonstrations.”
On Feb. 25, Father Donatien Nshole, secretary-general of the Congolese bishops’ conference, praised the behavior of the police officers in some areas of Kinshasa and called on the population to remain vigilant.
Agence France-Presse reported that security forces had been “massively deployed before all Catholic churches” in Congo’s second-largest city, Lubumbashi, where “any attempt to gather” had been “systematically dispersed” with tear gas and live bullets. It reported that several Catholics were badly wounded when trying to sing Congo’s national anthem outside Kinsangani’s cathedral, while at least three priests had been driven away in a police jeep at the city’s St. Peter Parish.
AFP reported the government had accused church leaders of “partisan political activism” and “inciting the population to revolt” during a Feb. 24 government meeting.

Texas bishops support Charities in wake of gay adoption lawsuit
FORT WORTH, Texas, (CNA/EWTN News) - The Catholic bishops of Texas voiced strong support Tuesday for a Catholic organization being sued by a lesbian couple in Texas.
The couple, Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, filed a complaint this week in district court in Washington against Catholic Charities of Fort Worth after being denied a request to adopt refugee children.
The couple believes they are being discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation, and told the Washington Post that they hope their lawsuit results either in a policy change at Catholic Charities or in a loss of the organization’s taxpayer funding.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Catholic bishops of Texas voiced their support for Catholic Charities of Fort Worth, which they said is in compliance both with Catholic teaching and “with all federal regulations associated with funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through its Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is carrying out the federal government's Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) and the Unaccompanied Alien Child (UC) programs.”

Pray, fast, give this Lent, Bishop Kemme writes

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
On Wednesday of this past week, Ash Wednesday, we began one of the Church’s most important liturgical seasons: Lent. The 40 days of Lenten penance, which includes prayer, fasting and charity, are designed to help us prepare spiritually for the Lord’s Paschal mystery celebrated during the Sacred Triduum, culminating of course with Easter Sunday. This is a most important time for us as Christians and one, which we are called to observe with diligence and attention.
All three of the Church’s traditional Lenten activities are essential for the full participation in the Christian life and should be observed throughout the entire year. During Lent, however, we place a special spotlight on them and are encouraged to live them even more intensely. I would like to offer a few simple reflections on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and charity, which I am hopeful will help to encourage you to practice them even more this Lent.
Prayer is the life blood of the Christian soul. Any time we give to prayer is time well spent. I want to encourage all of you to give more time and space in your daily life to prayer, especially the Prayer of the Mass, adoration, devotions and mental or contemplative prayer. Here again, I highly encourage the faithful to attend daily Mass, at least one time during the week, in addition to Sunday Mass. Give consideration to making at least a weekly holy hour in one of our adoration chapels or simply in one of our churches if an adoration chapel is not readily available.
Pray the rosary to or from work or school. Read a chapter of the bible every day, especially one of the Gospels or one of the Letters of the New Testament. Make a good confession several times during Lent. This attitude of prayer will keep you well connected to God on a daily basis. Ask the Lord to help you to pray and he surely will.
Fasting helps to build discipline in our lives, a discipline that will keep us focused on what truly matters. Many in our culture find fasting terribly difficult. To consciously choose to deny ourselves good things, like food or drink, or sleep, or anything else we have grown very accustomed to, is a great challenge for many. Fasting, if coupled with prayer, gives us a power over ourselves, a mastery over our human nature, which is essential for growth in the spiritual life.
I might suggest here that we consider fasting in terms of other things as well, like social media, technology, television, gossip, complaining, and criticism, which for many have too much power over their lives. Fasting puts all created things in proper perspective, helping us focus on the higher spiritual realities.
Finally, charity or almsgiving is the outward movement of the heart to share, to give and to support another. We should all consciously exercise some form and degree of charity every day, however small it might be. To make someone else’s life better and to lighten another’s load, is a sign of true Christian zeal and faith. There are numerous ways and opportunities we can practice charity, either at home, at school, at the parish or in our local community.
It is important that our charity be intentional, reflecting in some way the generosity we ourselves enjoy. This is the greatest sign of Christian faith and hope. For as St. Paul said so beautifully in his first letter to the Corinthians, “So faith, hope and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Friends, please know of my thoughts and prayers for you and for all in our diocese in a special way during Lent. We are all invited to spend these 40 days with the Lord as on retreat. May God bless our Lenten pilgrimage and may the many graces of a Lent well observed be ours in abundance in the Diocese of Wichita. God bless you all!
+ Bishop Carl Kemme