Homily in honor of the March for Life

By the Rev. C. Jarrod Lies

We have come to that annual national day when the media falls under a conspiracy of silence.  For if, in any other framework, there had been a march done with hundreds of thousands of people repeatedly every year for the past thirty years, you would be guaranteed that a greater voice would be heard among our secular media.  But because the issue is that of pro-life the media is silent.  They give the mandatory scant attention to the different news topics that can happen, but if there are three-hundred thousand pro-life persons together in one area, with thirty pro-choice persons in another, you can guarantee that there are going to be as many views of the pro-choice as there are those of pro-life.  If in any other topic such a march was to take place the media would be falling all over itself to use it as a rallying cry for national change.  If this had to do with race, sexuality or politics, the media would use such a march as a tool and a weapon to further its own agenda.  But precise because the issue of pro-life is not a part of the social agenda of the public media it falls silent.

But our children do not fall silent; and our faith does not fall silent.  The dignity of the human person will never be silenced.  No matter how much one can ignore the scourge that has taken place in the United States from abortion the demand of human dignity itself will cry out for vengeance, freedom and justice.  Right now 900 of our own youth are in DC joining on the March.  They, with hundreds of thousands of other people, are going to be the voice for the voiceless.  They will speak on behalf of those who will not be able to speak on behalf of themselves; and they will make a very simple statement with incredible impact: Life begins at conception!  Life ends at natural death!

We are a people of life!  And in our Catholic heritage, this call to protect the unborn has always been a part of our identity.  Even as early as 100 A.D. there was a document called the Didiche in which it was explicitly stated, “do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.”  There has never been an unclear moment in the Catholic Church about the dignity of life from conception to natural death.

And we ourselves must echo this message year, after year, after year.   And not as a bludgeoning tool; but as a call to a higher level of human dignity, both for the unborn child as well as for all those persons involved in the circumstances that put the child at threat.  We must not just simply state that we are pro-life but we must also create structures so that those persons who are threatened in caring for their children can have the support necessary to weather the battle they are underneath.  There are all sorts of circumstances that cause challenge and we would be hypocritical to just simply say You’re wrong!  You’re wrong!  You’re wrong! without saying How can we help?  How can we help?  How can we help?  The two go hand in hand.  The statement must go along with the action.  The action must always be couched in compassion, charity and understanding…and of real sacrifice.  We ourselves must put our own selves at a disadvantage so those who are at a disadvantage can receive the support necessary to survive.  We ourselves cannot be a part of the conspiracy of silence; but we are a part of that conspiracy whenever we proclaim a position yet avoid helping.

This nation will experience a change of laws concerning abortion.  It is going to happen because human dignity demands that life be respected at every stage.  It happened five hundred years ago when the vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe brought human sacrifice to an end in the New World.  It will happen again through the proclamation of all the faithful who speak and act on behalf the voiceless and helpless so that in the future their voice will be heard.  Their dignity will be upheld.  These laws will be overthrown. So let us today pray that, where the secular media may be filled with silence, our thoughts may be filled with prayers and our actions may be filled with compassion, so that human dignity may find its voice and have its victory through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Lies is director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation and pastor of St. John’s Clonmel

Bishop Jackels leads Palm Sunday procession

Bishop Michael O. Jackels leads the faithful during a Palm Sunday procession on April 17 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wichita. (Advance photo)

Sister Matthias Betzen dies April 22

Sister Matthias Betzen, 81, died April 22 at the ASC Wichita Center in Wichita. Sixty-five of her years were lived as a professed Adorer of the Blood of Christ.
A wake for Sister Matthias took place at the Wichita Center. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated April 24 in the Chapel of Our Lady of the New Covenant with the Rev. Tom Welk, as presider and homilist. Burial in the community cemetery followed.
She was born May 17, 1928, the seventh child of Lena (May) and Mathias Betzen. That same day she was baptized Elizabeth Magdalena at St. Mark’s Church, Colwich.
Sister Matthias attended Colwich public school, taught at that time by ASC sisters. Impressed by the mutual respect and camaraderie of the sisters, she chose to enter the ASC convent in Wichita as a high school sophomore.
Sister Matthias earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Marymount College, Salina; a master’s in Latin at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.; a certificate in pastoral ministry at the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry, Kansas City, Mo.; and a clinical pastoral education certificate from Trinity Lutheran Hospital, Kansas City, Mo.
Her more than 50 years of active ministry extended from Kansas to Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, Romania and Korea. She taught elementary and secondary students, conversational English learners and was a parish pastoral minister. She retired to the Wichita Center in 2003.
Preceding her in death were her parents; her brothers Albert, Peter, Gerry and Rev. Conrad Betzen, OSB; and sisters Marie Tallman and Benedictine Sister Assumpta Betzen. She is survived by sisters Margaret Martin and Rose Betzen, her ASC community, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions in Sister Matthias’ honor may be sent to the ASC Retirement Fund, ASC Wichita Center, 1165 Southwest Boulevard, Wichita, KS 67213.

Obituaries, May 7, 2010

ALEXANDER
Dolores “Laurie,” 78, St. Francis of Assisi, Wichita, March 14.
WILBERT
James A. “Jim,” 70, Our Lady of Lourdes, Pittsburg, March 30.
COX
Joan, 88, St. Francis, St. Paul, April 2.

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National and world news, February 11, 2010

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Food for Haiti

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Celebrating Catholic Schools Week at St. Joseph School, Ost.

Fire damages Reno County church



The cause of a fire that damaged St. Joseph Church, Ost, Wednesday is still not known.
Father Ivan Eck, pastor, discovered the fire at about 5:15 p.m. when he opened the front doors of the church to prepare for Confirmation planned for Thursday. Confirmation was moved to the parish hall.
The fire damaged a wooden side altar, a statue of St. Joseph, and the immediate area around the altar. The rest of the church suffered smoke damage. More photos below.

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Bishop asks: How are you going to observe this time of fasting?

By Bishop Michael O. Jackels
The holy season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010. How will we observe this time of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting?
The Church requires a minimal response. Those of us who are 18 but not yet 60 years of age fast on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. That means to eat only one full meal and two lesser meals, with nothing in between meals. And on those same days, those of us who are 14 years of age and older abstain from eating meat.
Fasting and abstaining are examples of self-denial. There is value in doing them for their own sakes; there is a health benefit from fasting and not eating meat products.
Moreover, there is a spiritual benefit to obeying the laws of the Church, such as deepening our humility.
There are perhaps other motivations for practicing some form of self-denial, like fasting and abstaining.
For example, self-denial is connected to other people, especially those who lack the comforts of life or those things needed to live in human dignity. We voluntarily undergo discomforts in order to be able to comfort others. Or we see that we have things not only for our own comfort but also to share with others, to comfort others.
Related to this notion is practicing self-denial in order to curb our appetite for a selfish indulgence of comforts. As Jesus taught, “is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6: 25). Self-denial is a program for freedom; we are not ruled by our bodily appetites, but rather ruled by love of God and neighbor.
Also, self-denial is a way to imitate and follow Jesus: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). To follow Jesus’ example of service and sacrifice, and to take up the cross of forgiveness, no matter who, no matter what, requires us to mortify our selfishness, self-pity, and self-centeredness. That is usually harder than giving up cigarettes or Twinkies.
Finally, any and all of our religious practices, like almsgiving, prayer, and fasting are companions of love, the heart of the practice of our faith. Without love, shown concretely to God and neighbor, we might give away everything we own, or spend the day in prayer, or mortify completely our bodily appetites, but gain nothing (see 1 Corinthians 13).
How will we observe this time of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting?

Annual Operation Rice Bowl effort begins Feb. 17

Operation Rice Bowl, Catholic Relief Service’s national program to raise awareness about global hunger and poverty, starts on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Every year, millions of Catholics in the United States participate in Operation Rice Bowl. Each Lent, Catholic parishes and schools from more than 13,000 communities use symbolic rice bowls as the focal point for their prayer, fasting and learning. Getting involved in the program is a tangible way to help people living in poverty around the world.
Participants in Operation Rice Bowl make the small sacrifice of preparing simple, meatless recipes each week and putting the money they otherwise would have spent on a big meal into symbolic rice bowls. That money goes to support CRS’s mission to fight global hunger and poverty.
Participating in Operation Rice Bowl provides Catholics with 40 days of making a real difference in the lives of people struggling with hunger and poverty,” says Beth Martin, program manager for Operation Rice Bowl. “Learning about our brothers and sisters in developing countries and following the call to sacrifice helps thousands of people onto a path out of poverty every year.”

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RCIA process welcomes adults into the church

Catechumens are baptized on Holy Saturday — Bishop Michael O. Jackels baptizes a young woman during Holy Saturday services last year at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wichita. Nearly 400 persons are enrolled in the RCIA process this year in the Diocese of Wichita and, God-willing, will be baptized Catholics or received into the church on Saturday, April 3. (Advance photo by Don McClane)

By Rhonda Lohkamp
Joining the Catholic Church is as easy as, well, R-C-I-A.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the process through which newcomers, called inquirers, are welcomed into the church.
The rite is designed to help those interested in the Catholic faith in their journey to become active members of the church community. At the same time, it revives the missionary spirit of the faith community.
The process includes several stages marked by study, prayer, rites of the Mass, and participation in community and service. Participants undergo conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
Last year more than 400 persons in the Wichita Diocese entered the Church.

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