New priest is thankful for family

Stewarding Our Gifts
By Father J.D. Betzen
I absolutely could not have begun and finished my time in the seminary without my families – my biological family, my parish family, and my diocesan family.
They have given me more support than I can entirely remember or even describe, and have modeled stewardship for me. Stewardship – which we know as the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares them in love of God and neighbor – is uniquely practiced in our diocese, down to each family.
I grew up knowing our home in Kansas as a “stewardship-based” diocese, which meant that church involvement was simply a part of being Catholic. It is more than just tithing – it also involved learning about the faith at home and school; preparing for and receiving the sacraments; attending Mass on Sundays and often on weekdays at school, too; praying for friends, family, the living, and the dead; and, yes, giving part of what I earned back to the church.
This stewardship way of life was practiced by more than just my biological family. In my St. Mary Parish, Derby, family I saw Altar Society guilds hosting soup suppers to benefit The Lord’s Diner and other charities, and the Knights of Columbus’ annual Tootsie Roll drives to help people with mental challenges, for example.
I learned how to be an altar server and saw other children and adults assisting with ministries at Mass, demonstrating to me in deed just how important this part of our lives really is.
The Altar Society and Knights of Columbus went on to assist me spiritually and materially throughout my time in seminary, providing me money for travel and books, a beautiful vestment to wear as a priest on Marian feasts, and many prayers and words of encouragement, all of which I greatly appreciated.
Our diocesan family has also made a significant impact. It was while I was at Newman University that I finally knew I was called to enter seminary, which only happened because of the availability of Eucharistic adoration there.
The Eucharist was only available there because there was a priest at Newman, too – Fr. Joe Tatro.
We’ve seen many priests at St. Mary, as well: Fr. Pat Malone, Fr. H. Setter, Fr. Wayne Schmid, Fr. David Lies, and Fr. Joe Eckberg, as well as Sr. Marie Zoglman, during just my time alone. All of these priests of the great Diocese of Wichita have generously practiced stewardship in following their vocation to the priesthood, giving to the parish, and giving me excellent examples of what it means to be a priest.
Thank you for your example and practice of stewardship. I hope that I too may practice the same Stewardship of all my families in being a happy, healthy, and holy priest of God for the Diocese of Wichita, as well.