Editor’s note: Fr. Colin Boor recently returned to Arma, his first parish, for a Homecoming Reunion. He served there from 1955 to 1961. He was interviewed by Nikki Patrick of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. Her story is reprinted, in part, here with permission.
“I loved working with the youth in Arma and Mulberry,” Fr. Boor said, I was half a kid myself then.”
Born in Odin, Kan., in the 1920s, he remembers the hardships of farm life during that time.
“We farmed a half-section near Fowler and Meade, had no electricity, no telephone, no bathroom, and got water from a windmill,” Fr. Boor said. “We went to one-room schools. The crops failed for about seven years because of the dust storms.”
An accident in 1938 led to his becoming a priest.
“I had a busted arm – not broken, busted,” Fr. Boor said, “I was in St. Anthony’s Hospital in Dodge City. They wanted to cut my arm off, but I wouldn’t let them. Then it turned brown and started to stink.”
Nuns from St. Francis Hospital, Wichita, obtained some oil believed to have miraculous healing properties. It came from the bones of St. Walpurga, an English missionary sent with her two brothers to assist their uncle, St. Boniface, who was working to convert the pagan Germans. She was canonized on May 1, 870 A.D., and not long after that her bones began to exude the oil.
“The nuns started putting that oil on my arm, and it started getting better,” Fr. Boor said. “I came home and told my mother and father, ‘I’m going to be a priest, but don’t tell anybody.’”
The following year he went off to St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana.
“I never came home for Christmas for three years, because my father said there was no money for buses,” Fr. Boor said, “I was there seven years, but the last four were at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis.”
He fondly remembers his years in Arma, though the old church was not in the best of shape.
“It had termites, and they swarmed during church,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘Boor, you’d better find another place,’ but the church didn’t fall down and we kept using it.”
It was his successor, Fr. John Reinkemeyer, who undertook the building of the current church with assistance from the late Migdonio Seidler, a native of Nicaragua who was living and working in Pittsburg.
“Mig was a rare and gifted man, an architect and an engineer,” Fr. Boor said. “After I went to Hutchinson, I’d fly down here and fly him back to help with some work we were doing there.”
The plane was a Cessna 172, he and three other priests purchased in partnership.
“At that time, my folks lived in Ponca City, Okla.,” Fr. Boor said. “It took me four hours to drive there, and 50 minutes to fly down. I’d land in a pasture.”
He did other things with the plane as well.
“In 1959, Fr. Boor flew my wife and me to Wichita to get our first adopted son, David,” said Fred Bogina, parish finance officer. “I’ll never forget him doing that for us. The baby was four months old. Now he’s 52 and a highway patrolman.”
Father Boor started a basketball program for young boys and a Junior Legion of Mary for girls and boys.
Don Buche was an enthusiastic member of the basketball program. His father, Clarence Buche, was the coach. The basketball team won the Class B Wichita Diocesan Catholic grade school basketball tournament in 1956. The boys on this team were from the parishes of Arma, Mulberry, Franklin, and Capaldo.
“Fr. Boor had a tremendous influence on us,” Buche said. “He was a friend and teacher, but he was also a disciplinarian. He didn’t let us get away with anything.”
After leaving Arma and Mulberry, Fr. Boor was assigned to Cunningham and Wellington. Then, in January of 1964, he, along with Fr. Joseph Bergkamp and Fr. Harold McCormick volunteered to work at a mission in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.
He left Venezuela in 1973 and returned to the United States. He was at Our Lady of Guadalupe in South Hutchinson for 26 years, serving the needs of the Mexican community there.