This year’s Newman class includes seven seminarians of the diocese

By Dana Beitey
One of the largest classes in Newman University history was welcomed Thursday, Aug. 31, in St. John’s Chapel during a Mass of the Holy Spirit and a matriculation ceremony.
The annual Mass welcomes those who have just begun their education at Newman. The freshman class of 2021 was given special recognition and attended the service alongside returning students, faculty, and staff.
During the homily, Bishop Carl A. Kemme talked about the opportunity to learn in higher education and beyond. He spoke about what it means to him that these new students are attending a Catholic university and about God’s beauty.
“Many of you here are not of our faith, but the church receives you as one of our own. We offer you this very beautiful and enriching education in the context of the community of faith,” said Bishop Kemme.
“So many people today have no faith. In a world that is oftentimes marred with sin and evil, which is so rampant in the world, we want to look for beauty. Beauty of the person, beauty of art, music, science, literature — all the fields of study that you may engage in here — all come from God. God is beauty itself. That beauty flows from God and spills into the world. And it’s given to us simply because of love.”
The bishop also talked about the new partnership with the Diocese of Wichita, touching on the good news of future priests beginning their journey toward bachelor’s degrees in philosophy at Newman University. He welcomed the seminary students who were present along with five newly ordained priests who spent some of their college years at Newman.
Newman President Dr. Noreen M. Carrocci added her welcome to the seminarian students, to the five priests who were once Newman students, and to the newest students on campus.
“All of these young men started…in this very chapel,” said Carrocci. “I invite all of you new students to use this chapel, the space that we’re going to create at Heimerman Plaza and other spaces on campus to help discern your future — whether it’s to the priesthood, to become an Adorer, to become a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, a husband, a wife — let this place help you in your discernment process through the years.”
After Carrocci’s address, she invited the five priests — Fathers J.D. Betzen, Kyle Dugan, Adam Grelinger, Edmund Herzog and Andrew Labenz — to receive a special gift that would remind them of their connection with Newman for years to come.
With the help of Sisters Charlotte Rohrbach and Vicki Bergkamp, Sisters Patrizia Pasquini and Maria Paniccia from Italy, the five men were each presented with a first-class relic of Saint Maria De Mattias.
After presenting the gifts, Carrocci added, “May you always consider this Chapel your first home.”
Following Mass, all were invited to enjoy a meal and hear a special presentation about the Most Rev. Eugene J. Gerber, bishop emeritus, given by the Very Rev. John Lanzrath.
During his talk, Fr. Lanzrath commended Bishop Gerber’s sincere ability to listen, giving examples of Bishop Gerber listening, and by doing so, transforming society.
Beitey is content marketing coordinator for Newman U.

You are a priest forever...

10 to be ordained to the priesthood; 10 to the transitional diaconate
Bishop Carl A. Kemme will ordain 10 men to the priesthood and 10 to the transitional diaconate in the next two weeks. It is one of the largest classes of ordinandi in decades for the Diocese of Wichita.
Ten seminarians will be ordained to the transitional diaconate at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita. The venue was changed to Magdalen from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception because of the number to be ordained and its larger capacity.
The ordination to the priesthood of the 10 deacons will take place at 10 a.m. the next week, Saturday, May 27.
Here are the responses to questions emailed by the Catholic Advance to the 20 men to be ordained.

Deacon Andrew Bergkamp
The Rev. Mr. Andrew Bergkamp said he is surprised as how quickly his seminary formation has gone.
“But at the same time I am very excited that ordination is finally just around the corner,” he said. “I am most looking forward to being able to offer the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Mass to the people of our diocese.”
He is the son of Ned and Teresa Bergkamp, of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Garden Plain.

Deacon J.D. Betzen

Deacon J.D. Betzen answered that while priestly formation never really ends, he will be happy to return to the people of the diocese.
Betzen, the son of John and Barbara Betzen, members of St. Mary Parish in Derby, said he was excited to find out where Bishop Kemme would send him for his first assignment because of how much he enjoyed his assignment as a deacon at Holy Name Parish in Coffeyville.
“I most look forward to celebrating the sacraments regularly for the people of my new parish assignment,” he said. “The Sacrament of Confession has played a significant role in my spiritual life, so I am excited to be able to offer its graces to others as a priest, as well. It will also be great to learn from my new pastor and to engage in the priestly fraternity in the diocese.”

Deacon Jacob Carlin
Deacon Jacob Carlin, the son of Keith and Ann Carlin of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Wichita, said he is humbled and grateful that God has called him to serve as a priest.
“When I first entered seminary I thought about priesthood primarily in regards to the ‘no’ – the things I would be giving up,” he wrote. “But now, I think of priesthood and this call in terms of a ‘yes.’ I look at it as saying yes to serving God with an undivided heart, yes to radical availability to his people, and yes to an intentional prayer life on behalf of those I serve.”
Deacon Carlin said he is excited to be ordained with nine classmates who are also his friends. “We have been through this journey together and I think that we will work well together for years to come.”
He also expressed a deep gratitude for his parents, siblings, family, friends, mentors, and all those who have supported him and helped him to realize God’s plan for him.
“God has blessed me in so many ways, I now give my life back to him,” he added.

Deacon Kyle Dugan
Deacon Kyle Dugan, the son of Glenn and Kelly Dugan of Holy Spirit Parish in Goddard, said the thought of gratefulness fills him as he ponders his priestly ordination.
He is grateful for his education, for the friendships that have developed, with the support his family, and “most importantly I feel grateful to God who continues to bestow his grace and gifts on me in so many ways,” he said.
“We’re about to experience a big change in our lives,” Deacon Dugan said. “The more we trust that whatever happens next is God’s gift to us, the better we will be.”
He added that he is looking forward to being accepted into a loving parish community. “The seminary has taught me all they can about how to be a priest, now I look forward to the parish teaching me what school can never teach.”

Deacon Adam Grelinger
The Rev. Mr. Adam Grelinger said he is excited about his ordination, and that although one can never be fully prepared for the priesthood, he believes the seminary has prepared him as much as it can.
“As for the rest, we will have to trust in the Lord,” he said.
Deacon Grelinger, the son of Bart and Melissa Grelinger, members of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Wichita, said he is looking forward to being ordained with nine friends, “Who I know will be there for me when I need advice and with whom it will be a joy to serve the diocese with.”
He added that seminarians do get some “field experience” as seminarians and deacons, “but we are still very limited and it can feel like running on a hamster wheel.”
Deacon Grelinger said he is looking forward to getting out of school and settling into the life of a parish, getting to know families, and helping out in whatever ways he can. “What that entails, I don’t fully know yet. I do know that it will be a true joy to be able to celebrate the sacraments for the people of the diocese.”

Deacon Ed Herzog
The Rev. Mr. Ed Herzog, the son of Michael and Michaleen Herzog, of St. Anne Parish in Wichita, said he finds it hard to believe that his six years of seminary formation is coming to an end.
“Back in 2011, when I entered the seminary, ordination seemed like it was so far off, almost like it would never come. And now here I am in the final weeks of preparation for the priesthood,” he wrote.
“Needless to say I am very excited to be ordained, but most of all I am grateful to be a part of the Diocese of Wichita being that I am originally from outside the diocese.”
Deacon Herzog said he is excited to be a part of the historic ordination of 10 men to the priesthood and 10 men to the diaconate. “The fact that I get to be a part of such a great diocese with so much opportunity and promise on the horizon is exciting and humbling to say the least!”
In addition to celebrating the sacraments, he is looking forward to getting to work in a parish and engaging in pastoral ministry.
“For the last six years the people of the diocese have invested a lot of time and money into my formation, and for that I will be forever grateful,” Deacon Herzog said, “but now I am eager to share what I have learned and help bring the people of our great diocese closer to our Lord. I feel like I am finally able to do what the Lord put me on this planet to do, and that is to serve the people of God as a priest that continues to make Jesus Christ present in the world today.”

Deacon Drew Hoffman
The Rev. Mr. Drew Hoffman said as his ordination nears, he is “tremendously grateful” for the love, support and prayers of the many people who assisted him during his seminary studies.
“For the past six years I have received letters from students, notes of support from Serrans, and promises of prayers from people throughout the diocese. We are so blessed in Wichita to have this community, and I will always be grateful for that,” he said.
That support was an impetus to work and study hard in the seminary, Deacon Hoffman said.
“Now, on the verge of returning to the diocese as a priest, I am ecstatic about the opportunity to return the blessings that have been poured out on me by the people of God.” He added that he is looking forward to celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.
“The powerful experience of confession with so many of the priests of the Diocese of Wichita was a big reason I joined the seminary, and I am thrilled to be able to take up that mantle and be a mediator of God’s mercy and grace for people.”
Deacon Hoffman, the son of Mark and Sue Hoffman, of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita, said he will be happy to be back in the Diocese of Wichita after six years of seminary study.
“I cannot wait to serve the people who raised me up in Wichita – now as a priest of God,” he said. “One of the most enticing parts about the priesthood for me is the opportunity to be in peoples’ lives, during good times and bad, at the beginning of life, and at the end. The priest as a spiritual father to the faithful is a tremendous gift in our church, and I am so excited about the possibility of taking up that responsibility!”

Deacon Clay Kimbro
The Rev. Mr. Clay Kimbro said he was grateful for the support of the people of the diocese during the last seven years and that he understood many sacrifices have been made for him to be able to receive the best formation possible in the seminary.
“Now comes the investment so many have made as 10 new priests will be at the service of the people in the Diocese of Wichita,” he said. “I am filled with gratitude and joy for the many people who have helped me along this journey. There is truly no place like home, and I cannot wait to return home to serve the people of God.”
Deacon Kimbro, the son of Kim and Kari Kimbro, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Colwich, said even after so many years of seminary training he understands that nothing can completely prepare him for the priesthood.
“The fact that when I wake up one morning in May I will not be able to forgive sins, or celebrate the Mass – and at the end of that day I will be able to do those things, and people will call me “Father,” and place all their trust in me, fills me awe and wonder.”
He said he is eager to learn about his first assignment so that he can finally put faces and names to the people for whom he has prayed so much during his preparation.
“I am simply excited to finally be who I was made to be,” he said.

Deacon Andrew Labenz
The Rev. Mr. Andrew Labenz, the son of Tyler and Valerie Labenz of Church of the Holy Cross in Hutchinson, said as he nears his ordination he is thankful to Almighty God for his vocation.
“How truly humbling and awe-inspiring it is to be called to be a priest of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Deacon Labenz said he is also grateful for the support he has received from Bishop Carl A. Kemme, the priests of the diocese, his family, his parish, and the diocese as a whole.
“Please continue to pray for me that I will be a holy priest who is daily conformed to the priestly heart of Jesus Christ!” he said.
“Words cannot capture how excited I am to celebrate the Holy Mass where I will be united with Christ as both priest and victim,” Deacon Labenz said. “I am also looking forward to being a part of a parish community where I can both learn from my future pastor and become a spiritual father to the people God has called me to serve.”

Deacon Jorge Lopez

The Rev. Mr. Jorge Lopez said as his ordination to the priesthood nears, he is filled with gratitude to God for his vocation, and to his family for their unconditional love, prayers, and support.
Deacon Lopez, the son of Jesus and Maria (del Carmen) Lopez, said, “I have relished the reassurance that I am not alone on this journey. God has gifted me by introducing many great people to me throughout the diocese, for whom I am so thankful for their support. I know that I will have the same support as a priest.”
He is looking forward to celebrating the sacraments and working with the people of the diocese “by putting to practice everything I have learned in seminary, most importantly by loving, serving, and walking with them in our journey of faith.”

Michael Brungardt
Michael Brungardt, the son of Jerry and Cas Brungardt, members of Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, said after all the years of seminary study his first thought as his ordination to the transitional diaconate nears is “gratitude.”
“Everything that I have received during these years preparing for ordained ministry in the Diocese of Wichita has been a gift,” he said. “Call me unoriginal, but I think it is the result of the stewardship way of life we lead. It’s about the grateful response we make in response to the recognition of all that we have been given.”
Brungardt said his second thought is “wonder.”
“Looking back on the five years I have spent in seminary, the many years before that I spent discerning whether or not to go to seminary, and even the years before that, I constantly find myself in a state of wonder and awe about how the Lord was able to get me where I am today,” he said.
Brungardt added that he has come to realize that he is only at the beginning of many years of service to the good people of the Diocese of Wichita.
“That he has placed such a joyful path before me, such a beautiful pilgrimage to walk, is indeed something that fills me with wonder,” he said.
Brungardt said he is looking forward to sharing all he has received. “As a deacon I look forward most to preaching, baptizing, preparing couples for marriage, witnessing marriages, and visiting the sick…I look forward to be able to spend my first three months as a deacon.”
Although being in a seminary has often kept Jim away from the diocese for almost eight months out of the year, he said, “I never tire of longing for the day I will return to Wichita for full time ministry.”

Garrett Burns
Garrett Burns, the son of Pat and Jackie Burns, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said he is humbled and grateful to God for his vocation.
Looking back, he said, he is in awe and full of gratitude for the love, prayers, and support of his family, friends, and everyone across the diocese.
“I have a burning desire to lay down my life for the Church in love, but I realize that I have this love for the people of God only because you loved me first,” he said.
Burns said he is looking forward to celebrating baptisms and delivering homilies.
“Oftentimes, I catch myself daydreaming in class as I ponder creative ways to share the Gospel through my preaching,” he said. “Hopefully my professors do not notice!”
Burns said he is looking forward to becoming a part of the lives of the people of the diocese. “When at seminary, I often feel distant and disconnected from the daily lives of those that I am called to serve. My ministry as deacon will provide unique chances to learn from you, to pray with you, and to walk next to you on the journey of faith.”

Isaac Coulter
Isaac Coulter, the son of Bryan and Jodi Coulter of Church of the Resurrection in Wichita, said a lyric by the rock band Foo Fighters kept coming to mind as he pondered his ordination: “Mine is yours and yours is mine/ I will sacrifice/ In your honor/ I would die tonight/ For you to feel alive.”
He said seminary is long and he has yearned to give himself completely to the sacramental commitment of ordination.
“By ordination to the diaconate, I will go deeper into that mystery,” Coulter said. “A new outpouring of the Holy Spirit by Bishop Kemme’s prayer sounds pretty cool too.”
He is eager to serve the people of the Diocese of Wichita as a deacon, he said, quoting 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “I have longed to give you the Gospel, and more than that, to give you my very life; you have become very dear to me.”

Matt Davied
Matt Davied said his immediate thought as he looks ahead is: “Finally, it’s here!”
Davied, the son of Resurrection parishioners Greg and Kelly Davied, said he will finally be able to fulfill the reason he left for the seminary, to promise to give himself to the people of the diocese in celibacy, prayer, and obedience.
“Yet, I also look back at all this formation, and am grateful for all the formation I’ve been through, because not only is ordination finally here, but I feel ready to take it on. I am not in seminary to be here forever, but to be out in the parish, and that begins this summer.”
He said a deacon is ordained to serve, to help the pastor in various capacities.
“But this particularly includes celebrating the sacraments of baptism and marriage, and I am looking forward to this, certainly,” Davied said. “These are very joyful sacraments to celebrate, and it is a blessing for a deacon to have the ability to take part in the beginning of a Christian’s sacramental life, and the beginning of a man and woman’s vocation together.”
Davied said he is most excited to become a minister of the Word. “A deacon proclaims the Gospel and is able to preach the homily. In these duties, the deacon does not simply facilitate bringing Christ into the world, but speaks Him to the people,” he said. “It is very humbling to be a minister of the Word, and very exciting.”

Nic Jurgensmeyer
Nic Jurgensmeyer, the son of Terry and Debbie Jurgensmeyer, members of St. Joseph Parish in Baxter Springs, said he is excited to serve the people of the diocese. “I know this is what God is calling me to do and that gives me a great peace.”
He added that he is looking forward to serving the people as a transitional deacon. “I am also excited to see the different ways in which God will work through me after ordination.”

Michael Kerschen
Michael Kerschen, the son of Martin and Lila Kerschen, members of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Garden Plain, said his upcoming ordination feels like the culminating moment of everything he has been doing.
“Prayer, study, relationships, parish assignments, and all the rest being offered in promises and consecration to a lifelong commitment to ordained ministry of the church,” he said. “It’s exciting and fearful!”
Kerschen added that he is a little nervous about the idea of giving a homily, “but it excites me more than any other official function of a deacon,” he said.

Christopher Martin
Christopher Martin, the son of Don and Shirley Grimm, members of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Goddard, said he is humbled and honored to be considered for ordination.
“The gifts that I have been given by God will now be put to a better use than anything that I would have done with them before entering the seminary,” he said. “It is a great joy to believe in God’s plan for you. I fully trust that whatever task God will give me, he will be with me along the way.”
He said he is looking forward to serving the people of God to a greater extent after his ordination.
“I have always been a person who loves to be ‘in the trenches’ with the people,” Martin said. “Giving homilies, serving at Mass as a deacon, and teaching others about how much Christ loves them as his children are just a few of the things that I will be able to do more fully after ordination. I trust that God will make me an instrument that will bring others closer to himself.”

James Schibi
James Schibi, the son of Vince and Mary Schibi of St. Patrick Parish in Parsons, said after five and a half years of seminary he’s excited about his ordination and happy that God called him to his sacred vocation.
“Throughout these years I have reflected on my own unworthiness and inadequacies in regards to this calling, but through my experience of trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit I have gained a certain peace in these last few weeks before my ordination,” he said. “I know that it is only through Jesus Christ that I am able to be in this position and am eternally grateful for His and His mother’s guidance and intercession along the way.”
Schibi said he is looking forward to giving back to the people as a deacon and in the future as a priest.
“I know I have much more to learn and this is a great learning opportunity for my future priesthood God willing. I am filled with excitement and joy as I begin this part of my life and especially to help people become closer to Christ and his church,” he said.

Todd Shepherd
Todd Shepherd said he is ready, after seven years of preparation, to officially give himself to Christ and his people to build up the church.
“All vocations are geared towards gift of self. As St. Francis of Assisi says, ‘In giving we receive,’” he said. “It is precisely in giving ourselves to God and others that we find true fulfillment. My life is a gift from God and I firmly believe this is the most fulfilling way I am supposed to live my life in gratitude for that gift.”
Shepherd, the son of Thomas and Sheila Shepherd, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said he is looking forward to serving in a parish this summer.
“All of the aspects of seminary formation are geared towards parish ministry,” he said.
“Throughout my years of seminary I have experienced little tastes of parish ministry that have only made me hunger for more. After seven years of these little tastes – learning, discussing and dreaming about parish ministry, I’m excited to finally jump in and be at a parish full-time in order to apply, in a more real way, everything I have learned so as to impact others and hopefully get them closer to life’s goal: heaven.”

Derek Thome
Derek Thome, the son of Howard and Jean Thome, members of St. John Parish in Clonmel, said the closer he gets to ordination the more he realizes his inadequacies.
“Ordination, then, is that recognition of God’s grace to configure my life, even with its imperfections, towards its ultimate beauty, my given vocation,” he said. “Ordination is not the completion, but the beginning of a more perfect configuration to the life of Christ, in service as a deacon, and as priest and victim in the priesthood.”
He said his ordination is a great moment of anticipation, as he is completing his tenth year of college.
“It is with great joy that God’s will is manifested in such a permanent way,” Thome said. “It is this moment in my life where true peace, knowledge that I belong entirely to God, is not only confirmed, but is sealed by the sacramental character of the sacrament.”
He is looking forward to giving himself, he said.
“For a priest, or even a deacon, this is visible in his commitment to prayer for the people, his availability to the faithful through his living out of celibacy, and his exercise of sacramental responsibilities and privileges,” Thome said. “I look forward to proclaiming the Word of God, preaching the Gospel message and inviting people to a deeper relationship with Christ, baptizing children, and witnessing marriages.”

Diocese opens doors to a seminarian formation program


St. Joseph Parish to host seminarians who will study at Newman
Diocesan seminarians will soon be in a closer relationship with their bishop in the first two years of their formation.
Starting in the fall, men who are beginning their college study in preparation for a bachelor’s degree in philosophy will become members of the St. Joseph House of Formation, will reside in the former rectory at St. Joseph Parish in Wichita, and study at Newman University in Wichita.
Father Michael Simone, diocesan chancellor and director of the Vocations office, said Bishop Carl A. Kemme approved the house of formation for the seminarians during their first and second years of college.
“He’s decided that for many reasons,” Fr. Simone said. “One of them is so that we can have a local program of formation, and also so that they can be exposed directly to parish ministry.”
The program was given its name in honor of the parishioners and the pastor of the parish who “have graciously opened their arms and found a place for them to live,” he said.
The seminarians will take basic college courses at Newman University as part of the formation program and will graduate in two years with an associate degree.
Father Simone said Bishop Kemme recognized that the diocese has a dynamic vocations program and that the house of formation seemed “like the next logical step.”
There will be between three to five men in the first year’s cohort of the St. Joseph House of Formation, he said, adding that he believes it will gradually increase. “We’ve looked over the past five to seven years and we could eventually have up to 16 or 17 in the program.”
The parish is excited to be a home for the seminarians, Father Simone said.
“There’s a tradition at St. Joseph Parish for hosting religious men and women on campus since they’ve been in existence so we’re hopeful that this is a natural way to extend that to a diocesan family as well.”
Bishop comments
Bishop Carl A. Kemme said the St. Joseph House of Formation is an exciting venture for the diocese.
“After much prayer and consultation, I decided to begin this new program as a way to enhance our long tradition of helping young men discern a vocation to the priesthood, as well as providing a solid formation for them in the first two years of college seminary,” he said.
“I am very grateful for the support of our priests for this new program and I look forward to welcoming our first cohort of students to the house of formation established right here in the heart of our diocesan family.”
Father Joe Gile
Father Joe Gile, dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Adult Education at Newman University, said the idea of seminary formation in the Diocese of Wichita was studied several years ago and found great support among priests.
Bishop Michael O. Jackels, now the ordinary of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, decided at the time that the Diocese of Wichita didn’t have the number of priests available to start the program.
“And, of course, that was the right decision,” Father Gile said. “But now, with the large ordination class this year and next, I think Bishop Kemme thought we were in a position to give this another look.”
So, after consultation with his brother priests, Bishop Kemme decided it would be advantageous for the diocese to open a two-year house of studies program, Father Gile said.
“I really like the way this is ended up,” he said. “It’s still an exciting undertaking, but having a more modest start, I think is definitely the way to go. I’m excited about starting in the fall. I think it’s going to be great for the diocese and certainly great for Newman University as well.”
Newman’s theology department, which has worked closely with the diocese in its master’s degree program, won’t be heavily utilized by the new seminarians, who will be fulfilling general education requirements. They will complete their requirements for a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at one of the college seminary programs used by the diocese.
“This will be a fine educational experience for the seminarians from start to finish doing their general education work at Newman,” he said.
Father Gile added that he has been at Newman for about 12 years during which he has worked to make the university a regional center for theology.
“We’ve got some of that going on with our master’s program, but this will remind people of Newman University and will raise our profile. We will be working with the diocese on yet another level.”
He added that it’s a win-win situation.
“I think it’s going to be good for the diocese,” he said. “I think it will be great for the parishes to see some of our seminarians here out doing apostolic work. I think it could be great for vocations and I think it’s certainly good news for Newman University as well.”
Dr. Noreen Carrocci
Dr. Noreen Carrocci, president of Newman University, said she was grateful for all the support the university has received from the diocese.
“This further solidifies our partnership with the diocese,” she said last week. “The Adorers (of the Blood of Christ) and the diocese have such a close connection. This is a wonderful natural continuation of our partnership.”

St. Joseph House of Formation at a glance
• The Diocese of Wichita has established a two-year initial formation program for its seminarians called the St. Joseph House of Formation.
• The men will live in the old rectory on the campus of St. Joseph Parish in Wichita.
• The seminarians will enroll at Newman University for their general studies. After receiving an associate degree from Newman, the men will transfer to a college seminary to complete their requirements for a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
• Seminarians complete their academic training by studying for master’s degrees in theology at a seminary before their ordination to the priesthood.

Seminarians learning about illness, life, death

Chaplains learning skills to be used as priests
Three seminarians studying for the Diocese of Wichita have been assigned to the Via Christi hospitals in Wichita this summer.
The three young men – Michael Brungardt, Garett Burns, and Andrew Dellasega – will be in their third year of theology studies this fall. At the end of the school year they are scheduled to be ordained to the transitional diaconate – God- and bishop-willing.
Garrett Burns
Garrett Burns, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said the trio is assisting the chaplain staff at various Via Christi locations this summer, although most of their time they are working at the St. Francis hospital location where they visit with patients and their families, and take Holy Communion to the sick.
“We offer prayers and support – especially during times of trauma or health crisis,” he wrote in an email.
“It was edifying to shadow Father Jeremy Huser and witness his impact as a spiritual father to not only the sick and their families, but the doctors, nurses, and staff as well,” Burns said.
“Additionally, I have experienced powerful moments of grace. Coming to the hospital is such a critical time for the faith of many individuals. Some people feel hostility towards the Lord. Others come to deeply know the true power of redemptive suffering. In every one of these situations, it is my joy to be able to present the supernatural hope given through faith in the Gospel.”
Burns said he believes he is receiving a “priceless experience” in his ministry to the sick, the dying, and their families.
“I hope to gain greater wisdom about how to more effectively preach the truth of Jesus as a way to convey hope and strength in these times of difficulty. I’m sure I will always carry with me those moments when the grace of God’s salvation overcomes all human doubt, pain, and despair. Those moments keep me going when my own faith in God’s goodness and mercy begins to wane.”
Drew Dellasega
Drew Dellasega said most of his time is spent visiting patients in the hospitals to distribute Communion, work with the pastoral staff and resident priest chaplains, and learn more about the duties of chaplains.
“I have gained an invaluable insight into the operations of what it takes to care for those who are ill,” he said. “The vast number of individuals who work in collaboration to provide for our patients is truly fascinating.”
Dellasega, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Pittsburg, said he is grateful to be able to be a part of the ministry.
“Just as we all must care for ourselves physically, so, too, we must care for ourselves spiritually,” he said. “The doctors, nurses, and staff all play a vital role in caring for the physical needs of the patient; likewise, the priest chaplain and pastoral care staff care for the patients’ spiritual needs.”
Assisting patients and their families in the time of illness is an integral part of priestly ministry, he said. “I have had the opportunity to gain further experience in caring for those who are in the hospital, preparing me all the more for the holy priesthood.”
Michael Brungardt
Michael Brungardt said a typical day can be anything from making Communion calls, to visiting patients, family, and staff, to responding to family needs resulting from trauma cases, and being with them if things don’t go well.
“In terms of caring for patients and family members, we as chaplains act as a kind of liaison between the medical team who is caring for the patient in critical cases, and the family members who are often waiting anxiously for news on their loved one,” he said. “As chaplains, we are able to help the family through a time that not many people are truly prepared to handle.”
Brungardt said he can “experience an entire lifetime” in one hour: seeing a newborn child at one moment to visiting someone in hospice care the next.
Because patients are out of their normal routine, he said, they begin to ponder questions about what really matters in their lives.
Their hospitalization, Brungardt said, “is an event that has the power to change how they look at life, and live their life from that point forward. So, as chaplains, we are able to do more than just provide them with ways to physically take better care of themselves, but are able to guide them to be able to face these big questions they have just encountered.”
Sometimes there’s little that can be done, he added. “Sometimes all you can do is be there with the person, with the family, or with the medical staff, leaving the rest up to God’s grace and mercy. That’s my constant prayer: ‘Come Holy Spirit, Come through Mary!’”
His work as a chaplain will be a part of what makes him a better priest, Brungardt said.
“Life can come and go in seconds. Someone that was leading a normal life one day can be on the opposite spectrum the next,” he said.
“As a priest – especially a parish priest – this ministry will contribute to my desire to want to help people face the reality of life in its entirety. Reality doesn’t begin when a traumatic event happens. Reality happens in the ordinariness of everyday life. This is just a reminder of our Christian duty to live the real, and to live it intensely. God’s merciful love will handle the rest.”

Thinking about the seminary?
It’s not too late to inquire about the seminary for the fall. Those interested may visit, or contact Father Mike Simone at 316-269-3900 or at

Seminarians learning what books can’t teach

By Gemma Rajewski
Several seminarians studying for the Diocese of Wichita are adding to what they are learning at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago.
Since February, four Wichita parishes have been assigned interns in the form of four second-year theology seminarians. The internship allows seminarians to serve the parish in a “concentrated” way.
“Honestly, it has been a blessing to take a break from the classroom, and to get our hands dirty, so to speak, in real service” said Garett Burns, who is interning at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He said working with the parishioners and sharing in their daily lives has helped him grow spiritually.
“These relationships allow me to follow Pope Francis’ call for preachers of God’s Word to ‘contemplate the people.’ Coming to understand their joys, fears, and struggles as Christians in today’s world increases my faith and helps me to grow in my ability to lead others to trust in Christ.”
Isaac Coulter, who is interning at Christ the King Parish in Wichita, said it was the smallest things that have made the biggest difference to him.
“A simple interaction with a parishioner may be just that: a simple interaction. But each simple face-to-face encounter is rich and beautiful. Those daily moments of connection with another soul through his or her eyes or a smile are powerful enough to break my heart. Parish life will break my heart, but it will, at the same time, fill it to overflowing.”
Two other seminarians are interning in Wichita: Michael Brungardt at St. Anne’s, and Michael Kerschen at St. Patrick’s.
The seminarians will return to Mundelein in May to wrap up their internship experience before summer. According to Burns, this experience will have an effect on the rest of his schooling.
“This reminds us that our seminary formation is geared towards making us fathers and servant leaders, rather than theological scholars,” he said.
“In addition, ministering daily in the parish brings to the light many previously hidden strengths and weaknesses. I can take this new knowledge back to seminary in the fall in order to most effectively use my last two years of preparation before ordination.”
Coulter is looking forward to the future now that he has had a chance to practice parish ministry.
“Experiencing this exchange of lives now on pastoral internship excites me all the more for that for which I have been preparing my entire life: to give myself completely through Christ’s priesthood.”
Rajewski is a communications assistant for the Catholic Advance.

Seminarians spending the summer in ‘labora’ along with their ‘ora’

Editor’s note: The term “ora et labora,” is Latin for prayer and labor.
By Gemma Rajewski
Summer break isn’t a time of rest and relaxation for the diocesan seminarians. Instead, most are working in various ways to serve and to learn to better minister to the people of the diocese.
Matt Davied and Michael Brungardt will be starting 2nd Theology this fall and are two of eight seminarians in intensive Spanish studies at Pittsburg State University.
“Spanish Immersion is a program for diocesan seminarians to learn how to better minister to the growing population of Hispanic immigrants in the Diocese of Wichita.
“In the program, we attend Masses, pray Liturgy of the Hours, and take classes at Pittsburg State during the week – all in Spanish. Besides these, we spend a weekend with a Hispanic family, and are hosted by various others in the area throughout the summer for a Sunday meal, all while speaking only Spanish,” Davied said.
Brungardt believes the program goes beyond a simple language lesson. “I think it’s a very integrated program, one that challenges you personally, pastorally, academically, and, most importantly, spiritually. This program allows us to open our hearts to the Lord and to His voice; to allow the Lord to give us the heart and the grace to minister to all people.”
Davied said the program is designed for the seminarians to understand an increasingly large group of people within our diocese: “A people with a rich culture and generous spirit, many of whom are facing the challenges of establishing a new life in a new country. Understanding the language is only a part of establishing a more intimate connection with Spanish speakers, that we, God willing, as priests, may be better bridges for them to reach the Lord.”
Not all the seminarians are hitting the books this summer. Some are trying to learn other useful skills in their summer activities, including Drew Hoffman who is improving his kitchen skills at The Lord’s Diner in Wichita.
“I am a horrible cook and I’m a klutz. Those aren’t a great combination when you spend three to four hours in the kitchen every day. Honestly, I’ve been here for two summers and I still slip, drop things, and have to ask really simple questions regarding cooking. My mom really tried to teach me, but I am an utter failure in that area,” said Drew Hoffman, who will be starting 3rd theology in the fall.
Hoffman is cooking, cleaning, prepping, serving, and more at the Diner. He is one of three seminarians working with many volunteers to serve roughly 2,000 meals a day to the hungry.
Despite Hoffman’s talents and skills in the kitchen, he says that isn’t the most difficult thing about working at The Lord’s Diner. “The hardest part is seeing the pain and struggle of many on a daily basis. Numerous guests who come to the Diner or to the trucks have wonderful hearts and have a deep relationship with the Lord, and to see them struggle physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, with family issues and so on is painful to see.”
The Lord’s Diner serves meals out of two trucks in Wichita at the Evergreen Rec Center on North Arkansas and at 1329 S. Terrace, just east of Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph.
However, Hoffman finds joy in his work. “There are all different types of people and it’s an honor to be able to sit down with them. To be able to pray, listen, and laugh with them is the highlight of my day.”
Andrew Labenz, beginning 3rd Theology, is finding similar enjoyment at the Catholic Care Center in Wichita.
“It has been so rewarding to be able to get to know all the residents on a personal level. It has been such a joy to learn about their families, hear their many stories, and to witness their faith and their love for the church and for God.”
Labenz said by witnessing the suffering of the residents and families, he has learned how suffering can lead one to possess a greater hope and love for God
His responsibilities include Communion calls, serving at Mass, spending time with the residents, and teaching Spiritual Uplift classes. He will also start doing prison ministry in a few weeks.
The other diocesan seminarians are working in various other environments and trades including Totus Tuus, parish work, hospital ministry, Prayer and Action, and more.
Through their work they are growing in the vocation they feel God has called them.
“They have reminded me of why I desire to be a priest, which is to serve all of the people of God,” Labenz said.
Rajewski is advertising coordinator for the Advance.

Seminarian shares about Holy Family Camp

By Ty Taylor
Holy Family Camp last summer had a very deep impact on me. Here are three thoughts that struck me at different points throughout the week.
The first was the incredibly unconditional love that the campers demonstrated to all of us who were working at the camp. It didn’t matter that I had never met them before, or that I might not remember all of their names. (Although I tried!) They didn’t care whether I was a “cool kid” or popular, or if I was the biggest goofball they had ever seen. The campers welcomed me with open arms and a big smile because they knew my inherent dignity as a human person. They knew that kindness and love are the answer to life’s problems. What especially struck me is how easy it is for them to love people. I saw that mercy and love at Holy Family Camp.
Seeing such love and kindness at the camp made me stop one day as I thought, “How, how, how can mothers abort their children with special needs? How could they deny such good, kind people a chance at life?” And I realized that their motive was most likely the same one that had almost caused me to turn down the offer to work at Holy Family Camp: fear. A fear of the unknown, fear that their child will suffer, or that they won’t be able to give them the kind of care that they need and deserve.
Fear of someone who is “different,” when they really aren’t any different. My fear of the unknown evaporated once I met the campers. We have to trust and take the leap of faith!
My camper had a difficult time walking, but that didn’t stop him from holding every door we went through. He always complimented “the ladies” as he called them, whether they were campers or Camp Buddies, young or old. Often, his “thank you” to the cooks at dinner or at other times reminded me that I had forgotten to say thank you! His example to me of what it means to be a good person – not to mention the example of all the other campers – made me realize how much I still had to work on as a gentleman and man of God. Praise God for his mercy and forgiveness, because I still have a long way to go!
Holy Family Camp was an incredible week, and I hope that I will be able to go back. The campers gave me infinitely more than I gave to them.
If you have any desire at all to work with people with special needs, please, please sign up! It will be a very rewarding week. If you’re afraid, trust me. You just have to jump in and trust that it will work out. You won’t regret it! More importantly, trust God, and always listen for his will.
Taylor is a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Wichita and a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Mulvane.

Want to volunteer for the Holy Family Camp?
Holy Family Camp will be held June 7-12 at Camp Hiawatha in Wichita. For more information, or to volunteer, contact Camp Coordinator Christina Streeter, or Tom Racunas, director at the Office of the Ministry with Persons with Disabilities, at (316) 269-3900 ext. 170 or email or

Diocese blessed with many seminarians

The Catholic Advance featured diocesan seminarians in several articles this summer. The Advance had a lot of choices for topics because the Diocese of Wichita is blessed with so many vocations.
Father Michael Simone, director of Vocations, said the number of men on the yearly poster is inspirational.
“We continue to get a lot of fine, quality young men who wish to pursue God’s call in their life,” he said.
“Receiving any young man in our vocations program is a blessing for us, but the number and the quality continue to humble myself and Bishop Kemme – especially in the ways in which they are cultivated from our parishes and our schools, and the way in which we live Christianity in the diocese.”
For the young men who might want to be on next year’s poster, Fr. Simone recommended prayer and some fatherly advice.
Any young man who believes he may have a vocation to the priesthood, Fr. Simone said, should talk to his pastor or the priest chaplain, if he is in a Catholic school.
“He should also take to prayer in one of our many adoration chapels throughout the diocese, pray about it at Mass,” he said, “and if that thought continues to tug at his heart, give me a call.”
Fr. Simone is also vice-chancellor and moderator of the curia for the diocese.

Is the Holy Spirit calling you to the priesthood?
Those interested in a vocation to the priesthood may call the diocesan Vocations office at (316) 440-1714 or email

Two seminarians spend time in prison – ministry – this summer

By Don McClane Jr.
Gabriel Greer never thought he’d go to prison.
“When I first was told that I was going to do prison ministry, I was afraid,” said the seminarian. “I didn’t know what to expect. I had no clue what a prison was like. I never had my eyes set on going to a prison.
“On the first day, Jim [Rundell] and I arrived at the prison to be introduced to the prison chaplain and receive a tour,” recalled Greer. “The bars closed behind us, and there I was on my way into the prison.”
Greer and Garret Burns, both seminarians at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, spent parts of their summer doing prison ministry under the direction of Jim Rundell, program coordinator of St. Dismas Ministry to the Incarcerated. Burns, a first theology student from St. Francis of Assisi parish in Wichita, participated during June. Greer, a third-year theology student from Our Lady of Lourdes in Pittsburg, participated in July.
“Fr. Simone approached me with the idea of trying out this summer internship for seminarians in prison ministry with Jim Rundell,” said Burns. “We talked back and forth, talked with Jim, talked with my parents a little bit, and prayed about it, and decided it was the right decision.”
Burns spent most of his time at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, with visits to Hutchinson and Winfield.
“A couple times a week I was in the chaplain’s office,” he said. “I was just helping him with paperwork and things like that. But then we would attend, and I would sometimes lead, Bible study. At one of the prisons we’d have Mass once a week. At times we’d even have one-on-one meetings with some of the inmates.”
Greer spent Mondays and Wednesdays at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility.
“While I was there, I would follow the prison chaplain around,” he said. “We would go to ‘segregation.’ We would walk cell to cell. If a guy wanted to visit with us, then we would stop and talk to him. Typically all the conversations ended with prayer. I even had the opportunity to take Communion to the Catholic guys that were in segregation.
The Catholic inmates in the general population could request one-on-one meetings with him.
“I think I met with a total of eight of them throughout the summer. Whatever they wanted to talk about, we would talk about,” Greer said. “And that was a really moving experience, to hear how they hit rock bottom, and prison was kind of their wake-up opportunity, and began to take the faith seriously, began to go to catechism class, go to Mass once a week, so they could learn more about the church, about Christ, and ultimately to have that relationship with Christ that they need.”
Burns occasionally sat in on “death notifications.”
“If an inmate’s family member passed away, then we would be the ones to give him that news,” he recalled. “We’d give him a phone call and then try to start some counseling or begin that grieving process with him.”
On Tuesdays, Greer spent the day with Rundell at the Spiritual Life Center.
“I would do a lot of research on what the Catholic Church says about prison ministry,” he said. “Or, we would research taking communion to inmates, or taking the sacraments to inmates in prison.”
Tuesday evenings, Greer would go the El Dorado facility and sit in on the catechism class for the inmates there. On Thursdays, he would return to Hutchinson, where there would be Mass in the afternoon and catechism in the evening.
Burns was in the chaplain’s office in El Dorado twice a week, going occasionally to Hutchinson for Bible study and Mass, and to Winfield once for Mass.
“I was not ever really scared or threatened,” Burns recalled. “I never felt that I was in danger. I was expecting to always be on guard, and you’re always self-aware, but the hospitality and gratefulness of the inmates just totally took away any feeling of endangerment.”
Greer had the opportunity to vist the RDU at the El Dorado facility, where those entering the prison system first went for evaluation. He would go cell to cell with Rundell, talking to the inmates.
“Some of those guys, there were at a very low point in their life,” Greer said. “They’d never been to prison before, they’d hoped they never go to prison, and now know that they don’t ever want to come back.
“There was one guy who told me he wanted to learn how to pray,” he continued. “He specifically said he wanted to pray the perfect prayer. I told him we were human, and we pray what’s on our heart, but we have to rely on the Holy Spirit to make it perfect, but there is one prayer that Jesus taught us in the scriptures. And I said, it’s called the ‘Our Father,’ and I said, have you ever heard of that prayer?
“And he goes, no I’ve never heard of that prayer before in my life. And so I had the opportunity to teach him how to pray the ‘Our Father.’”
Both Burns and Greer were changed by their ministry.
“It changed the way I viewed them,” Burns stated. “I was able to connect with them like I didn’t think I would be able to, both in terms of our faith life and just their struggles with sin, and mine, which I thought would be completely different but were very much the same, so we could connect on that level.
“They mostly gave me a passion for the ministry, to see that these men need and deserve and truly thirst for this ministry and the sacraments.”
“I think it could have been very easy to say, no, I’m not going to minister to them,” Greer said. “But you see how desperate these guys are to find Christ, and really just find someone that will talk to them. They might have grown up in an abusive house. They never had anybody love them growing up, and that’s all they want.
“What I can do in my limited human capabilities in giving that to them had a great effect on me,” Greer said.
“You go in there, you learn to minister to them, you learn to love them,” he continued. “The prisoners, all they want to know is, are you going to come back? When do you get ordained a priest? Are you going to come and celebrate Mass?
“It really just changed my outlook on the guys, and I think that’s big. It really allows you to see them with dignity.”
Is prison ministry in the futures of the seminarians? Perhaps.
“One day, God willing, when I’m ordained, I will continue to have that passion to serve these men, especially with the gifts of confession and the Eucharist,” said Burns.
“I’m done there currently, but it’s definitely sitting with me,” noted Greer. “How can I continue to help these guys, though I’m not there any more?”
McClane is production manager for the Catholic Advance.

Eight seminarians immersed in Spanish language studies at Pittsburg State

By Molly Martin
Eight seminarians of the Diocese of Wichita – Andrew Bergkamp, Byron Bergkamp, Jacob Carlin, Kyle Dugan, Adam Grelinger, Ed Herzog, Clay Kimbro, and Chris Martin – are learning about how to speak “la idioma del corazon,” the language of the heart, according to Kimbro.
As part of their summer assignments, the seminarians enrolled in an eight-week, 11 credit hour, Spanish “immersion program” at Pittsburg State University. The program, which began June 2, continues until July 25 and is being taught by three faculty members for five hours each day.
“The program is much more than simple summer classes,” said Kimbro, a second year theologian from Sacred Heart Parish in Colwich. “We each spend one full weekend with a Spanish-speaking family in the Pittsburg area at the beginning of the summer to place us in a Latin American mindset, both in language and culture.”
He added that by the end of the weekend, many of their fears about speaking Spanish were alleviated because they were thrown into a situation where they were able to succeed in communicating beyond the language barrier.
In addition to classroom courses and a weekend with a family, the seminarians spend Sunday at the Spanish Mass, serving the Hispanic youth group, and eating at the homes of the Latin American community in Southeast Kansas. 
“I think the best part of the program for me is the interaction with the entire community in Pittsburg,” said Kimbro. “Everyone has been so gracious in welcoming us to the community.
“First and foremost, the Hispanic families have been fantastic, better even than the food they have so wonderfully fed us. The priests have been gracious in teaching us about the community and all of the people at Our Lady of Lourdes have been so kind to us.”
Kimbro said a close runner-up to the interaction with the community would be the fraternity which is built among the seminarians from Wichita.
“Even though we speak Spanish until 7 p.m. every night, we are still able to joke with each other and have a lot of fun in the house,” he said. “We are very blessed.”
Dr. Celia Patterson is the interim chair of the Spanish immersion program founded in the summer of 2012 by Dr. Judy Berry-Bravo. Courses, such as Spanish I, Spanish II, and Cultural Heritage in Hispanic America, are taught by Monte McFerron, Roberta Shilane, and Dr. Eric Rojas.
Martin is advertising coordinator for the Catholic Advance.

WSU grad to study a different kind of law

Recent convert to the faith to study the law in graduate school – God’s law
By Molly Martin
While filling out applications to attend law school, Darren Beckham felt he was being pulled in another direction and began discerning a call to the priesthood. Beckham has now accepted this call and will head to St. Louis in the fall to attend Kenrick-Glennon Seminary as a seminarian for the diocese.
“I was headed toward married life, and I believed God wanted to use me in the political world,” said Beckham. “I was praying, asking God where he wanted me to go when he started talking to me about the priesthood. I was apprehensive as a new Catholic, but I felt a definite peace in pursuing this idea.”
Beckham graduated from Wichita State University last month with two bachelor of arts degrees. While attending WSU, Beckham was elected student body president and converted to Catholicism after going through the RCIA program at the St. Paul Parish Newman Center. His mother converted to Catholicism two years prior and became the person Beckham trusted to ask questions about the faith.
“I didn’t think God was leading me to join the church, but I started sensing a new emptiness in my life,” he said. “Eventually, I felt drawn to the church the more I learned about it. Cautiously, I started going to RCIA believing that God was possibly leading me to eventually join the Catholic Church. I ultimately joined the church after having decided I had found God in the Mass and that there was nothing comparable to the Catholic faith.”
Beckham is now an active member of St. Paul Parish, as well as a member of the Knights of Columbus, a regular lector and Eucharistic minister. Fr. John Hay, pastor of St. Paul Parish, described Beckham as a very normal and genuine young man.
“He is affable, caring and courageous,” said Father Hay. “All three of these are necessary to be a good priest.”

Looking forward to seminary life
Beckham says he is most looking forward to a lifestyle steeped in prayer and structured around the idea of personal development. He is also looking forward to studying philosophy and theology, a couple of his favorite subjects.
“I have changed a lot in my five years at WSU, especially in becoming Catholic,” said Beckham. “I am excited to see what God can do in my life with six years of seminary.
“The advice I keep hearing is that I need to open myself up to what seminary is there to do in my life. By being open to God’s direction, whether through learning or formation, I hope to better understand God’s plan for my life and how to serve others.”
In coming into the Catholic Church, Beckham said his understanding of the church has been “revolutionized.”
“If God is in fact calling me to the priesthood, I am most excited about bringing the power and presence of God to people in the Mass and in ministry in general,” he said.

Discerning the call to the priesthood
Fr. Hay would ask that Beckham, or any young man, whether in the seminary or not, to keep his heart open to all that God will offer.
“God wants us to come to know the infinite and unconditional love he has for us,” he said. “God does not have any of the weaknesses that we experience or know in others. But yet we often project our experiences with others on to God. And while God perfectly respects our freedom, it is only possible to love God because He loves us!”
Father Hay said most men would be shocked to hear that the seminary is a very normal place.
“Think of a healthy fraternity with prayer added in,” said Fr. Hay. “My first piece of advice would be to enjoy the fraternity and time in the seminary – it's a lot of fun too.”
Father Hay said he would advise Darren and any seminarian to give themselves over trustingly to their personal development, both spiritual and character, while in the seminary and to be docile to what God might be asking.
“For sure, the seminary offers every resource to a young man discerning a vocation, but they also help to chisel us into the new man that St. Paul speaks of in his writings – ‘put on that new man, Jesus Christ,’” said Father.
Martin is advertising coordinator for the Catholic Advance.

Want more info about the seminary or the Newman Center?
Interested in learning more about the seminary or becoming involved in the St. Paul Parish Newman Center at WSU? Those considering the priesthood may email or call (316) 440-1714. For more about WSU’s Newman Center, visit

Holy Family Camp helps seminarian live Pope Francis’s missionary message

By Michael Kerschen

Last summer I was given the opportunity to spend a week as a Camp Buddy at Holy Family Camp, put on by the Ministry of Persons with Disabilities. Camp Hiawatha hosted more than 80 campers with a wide variety of disabilities and nearly as many volunteers.
We spent the week in prayer and song while we played games, learned about virtues, danced, swam, and simply had a lot of fun! This camp is a wonderful experience that teaches those involved the way to truly live a life with God in the center.
As part of the volunteer staff, I was charged with teaching the campers about our Catholic virtues. However, the campers taught me more about truly living out the virtues than I could ever hope to learn in a classroom.
The honesty, compassion, and joy the campers bring with them is contagious and spreads almost instantly. The patience, generosity, and gratitude that fills every interaction contrasts many of the interactions we see in everyday life and are evidence of the many blessings God has bestowed on the campers. Holy Family Camp gives the campers an opportunity to share those blessings with others in a respectful and safe environment.
We live in a world that continually disrespects human life and that values people based on worldly achievements. In the midst of all this, many of us have been excited to witness Pope Francis carry out a papacy of love and service to every human person, especially those in most need.
Holy Family Camp is an amazing opportunity to share our Holy Father’s mission right here in Wichita! Many of the campers need help with the little tasks of life we all take for granted. Helping them with these tasks allows us a share in the work of Christ and brings us closer to Him through a commitment to others. We are blessed to have Holy Family Camp in our diocese, and I encourage you to support this mission in any way you can!
If you are a high school or college student, please consider taking a week out of your summer and giving your time by serving at this camp. It is a good chance to fulfill service hour requirements, but more importantly you will be fulfilling the Christian call to serve others and will have a lot of fun doing it!
Michael Kerschen is a seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita. He is a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Garden Plain.

Diocesan seminarian raises money for Holy Family Camp

By Clay Kimbro
Four years ago I decided to get some friends together for a softball game and a barbecue as a fun way to celebrate my end of summer birthday.
The first year 15 of us gathered. The second year around 30 attended the “21st birthday edition.” The third year really took off as 50 people came ,including Deacon (at the time) Rickey Kotrba and Fr. David Voss.
I had heard of others who held fundraisers instead of getting birthday presents, so I thought it might be cool to raise a little money for charity. Last year we raised around $120 for Giving the Basics, a charity in Kansas City.
We had big plans for this year’s tournament. I volunteered this summer as a camp buddy for the second time at Holy Family Camp, a week-long residential camping experience for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I fell in love with the ministry totally and completely. I hope and pray that it can be a part of my life from now until eternity.
Christina Streeter and Carolyn Huffman, who help coordinate the camp, told me that some campers could not afford to participate this year, but that a donor paid their fees. I thought of all the important souls who come to camp each year and realized that some probably cannot attend because they can’t afford it.
I don’t want that to ever happen again, so we decided to raise money for a special camp fund that will be just for campers who can’t afford to go each year. Unfortunately, the softball game was flooded out as the result of summer storms, but we were able to have an indoor event of Wiffle ball and pillow hockey instead. Despite the weather and change in plans, about 120 people attended throughout the day.
Our goal was to raise $1,000 for camp by giving away T-shirts for a free-will donation. Attendees were young adults from the dioceses of Wichita, Kansas City, Salina, and Jefferson City, Mo. Yet their generosity in giving $10, $20, or $30 astounded and edified me. After an inspirational talk it was announced that we were only $14 short of our $1,000 goal. In the end we raised nearly $1,500 for Holy Family Camp.
New friendships were created, money was raised for an amazing ministry, and it was all united by our love for Christ, his saints, and his Blessed Mother. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Kimbro is a first year theology students from Sacred Heart Parish, Colwich.

Diocese blessed with many seminarians – including two named Alexander Lutz

Alex J. Lutz

Not only is the Diocese of Wichita blessed with 59 seminarians, the diocese has two men named Alex Lutz among those discerning their vocation to the priesthood. Alex J. Lutz, a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in South Hutchinson, and Alex E. Lutz, a member of Church of the Magdalen, Wichita, are both in their first year of college at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. They are not related.

A story in the Sept. 6 Advance quoted the Alex Lutz from Our Lady of Guadalupe, when it was in fact the Alex Lutz from Magdalen who had replied for that article.
In the interim,

Alex Lutz from South Hutchinson did say in an email that his life as a seminarian was off to a great start.
“Coming right out of high school poses a challenge, but I believe I’ve become a stronger person through this,” he said. “I believe I am extremely privileged to be living on a campus where everyone is striving to become more Christ-like.”
Lutz said being away from home has been a struggle but it has helped him appreciate all the wonderful things his parents have done for him.
“I have a newfound appreciation for them and my love for family has grown immensely. I look forward – God willing – to future years in seminary, becoming more Christ-like each step of the way through God’s ever-loving guidance.”

Chris Rumback, a classmate of the Lutzes and a member of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Hutchinson, said his experience so far has been positive.

“One of my favorite aspects of seminary is the strong sense of fraternity that naturally develops between students,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to experience formation with so many great people. I’ve also had the opportunity to see first hand that seminary forms men in all areas.”
He said he has learned that spiritual directors help the seminarians evaluate and strengthen their prayer lives, while formation directors help form character.

“We also take part in an ‘apostolic’ program in which we reach out to serve the community in some way,” Rumback said. “As freshmen, we’re assigned to various nursing homes in the area to visit with, help care for, and spend time with the elderly.”

Alex E. Lutz

New seminarians adapting to new lives

Nineteen of the 59 seminarians currently studying for the Diocese of Wichita are in their first year of study and discernment. Here are the replies of a few of the seminarians answering a question about their impression of seminary life.

Alex E. Lutz
Alex E. Lutz, a member of Church of the Magdalen, Wichita, said his experience, so far, has been “awesome.”
“It’s like we are in college and have the freedom of a college kid, but we still have time to pray and grow closer to God. The environment we are in allows us to open up and be ourselves,” he said.
Lutz, who is in his first year of college at Conception Seminary, Conception, Mo., said he enjoys the fraternity with his brother seminarians because he is around men who are going through the same discernment process. “It’s a comfort to know you’re not alone,” he said.

Austin Long
Austin Long, who is in his second semester of pre-theology at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md., said his initial impression of the seminary was that it was a very special and historic place.
“I was welcomed quickly by almost every man here and the brotherhood among the Wichita diocese seminarians is hands down the best in the nation, in my opinion,” he wrote.
Long, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Wichita, is discerning his call to the priesthood with 170 other men “who are all serious about figuring out God’s will for their life, and the seminary is the best environment for serious discernment.”
He added that the seminary is a far more “normal” place than he expected it to be. “Lots of people have pre-conceived negative notions of what to expect, but the seminary is not like a cloistered monastery, like many people think.”

Andy Beugelsdijk
Andy Beugelsdijk, a member of Holy Cross Parish in Hutchinson, said before he entered the seminary he had heard it was a place of growth and discernment and that whether he became a priest or not, the time spent there results in a better Catholic man.
“After only two weeks in the seminary, I’m finally beginning to understand from experience what everyone was saying,” he said.
“Having gone to a large, secular university for four years before I felt a call to the seminary, I was used to large class sizes, cut-throat academic competition, peer pressure to make poor social decisions, and having little time for faith while seeing it forgotten by the majority of students.”
Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., is like stepping into a new world, Beugelsdijk said.
“I’m surrounded by great priests and fellow seminarians. Everyone makes an effort to get to know each other, and no one is competing against you. The classes are interesting and well-integrated with the rest of seminary life.”
What he finds most appealing, he said, is the centrality and importance of putting God and prayer first each day and of actively living his faith with the help of daily Mass, confession, and the many opportunities for personal prayer and spiritual direction.
“It’s great being surrounded by men who are striving to follow Jesus and imitate His love,” he said.

Dillon Cott
Dillon Cott, a parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Schulte, said his acclimation to seminary life has been smooth but busy.
“I have found seminary in my initial days to be a time of adjustment into a more structured schedule of prayer, classes, and various other formation meetings and activities,” he said. “I have enjoyed being introduced to the monks of Conception Abbey and the beautiful liturgies that the monks place such importance into.”
Cott, who is in his third year of college at Conception, said over the summer he was able to meet his fellow seminarians from the Diocese of Wichita and grow in fraternity with them.
“I have already witnessed that fraternal bond here at Conception Seminary,” Cott added. “I am excited to see how seminary will transform my life and inform my discernment of a call to the priesthood. I have seen the many resources for that discernment process made accessible to myself and I am sure to find many more nuggets of growth along the way.”

Hayden Charles
Hayden Charles, a second year college student at Conception, said he had just finished his orientation and had many good things to say.
“I have enjoyed getting to know all of my brother seminarians,” he said. “There are a lot of great men up here that I am looking forward to developing good relationships with.”
Charles, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Wichita, said he is excited to begin classwork and learn from the “great staff” at the seminary.
“I am most excited to grow in my spiritual life and as a person here. I am very excited to begin my formation in preparation for the priesthood, and even if I discern that I am not called to the priesthood, I look forward to becoming a better man and deepening my relationship with God at Conception.”

Ty Taylor
Ty Taylor, a second year Conception college student, opened his reply with a statement that has a double entendre: “Life Begins at Conception!”
“Making the decision to go to seminary was the hardest part for me,” he said. “Since I’d been to college for two years and I’d talked to some of the guys at Conception, I had a general idea of the ins and outs of seminary life. However, I still wasn’t totally prepared for actually jumping in and living the life of a seminarian. It’s early to bed, early to rise, here, folks!”
Taylor, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Mulvane, said seminarians study and pray but there’s time for fun, too.
“I’ve only been here for a week, but I can start to see how this will prepare us for a life of sacrifice and the schedule of a priest. Whether it’s the fact that the dorms don’t have air conditioning (don’t worry, you just bring lots of fans!) or the amount of reading and work that we have to do, we just laugh about it and have fun.”
He said the men put their trials in perspective: “It’s not that big of a deal if we don’t have everything just the way we would like it, because that’s life. Some things are good, some are not so good, and we are truly blessed to be able to study and explore the idea that we are called to be priests here at Conception Seminary.”
Taylor said the Benedictine brothers are good examples and the basilica there is beautiful.
“We have lots of opportunities to walk more closely with Jesus as we learn about him and His church, as well as plenty of chances to make lifelong friendships with our brothers in Christ!” he said. “We couldn’t do it without the support of such wonderful people from the Wichita diocese, and for that I am deeply grateful.”

Mitch Schwartz
Mitch Schwartz, who is in his second year of college at Conception, said his choice to discern God’s will in seminary has brought him a deep sense of inner peace.
“I am blessed to have the opportunity to listen to His voice and grow in faith and understanding,” he said.
Schwartz, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Andale, said the seminary is challenging but deeply rewarding. “I know that I would not be here without the love and support of my diocese, my family, and God above all else.”

Camp Totus Tuus, Bina in the business of changing lives

By Molly Martin
When Andrew Bina attended the Totus Tuus camp for four years in high school, the camp’s motto was “in the business of changing lives.” Bina, a seminarian from Holy Family Parish, Pilsen, and director of this summer’s camp, says the motto still rings true.
“It’s sort of a beautiful thing to watch,” he said in a telephone interview. “With the fun in there and with the opportunity to get the sacraments and be in a place where you can live a Catholic lifestyle and see other people living their Catholic lifestyle – it just changes lives.”
Founded in 1996, Camp Totus Tuus is one of the few Catholic summer camps in Kansas. The week-long event of fun and fellowship allows participants to interact with other Catholic youth from around the diocese and immerse themselves in every facet of a Catholic lifestyle.
“I am sort of the opinion that Camp Totus Tuus is like a microcosm of a life well lived because we do everything to the max,” said Bina. “Totus Tuus means ‘totally yours.’ God came to earth and gave his all and he calls us to do the same. Totus Tuus is a structure within which you can learn to do that.”
Camp Totus Tuus, located outside of Lyons, structures itself around a mentor-based program. Campers partake in Eucharistic adoration, Marian devotion, catechetical instruction, and vocational discernment while enjoying the benefits of the campgrounds, such as the canoeing with a team of 10 college-aged counselors.
“We don’t have catechists, we have lived experiences that the counselors talk about,” said Bina. “They talk about their own experiences in prayer and their own experiences in high school, which the kids that show up are currently going through.”
That mentorship or discipleship, in addition to the sacraments, is the foundation of Camp Totus Tuus, he said.
Bina hopes campers take away “whatever God has to say to them.”
“Camp Totus Tuus is a loud place, we play a lot of fun games and we play loud music, we have a really good time,” he said. “But then there’s also a lot of opportunities to slow down in a way that you can’t in your normal life.
“In that silent time, God really has the opportunity to speak. My hope is that the campers are open to that – open to that silence – because God has something to say to everybody who shows up out there. Even me, the director, going into my seventh year – God has something to say to me and in the silence, I can hear it.”
Bina will use the silent reflections and his experience with Camp Totus Tuus to strengthen his formation when he returns to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., in the fall.
“You’re supposed to slow down and in the silence you listen to God speaking to you in terms of vocations,” said Bina. “Totus Tuus has a way of just like relighting the fire – it puts the fire in your belly and you just want to tell everybody how awesome the Faith is.”
“Every time I go back to seminary, I just get a real, strong desire to continue in formation,” continued Bina. “If God is calling me to the priesthood, the Faith is going to be my life in a very particular way and I’m going to be called to share the good news in new and varied ways – and Totus Tuus just gives me an excitement about that.”

Diocesan seminarians tour Southeast Kansas

By Molly Martin
Almost every summer, seminarians studying for the Diocese of Wichita participate in a Seminarian Weekend of Recollection at Newman University in Wichita where they listen to lectures, pray, and spend time becoming better acquainted.
Occasionally, though, the group makes a pilgrimage to Southeast Kansas where they visited churches, pastors, and parishioners from throughout the region. This year was one of those occasional years. At 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, the seminarians loaded a bus and began a pilgrimage to SEK.
“The point of the trip was to meet many of the people and parishes that support vocations and to see parts of the diocese that most of us have never seen before,” said Adam Grelinger, seminarian from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Wichita. “Additionally, most of us who become priests will be stationed in Southeast Kansas at some point, so we at least now know a little about the area.”
The group traveled from Wichita to the Southeast Kansas towns of Neodesha, St. Paul, Scammon, Chanute, and Piqua. The trip also included an overnight stay in Pittsburg and a stop at Big Brutus, one of the world’s largest electric shovels.
The seminarians began their weekend of recollection at St. Ignatius Parish in Neodesha. Father Stephen Thapwa celebrated a Mass for the seminarians. The parish served a breakfast afterward.
The next stop of the pilgrimage was St. Francis Hieronymo Parish in St. Paul to learn the history of how the faith was brought to the area that is now the Diocese of Wichita.
“Mr. Felix Diskin taught us about the Osage Catholic Mission and about the heroic men and women religious who worked tirelessly in the rough Kansas prairie land to establish settlements, educate the young, and spread the Catholic faith through the Osage territory,” said Grelinger. “We were able to walk through the museum there and we visited the graves of all the missionaries buried in the church cemetery.”
From there, the seminarians headed to Big Brutus, a gigantic electric coal shovel. Afterward, the bus left for Scammon for prayer prior to a dinner with St. Bridget parishioners.
“It was a great meal and a great opportunity to meet some wonderful people,” said Grelinger.
Following dinner, the seminarians left for Pittsburg for an overnight stay before their second day of travel in Southeast Kansas. The next morning, the bus departed for Chanute.
At St. Patrick Parish, the seminarians joined Father Bernie Gorges and the parish at Mass. In his homily, Fr. Bernie introduced the seminarians to the parishioners and exhorted them to persevere in their studies. A breakfast hosted by the parish youth in the parish gym followed Mass.
From Chanute, the seminarians departed for their last destination, St. Martin Oratory in Piqua, where Father John Miller and a couple of parishioners talked about the history of the church. Following a church tour, the seminarians returned to Wichita.
“The weekend was a blessing for all of us seminarians,” said Grelinger. “And we are truly grateful to all who provided our meals and came out to spend time with us.”

Ready to serve God’s people

Father Rick Kotrba ordained to the priesthood; 2 deacons ordained
A priest at his ordination is like a man and woman exchanging vows at the altar, Archbishop-elect Michael O. Jackels said to Father Rick Kotrba at his ordination to the priesthood Saturday, May 25, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
A couple promises fidelity “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, until death do us part,” Abp.-elect Jackels said in his homily. “It’s also, in essence, what a priest promises to God, his bishop, his brother priests, and the people he is sent to serve – no?,” he said, adding that a priest promises to:
• Discharge without fail the office of priesthood
• Be united more closely to Christ
• Consecrate himself to God
• Offer himself, like Jesus, as a pure sacrifice for the salvation of all


More Than Just Champions

- Contribution by Conception seminarian Herby Labenz

Down by twelve at the half of the semi-final match against a motivated Sacred Heart Seminary basketball team, the Conception Seminary Sons of Thunder basketball players huddled together to try to figure out how to turn the tide against a team that had our number the entire first half.  As I leaned in close to listen to words of wisdom and inspiration, I began to reflect on how close this team had become to me. At first, I began to recognize the bond that was formed through the sacrifices my teammates and I had made through the countless afternoon and evening hours of giving our time and talents to achieve the goal, of a repeated championship of the Mundelein Basketball Tournament, that was desired by both ourselves and the whole school.

I was then brought back to a defining moment of what this team was truly about.  One night during practice, half of the team was told to run four wind-sprints for constantly missing wide-open layups, but, as a sign of unity and support, each member of the team ended up running. Then, the true reality and meaning of this basketball team hit me.  The reason I treasured this team so much was because my teammates and I were helping to form each other to become the men and priests that God was calling us to become.  Whether it be helping to hold each other accountable, encouraging one another through positive encouragement, giving one’s all for a common goal, or sharing countless laughs and joys with each other, each member of the Sons of Thunder basketball team had a great fraternal care for his fellow teammate.

As we were broke the huddle with a “BOOM THUNDER,” I saw the fire in the eyes’ of my brother seminarians, and I realized that many of them had just come to see the same reality that I had just hit me.
The Conception Seminary College Sons of Thunder ended up defeating Sacred Heart Seminary 31-29, which was then followed by a 45-30 defeat of Mundelein Seminary the next morning to take home the championship trophy for the second year in a row.  Yet, as I made mention to in the title, our championship victory was a sign of a great reality.  We as a team had come together to help each other grow to have a greater realization for what it means to be a holy priest of Jesus Christ.

Pictured: Michael Brungardt, John Linnebur, Clay Kimbro, Drew Hoffman, Herby Labenz, Garett Burns, Christian May

Fr. Simone feels blessed to be diocesan director of vocations

Father Michael Simone, the director of Vocations for the Diocese of Wichita, says when he opens his eyes in the morning he gives thanks for all of God’s blessings.
“One of my greatest blessings is that I look forward to each day, to the ministry, and the work I’m engaged in in our diocese,” he said last week. “It’s truly a blessing in my life to see many fine young men – high-quality men – who are pursuing the answer to one question in their lives: Who is God calling me to be?”
It is inspiring, Fr. Simone said, that these young men are contemplating that question in the context of the expectations of the modern world, of God, and of our local church.
“Seeing them strive each day is something that truly inspires me,” he said.
“What they’re really seeking is the way that God is calling them to serve him and you, the people of the diocese.”

Zachary Pinaire furthers his seminarian education this summer at The Lord’s Diner

By Christopher M. Riggs
When the patrons at The Lord’s Diner addressed Zachary Pinaire as “Father,” he corrected them saying he was a seminarian getting ready for his second year of theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo.
They would answer: “OK, Father!”
Pinaire, the son of Barbara Pinaire of Derby, started working at the Diner after Labor Day. His assignment ended last Thursday.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I started. I knew we served a lot of people every night … but I didn’t really have a full grasp of what it was like.”
Pinaire said working at the diocesan ministry “opened my eyes, not only to the immense amount of charity and gratitude – charity of the volunteers that come to work here, but actually the gratitude of many of the guests who come to eat.”
His stint at the Diner has been an inspiration for his vocation, he added. As the result of his interaction with the patrons he not only better understands the pain of the poor, he has experienced their desire for love and for Christ.


Wichita seminarian leads effort to rebuild grotto

Grotto built in 1919 in thanksgiving for no loss of life during a smallpox epidemic
By Andrew Herby Labenz
As a junior at Conception Seminary College, Kyle Dugan was in need of a leadership role on campus. For years, various seminarians had tried to fulfill this required leadership role by rebuilding the Marian Grotto that was once a refuge of prayer and silence for the monks and seminarians of Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College. However, none had been able to fulfill their commitment.
Dugan, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Wichita, became interested in taking up the Maryknoll Grotto project because it offered him a chance to prove his leadership qualities to the formation staff, but more importantly because it offered him the chance to serve his brother seminarians and the Blessed Mother. “I noticed that there were a lot of students who wanted to see it done,” he said. “Yet, my biggest inspiration was knowing that the sacrifice was for Mary and for all the devotions to Mary that this grotto could inspire in the future.”


Youth and school news, July 6, 2012

Prayer and Action teams to visit St. Pat’s, Chanute
Teams have visited South Hutchinson
The Prayer and Action Summer Mission Experience visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in South Hutchinson last month and will be at St. Patrick Parish in Chanute the weeks of July 8 and July 15.
The three pillars of Prayer and Action are daily Mass at the parish, service work for the people in the area, and finding experiences of God’s grace within the work that day. Each week begins at 5 p.m. Sunday and ends on Friday around noon.
Prayer and Action was founded seven years ago in the Diocese of Salina by then seminarian and now Father Gale Hammerschmidt. After attending several expensive, but moving, mission trips as an adult sponsor, Fr. Gale decided to design his own program.
Fr. Jarrett Konrade, a priest of the Diocese of Salina, describes the reason for Prayer and Action’s success as “the profound presence of the Holy Spirit when people come together to pray and serve their brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Sleeping on the floor and waking up early for morning Mass, before going out and working all day in the summer sun may not seem like the ideal summer vacation, but countless hearts have been impacted by encounters with Christ through Prayer and Action.
Parish groups and individual youth who wish to participate in one of the two weeks in Chanute may register by clicking on the Youth button on the Youth and Young Adult page at the diocesan website, The Prayer & Action link is on the left side of the page or by contacting the Office of Faith Formation (316) 269-3940. For each six youth on Prayer and Action, one adult chaperone is required.


Seminarian spending summer helping the Office of the Hispanic Ministry

By Beatriz Balza
Jorge Lopez, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Wichita, has been assigned to the Office of the Hispanic Ministry this summer. He will team up with Josefa Fernandez, Maria Isabel Hernandez, and the Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.
Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Lopez is currently studying at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Maryland.
“It has been very exciting and I do hope that the last five years I have left to be ordained as a priest, will continue to be exciting,” he said.
Lopez said he discovered his vocation through Father Marco De Loera at a time he was having internal struggles about his vocation and was afraid of talking about it with his family or friends. “Growing up we never talked about a religious vocation.”
A parishioner of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception since he came to Wichita, he always admired Father De Loera, followed his journey as a seminarian, and thought of him as a “brave guy.”
At the reception following Father Ruben Ortiz’s ordination, Father De Loera approached Lopez and said: “So, when are you going to enter the seminary?”
Lopez said he was petrified. “How would he know? I have not talked to anybody about this?” He was not expecting that question, but that was what he needed to finally decide to come forward and inquire about the seminary.
Father De Loera then invited him for lunch and had a long conversation about the struggles Lopez was going through and the challenges he faced: He had to return to Mexico to obtain a visa, he needed to get his GED and improve his English, but his trust in God was bigger than all the obstacles.
He sensed divine intervention when he was able to obtain his visa in one week, a process that usually takes several months. After his return to the diocese he began his intensive English at Wichita State University.
“God was with me all the time,” he said, adding that beginning seminary was not easy.
Lopez said he is excited to discover his vocation day by day and adds that if God wants him to be a priest, he is willing to give it his best effort.
In an effort to recruit more Hispanics to the seminary he has given a talk at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church about his life as a seminarian.

Two ordained priests, one to diaconate

‘Priests give up their lives for God’ and for others
By Christopher M. Riggs
Bishop Michael O. Jackels looked at the two transitional deacons sitting before him and reminded them about one of the prayers for ordination.
“Priests give up their lives for [God] and for the salvation of their brothers and sisters.” And that, “Priests are chosen by Jesus to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church ... attending not to their own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.”
With that in mind, the Rev. Mr. Benjamin F. Green and the Rev. Mr. David M. Voss were ordained to the priesthood Saturday, May 26, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wichita. Concelebrating were Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber; former priest of the Diocese of Wichita and now bishop of the Diocese of Dodge City, the Most Rev. John B. Brungardt; most of the priests of the Diocese of Wichita; and several officials from seminaries associated with the diocese.
Father Green is the son of John and Catherine Green of Hutchinson. Father Voss is the son of Edward and Claire Voss of St. Patrick Parish, Wichita.
The ordination was held at St. Francis of Assisi because of the renovation work at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.


Three to be ordained at St. Francis of Assisi

By Christopher M. Riggs
Bishop Michael O. Jackels will ordain two men to the priesthood and one to the transitional diaconate next week.

Rickey Kotrba
Rickey Kotrba, the son of Scott and Mary Kotrba of Wichita, will be ordained to the transitional diaconate at 7 p.m. Friday, May 25. Because the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is being renovated this year, Kotrba will serendipitously be ordained in his own parish church, St. Francis of Assisi.
He and the other ordinandi recently responded via email to questions posed by the Catholic Advance.
Kotrba said he is excited to be able to work this summer as a deacon alongside the diocesan priests.
“I particularly am hopeful to be able to perform many baptisms and welcome more and more people as children of God and members of Christ’s body, the church,” he said.
The other Kotrbas are also excited about his upcoming ordination. “I have received so much tremendous support from my parish and the whole diocesan family as ordination approaches,” he wrote. “My mom is always telling me of more and more people who are praying for me, helping in planning and organizing in the ordination, and just generously giving themselves for the church through the ordination, and this has been very humbling for us.”
The Mount St. Mary’s seminarian said he would encourage any young man considering the priesthood to give of himself to God’s will. “We cannot outdo him in generosity.”
He also recommended staying close to the Blessed Mother and to entrust himself to her guidance.


Youth and school news, January 20, 2012

Pro-life video contest for high school youth deadline Feb. 15
The Diocesan Respect Life & Social Justice Office is sponsoring a video contest to promote awareness of Catholic principles that are in support of life from conception to a natural death.
Bonnie Toombs, director of the office, said youth have unique ways to communicate their ideas and can help the church reach other teens through video.
“They are much more creative than we could be in putting together an awareness campaign. I want to help them use their voices to shout out a need for all people to respect all human life – no matter the age or stage,” Toombs said. “Our dignity comes from being created in God’s image, not from anything we do or have.”
The original video should complete the thought, “A Respect Life stance is an essential part of being Catholic because…”
Awards will be given for first, second, and third places. First place will receive $100, and will be posted on the diocesan website front page for one week. Second place will receive $75. Third place will receive $50. All three winning videotapes will be at the Respect Life’s website for a month.


Diocesan news, January 20, 2012

Bishop Jackels appoints Fr. Simone as vice chancellor
Bishop Michael O. Jackels has announced that Father Michael Simone is appointed, in addition to his duties as Diocesan Vocation Director, to serve as Vice-Chancellor, effective immediately.


Ben Green ordained to the diaconate in Hutchinson

By Christopher M. Riggs
Bishop Michael O. Jackels said at the Rev. Mr. Ben Green’s ordination to the transitional diaconate that it is easy to see why the first reading is recommended for the occasion.
“The call of the tribe of Levi is akin to the call of Ben Green to Holy Orders,” he said during the homily Tuesday evening, Dec. 20, at Holy Cross Church in Hutchinson.
The Rev. Mr. Green was ordained at his home parish because the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita is being renovated.
“It’s not hard to see the connection: both are called by God and consecrated to assist priests – especially at divine worship,” Bishop Jackels said.
The Old Testament also says that the Levite has no other treasure but God, he said.
“Like an Old Testament Levite, Ben Green, called to Holy Orders, is consecrated as God’s special possession, committed to live in celibacy as a sign of consecration, to exercise ministry where he is sent as a deacon to benefit the people in his ministry of preaching, assisting at Holy Mass, carrying out works of charity, and praying the Liturgy of Hours.”


Seminarian Sam Brand talks about how the Diocese of Wichita is blessed with so many seminarians

By Sam Brand
The Catholic Diocese of Wichita has had about 45 seminarians each year for the past five years. This statistic astounds about everybody that I meet. They ask questions like, “What does the diocese do? How do we recruit? Where do they come from?”
Having been a seminarian for the Diocese of Wichita for five years I am asked these questions a lot and I could offer many possible answers. The first of which is always “by God’s blessing.” It is the first answer because a call to the priesthood is foremost a gift that both the seminarian and the people receive from God.
Other answers I offer are: “Our parishes constantly praying for vocations; a succession of bishops that have highly supported vocations; we have many priests who are great role models; a large number of our parishes have Eucharistic adoration chapels; and, the people of God are generous enough to pay for our education which gives us a greater freedom when discerning the call.”
Truth be told, the call to the priesthood – after God – comes from the family. It takes no great feat to nurture a vocation to the priesthood other than being a normal, healthy, supportive, Catholic family. This is something, I believe, the families in Wichita have done very well.
The passing on of the faith to their children is important and is as easy as taking them to Mass every Sunday and placing them in Catholic school or a parish religion program.
In the Diocese of Wichita, 70 percent of our seminarians graduated from Catholic schools and all four of our Catholic high schools have seminarian alumni. That data is a testament to how well our schools have passed on the faith in Wichita.


Ben Green to be ordained a deacon Dec. 20 in Hutchinson

By Christopher M. Riggs
Ben Green is getting two big gifts in December. Not only will he be ordained to the transitional diaconate, he will be ordained in his home parish.
Green, a seminarian studying at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md., will be ordained on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at Holy Cross Church in Hutchinson. Ordinations are usually held in the mother church of the diocese, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, but because the Cathedral is in the process of renovation, he will be ordained at his home parish.
“My bishop, vocation director, and the people of the diocese have been very patient with me as I discerned my vocation, it will be good to give back,” Green wrote via an email message from the Mount.
The seminarian, the son of John and Catherine Green, said being ordained at Holy Cross brings his life into a full circle. “My parish was where I first felt my call to the priesthood and the people have been tremendous in supporting me. I am very happy that my bishop is willing to ordain me there.”


Religious and vocations news, October 7, 2011

Three from diocese are received as candidates for priesthood
The Rev. Mr. David Voss reports that Diocese of Wichita seminarians Curtis Hecker, Andrew Bina, and Alex Gorges were received as candidates for priesthood Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo.
Deacon Voss, who also studies at Kenrick-Glennon, writes in his blog that the reception is one of the essential steps as a student progresses through major seminary.
“As our rector here explained, this step is akin to an ‘engagement’ to the church,” he writes. “This means that both the seminarian and the church view the discernment process as more serious and the prospect of ordination more immediate.”
Deacon Voss said he finds it interesting that some of the men who have been received as candidates for priesthood talk about “When I am ordained,” rather than, “If I am ordained.”
The transitional deacon ends his blog by sharing a funny story about a comment Bishop Michael O. Jackels made before Voss was ordained a deacon.
Want to watch the video?
To watch a brief video of comments by Curtis Hecker or to read Deacon Voss’ blog, go to and click on Seminarian Education at the top of the page and then click Seminarian Blog in the pull-down menu.



Newman U. tops all schools in Kansas in number of former students in seminary

By Ken Arnold
Ed Herzog originally came to Newman University to play golf.
Although Herzog was raised Catholic, he didn’t choose Newman because it is a Catholic university, and didn’t consider himself an actively practicing Catholic.
While at Newman, however, something happened. Herzog, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 2010 and an MBA in May 2011, found himself becoming more interested in the faith. He became friends with the theology professors. He took more classes to pursue his interest. He decided to be confirmed in Newman’s St. John’s Chapel.
Today, Herzog is a student at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emittsburg, Md., and one of seven former students from Newman University who are now in seminary formation for the Diocese of Wichita. According to Father Mike Simone, director of vocations for the diocese and former chaplain and director of Campus Ministry at Newman, that’s the most men in formation this year who hail from a single university in Kansas.


Seminarians go back to school, too

Meet the 2011-2012 class of seminarians for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.

By Scott Carter
4th Theology at Mount St. Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.

The men in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita studying for the priesthood will encounter many changes when they return to school this fall.

The men who attend Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland will have a newly-renovated chapel as well as a number of new faculty members. Those at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, aside from having a new rector in charge of the seminary, will be living off-site in an old convent while the seminary building is remodeled. And the men at Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri will welcome eight new Wichita seminarians to their group.

Despite all the changes, the daily routine will stay the same: pray, study and spend time with fellow seminarians. With daily Mass, a daily Holy Hour, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, going to class, exercising and finding time to study and sleep, seminary is a lot like going to college and holding a job at the same time. On top of that, there are formation meetings and spiritual direction sessions which help form the seminarians into good priests.

This can be quite an adjustment for those attending seminary for the first time. “Being required to go to everything every day was the big transition for me,” said Kyle Martens, a seminarian from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Wichita. “At Wichita State University I could choose what to go to, but at seminary every day is full.”

Twelve men will be making the leap to seminary for the first time. Most of them will be in college at Conception, studying philosophy along with other classes like math, English and history; those who graduated from college before seminary will take two years to focus on philosophy. Five seminarians graduated from college seminary last year and will begin their theology studies either at the Mount or at Kenrick, studying topics such as Church History, morality, spirituality, dogmatic theology and Canon Law. Those who are closer to ordination will also get to practice baptisms, homilies and hearing confessions.

Even with the busy schedule, it’s the friendship among the seminarians that shines out the most and helps the new men adjust. “We’re really blessed to have our Friday seminarian gatherings in the summer,” said Martens, “because it helps us get to know each other before school starts. We have so many seminarians that you don’t ever really feel alone.”

Seminarians close their Spanish books, prepare to open their theology books

Six young men get a couple of weeks of vacation before returning to their seminary

By Christopher M. Riggs

Pittsburg might seem like an odd choice for seminarians to participate in an intensive Spanish language program, but the Southeast Kansas city has a long history of associating itself with many cultures.

Father Michael Simone, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Wichita, said, “the people of Pittsburg have been welcoming the migrant worker since its founding. In fact, during the time of the coal mining, it was said that up to 57 languages were spoken there.”

Being able to immerse the seminarians in such a welcoming atmosphere is helping form their hearts, he said. “The entire city of Pittsburg, and especially the parish, should be proud of the way they not only remember their roots but are continuing to welcome migrants to their community today.”

Fr. Simone said the parish has also been a good location for the seminarians to interact with the migrant population because many of those in the area’s Hispanic community have been living in in the United States for less than a decade.

“The new population – and even the Hispanic ministry – is in some ways in its infancy in this parish,” he said. “With the help of the Missionary Catechists of the Poor and the parish community, who are so welcoming, we also have a perfect environment where the men are able to come into contact with various families, both in the Hispanic community and the Anglo community. It’s really a joint effort, if you will.”

Another reason the program was so successful, Fr. Simone said, was because the university was so open to adapting classes to fit the needs of the seminarians.

“Our men came in with various levels of Spanish and Pittsburg State, being a small regional college, has a limited number of classes that they are able to offer during the summer, but they were eager to welcome our six students and were able to accommodate their needs,” he said. “So it’s been a great fit for them this summer.”

On Wednesday, July 27, the Spanish faculty department hosted a luncheon for the seminarians who completed their work on Friday, July 29. The men will get a couple of weeks of vacation before hitting their theology books back at the seminary around Aug. 15.

Seminarian spends his summer at the Diner

Working with a large number of people who have a variety of personalities will certainly make a man a better priest, P.J. Voegeli says in an interview recently recorded by the Catholic Advance.
Voegeli, who is in his second year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., described his two months of work at The Lord’s Diner in Wichita as “unique experience, fantastic actually.”
He said the work was backbreaking at times and sometimes emotionally draining. “You are having to talk to people who don’t have anyone else to talk to, and having to care for people who really don’t have anyone to care for them.”
Voegeli said it was difficult sometimes to engage others while he was busy and yet have them feel that they’ve talked to someone who cares about them.
Much of what he learned, he added, he learned from those who work daily at the Lord’s Diner.
Voegeli said he learned a lot about patience in accepting tasks that at the time didn’t seem to be fruitful, and patience in interacting with people who are irritated because they might have had a bad day.
The experience and the staff have helped him grow as a person, he said. “As far as the vocation I’m seeking now, the priesthood, I can’t predict what it’s going to do for me… but I know that it’s going to help.”


Burse celebrates life of beloved diocesan priest

By Cory Graham, Diocese of Wichita

As Fr. John Reinkemeyer neared his 90th birthday and his 60th anniversary as a priest, the people closest to him wondered how they could celebrate his life and the impression that he has left on the hearts and souls of many.

Fr. John is a beloved servant of God, known as much for the bees he kept and the motorcycle he rode as for his impassioned faith and concern for fallen away sheep.
Bishop Michael O. Jackels describes Reinkemeyer as “one of the heroes among the great and saintly priests of the Diocese of Wichita,” in the 2009 biography, “Father John Reinkemeyer: God’s Humble Servant.”

With Fr. John’s birthday and Jubilee approaching, his housekeeper and friend of 44 years, Doris Brand found a way to honor the life of this selfless and faith-filled man with a seminary burse in his name.


Seminarians learning more than Spanish verbs in program

By Christopher M. Riggs
The six seminarians in the intensive Spanish program at Pittsburg State University are learning more than how to conjugate Spanish verbs, they are learning about the cultures of those who speak Spanish by familiarizing themselves with the cuisine and their customs.
Fr. Michael Simone, director of vocations for the Diocese of Wichita, said the six “estudiantes” have been invited to dinner by various Hispanic families, families to whom one day they will minister.
“The idea is to put them into contact with the local community in a more intimate way so that they can learn more about the customs and cultures in addition to just learning about the language,” he said.
“When they come face-to-face with someone, it helps to open their heart to future Hispanic ministry. They also will learn the importance of familial relationships – which are strong in North American culture – but even stronger in the Hispanic culture. It’s exciting because these men are continuing to learn the things that they will do one day as future priests in our diocese.”
Fr. Simone said the program’s title includes the word “intensive” for a reason.
In addition to language, cultural, and social studies, the young men have also been listening to formation talks by various priests and from Jo Fernandez, the director of Hispanic Ministry for the diocese. They are learning about cultural customs, such as the quinceñeras, an event near a teenage girl’s 15th birthday that marks a transition from childhood to womanhood. It usually involves a Mass. The seminarians are also learning the differences between a typical wedding in the United States and a Hispanic wedding.
“They also learned where our migrant workers are coming from, where immigrants are coming from, why they do things differently and why they worship differently than we do,” Fr. Simone said.
The seminarians are getting practical experience, too.
“They are learning to lector in Spanish,” he said, “and they’re also giving post-communion reflections once a week at the Spanish Masses to the Spanish speaking congregations.”
One of the seminarians, Sam Brand, said the most interesting thing he’s learned this summer about Hispanic culture is the close relationship that Hispanics have with each other.
“For example, when they talk about their family, they’re not referring only to members of their house, but also aunts, cousins, and grandparents. The family is so close that they form their own little community and very rarely move away from each other. Hispanic culture greatly emphasizes relationship with others, especially among family.”
The seminarians began their studies the first week of June and will complete their work at the end of this month.

Seminarians studying Spanish this summer

Six men studying in an intensive program at Pittsburg State U.
By Christopher M. Riggs
The street food isn’t exactly the same in Pittsburg as it is in Guadalajara but Father Michael Simone hopes the intensive language training is.
Six seminarians studying for the Diocese of Wichita are participating in a Spanish language immersion program this summer at Pittsburg State University that involves several Spanish-speaking families in Pittsburg.
Fr. Simone, director of the diocesan Vocations Office and part-time director of the immersion program, said the program will be invaluable to the seminarians as they learn about the bilingual needs of the local church.
“It is great that they are able to experience this immersion in our diocese,” he said. “ And, I don’t mind spending a good part of my summer in the place I grew up!
Father Simone said the intent of the new program is not only immerse the men in an intensive Spanish language training, but to put them into contact with some of the families with whom they will one day minister.


Pittsburg hosts Evening with Seminarians June 3

An Evening with Seminarians was held Friday, June 3, at Our Lady of Lourdes Field House in Pittsburg.

It was the second time the diocesan seminarians traveled to Pittsburg for an evening to acquaint themselves with the faithful of Southeast Kansas.

Father Michael Simone, director of vocations for the Diocese of Wichita, said the event is designed to allow parishioners to get know the men studying for the diocese “in a more personal way and to become more aware about the great things happening in our vocations program.”

There are five seminarians from Southeast Kansas including one from Caney, he added.

“It is great to see so many people excited about our seminarians,” Fr. Simone said. “This excitement shows that the people of God are open to praying for and promoting vocations in our diocese. This excitement plays an important part in recruiting our next generation of priests!”


Five ordained

Four ordained priests, one a transitional deacon
Those attending the ordination of four men to the priesthood Saturday, May 28, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception may have initially thought Bishop Michael O. Jackels had picked up the wrong talk on his way to the Cathedral.
He began giving those attending an update on the TOGETHER Vision instead of reflecting on the priesthood and the ordination of the four men sitting directly in front of him: the Rev. Mr. Marco de Loera, the Rev. Mr. Daniel J. Duling, the Rev. Mr. John P. Fogliasso, and the Rev. Mr. Jeremy S. Huser.
“Thanks be to Jesus and his holy Mother, and to all the diocesan faithful,” Bishop Jackels announced, “I am pleased to report that we will be able to begin work in mid-June on the repair and update of the Cathedral, the mother church of our diocese.” He added that he will continue to visit parishes and prospective donors for the rest of the year to continue sharing his vision of the TOGETHER Vision:
• To see that we are members of a parish and a diocesan church family;
• To see that just like in a family we all bear a share of responsibility for the chores of our church family, contributing to its welfare;
• To see our need for programs of on-going faith formation and for priests.
“These goals take time, even a lifetime,” he said.


Seminarians reflect glory of God

A conversation with Bishop Michael O. Jackels

On May 28, four men – God willing – will be ordained priests to serve in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, devoting their lives as servant leaders, teaching and forming the baptized.

This comes just a day after one more man takes a step closer to priesthood as he is ordained to the diaconate.

Here in the Diocese of Wichita we are truly blessed to have many young men pursuing priestly vocations with nearly 50 discerning a call to the priesthood each year.

We value these men trying to grow in their conviction that God is calling them to the priesthood. The glory of God is when we serve to benefit others, and a seminarian is a good reflection of that.

One minute, he’s a man seeking the ministrations of a priest for himself. The next minute others are calling him Father; offering him bread and wine and asking in return to be fed with the Holy Eucharist; confessing their sins to him in hopes of receiving absolution; looking to him for an example of how to imitate the mind and heart of Jesus so as to make progress on the pilgrimage to heaven.

Every Catholic benefits from the young men educated to serve as diocesan priests; indeed, we need priests to fully practice our faith.

Support, prayer and enthusiasm surround priesthood in general and seminarians in particular. Thanks to the generosity of the Catholic faithful, we have been able to pay the tuition, room and board for young men studying for the priesthood.

Our financial support gives a young man the freedom to go into the seminary (and to leave if he feels called to step out) without worrying about the costs. We sacrifice for these young men as they prepare for a lifetime of sacrifice for us.

Please continue to pray and support those young people who are discerning God’s will and pray for the men who will be ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood in the coming week.

Goals of the TOGETHER vision
• Strengthen the oneness between parish and diocese.
• Deepen our practice of stewardship as a way of life, sharing responsibility for the mission of the Church.
• Invite everyone to help fund seminarian education, Catholic formation programs and a renovation of the Cathedral campus.

Five to be ordained at Cathedral

Four to be ordained to the priesthood May 28, one as a deacon on May 27
By Christopher M. Riggs
Five men will be ordained next weekend by Bishop Michael O. Jackels at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wichita. Four will be ordained to the priesthood and one to the transitional diaconate.


Be faithful: pray for more men to consider priesthood

By Denise Bossert
It was 1979. Bruce Jenner had won the gold medal almost three years earlier, and now he had everyone running. He smiled for the Wheaties cereal box and promoted the concept of jog-a-thons as a fundraiser idea. I was the class treasurer that year. Junior prom was two years away, and the fundraiser sounded like a good way to generate some cash so we would be able to put on a prom for the seniors that would really wow them.
So, we sent away for a jog-a-thon kit and passed out forms. The whole class was going to participate, and we begged family and friends to pledge a couple of bucks for every mile we successfully completed. Our class moderator, Mr. Canterbury, set aside a three-mile route through our home town and marked off the area with orange cones. The traffic was diverted in order to keep the runners safe. Sixty kids showed up in shorts and tennis shoes, ready to run, jog or walk. Three miles into it, I was done.
Some managed to run five or ten miles, repeating the three-mile route over and over again.
Darrin Ripley decided it was a good day to run his first marathon. We were in awe of him.


A Voss family snapshot. David is in the middle.

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: David Voss
Currently enrolled: Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.
Parish: St. Patrick, Wichita
Parents: Edward and Claire Voss

What are your thoughts and feelings as you approach ordination to the diaconate?
As ordination comes closer and closer, my heart is continuously filled with gratitude: gratitude to God for His super-abundant grace, gratitude to Bishop Jackels and those who assist him in the Diocese for their formation, and gratitude to all of my family and friends who have given me so much support while in seminary and before.
God has been filling me with a sense that He is ultimately in charge of my life and that I need to put all of my trust, all of my hope in Him. Am I nervous? Yes and no. Yes I’m nervous about the great responsibility that is approaching. In another sense, I am not nervous about the ordination itself because God has been leading me in this direction for a long time, I receive the sense from Him sometimes that He is saying, “How can I be any clearer? This is my plan for you, it is time.”


Seminarian talks about becoming a deacon

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: David Voss
Currently enrolled: Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.
Parish: St. Patrick, Wichita
Parents: Edward and Claire Voss

What are your thoughts and feelings as you approach ordination to the diaconate?
As ordination comes closer and closer, my heart is continuously filled with gratitude: gratitude to God for His super-abundant grace, gratitude to Bishop Jackels and those who assist him in the Diocese for their formation, and gratitude to all of my family and friends who have given me so much support while in seminary and before.
God has been filling me with a sense that He is ultimately in charge of my life and that I need to put all of my trust, all of my hope in Him. Am I nervous? Yes and no. Yes I’m nervous about the great responsibility that is approaching. In another sense, I am not nervous about the ordination itself because God has been leading me in this direction for a long time, I receive the sense from Him sometimes that He is saying, “How can I be any clearer? This is my plan for you, it is time.”


Seminarian: Lent a time of renewal, conversion of heart

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: David E. Darland
Currently enrolled: Mount St. Mary’s, Emmitsburg, Md.
Parish: St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Schulte.
Parents: Mark and Shari Darland

Editor’s note: This edition we ask questions of David E. Darland, a seminarian and parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Schulte.
How do you observe Lent in the seminary?
The way I observe Lent in seminary is by giving up going out to eat on Friday nights. I also try to do one extra act of charity everyday towards one of my brother seminarians.
Growing up, what did you learn about Lent? How was it observed in your family?
Growing up I learned that Lent was a time to look inside oneself and see what needs to be let go so that Christ can have room to dwell inside oneself at Easter. The way my family would observe Lent was by going to daily Mass in the morning before school and work.
How should Catholics approach Lent? What advice can you give them?
Catholics should approach Lent as a time for renewal and conversion of one’s heart and mind towards the Redeemer. Lent is the season where we are able to reflect on the gift of Redemption and prepare our hearts to receive that hope and joy that comes at Easter.
The advice that I can give to Catholics is to enter into Lent with a grateful and reflective hearts. Take a little more time out of one’s day to thank the Lord for His love and to think about daily sacrifices that will help them to enter more deeply into the Lord’s free gift of redemption.

Pinaire happy he worked on Fr. Kapaun’s process

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: Zachary Pinaire
Currently enrolled: Kenrick-Glennon, St. Louis, Mo.
Parish: St. Mary’s, Derby-Rose Hill
Parent: Barbara Pinaire

Editor’s note: This edition we ask questions of Zachary Pinaire, a seminarians and parishioner of St. Mary Parish, Derby-Rose Hill.

This is your first year of theology studies. How is this year different than your first years of school?
My first year at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary has been a lot different from my first years at Benedictine College and St. John Vianney Seminary/University of St. Thomas in a number of ways. However, the biggest way would have to be theology’s approach to formation. Theology has more of an adult atmosphere and, as such, the approach to formation is more of a “your are an adult and we are going to walk through this together” approach rather than the “I’m going to hold your hand and help you build up your self-discipline” approach of college seminary. In theology there is more responsibility riding on my shoulders to keep up with prayers, spiritual direction, academics, etc.
The advantage is that I have the benefit of having five years of undergraduate experience under my belt to build upon and, if you think about it, since I have that experience I should be about to handle that amount of responsibility. Ideally, college seminary is where a seminarian builds and refines his self-discipline and theology is where he put all that self-discipline into practice. This is in preparation for priesthood where a priest is responsible for everything.


Cause for Canonization Enters Final Phase

Holy paper pushers — Three seminarians studying for the Diocese of Wichita at St. John Vianney, St. Paul, Minn., have been compiling information for the cause of Fr. Emil Kapaun. From left are Curtis Hecker, Shawn Stockemer, and Tyler Hutchinson. Several other seminarians who assisted were back in school at the time of this photo. (Advance photo)

The basement copier next to the Roncalli Room in the lower-level of the Chancery was squeaking for several weeks over the Christmas break, but the seminarians using it gave it no rest. They had many more copies to go before their work for Father Emil Kapaun was complete.

Father Edmond Kline and a small army of seminarians have been assisting Father John Hotze in his work to prepare the mountain of paperwork for the cause of canonization of Father Kapaun. Father Kapaun, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita and a U.S. Army chaplain, died in May of 1951 in a North Korean prison camp. Fr. Hotze is judicial vicar for the Diocese of Wichita and the episcopal delegate for the Office of Beatification and Canonization for Father Kapaun.

Last June Fr. Hotze learned about another requirement regarding Father Kapaun’s communication and other records, “so I knew we had quite a job before us.” Much of the final work regarding the cause has been copying and organizing, he said.

Seminarians have been organizing and sorting all of the letters received by Father Kapaun, all the letters sent to Father Kapaun, and all the letters about Father Kapaun. Letters with difficult handwriting are being transcribed to make it easier for the officials at the Vatican to read. The seminarians have also been organizing all of the articles that have been written about Father Kapaun, a difficult task because there are so many, and many are duplicates.

“All of the originals stay in the diocese,” Father Hotze said. “But we have to send two copies of everything to the Congregation for Saints in Rome.”

Unfortunately once the basement copier gets its vacation, there is still more work to be done.

“Once we get all of this information compiled, then we form a master index of everything that will be going over to Rome with the information we send,” he said.

In addition, Father Hotze said he still has about 15 or 20 interviews to conduct that will be included with the information sent to Rome. “The interviews are of people who knew Father Kapaun. So, we still have plenty of work ahead for us.”

Father Hotze said he wasn’t going to guess as to when the work might be complete because he had already given two dates that he missed.

Being an optimist, Father Hotze said it’s not three strikes you’re out, “it’s that the third times a charm.”

Mother talks about sending her son to the seminary

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: Jeremy S. Huser
Currently enrolled: Mount St. Mary Seminary
Parish: Sacred Heart Parish, Fredonia
Parents: Mark and Jeryl Huser

Editor’s note: This week we ask Jeryl Huser questions about her son Jeremy’s choice to study for the priesthood.
1. What has life been like for Jeremy and your family living as a farm family?
Very stressful! We grew up with a large family in a small house. There were long hours on the farm especially during the summer. We would usually have a late supper because we waited on the guys coming in from the farm. We always tried eating as a family at the table to talk about our day. Everyone helped out on the farm with the crops and livestock.
When the kids were little, they would ride in the tractor or combine with us, and when they got old enough, we taught them how to operate the machinery. The kids weren’t involved with a lot of school activities because farming life took a lot of our time. But we always made sure they attended Sunday school and we were always at Mass sitting together.
Even now, Jeremy often asks how things are on the farm. He asks how the crops are looking and if there are any changes. Even though he’s so busy right now, he tries to fit in time to run a tractor for a couple of hours when he’s home.


Seminarian refocuses work from lawns to philosophy

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: Cody Saunders
Currently enrolled: Conception Seminary College
Parish: Blessed Sacrament
Parents: Dave and Annette Saunders

By Heather Welch
Editor’s note: Cody Saunders shares how his lawn care business became an opportunity for grace.
I started my own lawn mowing business, and named it Cody Cares Lawn Management. To start it off, I developed a 19-page business plan, organized the start up with quite limited equity and supplies, advertised with flyers, and gathered any customer I could get. After three months of difficulty and an exhausting start up, I bought a truck with my saved money. After two years of successful operation, I sold my business so I could teach Totus Tuus to the youth of our diocese.
One aspect I liked about my work was the freedom to make the process as efficient and systemized as possible. I liked being able to delegate operations and work with my employees.
Not all of the work was easy and smooth. In fact, most took patience and meticulous work. Something I had to accept generously was my responsibility to act appropriately when something went wrong on the job. Occasionally, I had to put up money to fix broken machines. That said, as in any struggle in life, I grew from such difficulties and learned how to better handle many struggles like them.
Definite goodness has come from these experiences of struggles and joys. One of the greatest benefits is the long-term aid they have provided in my spiritual life, my relationship with God. I have learned, on a higher level, the lines between pride and confidence, fear and humility, impatience and acceptance.
By God’s grace, I have come to know better who I am, in the experiences this business venture has provided. Even to this day, these past experiences continually influence my relationship with God more and more.
Not only have they remained with me, but also they have developed and intensified to higher grounds. Nevertheless, like all of us, I most definitely still learn how to deal more appropriately with the difficulties of life and how kindly to find truth in the confusion.
It is only God’s grace, His presence at my side, that is enough to guide me to confidence, humility, and acceptance to this day. All is because of Him. May He be praised for the innumerable blessings He has bestowed.

Priesthood Sunday Oct. 31

Priesthood Sunday, the last Sunday of October, is a day to thank priests, and to honor and affirm the central role of the priesthood in our spiritual lives. It was established in 2003 so that Catholic communities could express appreciation for the devoted priests who serve them faithfully.
Of the 19,000 parishes in the United States, only about 4,000 have more than one priest. Many priests serve two or more parishes and have additional duties such as chaplains, teachers, and retreat masters. The priesthood is essential to the sacramental life of every Catholic.
The Diocese of Wichita is blessed to have many vocations to the priesthood and many faithful priests. The three diocesan Serra Clubs urge the faithful to take the opportunity on Priesthood Sunday to pray for your priests and to thank them for their faithful service and pastoral work for the church and its people.
Priesthood Sunday is promoted by the USA Council of Serra International, an organization of lay men and women whose mission is to foster and affirm vocations to the ministerial priesthood and vowed religious life in the USA.  
There are two Serra Clubs in Wichita and one in Reno County.

Deacon says family had big role in his vocation

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: The Rev. Mr. Daniel Duling
Currently enrolled: Mount St. Mary’s, Emmitsburg, Md.
Parish: St. Peter the Apostle, Schulte
Parents: Nick and Paula Duling

By Heather Welch
Your family is very tightly-knit. Why is this so?
Our family has always done everything together since I was very young. We still go on family vacations together every summer and eat dinner together as an entire family at least once a week sometimes twice. I think my mom and dad established in us at a very young age the importance of family and the closeness of family. My family has always shown support for each other through thick and thin, no matter what the circumstances.


Voss shares his seminary life through a web blog

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: David Voss
Currently enrolled: Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis
Parish: St. Patrick, Wichita
Parents: Edward and Claire Voss

By Heather Welch
How did the concept of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita Vocations blog come about?
The blog came about through one of my favorite aspects of seminary life - obedience. Fr. Simone wanted someone to do this, and he asked/volunteered two of us to do it, and the other seminarian was glad to let me take the lead in this project.
What kinds of things do you write about in your blog?
I write about anything that’s interesting in my life as a seminarian. The last post was on how Fr. Kapaun has influenced my life.
I’ve also written about kids shaving my head at Camp Totus Tuus, parades at the seminary, camping trips, world cup games, and about prayer at the seminary. I also intersperse different anecdotes from my own vocation story in order to give a picture of what one person’s story involving God’s call to a radical life. 
What is one thing you have learned in your studies thus far that has stayed with you?
One thing that I’ve learned is that grace builds on nature. The supernatural builds on the natural and consequently,supernatural charity - friendship with God - is based on and surpasses the very experiences of love in our own families.
How do you believe technology like your blog can be used to catechize and evangelize?
Our church has continually called for a prudent use and presence of Catholicism in whatever media is present in culture. Throughout history, the church has always made an effort to make excellent use of the current art, architecture, publications, and other media. Why should today be any different? I hope the vocations blog can be a source of inspiration to help people to come to know Christ.
Whether the person is thinking about entering seminary, curious about the Catholic Church, or just interested in what their future priests actually do in seminary, I hope and pray that this media leads people to Sacred Heart of Christ.
Being called to the seminary? Contact Fr. Mike Simone at

David Voss blogs at Following God's Call.

Totus Tuus had an impact on seminarian’s vocation

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: Curtis D. Hecker
Currently enrolled: St. John Vianney, St. Paul, Minn.
Parish: Sacred Heart, Arkansas City
Parents: Curtis and Paula Hecker

By Heather Welch
You worked on a Totus Tuus parish team this summer. What did that entail? How did you spend your time?
Totus Tuus this summer involved everything from fighting a ninja or getting pied in the face for a skit, to epic dodge-ball battles involving at least 150 kids plus Father Ben Sawyer at St. Thomas Aquinas, or a 50 person Jell-O fight with the junior and senior high kids, Deacon Marco De Loera and Father Brian Nelson at Our Lady of Guadalupe.
From preparing the kids to participate more fully in daily Mass or teaching them how to develop a deeper prayer life, to beginning and ending everyday with my team in prayer, it was an experience that maintained a constant focus on the Lord. The majority of my time was spent either teaching or playing games with the kids, or doing crazy things with my team, like a no-hands watermelon eating contest (which I won).
What does the Totus Tuus program teach our youth? How has it inspired you?
The most important thing that Totus Tuus teaches our youth is that the faith is alive and that there are young people out there who are in love with the Lord and are striving to grow in their relationship with Him.
One of the biggest ways that Totus Tuus has inspired me was by giving me the chance to meet and learn from seminarians (many of whom are now priests) and to discover that they are normal guys. It would be hard to over-emphasize the impact that this had on my vocation. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to teach Totus Tuus and hopefully I was able to impact the next generation in the same way.
What is your favorite subject in seminary?
Despite my initial reservations about studying philosophy it has since become my favorite subject for two reasons; first, because I love the logical pattern of thinking and reasoning, but moreover because philosophy is the handmaid of theology and I have come to see how important a firm grasp of philosophy is in understanding, explaining and defending the Theology of our Faith.

No Priest, No Mass

Diocese produces video to emphasize the central role of the priesthood
The Catholic Advance has produced an educational video that will be used by the Diocese of Wichita and the diocesan Vocations Office.
The one-minute video clip promotes the idea: No Priest, No Mass.
Participating in the production were those attending weekend Masses last month and Carole Pracht, the organist for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wichita.
Amy Pavlacka, director of the diocesan Communications Office, said the ad was part of an ongoing diocesan effort to follow Pope John Paul II’s exhortation to embrace technology to evangelize.


Seminarian talks about his impressions of seminary life

Seminarian snapshot
Seminarian: Thomas Skinner
School attended last year: Benedictine College
Currently enrolled: 3rd College at Conception
Parish: Blessed Sacrament, Wichita
Parents: Steve and Mary Frances Skinner

By Heather Welch
What are your first impressions of seminary?
My first few days here have been simply amazing! It is a place full of peace and joy because it is centered on Christ. Having a bunch of guys around is actually a lot of fun—you never have any shortage of sports and games. I can honestly say that being here is like a very good dream.

What classes are you taking this first semester?
I’m taking Ancient Philosophy, Christian Living, Western Civilizations, How to Look at Art, Fundamentals of Music, and also Voice Lessons just for fun.

When did you know God was leading you to discern a vocation to the priesthood?
I thought that God might be calling me to the priesthood during my freshman year of college, when I finally began to take my faith seriously. The Mass was at the center of my day.
One day, I went to Mass as usual; when the priest lifted up the bread after it had become the body of Christ, I felt a strange (and a little scary) desire to have that same gift. I ran from it at first, but God kept pulling me toward seminary, and after developing a strong habit of prayer I was certain that I needed to call the vocations director, Fr. Simone.

Tell us about your family picture. It looks like it was a fun trip!
This summer, I got to go to Colorado with my family for vacation. This picture was taken when we had just gotten done white-water rafting. It was a blast (but very cold)!

Being called to the seminary? Contact Fr. Mike Simone.

Jorge López

Seminarian serves the poor at Catholic Charities

By Christopher M. Riggs
Jorge López, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Wichita, received some on-the-job training this summer that he can relate to next time he reads Matthew’s gospel.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food…a stranger and you welcomed me,” verse 35 says.
López, a second year philosophy student at Conception Seminary College, Conception, Mo., has been doing both this long, hot summer.
“Working at Catholic Charities has been a great blessing,” he said about a week before he was to return to seminary. “I am learning how to serve the people.”
López added that as a priest serving the people is what he will be called to do.
This summer he has been called to serve the poor at the Catholic Charities offices located next to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Wichita. In the morning he works in the Help Center Food Pantry at 437 N. Broadway where canned and other types of food are given to the hungry.
In the afternoon he assists those who come to Catholic Charities’ Immigration Office, especially in translating for Spanish-speaking clients.
“I’m amazed at all that Catholic Charities does,” he said. “And the great job all the volunteers do. If it’s not for the volunteers, I don’t think the success of this organization would be as great.”
López said he is thankful for the experience he’s had while at Catholic Charities.
He added that he is looking forward to his second year at Conception. “It’s been a great blessing to be in this diocese as a seminarian.
He is a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the son of Jose de Jesus and the late Maria del Carmen López of Wichita.

More about Jorge López online
Video of Jorge López working at Catholic Charities and him talking about his summer is available here.

Love, service on The Lord’s Diner menu

Seminarian puts his study of theology to work in serving the hungry
By Christopher M. Riggs
Rickey Kotrba could write an essay about the philosophy and theology behind Jesus’ injunction to love our neighbor, but this summer he is getting something not available in a book.
Kotrba, the son of Scott and Mary Kotrba, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Wichita, is working at The Lord’s Diner doing just about everything that is done at the diocesan soup kitchen: preparing food, cleaning up, serving meals, and cleaning some more.
Because of the record numbers of people eating at the Diner this summer, Kotrba said he doesn’t get many opportunities to visit with those eating, “but when things are slower I’m able to talk with a few of the guests to get to know them.
“It’s been a very humbling experience but a very profound experience,” he said. “I’ve been able to meet those who really need assistance. It’s one thing to be able to read books and to study theology and talk about love, but to be able to experience what I have working here at The Lord’s Diner has taught me about loving our neighbors and loving those who are in need.”
Seeing the faith and the Lord through those who eat at The Lord’s Diner has been very rewarding, he added.
Kotrba, who is in his second year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., has his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in hand and three more year’s of theology to complete before he is eligible for ordination to the priesthood.
Last year, his first year studying theology, was satisfying but challenging, he said, because he was making a transition from college seminary to major seminary. “It was very rewarding, not only with the relationships I was able to have, but also in the ways the Lord was able to bless me in my own growth in the areas I needed to grow. I’m privileged to be able to study theology and have the professors around me who are excellent.”
Living a life of prayer and having a spiritual director is difficult to find outside of a seminary, Kotrba added.
“I have my feet settled in an area where I’ve already formed some very good friendships and kind of know the lay of the land,” he said. “I’m ready to dive into my relationship deeper with the Lord, trusting in him and allowing him to transform me into who he wants me to be.”
Kotrba said he is breathing easier now. “I don’t have to worry so much as I did my first year with just getting used to everything. This next year I’m excited for the amount of new things that will be there for me but for so much more growth that the Lord will have for me.”

Video of Kotrba online
Much of the interview and some video of Kotrba working at The Lord’s Diner is online at our YouTube channel:

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