The Diocese of Wichita worked with a book publisher for a new religion book series that will be introduced this year. (Copyright 2018 RCL Benziger)

Catholic schools to use new religion book
Information about the Diocese of Wichita included in the religion curriculum for Catholic school students was always available to teachers, but now it’s all in one place.
Jamie Finkeldei, associate superintendent of Catholic Schools, said the Catholic School Office worked with the publisher to incorporate information about the diocese, stewardship, and Servant of God Emil Kapaun, whose cause for sainthood is under consideration by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Catholic schools are not required to adopt the textbook, “Blest Are We Faith in Action,” Finkeldei said, “We wanted to provide this as an option because no textbook really aligns with our curriculum.”
He said the new textbook would benefit teachers, especially new teachers who are learning the curriculum.
“We have had all this in places,” Finkeldei said, “but now it’s all in one spot for the teacher. Anything we can do to make a teacher’s job easier. It’s going to streamline their work and make it better, ultimately, for kids.”
Anne Battes, the publisher at RCL Benziger in Cincinnati, Ohio, said the publishing company was assisted by a group of teachers.
The textbook shares the rich history and tradition of the diocese and the Catholic faith with the students, she said in a news release. “The…series was also a way to integrate the diocesan religion standards into all of the lessons throughout the year and provide the child safety lessons from Virtus, in the teacher’s guide.”
She added that the series has been found to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church through the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and the additional content is approved by Bishop Kemme.
“Dr. Finkeldei and the diocesan leadership offered knowledge, flexibility, and a tremendous working relationship in the development of the customized religion series,” Battes said.
“It was a privilege to work with the diocese and we consider this a very beneficial collaboration in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and the good works in the Diocese of Wichita. We hope that the students, families, and teachers, as well as the diocese, will go forth on this journey praying with us, ‘Blest Are We!’”

Catholic school students in the Diocese of Wichita using the new religion books will learn the canonization process the diocese is taking with the cause of Servant of God Emil Kapaun.
Religion students using the new book will learn about Bishop Carl A. Kemme’s coat of arms.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters will begin teaching at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish schools in Pittsburg this fall. From left, are Sisters Mary Ann Kirkland, Sister John Marie Zwenger, Sister Mary Clare Johnson, and Sister Mary Lucia Stuhlsatz. (Courtesy photo)

IHMs now teaching in Pittsburg
Four Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be teaching at St. Mary’s Colgan Catholic schools in Pittsburg beginning this fall.
Sister John Marie Zwinger will teach Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in grades K-6 and music for K-1. Sister Mary Clare Johnson will teach fifth grade. Sisters Mary Ann Kirkland and Mary Lucia Stuhlsatz will teach junior and senior high school religion.
The IHMs have previously visited the parish and the St. Pius X Catholic Student Center at Pittsburg State University, but the establishment of a convent is the fulfillment of a longtime desire, said Sister Cecilia Marie Hammersly from the IHM motherhouse near Colwich.
“It’s something that we have always wanted to do,” she said, “but we would need to have enough positions available for a convent, for community life, to be there as well.
Father Michael Baldwin, who was pastor at the time, contacted the IHMs when a convent became available along with teaching positions. “Mother Mary Magdalene was excited about embracing that prospect of going down to Southeast Kansas,” Sister Cecilia Marie said.
Father Baldwin is now part of the formation team at the St. Joseph House of Formation for seminarians of the Diocese of Wichita located on the St. Joseph Parish, Wichita, campus. Father Jerome Spexarth is the current pastor in Pittsburg.
The parish is eager to welcome the sisters, Sister Cecilia Marie said. “Every time we go to a diocesan event, someone comes along and says, ‘I’m in Pittsburg, are you one of the sister’s coming down?’”
The IHMs are excited to expand their presence in the diocese, she said, adding that the IHMs will now be in all four Catholic high schools in the diocese.
There are many parishioners in Southeast Kansas who have a love of sisters, but many of the children have never seen sisters, she said. “We can now witness to the gospel and to religious life at the same time.”
Want more about the sisters?
Additional details about the sisters are available at

Adam Butler in front of his new school. (Courtesy photo)

Adam Butler is now responsible for an entire school, after 11 years as a Catholic school teacher.
Butler is the new principal of Sacred Heart Catholic School in Arkansas City after serving as a teacher at St. Cecilia Catholic School in Haysville.
“I’ve been working towards an administrative degree for a while,” he said from his office. “It seemed like Ark City was a place that I could fit in well and do well.”
Butler said he is looking forward to building relationships with the community, the parish, and with the staff and students “to form disciples of Christ.”
“That’s what I’m really excited about. Working with the students and spreading Christ’s love and the Good News here in Ark City.”
Jamie Finkeldei, associate superintendent of diocesan Catholic schools, said Butler is an outstanding teacher whose talents will translate well to administration.
“His genuine love of children and his tireless work ethic will endear him to the Sacred Heart community,” he said.
“St. Cecilia will miss him dearly, but their loss is Sacred Heart’s gain. We also love it when teachers are able to move up in our system because they already understand and live the mission of creating disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Teachers learn new discipline techniques
Discipline situations in many Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wichita will be dealt with in a way teachers and administrators hope will result in forming better persons.
Representatives from 28 Catholic diocesan schools from throughout the diocese participated in the Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline Summer Institute June 25-28 at Resurrection Catholic School in Wichita.
The 250 attendees to the VBRD conference included representatives from the dioceses or archdioceses of Salina, Kansas City in Kansas, Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana; and Colorado Springs. It was the first time the event was offered outside of the organization’s St. Louis, Missouri, area.
Matt McKee, assistant superintendent of Catholic Schools, said the approach to discipline will help teachers and administrators form better people.
“It’s a way of working with kids, teaching them the right things, the right virtues, the way to act,” he said. “And if they happen to make a mistake, which kids will do, we’re going to implement a different process.
“It’s not going to focus on punishment. It’s going to focus on restoring what happened and on bringing these children back together. So it’s more Christ-like – working together versus you make a mistake and you have a consequence. There will always be consequences, but that doesn’t restore or heal people.”
McKee said the VBRD techniques are being used by schools and entire parishes in Missouri to help communities heal and restore them.
According to the Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline website, the program offers teachers, parents, students, and schools “a way to cultivate virtue while repairing harm from bullying and other hurtful behaviors.”
Lynne Lang, director of the VBRD, said the training attendees received in June is a Catholic response to bullying.
She said in a news release that attendees “learn ways to maintain a positive environment in which adults and youth are accountable and responsible for holy habits of human excellence.”
Discipline is viewed as formative, rather than punitive, Lang said. The training helps prevent and reduce antisocial behaviors through virtue education and restorative practices, resulting in a consistent message that upholds the dignity of the human person.

Administrators readying for school — Nearly 100 Catholic school administrators and many of their pastors attended a back-to-school meeting Tuesday, July 31, in Good Shepherd Hall in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. They gathered in the hall after the morning Mass. (Advance photo)

Eight Catholic school teachers honored for their years of service
Eight faculty members throughout the Diocese of Wichita are being recognized for their service to Catholic education.
25 years of service
Those being honored for 25 years of dedicated service.
• Joseph Ast, middle school math teacher for St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Wichita
• Judith Becker, third grade teacher for St. Joseph Catholic School in McPherson
• Mary Booth, learning strategies teacher for Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita
• Janet Neville, counseling Department chair at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita
• Joyce Porter, middle school math teacher for St. Andrew Catholic School in Independence
• Lisa Stewart, second grade teacher for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School in Wichita.
40 years of service
Two honorees, both working for Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Wichita, are being recognized for 40 years of service.
Mary Jones is a first grade teacher, and Pam Loyle is the assistant principal at the school.
All the honorees will be recognized at the teacher conventions hosted annually by the Catholic Schools Office on Aug. 31 in Pittsburg or Sept. 4 in Wichita.