Msgr. Hemberger’s service to the church recalled by those he led

Robert E. Hemberger served the Diocese of Wichita for 48 years. He retired in 2014. (Advance photo)

A reflection shared by Monsignor Robert E. Hemberger before he retired summed up his service to the Diocese of Wichita.
“Some are called to lead and some are called to set the table,” Msgr. Hemberger told Wendy Glick, who is now executive director of Catholic Charities.
Although he was never asked to don a bishop’s mitre, Msgr. Hemberger did, in fact, lead many priests and laity for decades, twice as administrator of the Diocese of Wichita when the bishop’s cathedra was empty.
Monsignor Hemberger, 74, died Thursday, Nov. 8, in Florida. He was a priest of the Diocese of Wichita for 48 years and the brother of Father Kent Hemberger, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Andover. Services were held today at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
Several of Msgr. Hemberger’s brother priests remembered his kindness, his friendship, his sensitivity, his organizational ability – and his humility.
Father David Lies, vicar general for the diocese, said Msgr. Hemberger had spent his life in ministry as one who set the table for others. “No better description of his service could be offered.”
Fr. Lies said during most of his priestly ministry, his relationship with Msgr. Hemberger consisted of ‘as needed’ contact with him as the chancellor or vicar general.
“We were acquaintances, but he was always very complimentary and supportive of my work as a pastor,” he said. “After he retired and I succeeded him as vicar general, he became a mentor of sorts for me and a ready and willing resource if I had questions about fulfilling my role.”
Father Lies said Msgr. Hemberger offered him advice he needed without telling the young vicar general what he thought he ought to do.
“His words were encouraging as I sought to learn my responsibilities as vicar general, and he shared a little more fully with me some of the joys and challenges that he experienced when he served the diocese. He always ended our conversations by thanking me for accepting the responsibility of leadership at this diocesan level, and he pledged his prayerful support for me.”
Fr. Michael Nolan said Msgr. Hemberger combined a genuine empathy for people with a firm adherence to principle and truth.
Fr. Nolan, a canon lawyer and the chaplain of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish at McConnell Air Force Base, said Msgr. Hemberger never lost the drive for excellence and service.
“He was able to discern individuals’ talents, match them to the needs of the church, and provide them with the support to succeed. He was a true friend and mentor for me,” Fr. Nolan said. “I learned from him the meaning of class, humility, and how to apply canon law with pastoral sensitivity. He was a good listener and astute observer, a priest deeply committed to the Lord and the Lord’s people.”
Fr. John Lanzrath, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in El Dorado, said he was mentored for many years while working with Msgr. Hemberger in the Chancery.
“The man loved to attend meetings. He could sit hour after hour in one meeting after another and be energized by the experience,” Fr. Lanzrath said.
“I often wondered what drove him to persevere through these meetings and I realized that he sought to listen to other people. While he would speak at meetings and ask penetrating questions, he did so only after listening to others. His witness to listen to others has been a very valuable gift to me and to the entire diocesan family.”
Fr. Bob McElwee, a retired priest of the diocese, said he owes an unpayable debt of gratitude to Msgr. Hemberger.
“Once at a Marriage Encounter Mass as I was standing in the Communion line and was extending my hands as a sign of requesting Communion, he quietly asked me if I was Catholic.”
Father McElwee answered, yes, he was Anglo-Catholic, of the Church of England, or Episcopalian. Msgr. Hemberger told him he was not Catholic, but could him a blessing instead.
“At that point I was new to any religion, and I had believed what my protestant minister had told me,” Fr. McElwee said. “Monsignor had the courage to tell me the truth and later explained to me why I was not really Catholic. His tactful courage started me down the road to become a member of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
Fr. McElwee added that none of his Catholic friends had the courage to tell him the truth because they had not wanted to hurt his feelings or insult him.
“I will be eternally grateful to him!” he said.
Father Paul Oborny, a retired priest of the diocese, said Monsignor Hemberger helped him appreciate his priesthood in service to the people of the diocese.
Fr. Stephen Thapwa said Msgr. Hemberger was a true friend with a huge pastoral heart. “Many times I would ask him about how to help a refugee couple living outside of the Diocese of Wichita get a church marriage. Together, we have validated quite a few marriages, bringing them, happily, back to fullness of Catholic living.”
Fr. Mike Baldwin said he and Msgr. Hemberger were in a priests’ Emmaus group that met monthly for 34 years, a group organized by Msgr. Hemberger.
“In these later years he communicated via email. It was very common for the email to be sent at 1:00 or 1:30 a.m.,” Fr. Baldwin said. “He would be in his office wrapping up his day’s work.”
Fr. Baldwin, the director of Field Apostolate for the St. Joseph House of Formation, said Monsignor’s dedication became more evident while he was working on the cathedral renovation.
“I sat on three or four committees at that time. Monsignor was at every one of our meetings and he attended all the meetings of the many other groups involved in that complicated project. He was a stabilizing presence and an active participant in all of them.
“He had a gift for hearing each point made by every person at the table and synthesizing what had been said in his summary remarks. He was the backbone for the renovation and did much of the heavy lifting to make it happen. Every time I walk into the cathedral I remember how he labored to bring our shared vision to life.”
Fr. Jerome Spexarth, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Pittsburg, described Msgr. Hemberger as a priest who was always positive and who ran great meetings. “He was always available to answer questions and give me encouragement as a young priest.”
Robert Hemberger was born on Aug. 26, 1944, in Conway Springs. He studied for the priesthood at Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, and at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He was ordained on May 30, 1970, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
He served as an assistant at St. Anne and All Saints parishes in Wichita before being appointed chaplain of St. Francis Hospital in Wichita in 1973. Five years later Fr. Hemberger was named chaplain of Halstead Hospital, and diocesan director of Marriage Encounter.
While continuing his duties at Halstead and with Marriage Encounter, Fr. Hemberger was named assistant chancellor for the diocese in 1980. Later that year he was named chaplain of St. Francis Hospital in Wichita while continuing his duties with M.E. and as assistant chancellor. In 1981 Fr. Hemberger became master of ceremonies for the bishop, along with his other duties.
In 1982 he was named chaplain of the St. Francis Regional Medical Center.
Father Hemberger began studies for a licentiate in Canon Law in 1983 at Catholic University. Upon his return to the diocese in 1985, he was named judicial vicar of the Matrimonial Tribunal, diocesan liaison for Health Affairs, part-time associate pastor in residence at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.
Father Hemberger served for a brief time as temporary administrator of Holy Cross Parish in Hutchinson beginning in October 1986. The next year he was named synodal promoter and moderator, while continuing his other duties, including liaison for Health Affairs.
In June of 1988 he Fr. Hemberger was named chancellor of the diocese and chaplain of Mt. St. Mary Convent, while continuing with his work in the tribunal and as liaison for Health Affairs.
In 1998 he was named director of Diocesan Planning, in addition to his other duties.
He was named Prelate of Honor to His Holiness Pope John Paul II, or monsignor, in 2001.
In 2002 Msgr. Hemberger was named chancellor, moderator of the Curia and vicar general.
In 2003, when Bishop Thomas Olmsted was named the ordinary of the Diocese of Phoenix, Msgr. Hemberger was elected diocesan administrator. He served in that role until April 2005, when Bishop Michael O. Jackels was named bishop of the Diocese of Wichita. Msgr. Hemberger was then appointed as vicar general.
After Bishop Jackels was named archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa, once again Msgr. Hemberger served as diocesan administrator from June 6, 2013, to April 30, 2014, when Bishop Carl A. Kemme was named to the Diocese of Wichita.
Msgr. Hemberger retired on June 11, 2014.

Monsignor Hemberger makes a strong point during a homily in April of 2014. (Advance photo)

30 Năm Kỷ Niệm Mừng Kính Các Thánh Tử Đạo Việt Nam

Hội Đồng Mục Vụ Công Giáo Việt Nam Địa Phận Wichita sẽ tổ chức Thánh Lễ mừng kính Các Thánh Tử Đạo Việt Nam tại nhà thờ All Saints, 3205 E. Grand, Wichita, KS 67218. Chương trình các tiết mục cho ba ngày Thứ Sáu, Thứ Bảy, và Chúa Nhật như sau:
Tĩnh Tâm sẽ do Cha Dominicô Trần Thiết Hùng (Monastery Of Chau Son Sacramento in Walnut Grove, California) phụ trách và còn có 2 Cha đến từ dòng Đồng Công giúp xưng tội.
Thứ Sáu ngày 16 tháng 11 năm 2018 Từ 6:00 giờ chiều.
Thánh Lễ Khai mạc Tĩnh Tâm qua đề tài “Sống Đời Sống Sung Mãn”. Kính mời quý vị qua Fischer Center dùng bữa ăn tối với các cha ngay sau thánh lễ. Nếu không trể lắm, các linh mục sẽ cho cơ hội lãnh nhận Bí Tích Hòa Giải ngay sau bữa ăn tối.
Thứ Bảy ngày 17 tháng 11 năm 2018. Từ 9:00 giờ sáng đến 5:00 giờ chiều.
Tiếp tục phần Tĩnh Tâm tại Hội Trường Fischer Center.
Chầu Mình Thánh Chúa từ 11:00 giờ sáng đến 12:00 giờ trưa và Bí Tích Hòa Giải từ 9:00 sáng đến 3:00 chiều tại nhà nguyện.
Chúa Nhật ngày 18 tháng 11 năm 2018. 3:00 giờ chiều đến 6:00 giờ chiều
• 3:00 giờ chiều Tiếp tục Bí Tích Hòa Giải
• 3:30 giờ chiều Kiệu Cung Vinh Các Thánh Tử Đạo và nhập lễ. Thánh Lễ mừng kính các Thánh Tử Đạo Việt Nam sẽ do Đức Giám Mục Carl Kemme chủ tế và các linh mục Việt Mỹ đồng tế.
Ý Lễ:
• Cầu nguyện cho Giáo Hội Hoa Kỳ.
• Cầu nguyện cho Giáo Hội và Tổ Quốc Việt Nam.
• Cầu nguyện cho sự hiệp nhất của giáo dân cộng đoàn.
• Cầu nguyện cho hòa bình thế giới.
• Cầu nguyện cho các giới trẻ.
Hội Đồng Mục Vụ Công Giáo Việt Nam Địa Phận Wichita trân trọng kính mời toàn thể quí ông bà, anh chị em cùng bớt chút thì giờ đến tham dự Thánh Lễ. Để cùng tôn kính các Thánh Tử Đạo năm xưa đã oai hùng anh dũng tiến lên pháp trường. Ngay sau Thánh Lễ, xin kính mời Quí Cha, cùng toàn thể quí ông bà anh chị em ghé sang trung tâm để chúng ta cùng hàn huyên trong niềm vui chung và gặp gỡ các vị chủ chiên. Có thức ăn và giải khát để phục vụ quí vị.
Đại Diện Hội Đồng Mục Vụ Công Giáo Việt Nam Địa Phận Wichita
Linh Mục Benjamin Nguyễn Minh Nhật, Chủ Tịch

Annual Vietnamese Martyrs Memorial Nov. 16-17
This year marks the 30th year the Vietnamese Martyrs were canonized by Pope St. John Paul II.
The Catholic Diocese of Wichita Vietnamese Congregation will have a Memorial Mass honoring the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs starting with an opening Mass on Friday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. and will continue on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at All Saints Parish and the Fischer Center, 3205 E. Grand in Wichita.
The retreat theme is “Fully Alive,” following the examples of the martyrs. There will be holy hour and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during the retreat.
Vietnamese- and English-speaking priests will be available for confession Friday and Saturday throughout the retreat. Additional reconciliation time will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, prior to the procession of the Holy Martyr relics starting at 3:30 p.m. Mass will begin at 3:45 p.m.
Food will be served after Mass. Everyone is cordially invited to the special celebration.

Kapaun’s Men retreats reaching out beyond the diocese

Kapaun’s Men retreats move outside of diocese — A Kapaun’s Men’s retreat was held Saturday, Oct. 27, in Effingham, Illinois, in a parish served by Father Chuck Edwards, a seminary classmate of Bishop Carl A. Kemme. Father Edwards led the retreat for 70 men and women of the Diocese of Springfield. (Courtesy photo)

A retreat based on the charism of Father Emil Kapaun is in its sixth year in the Diocese of Wichita and is now serving the church outside of the diocese.
The sixth annual Kapaun’s Men Retreat was held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13-14, at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg, Kansas, and focused on the theme of “Rejoice and Be Glad.” The 130 men who attended listened to the witness of their fellow men as well as the eight priests who participated – all while sharing practical ways to grow in holiness as men.
Two weeks later, a group of Kapaun’s Men took the retreat to Effingham, Illinois, to the parish of Fr. Chuck Edwards, a seminary classmate of Bishop Carl A. Kemme. In 2017 Fr. Edwards led a contingent of 70 men and women from the diocese of Springfield to Wichita to learn about stewardship. As a result, seeds were planted for a day of prayer and reflection centered on Fr. Kapaun at Fr. Edwards’ parish.
Joe and Nick Dellasega from Pittsburg, Jason Searl and Scott Carter from Wichita, and national speaker Joe Farris traveled to Effingham to introduce Fr. Kapaun’s life and his mission from heaven of building up faithful and courageous men to walk with one another. Nick Dellasega, who has led the retreat in the Diocese of Wichita for the last three years was excited at the attendance of over 80 men, who clearly lived their faith. “They inspired us, and made the trip to Illinois worth the sacrifice,” he said.
The following weekend, a group of 11 men gathered near Paris, Arkansas, for another Kapaun’s Men flavored retreat. The men met at a ranch near Horseshoe Mountain and Subiaco Abbey, where they were afforded time to dine with the Benedictine Monks, partake in their All-Souls ceremony for the deceased members of the monastery, and participate in a sung Night Prayer.
Jason Searl led the retreat, giving talks about becoming a man of God, and organizing squad discussions about the faith, which is a central element of the Kapaun’s Men model. A proper balance of leisure was the result of the hospitality of Heather and Tim Knittig from Houston, Texas, who offered their ranch for fishing, star gazing, campfires, and hiking during the retreat.
This was the first retreat that most of the men had ever attended. They were introduced to Father Kapaun’s life and witness through Kapaun’s Men’s video series. “What an example of faith for us as men,” said James Lee of Houston, who had not heard of Fr. Kapaun before the retreat. “I can’t wait until next year’s retreat,” said Tim Wells of Houston.
Kapaun’s Men groups in North Carolina have met for day retreats led by their local group, but this was the first time men from the Diocese of Wichita took their model on the road.
“We were eager for the opportunity to ‘Go Forth’ as Pope Francis invites us to do and bring the example of faith and accompaniment that we as Kapaun’s Men try to live out every day,” said Jason Searl. “If we can lift one man up, and bring them closer to Christ, we’ve done what we’ve been called to do.” Kapaun’s Men’s recent travels are setting them up for more good things to come with future retreats outside of the diocese being contemplated.

Catholic Charities raising funds on Giving Tuesday for newer van

Richard Tracy and Jerry Halls showcase donations loaded in the current Catholic Charities van. The agency is raising money for a newer van to help families served by the agency. (Courtesy photo)

Tuesday, Nov. 27, is special for Catholic Charities. That’s the day the diocesan ministry would like to raise $15,000 for a newer maintenance van to help local hungry and homeless families, domestic violence survivors, and others served by the agency.
That day, known as #GivingTuesday, follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is nationally designated for charitable giving.
The current van helps Catholic Charities support 12 programs in five locations that help alleviate poverty in the community. It was donated to the agency eight years ago and has no air conditioning, no working shelves, a broken gear shifter and is more than a little worse for wear.
Richard Tracy and Jerry Hills use the van to pick up and deliver donations to provide clients items like food, bedding and appliances. Tracy said the van is vital to his job. “The van is the most important tool I have to serve families,” Tracy said.
The director of Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, Matt Tannehill, said he relies on Tracy and Hills to have a sturdy vehicle so he can easily receive food to distribute. In addition, with a newer van he said he can more quickly drop off donation bins to organizations for fundraisers.
If $15,000 is raised during 24 hours on Giving Tuesday, Davis-Moore Auto Group will partner with Catholic Charities to find the newer van.

Want to help?
Catholic Charities has made giving for the van easier with the ability to text a donation. Text CCW to 31611 to learn more.

Catholic Charities to begin using online platform to contact and assist their clients

Jodie Beeson is reminded every time she looks out the window as to why she is in her office at Catholic Charities in Wichita. She is assisting with the implementation of technology that will allow the ministry to serve clients more quickly and in some cases more thoroughly. (Advance photo)

Technology is being adopted that will make life easier for Catholic Charities employees and their clients.
The diocesan ministry is implementing, eCare, a software platform that will enable Charities employees to securely connect to clients via a home computer or their video-enabled mobile phone.
Jodie Beeson, director of Grants and Compliance for Catholic Charities, said the technology will help overcome distance barriers because clients and social workers won’t have to drive to an office or home; and it allows the ministry to process clients quickly, clients who might begin a process but neglect to follow up.
“One of the biggest struggles we have is an inability to reach people,” she said, adding that the software will allow them to connect to clients in a way they are now comfortable with – through their mobile phones.
“The engagement levels are much higher. People participate better through video. A lot of people think video – that’s so cold, but if you think about how we communicate with people nowadays – we text – we’re used to doing that,” Beeson said. “When I was in high school, how many hours did we spend with our boyfriends and girlfriends on a telephone, and we made a connection.”
The Wichita Catholic Charities office will initially be able to serve clients in the satellite office in Pittsburg via computers with cameras, and eventually service clients in their homes via mobile phones.
Telecommunication makes some aspects of counseling easier but changes the dynamics. Assessing a client’s physical health, for example, will require different techniques that therapists will soon be trained in.
The telecommunications technology will be phased in, Beeson said, to serve clients in the 25 southcentral and southeast Kansas counties. Initially, it will be used to serve veterans rehousing needs.
“We’ll be able to quickly address their issues, get them enrolled, and get moving with them without waiting to get down to Pittsburg,” she said.
“Then we’ll be able to make connections, which is really important in the homeless population because they’re often unstable and if you don’t move with them rather quickly, you lose them and then it takes a long time before they’ll come back for help.”
That phase will be followed by the SAFE program for victims of domestic abuse.
One of the challenges with domestic abuse is the need to quickly address a situation,” Beeson said. “Somebody is needing to leave and needing to get out. We can quickly get them with a case manager, connect them, and move things into place to get them to a place of safety.”
Technology will speed service by eliminating the need for a counselor to drive to a location to assist a client, saving time that increases the safety of the victim.
“With domestic violence victims, the first thing you want to do is create a safety plan. They may not even be ready to leave their spouse, but if you can get a safety plan in place right away, the statistics, as far as homicides, go down greatly,” she said.
The third phase will be CANA counseling for marriages, families, and individuals, which will be implemented in the spring – after all the therapists are trained.
Clients engage better using teletherapy, Beeson said, partly because of the convenience. Initially, Catholic Charities will offer counseling via the internet at the Pittsburg office. Once employees and clients seem more comfortable with the technology, Charities will then allow clients to log-in from their homes.
“A lot of people who are suffering mental health crises, the getting out and going to therapy is already a huge barrier,” Beeson said.

Nash a constant at St. Anthony Family Shelter for 20 years

Ann Nash hangs art in the family room at St. Anthony Family Shelter. She has worked at the shelter for 20 years. (Courtesy photo)

By Heather Welch
Catholic Charities St. Anthony Family Shelter has changed a lot in 20 years, but Ann Nash has been a constant and faithful presence.
As program supervisor, Nash works with staff to ensure client needs are met and the facility runs smoothly.
Nash said she feels blessed to work in homeless ministry. Her favorite part is witnessing positive change in families’ lives. “At first I see families come into St. Anthony Family Shelter hungry, hopeless, depressed, beat down by life circumstances, with no dreams and unable to see a future,” Nash said.
“Glimpses of hope in families’ eyes and the sense of peace the shelter provides makes those tough days easier. And, getting hugs and high fives from the kids always makes me smile.”
In response to community needs, then Anthony Family Shelter opened in 1988. At that time, the building was small and the resources were limited. Nash said it was challenging to meet the many needs of families coming to the shelter.
Then, in Autumn 2007 demolition of the building was underway, and by December of that year the new shelter’s foundation was complete. During this time, the name of Anthony Family Shelter changed to St. Anthony Family Shelter as a tribute to next door’s St. Anthony Parish.
The 13-room facility with connecting doors could now house larger families. In addition, a former warehouse property behind the shelter was remodeled for a gym and playground.
A celebration was held October 25, 2007, and the building was officially dedicated as St. Anthony Family Shelter The Bob and Maura Geist Building.
Nash said her hope is that the community is educated on the epidemic of homelessness.
“My goal is to be a good servant and not judge others, but help strengthen families, accept them where they are in life and treat everyone with dignity and respect,” she said.
“To anyone wanting to support Catholic Charities and St. Anthony Family Shelter you will never be the same.”

Sisters of St. Joseph took over the former Martinson Block after hospital renovation

The Martinson Block, on the northwest corner of Seneca and Douglas streets in Wichita, was a busy business center in 1887. The businesses faded within a decade and the building was remodeled for the Wichita Hospital. A QuikTrip now occupies the site. (Courtesy photo)

By Father Michael Peltzer, Diocesan historian
During the boom times in the late 1880s an ornate, three-story business building was constructed at the northwest corner of Seneca and Douglas Streets at the west end of Wichita, not too far east of the original All Hallows Academy (later Mount Caramel) and the new St. Joseph Parish about to be established near Millwood and Douglas.
The large building, then called the Martinson Block, consisted of a bank, a grocery store, a jewelry shop, an insurance office, a dental clinic and various private offices, with apartments on the top floors. The real estate boom floundered after a short time, causing the building to be vacant for some years.
Meanwhile, a group of Wichita women, who founded the Wichita Hospital in 1879, calling it the Ladies’ Benevolent Home for the sick and needy, were looking for a larger facility since their original hospital at Lincoln and Market Streets, just south of downtown Wichita, was getting crowded for their charitable work. So it was arranged for them to move into the Martinson Block building, then remodeled in 1898, to serve as their new hospital. A west wing was added to the structure in 1916.
In 1925 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita took over the facility while continuing the good work of the Benevolent Ladies and at the same time fulfilling the Sisters’ charism of taking care of their “dear neighbor.”
The St. Joseph sisters were already in charge of hospitals in Pittsburg, Winfield, Iola, Parsons, and Dodge City, and in Del Norte, Colorado, and Ponca City, Oklahoma. So no orientation was necessary as they took over the Wichita Hospital.
The Sisters continued to operate the west-side facility for more years to come, although they had completed the new St. Joseph Hospital by 1944 at 3400 E. Grand, near their motherhouse at Mount St. Mary’s Convent. This resulted in their healthcare apostolate being operated at two different locations at the same time in the city for 15 years.
A severe storm in the summer of 1953 caused much damage to the old Martinson Block building. For reasons of safety, it was immediately razed. Thirteen years after its use as a medical facility, it was demolished in 1972.
After 1959, the Wichita Hospital and the St. Joseph Rehabilitation Center became one location at the Grand Street address, across from All Saints parish. Many additions to the 1944 hospital followed through the years until all were replaced by the new seven-story tower dedicated as St. Joseph Medical Center in 1976 at 3600 East Harry. Today, the modern and attractive facility in southeast Wichita is known as Via Christi Hospital-St. Joseph.
The area where the old Wichita Hospital stood, remembered as the Martinson Block building at Seneca and Douglas streets, is now the site of a popular convenience store serving the historic Delano District, west of downtown Wichita.

Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are ‘formed’

Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are commissioned for their role in the Mass.

The celebration of the Mass is the primary act of worship in a Catholic’s life. It is the center of family and parish life and the focal point of Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day of rest.
At the Last Supper Jesus instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again.”
Altar servers, lectors, musicians and singers, and others contribute time and talent and join those in the pews for the celebration of the Mass. But there are men and women who are especially commissioned for their role of service in the Mass: the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
Parishes have extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to assist the ordinary ministers – the bishop, priests, and deacons – in distributing Communion to the faithful, usually as part of the celebration of Mass, but also for the sick and homebound.
Sister John Patrick Beckius and several priests of the Diocese of Wichita help form extraordinary ministers to assist their parish priests.
Sister John Patrick, the director of the diocesan Office of Worship, pointed out that St. John Paul II gave a wonderful explanation about the difference between ordinary Eucharistic ministers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. The ministerial priest is the Eucharistic minister, the pope said, because he has the responsibility for the entire life of the Eucharist: offering the gifts, confecting the Eucharist, and distributing Communion; but also the secure custody of the Eucharist in the tabernacles, and the final disposition, for example, a host in a monstrance is destined for Communion at some point.
“So, extraordinary ministers are of only Holy Communion, and so not Eucharistic ministers,” she said.
The laity who assist the priest are “extra ordinary,” Sr. John Patrick said, so an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is “in addition to” or “beyond” the ordinary minister.
The extraordinary ministers assist the priest, the ordinary minister, when needed: when there’s a large assembly at Mass and not enough ordinary ministers, when the priest is infirm or incapacitated in some way, or to take the Eucharist to the sick or homebound, or when Communion is offered under both forms.
Because of their special role in the Catholic liturgy, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are trained and participate in formation sessions.
“They’re appointed, they’re authorized to exercise the ministry, which makes it a little bit different. This ministry, out of all the others, like lectors and sacristans, is unique in that it’s dependent upon appointment by the bishop,” Sr. John Patrick said. “You can volunteer to be a lector or a sacristan or an usher, you can volunteer for the ministry and receive training at the parish and that’s sufficient. But an extraordinary minister is actually dependent upon appointment by the bishop – he’s responsible for overseeing the ministry.”
The Office of Worship assists the bishop in overseeing the ministry.
“It’s not just about knowing how to do what you need to do,” she said. “It’s so people develop the necessary knowledge and reverence for the ministry.”
Formation sessions are regularly held throughout the diocese to help the extraordinary ministers develop deeper and richer spiritual lives. The Office of Worship has developed two tracks for formation: one for initial formation, and a second for those who are renewing their mandate, those who were asked or wish to continue in their ministry.
In the Diocese of Wichita, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion must have a mandate from the bishop to exercise the ministry on a regular basis at a specific venue, a parish, a school, or a hospital, for example. The mandate can be for a period of up to five years.
“It’s really the responsibility of the pastor to nominate you by submitting your name for this ministry to the bishop through the Office of Worship,” Sr. John Patrick said. “An individual might feel called to this and really want to be an extraordinary minister, but there should be, at some point, somehow, some conversation between the individual and the pastor.”
Those who are nominated by their pastor would attend a formation session. The nominee’s name is then placed on a certificate, receives the bishop’s signature, and is then mailed to the pastor.
“The pastor commissions, or if they’re renewing, recommissions them for that ministry. It’s always good to bless your sacristans and your lectors, but commissioning extraordinary ministers is part and parcel of the role,” Sister said.

Feel called to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?
Those interested in the ministry should contact their pastor.
The Office of Worship offers up to 30 formation sessions throughout the year across the Diocese of Wichita in English and in Spanish.

An easy way to help your parish, ministry

By Travis Pearson
I’ve received quite a few questions about Congress permanently extending the IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution. So, I thought I would put together a road map for folks to use in considering whether making this type of gift makes sense for them.
If you are 70 1/2 or older, you can make a gift from your IRA account to help support the work of your parish or other diocesan ministry this year and benefit nicely from it, along with helping the church – have it count toward your Required Minimum Distribution, with zero taxes paid by you or the ministry of your choice, on the entire gifted amount.
Why make an IRA qualified charitable distribution gift?
An IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution, or QCD, gift is a way for you to support your parish or other ministry today without impacting your checking or savings account balance. QCD gifts made from your IRA (up to $100,000 per year) are not reportable as taxable income. They also count toward your required minimum distribution (RMD) and therefore can lower your income and taxes.
In addition, making an IRA QCD may prevent you from: being bumped into a higher federal and/or state income tax bracket; hitting the phase-outs on your deductions and personal exemptions; or, falling into the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) or incurring the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax.
You can benefit from giving from your IRA if:
• You wish to make a significant gift without using cash or other assets.
• You do not need all or a portion of your IRA income.
• You are paying too much in taxes and are looking to reduce your income and tax liability.
• You either itemize deductions or not. Because a QCD gift can reduce your income and taxes, you can still benefit from charitable giving even as a non-itemizer.
• You want to give over and above your normal giving this year. An IRA QCD gift does not count towards the 50 percent annual limitation on charitable gifts.
What if you have a 401(k), 403(b) or other retirement plan?
This gift opportunity only works for IRAs. If you own another type of qualified retirement plan, you must first make a tax-free rollover of funds into an IRA. Then you can make the gift from the IRA account to support your parish or other ministry.
How can I make an IRA rollover gift?
Contact your IRA plan administrator to learn their procedure for making a QCD gift to your parish or other chosen ministry. To qualify, if must go directly from your plan to your parish or other chosen Diocesan ministry. If it is paid to you, it will be treated as a regular taxable distribution from your IRA. To learn more about the benefits of making an IRA charitable rollover gift, please contact us today.
Pearson is the Planned Giving coordinator for the Diocese of Wichita.

Signs a senior might need some extra help at home

By Sharon Witzell
Admitting the need for help and accepting assistance is not easy for people as they age. The responsibility often falls on family members to recognize the signs that an aging loved one might need support in completing daily living activities.
When that aging person has no family members, or none that live close by, it is the parish family that needs to support and help the elderly at home. How do you know if it is time to step in and help? Look for the red flags listed below.
First you may notice changes in physical function and mental status. This includes this long list: difficulty keeping track of time, sleeping for most of the day, poor diet or weight loss, loss of interest in hobbies and activities, changes in mood or extreme mood swings, difficulty getting up from a seated position, difficulty with walking, balance and mobility, unexplained bruising or injuries, forgetfulness, including forgetting to take medications or taking incorrect dosages, missing important appointments, consistent use of poor judgment such as falling for scams, sales pitches, or giving away money.
You may also notice poor personal hygiene. This could be unpleasant body odor, infrequent showering or bathing, a strong smell of urine in the house or on clothing, a noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care such as unkempt hair, untrimmed nails, lack of oral care, or wearing dirty or stained clothing.
Finally you may see your senior loved one start neglecting their household responsibilities. They may have little or no fresh, healthy food in the fridge, a dirty house or extreme clutter, dirty laundry piling up, stains or wet spots on furniture or carpet, spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away, stacks of unopened mail or an overflowing mailbox, late payment notices, bounced checks and calls from bill collectors, utilities being turned off due to missed payments, unexplained dents and scratches on their car.
If these signs are present, it doesn’t necessarily mean a move to assisted living or a nursing home is required. However, the red flags do indicate that daily supportive care is needed. Use the lists above as a starting point in the process of hiring home care to help you make informed and confident decisions to help elderly seniors in your family or your parish.
Witzell is program coordinator for the Office of Marriage and Family’s Senior Adult Ministries.