Catholic conference director looking forward to 20th event

Catholic theologian Scott Hahn gave two talks at this year’s Midwest Catholic Family Conference. (Advance photos)

Kevin Regan is not yet finished with the concluding details for the Midwest Catholic Family Conference held Aug. 3-5 in Wichita but he is already looking ahead to the 20th anniversary event next year.
Regan, director of the conference, said this year’s event was a “home run” blessed with about 4,000 attendees. “We brought in some big names and that adds to the pie,” he said.
Because he is usually so busy on the event weekend, Regan doesn’t generally have time to take part in the event. “I don’t have time to listen to a talk,” he said. “But (Dr. Ray) Guarendi – I was so captured by his talk Saturday I couldn’t pull away for 20 minutes.”
He said Guarendi’s humor grabbed the audience’s attention. “Each of the speakers has his own personality, that’s what is so unique about this conference. It’s like a family reunion. I see smiling faces everywhere…that’s what we’re all about.”
On Regan’s agenda for next year is a possible expansion of the event for young adults ages 18 to 27. He said the conference offers programs for children, teenagers, and adults but is missing a focus on young adults.
“We want to bring in speakers related to their world,” he said. “A lot of them are staying home.”

Scott Hahn
One of the weekend speakers was theologian Scott Hahn, whose book, “Rome Sweet Home,” has resulted in numerous conversions.
Hahn, a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, opened his first presentation at the conference by talking about the mutual awakening he and Christian singer Rich Mullins had.
“He grew up like I did,” Hahn said, “in an enthusiastic evangelical context,” adding that more than enthusiasm is needed. He quoted the theologian Ronald Knox who said nothing was accomplished with enthusiasm only, but that nothing was accomplished without it.
Hahn and Mullins became friends because the singer read “Rome Sweet Home,” Hahn’s book about his journey from Protestantism to Catholicism and contacted him.
Mullins was killed in a car accident while driving from Chicago to Wichita where he was going to be received into the Catholic Church.
Although he never made it to the formal church ceremony, Hahn said, “Instead of being received here in Wichita, he was received in Heaven.”
The Catholic theologian continued his presentation about the creed by saying the Catholic faith is personal and interpersonal. As Americans we say the Pledge of Allegiance together and sing the national anthem together. “Our creed is an international anthem,” he said.
Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas and a point made in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he said, “We do not believe in doctrinal formulas, rather in the realities they express.”
The creed is more than a pledge or a national anthem, Hahn said, “it makes us part of a family that is more than international it is divine.”
The creed is a synthesis of the Old Testament and the New Testament, he said, it is not a totality but a summary.
Hahn contrasted the Christian understanding of God the Father with the Muslim understanding that man has a slave-master relationship with God.
“God desires an intimacy,” he said. “He want us to know him as Abba Father.”
Hahn continued by relating the Trinity to the family and how the love of God is reflected through marriage and through children.

Jesse Romero
Lay evangelist Jesse Romero, who talked about the power of prayer, opened his presentation by recalling March 3, 1991, a day in which he, an off-duty uniformed policeman, was caught up in a situation in which gang members were stopping cars and beating occupants as reprisals to a brutality charge against the Los Angeles Police Department.
He said he was the only person of many to escape being beaten by about 200 gang members at an intersection that had been commandeered by a mob. He had his police pistol with him, Romero said, but added that he also had something more powerful against the hoards of men who were beating innocent people, his rosary.
When he was confronted by some gang members, one of them said, “Let him go. He’s cool.”
“I was probably the only one praying the rosary. This Mexican here, I’m a momma’s boy,” he said referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Romero went on to talk about how the Our Father is a prayer against Satan, a deliverance prayer. He discussed each of the segments of the prayer and how the phrase “daily bread” is better translated “supernatural bread.”
Jesus gives us the Eucharist to deliver us from evil, from Satan, he said.
Demons hate the rosary because of the Hail Mary, adding that an exorcist explained that the Marian prayer makes demons feel as if they have been hit with a baseball bat.
“Prayer torments demons,” he said. They’re afraid of prayers because they can’t stand truth.
Romero also advocated the Angel of God prayer and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel as prayers to battle Satan and other demons.
The power of prayer was especially evident, he said, in Juarez, Mexico when the priests of the town began Eucharistic Adoration in all the parishes as a way to fight against the cartels who were responsible for 3,700 murders in the city in 2010.
The police were controlled by a cartel, he said, adding that the military was also controlled by a cartel.
By 2015 the number of murders in Juarez was down to about 250. The mayor of the city told one of the priests that ever since the Catholics had turned their “churches into fortresses of prayer,” the numbers had gone down.

Jennifer Roback
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., talked about sexual abuse in the church but addressed the topic of gender ideology.
The sexual revolution can be defined, she said, as promoting:
• Separating sex from babies, the contraceptive ideology
• Separating both sex and babies from marriage, the divorce ideology
• Wiping out all differences between men and women (except those difference exclusively chosen by individuals), the gender ideology.
The sexual revolution has provided cover for sexual predators, the founder of the Ruth Institute said.
The gender ideology wants people to believe that the differences between men and women should be eliminated. But that has resulted in situations where father-daughter dances are banned, where gender-neutral bathrooms are required, and allowing biological men to compete as women in sports.
“It’s completely incoherent,” she said.
The gender ideology believes that the human body is unimportant,” Morse said, “and that it can be transcended through social reconstruction or through individual reconstruction with the help of law and technology, Morse said.
“It cannot be done because men and women are different.”
She continued her talk to explain that the term “gay” has no real meaning because there is not scientific or popular consensus regarding the definition of the term.
There is not unified theory regarding many aspects of homosexuality, she said, adding that sexual orientation can be fluid over a lifetime.

St. Therese of Lisieux watches over lay evangelist Jesse Romero at the conference.

Miss a talk?
All of the presentations at the Aug. 3-5 Midwest Catholic Family Conference are now available for purchase.
Audio CDs and mp3s may be purchased through Sept. 5 by visiting and scrolling down to “Latest Posts.”

Before the Cathedral there was St. Aloysius

St. Aloysius became the diocese’s Pro-Cathedral in 1887. (Advance file photo)

By Father Michael Peltzer
St. Aloysius Pro-Cathedral was built in 1884 in Wichita on the southeast corner of Second Street and St. Francis Avenue in downtown Wichita.
Before a diocese is officially erected (as was the case of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita in 1887) and until a new diocese receives its bishop, it cannot have a cathedral.
However, while the matter is under consideration, a local parish church may be used as a pro-cathedral. A large brick church, which was located at the east end of the downtown area, near the railroad tracks, was chosen for such an honor.
Its predecessor was a former Protestant church, a wood frame building now part of Wichita’s Cowtown.
The brick building, St. Aloysius Church, served as the pro-cathedral from 1887 until the completion of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at Central and Broadway in 1912. A school was built around the same time at the northeast corner of the same intersection and was staffed by the Sisters of Charity, BVM, from Mount Caramel Academy, then at the far west end of the city. It was called the Pro-Cathedral School.
Both corners were later acquired by the Coleman Lamp Company. The old brick church was used as a storage area by Coleman after the move to the new cathedral in 1912. The old St. Aloysius Church building was razed in the late 1920s. The stained glass windows, the stations of the cross, and some other furnishings from the church are now in the historic Holy Family Church in Odin, Kansas. The site of the old Pro-Cathedral and the Coleman Lamp Company is now a parking area for the City of Wichita.

Editor’s note
After 20 years of serving as pastor of the St. Joan of Arc Parish community in Harper County with its churches at Harper, Danville, and Anthony, Father Michael Peltzer was recently named by Bishop Carl A. Kemme as the coordinator for the updating of the history of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita and the necrology of the deceased diocesan priests. Father Peltzer also serves as chaplain for the Discalced Carmelite Community at their monastery northeast of Wichita and is in residence at the Priest Retirement Center. Ordained in 1980, Father Peltzer will be an occasional contributor of historical articles to the Catholic Advance.

Colwich parishioner installs Stations of the Cross on fence next to his home

Steve West with his the Stations of the Cross. (Courtesy photos)
West used leftover shingles to protect each station.

Steve West always thought the fence on the north side of his house needed something. Now it doesn’t.
West, a member of Sacred Heart Parish, Colwich, recently completed a Stations of the Cross project that adorns his side of his neighbor’s fence. His neighbor is also Catholic, so getting permission to mount the prayer aids was easy.
Steve and his wife, Linda, gave the images to each other as a mutual anniversary gift, but Steve decided to make his own shrines for the images after researching the cost. He made the shrines out of a vinyl board and used leftover house shingles to top them.
The project took several months and are used by the family and friends – despite the fact that the church is only about a four-minute walk away.
“I love the stations,” he said. “Always have!”

Cathedral’s music director to step down

Jim Jones has been waving his baton at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita for over 35 years. He will step off his riser and retire at the end of the month. (Advance photo)

After five bishops, five rectors, and thousands of ecclesial events at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Jim Jones is putting his baton back in its case.
Jones has been the music director for the Cathedral since 1982, the year he began teaching at Kansas Newman College, now Newman University. He began directing the musicians and the choir there after having held several other church music ministry positions and after teaching music in elementary and high schools.
In those 36 years, the Cathedral, “unquestionably the best ‘room’ acoustically, probably in the state,” he said, was renovated, the choir loft was enlarged, and the church’s organ was rebuilt.
The Cathedral’s organist, Carole Pracht, “is the best,” Jones said, praising the choir by extolling their desire to excel. “If we believe ‘the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,’ every celebration needs to exemplify that quest for excellence.”
In addition to taking graduate courses in chant and Catholic liturgy, he said he’s learned a lot from Pracht and the choir.
Jones said his music preferences haven’t changed much over the years, although the perception of what traditional Catholic music has.
“Carole says traditional Catholic music has become what you heard in high school,” he said with a laugh.
Just as having children makes a parent more patient, Jones said, he is probably kinder now than he was then.
“The music at the Cathedral is good, it’s consistently good and occasionally excellent. But that’s way better than being mediocre and occasionally good!” he said, once again laughing. “It’s not about me; the Cathedral parish and the diocese are blest to have this wonderful group of singers who show up week after week for rehearsals and Masses wanting to serve God by serving the Liturgy. You can’t be a leader if there are no followers.”
Being in the choir means he will no longer have to be responsible for all the planning and clerical responsibilities, he said, adding with an impish smile: “It’s not a parish with a couple of episcopal events, it’s episcopal events with a parish!”
The love of music and the love of liturgy has fueled his career at the Cathedral, he said.
Although he looks decades younger, the 72-year-old music director said he is slowing down so that music becomes more fun and less work.
“Now, for the first time in how many years – probably 50 years, I’ll actually be able to take Christmas off! I’ll actually sleep in on a holiday.”

Jim Jones farewell Aug. 26 at Cathedral
A farewell for Jim Jones will be held in the Gathering Space of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception after the 10 a.m. Mass Sunday, Aug. 26.

Nicholas Engels to succeed
Nicholas Engels has been named the new director of Sacred Music for the Cathedral. Jones’ farewell will also be an opportunity to meet Engels.
Engels received a bachelor’s degree in music from Wichita State University and a master’s degree in theology from Newman University. He has been involved in music ministry for over 20 years at St. John Parish, El Dorado; St. Vincent de Paul, Andover; and St. Jude and Church of the Resurrection in Wichita.
He is a member of Resurrection parish and is an adjunct professor of music at Butler Community College. He and his wife, Maria, have seven daughters.

Walls going up at St. Kizito

Work continues at St. Kizito Church after the parish’s pastor visited the Diocese of Wichita to educate about the Ugandan parish and to fund raise. (Courtesy photo)

It’s one brick at a time, but Father Vincent Kajoba is raising the walls at St. Kizito Church building project in Madudu, Uganda.
Father Kojoba was in the Diocese of Wichita much of the summer to serve as a substitute priest for vacationing diocesan priests and to share the story of his parish project. He spent much of his time in the diocese educating the faithful about the strong faith of the Catholics in Uganda, and appealing for financial aid for his poor parish.
Bob Powers, a member of Church of the Resurrection, was one of many who helped the African priest with the fundraising.
Powers set a goal of raising $100,000 for the Ugandan parishioners’ church. Before Father Kojoba set foot on Kansas soil, Powers and others had raised about $43,000. By mid-July, when Ugandan priest returned to central East Africa, a total of $107,000 had been raised.
St. Kizito Parish has four priests who shepherd 20,000 parishioners at 43 mission churches. Each of the priests celebrate four Masses each weekend in service of the parish.

Want more info?
Photos, video, and contact information about the project are available at Father Kajoba’s website,

Prisoners look forward to St. Dismas retreats

Warden Dennis Grimes opens the doors to holding cells in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (CNS photo)

Jesus’ message is the same whether you’re behind bars or not.
“We want to revive their faith and bring them closer to Christ,” said Father Jerry Beat. “We want them to know his great love, his forgiveness, and deepen their faith, hope, and love for the Lord.”
Father Beat assisted in a St. Dismas Retreat, July 20-21, at the state prison in Oswego, about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburg. Volunteers, mainly made up of men involved in the Cursillo movement, have presented retreats at the state prisons in El Dorado and Winfield under the auspices of the St. Dismas Ministry, a diocesan ministry to the incarcerated.
The retreat is oriented toward Catholics but anyone can participate, the retired priest of the diocese said.
Because space was limited, only about 17 took part in the retreat in Oswego. A couple of the prisoners who participated were not Catholic, but were “searching,” he said.
“We give talks and then discuss them,” he said. “And there’s open mic and sharing – and, of course, we always have music interspersed with that.”
Adoration is part of the retreat in addition to Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. “We animate them and encourage them as much as possible to go to confession,” Fr. Beat said.
“They loved it,” he said about his overall impression of the retreat. “They wanted to know when there would be another one.”
Six of the participants spoke limited English but two of the retreat team members are bilingual and assisted Spanish-speaking participants, along with Father Beat, who served for many years in a parish in Venezuela.
Mass is celebrated monthly at the prison by area priests.

Mendez celebrates 21 years in immigration services

As a case manager, Ana Mendez has experienced her share of families in need in the last 21 years.
To tell a client they are not eligible for any immigration benefits due to current immigration law, or to tell them that Catholic Charities is not able to take their case due to the complexity is the most challenging parts of her job.
Catholic Charities began helping refugees in 1963, primarily Vietnamese as they came to Kansas to find refuge and a new life. Staff helped the refugees get settled, place their children in schools, and provide support or referrals as needed.
In 1980, Mount St. Mary’s Learning Lab started to help the Indochinese refugee population with English as a second language and with the adjustment to the American culture. Then, in 1985, the program diversified with the addition of migrant education, GED and citizenship courses. Computers were added for technology literacy. Expanding on refugee services, Catholic Charities began serving immigrants in 1986 offering help with legal paperwork and the process to citizenship.
Mendez said those who support Catholic Charities are enabling it to continue to carry out their mission.
“The mission of Immigration Services is to help immigrants build new and secure futures in the United States of America,” she said. “It is the philosophy of the program that every individual or family seeking services be given the most honest, clear and detailed answers to their immigration concerns.”
Mendez said her favorite part about her job is seeing the families reunite. “Hearing clients stories about how their lives have greatly changed now that they have obtained the immigration benefit for which they had applied brings me joy.”
Having an immigration attorney on staff to assist those clients who are in proceedings and do not have the financial means to hire an attorney are among Mendez’s hopes for the future. “My goal is for our program to grow to be able to assist more clients and expand to other parts of the state,” she said.
The Immigration Services program is accredited through the Board of Immigration Appeal and Affiliated with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Tim Hogan to talk about how the culture affects marriages and family life Sept. 8

Tim Hogan describes the onslaught of temptation resulting from technology as a cultural hurricane.
“It’s a big reason why families, why people are leaving the Catholic Church faster than ever before in history,” he said in a telephone interview last week from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he was speaking to a group of teachers.
“It’s probably not that different from what the church went through 500 years ago with the printing press, the dawn of the scientific revolution, and the Reformation,” he said.
A massive cultural hurricane swept through the culture at that time and shook the church before it could get back on its feet and start growing again, he said. “And I think that’s kind of what we’re doing right now.”
Hogan, who holds a doctorate in psychology, is the director of the Grace Counseling Center in Detroit and travels extensively to talk about marriage and healthy families.
Older adults today had different kinds of relationships than children have today, he said.
“Most people say it’s a pretty radical shift. Economically we’re in a totally different space than what we were in just a generation ago. The latest report on child mental health is pretty sobering...suicide rates have just about doubled and depression rates are skyrocketing.”
Adults may complain about being slow to adapt to the changes in technology, Hogan said, but youth are also affected – as shown by the epidemic of drug abuse, depression, and suicide.
As a result, “we probably need to hit the pause button and rethink how we’re doing things and change our game a little bit.”
Hogan said followers of Jesus have been responsible for some of the best things in our culture.
“It’s been the Kingdom of God that has built civilization. Now all those things are being carried on by people who don’t have a faith center,” he said. “I think all that signals to how we are on this cusp of much like what happened 500 years ago. Things are shifting and now we need to rediscover our mission as the church.”
The focus wouldn’t be on building universities and hospitals, Hogan said, but on the family.

Want to attend?
Tim Hogan will lead a workshop for catechists and parents from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 8, at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with Mass following at 9. Hogan’s first presentation, “Thriving Healthy Marriages and Families – Thriving Healthy Catechists and Parishes,” will begin at about 9:45 a.m. His second presentation, “Three Focused and Effective Pastoral Care Strategies for Children and Families Struggling with Bullying, Depression, and LGBTQ,” will follow after a break at about 11 a.m.

Bishop Kemme to celebrate Red Mass and Blue Mass next month at Cathedral

It’s not a coincidence that this year’s Red and Blue Masses are being celebrated close to 9/11.
The Blue Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, to invoke God’s blessing on law enforcement, firefighters, and all other first responders.
“Part of the Blue Mass celebration and its timing is to remember the first responders who acted so heroically on 9/11,” said Travis Pearson, Planned Giving coordinator for the diocese of Wichita.
“It’s an open invitation to that whole community and you need not be Catholic to attend,” he said. “Bishop Kemme has a great respect for law enforcement and the first responder community and encourages those who are not Catholic to attend the Mass and the luncheon afterward at The Lord’s Diner.”
The luncheon is a way the Diner staff and volunteers can thank the first responder community, Pearson said.
The diocese is associating Servant of God Father Emil Kapaun with the Blue Mass.
“Father Kapaun was a ‘first responder’ who saved bodies and souls in wartime,” he said. “So it’s in the spirit of Father Kapaun that we want to gather people together and honor folks who, frankly, put their lives on the line in service to others.”
The Red Mass will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Cathedral.
“Like the Blue Mass, the Red Mass has a tradition and has been around for a long time,” Pearson said.
“It’s celebrated to benefit the lawyers, judges, lawmakers, policymakers – people who run the institutions of society that touch all of us, whether you’re a rich and famous or whether you’re poor and destitute. You can’t go about your day without being touched by institutions of law.”
The Red Mass is celebrated to remind those who work in law- and policy-related jobs of the need to be receptive to the Holy Spirit and tasks and duties they carry out, he said. “And in doing so, carry them out justly and fairly for all that justice is equal for all.”
Dr. Stephen Barr, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware, will be the speaker at a dinner after the Red Mass.
“He is a huge proponent of the argument that there is no conflict between faith and science. In fact, he’s a published author on the notion that faith and science are partners and are not incompatible,” Pearson said.
He added that you sometimes hear the argument that faith and science are compatible but that’s usually heard from people of faith. “It’s really interesting to hear a scientist, a physicist, tell you that in his studies of the scientific realm, he sees no conflict.”
Bishop Kemme hopes to establish both Masses as a tradition that is anticipated by both communities, Pearson said.

Red Mass, Blue Mass to be celebrated at the Cathedral
Both the Red and Blue Masses will be celebrated in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
• The Red Mass will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6
• The Blue Mass, will be celebrated at 10 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 9.

Counselor to work at three schools

Charities counselor to work at Christ the King, St. Joe, and St. Anne
Katelyn Aguiar has a passion for working with children and families. This year, she will provide school-based therapy at St. Anne, St. Joseph, and Christ the King Catholic schools in Wichita. She will also provide counseling through Cana Counseling, a ministry of the Diocese of Wichita.
Aguiar, a licensed masters level psychologist, said she enjoys meeting others where they are in life and helping them learn more about who God has created them to be. She earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Emporia State University in May 2017.
Through her undergraduate and graduate degrees, she completed two internships and has public mental health experience working in public schools, jails, and parochial schools.
During her internship in community mental health she learned how mental health providers network to provide treatment. It also provided her with exposure to working with clients in a variety of settings, from rural areas to jails.
“That experience impacted my ability to be adaptable in my treatment approach when working with individual clients,” said Aguiar. “Now I enjoy the ability to incorporate faith with flexible treatment, tailored to each client.”
She said the most rewarding aspect of her job is watching the therapy process unfold for clients. Aguiar also enjoys being able to collaborate with school staff and families to provide support for children.
“My favorite moments are those when clients realize that the tools in therapy only help to empower them to make changes they have held in themselves all along.”
Aguiar is a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Wichita.