After the paper copies of the Catholic Advance have been marked up by the proofreader and a corrected version has been electronically transmitted to the printing house, the Ministry with Persons with Disabilities gets its turn to mark up the diocesan newspaper.
Myra Jacobs, who directs the ministry, and Molly Reichenberger, ministry secretary, break out their color markers to code copies of the newspaper for those who cannot read or find it difficult to read the printed Catholic Advance.
“It’s amazing – and a blessing – that so many people donate their time and talent so that their brothers and sisters in Christ can keep abreast of the activities of the diocese,” Jacobs said. “Those who take part in this ministry will never know how many people they’ve helped learn the good news of the diocese.”
The good news is shared via the Air Capital Telephone Reader Service that makes the Catholic Advance, Wichita Eagle, and other publications available to those with reading difficulties – at no charge.
There are about a dozen people who volunteer to read the Catholic Advance. About four are needed for each edition.
After Jacobs and Reichenberger code the Advance, copies of the Advance are delivered to the readers who log into the reading service and dictate the text from their personal telephones. The readers categorize the news according to how the the newspaper is coded so that those listening can choose among topics such as featured articles, columns, youth and school news, and several others. The Spanish language edition of the Catholic Advance is also recorded for the service.
Deanna Schottler of Wichita, said she’s helping the ministry because she once told Jacobs that if she ever needed help to contact her.
“She did,” Schottler said of her friend of 47 years. “I enjoy helping and learning about the diocese while reading.”
Another reader, who wished to remain anonymous, said he assists the ministry as a way of stewardship of time and talent. “I have glaucoma, which is being treated – so I should never lose my eyesight – but it makes me think about living in darkness.”
Kathy Mosley, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Wichita, said she began reading for the ministry because her father lost significant vision when a retina detached in one eye and macular degeneration affected the other.
“He was rendered legally blind by the time he was 70 years old,” she said, adding that her brothers also suffer from detached retinas.
“While I have had tears in my retina which have been ‘repaired,’ she said, if her retinas become detached, she will be the fourth family member to have to cope with the condition.
“Vision is very precious to this family, as is my religion,” Mosley said, “performing this ministry is a natural fit for me.”
She said she couldn’t remember exactly how long she has been reading for the ministry but that her name is listed as one of the readers in an October 1998 article in the Catholic Advance with the headline: “Ministry garners U.S. award for taping Catholic Advance.”
Mosley remembers reading the Advance in a storage room at that time where she sat at a desk with a cassette recorder. There was only one reader at the time, she said, and it could take up to two hours to read the entire edition.
The cassette tapes were duplicated and mailed to subscribers to listen to the Catholic Advance. The recipients would mail the tapes back when they were finished, so the tapes could be reused.
“I am honored and grateful to be a part of this ministry and hope my eyes allow me to continue to read for many years to come,” she said.
Gerry Thompson, who’s been reading for the ministry for about four years, said he volunteers because readers can read from their own homes.
“I am blessed with the gift of sight, and what better way to thank God for this blessing than to share it with others who are blind or visually impaired,” he said.
The service provides recipients an opportunity to learn, to be informed, and to stay connected. “It is definitely part of the stewardship way of life,” Thompson said.
Maureen Gribben, said she is a reader because the Holy Spirit led her to the ministry. “I worked as a physical therapist with people of all ages and abilities my whole career,” she said. “I think this is why the Holy Spirit put the reader service on my heart.”
Lynne Schall said the ministry is a perfect fit for someone who has been reading aloud since she first learned how to read.
“I especially like the opportunity to read in my second language, Spanish,” she said, “and I look forward to recording many more articles.”
Gloria Rader reads the Advance, she said, because her son has Down Syndrome.
“Throughout his life, people have gone out of their way to make his life simpler and enriching,” she said. “Being a reader for those with special needs is a small way for me to do the same. It’s a privilege.”
Kim Decker said she began reading for the ministry when her youngest child was young and because she could do it at home, after her child went to bed.
“I have friends and former co-workers who are visually impaired and some of them use this service,” she said. “This is a great stewardship opportunity for anyone who needs something they can do from home!”
Steve Rohner said he sees reading the Catholic Advance for the ministry as an extension of his stewardship as a lector at Mass for St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
“I also see reading in both roles as an important part of my stewardship, areas in which I particularly enjoy participating,” he said.
Jean Hein said she enjoys reading and wanted a stewardship opportunity. Although she has some physical limitations that limit opportunities to serve, reading for the ministry is something she can do.
A female reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she reads the Advance because she has a brother who is blind and it gave her a way to assist him.
She said she promised her husband that she wouldn’t volunteer for anything after she retired from teaching at a Wichita Catholic school – except for reading the Advance for the blind.
“I can do that from home and I can use my God-given talent of a loud farm girl’s voice to do good,” she said.
Another teacher, Angie Etheredge, said because she’s an educator, she has no problem reading material for an audience.
“Reading for the Advance is a way that I can use my talents to help another person to get valuable Catholic information,” she said.

Want to subscribe to the service?
Those with reading difficulties who are interested in a free subscription to the Air Capital Telephone Reader Service are welcome to apply for access. To do so call, the Ministry with Persons with Disabilities at 316-269-3900.