Fr. Jerry Beat laid to rest
Father Jerry Beat was the second priest of the Diocese of Wichita that Bishop Carl A. Kemme met.
In the mid-1990s, years before he received that phone call from the apostolic nuncio announcing his appointment to Wichita, Bishop Kemme met Fr. Beat during a mission trip to Guatemala.
“Our days together on that pilgrimage and in that part of the world which he loved so much – having been himself a missionary in Venezuela – were filled with life-changing experiences, a deepening of my own understanding of the missionary nature of the church, all the while encountering a people, although materially very poor, were rich in spirit and the joys of relationships and family life.”
The trip changed his perspective of the region, and Fr. Beat had a lot to do with that, Bishop Kemme said.
“Since then and especially since my own arrival here as bishop, I was inspired and encouraged, as were so many, by his deep love for people, especially the poor, those on the margins of life, and his ability to connect to them by means of language, his warm smile, and his simple presence.”
The most active priest Bishop ever met
Bishop Kemme said Fr. Beat “hands down” was one of the most active retired priests he has ever known. “Rather than exit stage left from active ministry and to rest and wait for the end, Father Jerry continued to be active in so many ways after his last assignment,” he said.
Fr. Beat was active in his beloved Cursillo, in Unbound, and in substituting for priests – especially priests who had a large Hispanic community, the bishop said.
“Unbound gave him the means to promote the missions by inviting people like many of us to sponsor a child or elderly person in a part of the church and world which knows all too well material poverty,” he said.
Father Beat was engaged and was interested in what was going on in the diocese, Bishop Kemme said. “He knew my schedule, it seemed, often better than I knew it myself, asking me about this or that event, Mass or celebration as it appeared in my calendar in the Catholic Advance.”
The bishop said he also enjoyed the stories Fr. Beat told and his advice.
Fr. Beat will be missed
“Brothers and sisters, I am taking a long time to say something very simple but very important: Father Jerry Beat will be missed, by me, by our priests, by his family and by the many people, near and far whom he served with a Christlike heart and manner. For all of that, we offer to God our humble and profound thanks.”
Bishop Kemme started his homily by talking about how difficult 2020 has been for our country and the diocese. One of the reasons 2020 has been challenging, he added, is because of the deaths of six diocesan priests: four retired and two active.
Referring to the second reading, the bishop said the faithful are certain to pass from death to life because of our love for our brothers and sisters.
“No one lived those words more than Father Beat,” he said. “He truly loved people and considered them his brothers and sisters. This love was not only a part of his natural disposition toward people but also found its source and summit in the Most Holy Eucharist, which Father Beat prayed and celebrated faithfully for 57 years.”
The bishop said he felt blessed that his life intersected the life of such a loving and faithful priest.
” I believe we all truly feel that way and rightly so. Let us then pick up his ministry and mingle it with our own by using the time we have well, by not worrying about temporalities, but rolling up our sleeves and building the kingdom that is right in front of our eyes,” he said.
“That, I am convinced, was the secret to Father Jerry Beat’s ministry and the source of his joy and peace. May it be so of each of us. Let Father Beat and all our beloved deceased remind us of what awaits us if we are true to the mission of the Gospel: that we are certain to pass from death to life if we love, as Father Jerry Beat did so well and so ardently, by loving our brothers and sisters.”
Father Jerome A. Beat, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita for 57 years, died Sunday, Oct. 11. He was 83.
A Vespers Vigil Liturgy was prayed Thursday, Oct. 15, at Church of the Magdalen. A rosary was prayed at Friday, Oct. 16, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It was followed by a funeral Mass. Graveside services were at Ascension Cemetery.
The funeral Mass was streamed. A recording is available at YouTube.com/DioceseOfWichita.
Born in 1937 in Willowdale
Fr. Beat was born on Jan. 24, 1937, at Willowdale, Kansas, one of six children of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Beat.
He received his elementary school education at St. Anthony School in Wellington. He then spent 12 years at Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, as a high school student, and then as a college student earning undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Fr. Beat was ordained on May 25, 1963, by Bishop Leo C. Byrne at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
He served as an assistant pastor or pastor between 1963 and 1973 at St. Joseph, Andale; St. Francis Hospital, Wichita; St. Francis of Assisi, Wichita; and St. Patrick, Chanute.
Fr. Beat volunteered in 1973 as a missionary to the diocesan mission in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.
He returned to the diocese in 1986 to serve as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Newton, and was named director of Cursillo the next year. In 1991 he was named pastor of Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, the same year he expanded the Cursillo ministry to include those who spoke Spanish.
Fr. Beat was named pastor of St. Patrick Parish and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Wichita in 1995. He was named an assistant pastor at All Saints Parish in Wichita in 2003. The next year he was named chaplain of Via Christi St. Joseph in Wichita. Fr. Beat retired on June 14, 2010.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Agnes Beat; a sister; Jovita Crissman, a sister-in-law, Barbra Beat; and a brother-in-law; Maurice Cummings.
Surviving are his sister, Melva M. Cummings of Hutchinson; brothers, Norman of Louisville, Kentucky, Leroy (Judy) of Wichita, Larry (Stella) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a brother-in-law, Robert Crissman of Moore, Oklahoma, and multiple nieces and nephews.
Memorials are with the Holy Savior Catholic Church, 3000 E. 13th St N, Wichita, KS 67214, and Unbound, P.O. Box 219114, Kansas City, MO 64121-9114. Share tributes at www.dlwichita.com.
Fr. Beat volunteered for missionary work
Fr. Beat accepted Bishop David M. Maloney’s petition for volunteers to serve in the diocesan mission in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, in 1973. Before he began his missionary work, he attended a language and orientation school conducted by the Maryknoll Fathers in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
He would write the faithful of the diocese at least once a year about his missionary work. In his first letter home, Fr. Beat talked about transportation challenges.
Air travel in South America was well-developed he said in a letter in 1973, because it was often the only way to get from one big city to another. “But getting your flight delayed (maybe for several days) because the rain has made mud of dirt runways can be quite disheartening.”
Studying Spanish in Bolivia
He said the Spanish language school he was attending was the best in South America and that he enjoyed meeting with missionaries from all over the world.
In a letter later in the year, he talks about a trip he and other students took to Incallacta, Bolivia. He wrote that the ruins were impressive but what he would always remember is that the car’s driveshaft broke after two miles on the way back to the school and how they had to hitch rides on three cattle trucks full of people before arriving home late at night.
By the end of 1974, Fr. Beat had returned from a vacation back in Kansas. He wrote that his return to Barquisimeto made him more aware of the comforts of home lacking at the mission.
Barrio live was difficult
“Life in the barrio with such open houses…and the absence of lawns and shrubbery made dust and noise two of the more obvious nuisances. The pains of progress are felt each time we drive our keeps over the rough streets turn up by the installation of sewer lines.”
In June of 1975, he wrote about changes in personnel at the mission and how Holy Week was a highlight of the year so far. “Retreats and prayer meetings centering on the life, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit continue to increase in Venezuela,” he wrote. “In our two parishes, we have 22 circles of prayer meetings weekly. I have learned much about praying from the example and deep faith of these simple people.”
In December of 1975, Fr. Beat wrote that he had spent six weeks at his language school for more intense training. “I find myself now with a little keener facility and greater confidence in the use of the Spanish tongue. Gracias a Dios!” After talking about his travels through other South American countries back to Venezuela, he said he returned to the mission in time for the World Series via satellite. He closed the letter by talking about visiting the sick and aged and their preparation for Christmas.
Ready for Christmas
Two years later, Fr. Beat once again wrote about Christmas preparations at the mission and adjusting to the culture regarding Confirmation and the lack of requiring prerequisites to receive the sacrament.
“So goes the continual battle of fighting for the ideal in the flesh and blood of the real with all its deficiencies,” he wrote in December of 1977. “We pray and trust that the Holy Spirit might transform lives and build his kingdom through and beyond our meager efforts and the handicaps of our people.”
In June of 1978, Father Beat wrote about how happy he and Fr. Bob Kocour were for all the support the mission received from the faithful of the diocese. He also talked about preparing 700 children for their First Holy Communion. Father mentions their work in catechizing about the Sacrament of Marriage because of the widespread concubinage and the abandonment of children. In a Christmas message, Fr. Beat talks about a new rectory, which was welcomed after four moves in his five years there. He invited the faithful to visit and stay in their guest room.
Beloved Norberto dies
In a letter published in April of 1980, he wrote about burying Norberto, a poor parishioner who would show up at Mass, sit near the musicians and join by blowing over the top of a pop bottle or tap his cane in time with the music. “We helped the family scrape up enough money to pay the funeral bill. Norberto serves as a good example of the struggle that faces most of our poor and aged.”
Fr. Beat mentions that his father and step-mother and two aunts visited him and how hospitable the people were towards them. He added that after Mass his aunt Marcella said: “These people aren’t afraid to sing out in church like we are.”
In a letter printed in January of 1991, Fr. Beat talks about some of his travels throughout South America and about the Cursillo and how it had become integral to parish activities. The next year he wrote about he had become the leader of the diocesan mission and how much Fr. Pat Malone was doing to assist him and the addition of Fr. Dwight Birket to his team.