Holy Family Camp ‘buddies’ fulfill a work of mercy while having a lot of fun

By Andy Beugelsdijk
I decided to volunteer for a Holy Family Camp because a friend who said it had a big impact on his whole life perspective encouraged me to do so. During my time as a Camp Buddy in June of 2015, I realized what he meant, I would also highly recommend it to anyone.
The experience I had being a Camp Buddy and helping out one of the campers with disabilities throughout the week was very rewarding and a lot of fun. Some of the fun activities included swimming, archery, a talent show, and a dance.
Part of the fun is getting to know the other campers and volunteers there. It’s the week of the year the campers look forward to the most, and it was great sharing that joy with them and helping make the week possible.
It was a week of growing spiritually as well. We lived our faith going to Mass each day and had lessons on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. What stuck with me the most, though, was knowing that in helping, serving, and being with these campers, Jesus was giving me the opportunity to help, serve, and be with Him in them.
The camp challenged me to grow in love and to help others with whom I didn’t have any experience helping, but the challenge was worth it seeing the joy on the campers’ faces and knowing it was done for the Lord.
The camp was a great reminder of all the blessings I have in my life and was a way to give back in gratitude. If you’re interested, it’s a good summer opportunity when school is out, but it would be great even if you’re out of school and think you’re “too old” for it.
I enjoyed working with some volunteers who had 10 years of experience and some who were taking the week off from work to start for the first time. I would encourage anyone who wants to have a fun week helping others who really appreciate it and to grow in your faith to consider volunteering in the future.
Beugelsdijk is a first year theology seminarian and a member of Holy Cross Parish in Hutchinson.

Interested in being a Camp Buddy?
Those interested in being a Camp Buddy may contact Christina Streeter at streeterc@CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org or Tom Racunas at racunast@ CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org. Holy Family Camp begins Sunday, June 12, with Camp Buddy arrival and training, and ends on Friday, June 17.

Prayer and Action

-by Todd Shepherd

This summer I’ve had the great privilege to serve the Diocese as the Director of Prayer and Action. This incredible program is a mission trip for the high school students of our diocese who serve those in need in their own “backyard.” We do not have to travel 1,000 miles to find those in need, all we have to do is look at those around us. This summer, in three different locations throughout our Diocese, 200 high school students served about 40 households primarily by painting their houses or doing lawn work. Although the properties were visibly impacted, the lasting impact lies within the recesses of the hearts of the all those involved. Every time the homeowners will look at their houses they will be forever grateful at the service they received but at the same time they will be reminded of how they were struck by the generosity and joy of the high school students. Yes, their properties were improved but their hearts are now filled with the love of Christ, shown through the benevolent service of the high school students.

The high school students leave at the end of the week with suntans (or rather sunburnt) and maybe even a little stronger after their labor under the hot sun. The change they underwent hits a lot deeper than just the physical in a similar way in which the homeowners are impacted. They truly learn that to give is to receive. The homeowners think they benefit from the work but the high school students really benefit more. Seeing how much of impact their simple labors make and how much getting out of one’s shell to have a conversation with a stranger impacts a person, they realize they don’t have to do “great things but just little things with great love,” as The Little Flower reminds us. The hope is they will leave a Prayer and Action week seeking to continuously serve others every day, even if it is in little ways.

All of the beautiful fruits of this labor begins with the Eucharist. The high school students begin and end each day with 30 minutes of silence before the Blessed Sacrament. They have a chance to step away from their noisy worlds to encounter our Lord in the Eucharist. This is something their hearts, and all of our hearts, are hungering for and most don’t realize it until after a week of Prayer and Action. Once they let Him into their hearts they are then fueled to go out and to give His love unreservedly to all they encounter. This is exactly why they are able to impact the homeowners in such a deep way.

To say the very least, it has been an incredible experience to watch all of this take place week after week this summer. It is beautiful to watch the gratitude of the homeowners, the transformation of the high school students, the response of the parish and communities, the way the Holy Spirit guides us to act in the smallest of ways, and how all we have to do is trust that God will use us every moment, even through our weaknesses.
For a summer full of Prayer and Action; I know that God is good!

Camping for the Kingdom

- by Hayden Charles

This summer I have been serving the Diocese at Camp Totus Tuus, which is held at a campground right outside of Lyons, Kansas, about an hour and a half northwest of Wichita.  Each week, a different age group comes out to the camp ranging from 5th grade all the way through high school.  It is a great opportunity to encounter the youth of the Diocese and journey along with them into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.  It has also been a great opportunity to work with a team of young people seeking to grow closer to Christ and bring others along with them.  We have a team of six young men and six young women along with our camp director out at Camp, and that has definitely been one of the highlights of the summer.  I have really enjoyed getting to know everybody on the team and building relationships that I hope will last for a very long time.  Having an incredible group of friends to share all of the struggles and joys that Camp Totus Tuus brings to me as a counselor has been a great blessing that has kept me grateful to God constantly.

At times working out at Camp can be incredibly challenging, especially on Friday mornings when most of the team is running on little to no sleep.  The exhaustion that comes with having an absolute blast with the kids all week creates some very difficult moments throughout the days.  Often kids ask, "How do all of you counselors have so much energy all the time?"  Without fail, all of us answer, "The Holy Spirit."  It is beautiful to experience the work of the Holy Spirit in action out at Camp, be it in the grace to push through exhaustion and strive to give more at every moment, in being given just the right words to speak in a conversation with the campers, or just in being in the right place at the right time to share a good conversation or a laugh with a few of the kids.  There are countless little moments out at Camp where I get to see God alive and at work in my life and in the lives of others that make all of the effort and exhaustion worth it.
I would probably say that my favorite part of Camp is getting to know the young people of the Diocese and allowing them to get to know me.  Being able to share times of prayer, meals, talks, small groups, and all kinds of fun and games with young people that I hope to serve as a priest one day is very special and an opportunity that I am very grateful for.  It is really wonderful to serve as an inspiration as well as be inspired by the campers in living a life of discipleship.  The kids' enthusiasm to get to know us and to get to know Jesus is something that keeps me going and pushing through challenging moments each day, and something that I will definitely take with me when I head back to Conception Seminary College in the fall.  In working out at Camp Totus Tuus I have come to realize what a great blessing it is to the Diocese of Wichita and how formative it has been for a great number of campers and counselors alike.

"For my power is made perfect in weakness" Reflections on Holy Family Camp

---Reflection from Clay Kimbro, 3rd Theology, working for the Diocese’s Ministry with Persons with Disabilities this summer.

With so many men (10!) entering Third Theology in the Fall, Fr. Simone was given a good problem to have this summer. Normally during the summer before 3rd Theology, men take part in a pastoral internship that gives them some sort of experience with one the Diocese’s many organizations. Usually two men serve at the Via Christi Hospitals and another few serve at the Lord’s Diner or the Catholic Care Center, and last summer we even added Prison ministry to the list. This summer we had to get creative in order to find assignments for all of us, thus J.D. Betzen is helping out the parishes in the area with their computer technology programs, and Andrew Bergkamp is serving at Church of the Magdalen in a variety of ways. I am blessed this summer with the opportunity to work with Tom Racunas, the Director of the Ministry with Persons with Disabilities. This is a ministry I have been involved with by serving at Holy Family Camp as a volunteer in years past, but this summer I was thrown in to the mix as a Camp Director, and we had another amazing week at Camp.

For those who don’t know, Holy Family Camp is a week-long vacation/retreat Camp for nearly 90 persons with wide-ranging cognitive and physical disabilities who range from the ages of 15-80. Most (75 or so) of the Campers stay overnight all week at Camp Hiawatha and have the time of their lives! Of course this effort relies on an army of volunteers to get the job done. Over 120 people contributed in the kitchen, on the nursing, staff, and in various other capacities to make Camp work. The bulk of our volunteers are those high school students, and committed volunteers who work directly with Campers as their “Camp Buddies.” Anyone who has volunteered at Camp can tell you how much their lives are changed by a week of joy and love at Holy Family Camp. My greatest takeaway from Camp each year is the authenticity and dignity with which each of our campers live, in spite of, or maybe even because of, their disabilities. It seems like we are serving them throughout the week, but in the end we always see, as St. Francis did, that “it is in giving that we receive.” We receive so much wisdom and knowledge about how to live life in a joy-filled and life-giving way because of the wonderful people we meet. We learn to see people for who they are, not what they are. We learn to live an authentic life for God by simply being ourselves. To me, Holy Family Camp is a great descriptor of what St. Therese’s “Little Way” is all about. The Little Way embraces the idea that we serve God best when we surrender our weaknesses to Him and let him work through us. It also teaches us to do small things with great love. It is an incredible joy to see God enter into each of our Buddies’ lives through the Campers and their many gifts and talents. His grace truly is sufficient for each and every one of us!

Summer as a Deacon

- by Dcn. Curtis Hecker

This summer I have been at Saint Patrick’s parish in Parsons, KS.  My duties included preaching almost every day, teaching a couple of adult education classes, writing articles for the bulletin, doing communion calls and whatever odds and ends the pastor, Father Jason Borkenhagen, found for me to do (including digging out the school playground with a skid steer and spreading out new gravel) [see picture].  I also had the opportunity to attend a Steubenville conference with some of the high school kids, make a day trip to Worlds of Fun with some of the middle school kids, and I spent a few days at Table Rock Lake with a group of Frassati altar servers.

Some of the highlights of my summer were to assist at a wedding and several funerals, to preach at mass and play dodge-ball with the kids during Totus Tuus, but perhaps the greatest thing that I has able to do all summer was to baptize two babies. Baptizing is AWESOME—there is such an indescribable feeling that comes from knowing that the child you are holding in your hands is being claimed for Christ and made a new member of his family.

Other than baptizing, my favorite part of the summer was preaching. It is a lot more difficult than I thought that it would be to come up with something worthwhile to say for a daily homily. The Sunday homilies took a long time to prepare but I believe that they went well and I received a lot of positive feedback on my preaching throughout the summer. Preaching also was a great way to check my own spiritual and intellectual progress; because when I was preparing a homily I was able to see the topics that I naturally felt more comfortable preaching about and the things that I knew I had to do more research on so that I could articulate the truths of the faith.

Being a deacon has been the best summer job that I have had in seminary, and that makes it much more difficult to go back to seminary now that I have “got my feet wet” with priestly ministry.  But at the same time I believe that I will be going back with a new zeal for studies, so that I can be the best priest that I can possibly be for the people that I have begun to serve. I have one more year to go before ordination to the priesthood and I cannot wait!

In Christ, though Mary,

Deacon Curtis Hecker

Getting Excited for Spring

The Spring semester is winding down in our seminaries. Since Easter is so late and Bishop-elect Kemme’s ordination is less than two weeks after Easter on May 1st, we are needing to start wrapping up our academic work now. Many of us seminarians will be back in the diocese for Holy Week to help out at our parishes and at the Cathedral for all the liturgies that accompany this special time of year. Trust me, we are all looking forward to spending a little time back home.

Late Spring is a busy time around a seminary. For one, the weather is nicer so we are getting outside more to play games of soccer and baseball. For the deacons, this time of year brings final comps and the need to finalize ordination plans. As a guy with a few more years left in seminary, it is reassuring to see the 3rd year men and the 4th year deacons getting excited (and a little anxious) about getting ordained. Seminary is a great place, but the seminary is training us to live out in the real world in parishes, so the 4th year men are very excited to leave the seminary behind. As for Wichita, we will have two men ordained priests and seven men ordained deacons this May. Praise God!

Pope Francis certainly gave us our best Easter gift by appointing a new shepherd for our diocese! We are all very excited for Bishop-elect Kemme’s ordination and we look forward to getting to know him and to seeing what he will bring to the diocese. I have not had the pleasure of meeting him yet, though the seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary did, and they say he is a great man. I can't always trust those guys, but their sentiments are shared by all who have had the honor.

Just this past weekend, the 1st Theologians at Mount St. Mary’s were installed as Lectors by Wichita priest turned Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, Bishop James Conley.

Our diocese has a very exciting Spring ahead of us! Pray for us that we may be able to end the year strong and pray especially for all those to be ordained in May. We appreciate it!


A major component of seminary is academic study. Apart from our time in the chapel and our real-world experience in schools, hospitals, and parishes, seminarians take classes just like any student. Here is a little taste of what we actually study. The first years focus on philosophy, while the last four years tackle theology. Throughout the theology years we cover topics ranging from liturgy to biomedical ethics, Christology to social justice, minor prophets to baptism practice. I am currently a first year theology student so I am enrolled in Fundamental Moral Theology, Early Church History, Introduction to Spirituality, Introduction to Scripture, Pastoral Music (teaching us how to sing), and a Revelation, Faith, and Theology class. As you might imagine, the classes build on each other each semester so by the end we will have covered all of Scripture, a whole range of moral topics and much more. The last couple years also involve practicum classes so, for example, we will be taught how to celebrate Mass before we are ordained.

With these classes we are working toward a Masters in Divinity degree, which we will receive shortly before our ordination to the priesthood. We have the option of pursuing an additional masters degree in morality, Church history, systematics (essentially Revelation and theology), or Scripture. Further, all of the Diocese of Wichita seminarians will study Spanish in seminary along with a summer immersion program. Also, some of us will study Latin and/or Greek for the study of Church documents and Scripture respectively.

…. now I best get back to the books.

Candidacy - What's That?

Drew Hoffman, Andy Bergkamp, Jacob Carlin, Clay Kimbro, Byron Bergkamp, and Chris Martin.

--- From Clay Kimbro, Theo. I at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

On January 30th the six men from Wichita in Theology were received as official Candidates for Holy Orders at the St. Joseph’s Chapel in St. Louis. According to Wikipedia (which of course, we’re not supposed to use on seminary papers, but was surprisingly helpful in this case) Candidacy is a rite which takes place during Roman Catholic seminary formation, by which the Church recognizes the seminarian as worthy of being ordained a priest or deacon. Most seminaries in the country seem to accept candidates towards the end of seminary formation, but Kenrick places the ceremony in the middle of the first year of theology school. I think this is fitting for several reasons.

First, the rite emphasizes two main promises which the candidate makes to the presiding Bishop (who represents the Bishops, or in our case the Diocesan Administrator, of the men who are pledging their candidacy). These promises are (1) “to complete preparation so that you will be prepared to assume ministry within the Church” and (2) “To prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his Body, the Church.” These promises echo the fullness of formation, and they encourage us to continue to pray and work as if the people of God are depending on us, for indeed they do!

The next reason this rite was so impactful as a first theologian is that during the rite our names were called just as in ordination, we stood and said “present!’ and we said “I do” to these promises. This was kind of a shock to undergo the same type of rite as ordination. In a moment, the future of work and prayer that will go into ordination seemed to flash before our eyes. What a great wake up call at the  beginning to take these four years seriously in our love of God and neighbor!

The last reason why the rite was great is because for the first time, but not the last, we heard the words, “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.” This was a terrific reminder of the journey thus far. From the first moment when we felt the call to come to seminary in many and various ways, to this moment standing before God and his Church in a “betrothal ceremony,” God has been in total control of this quest. The presiding Bishop at our Candidacy was Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, TN. He gave a terrific homily explaining that even though this may seem like an insignificant rite in comparison to the great big promises we will make in the future, we are truly saying “Jesus, I Trust in You” when we say I do. We stood in front of classmates, family, and friends to say, “Yes, I believe you have called me by name Lord, and I trust in your providence. Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

Catholic Schools Week!

Its Catholic Schools Week! Sadly the seminary does not do anything special for Catholic Schools Week, but many of the seminarians are able to participate through teaching assignments in Catholic schools. Most of the men in my class have been assigned this year to teach grades anywhere from kindergarten through high school in the schools in our surrounding area. My assignment is to teach first through sixth graders at St. Joseph’s School in Dallastown, PA. Luckily for the students, I am not their primary religion teacher. I teach for only a few hours once a week to provide the students with topics that are supplemental to their curriculum. The purpose of these assignments is to provide us with experience in teaching, communicating the truths of the faith, and acting publicly as a representative of the Church.

Teaching this year has been a true blessing for me. I have learned to appreciate the challenging nature of the art of teaching. It requires much preparation, creativity, passion for the material, awareness of the audience, confidence, and so on. Further, I have been able to pick up on the characteristics and differences of the students in each grade level. Most of all I have been truly impressed by how much the truths of the faith resonate with all the students and how eager they all are to learn and to live out their Catholicism. The students continually strengthen my desire to learn more and work harder because they ask good questions and they let me know when my language is too confusing. My primary goal is to emphasize the Bible as a great source of prayer and as a great place of encounter with the Lord, and, it appears at least, that the students are growing in their appreciation of the Word of God. It is a great blessing to see that God has blessed my time there and I look forward to returning to Dallastown each week for a little dose of reality and the blessing of being able to teach the Gospel to a great group of students.




Further, Kansas House Representative Tim Huelskamp invited the Wichita diocese seminarians at Mt. St. Mary's out to the U.S. Capitol building for a tour... and we had a great time! Thank you Congressman!

Why Philosophy?

- written by seminary-college senior Tanner Martin

Usually, when I tell someone that I’m studying philosophy while in the seminary, he or she tries to ask in the nicest possible way, “Why philosophy?” when they probably want to ask, “What’s the point of a seminarian learning philosophy?” To be completely honest, I had a similar mentality towards the subject before I entered seminary.

Philosophers always seemed to me to be those people that questioned absolutely everything - too often to the point of frustration of those around them.  (Take for example Socrates who was exiled from time to time and eventually put to death.) Philosophers question the existence of God, whether we actually know anything, or if we even exist all together. Now, most people in life don’t go as far as to question his or her own existence, but this questioning reflects a greater beauty in all humanity: the beauty of seeking truth.

In college seminary, there are two tracks of philosophy courses that we follow. The first track is a timeline of the progression of philosophical thought, i.e. starting with Ancient Philosophy, followed by Medieval Philosophy, then Modern Philosophy, and ending with Contemporary Philosophy. The other track is more of a topical layout of philosophy with courses such as Ethics, Philosophy of Human Nature, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Natural Theology, etc.

Philosophical answers on how the world works vary from one extreme to the other. You have empiricists, rationalists, materialists, immaterialists, realists, idealists, relativists, utilitarians, and on and on. (Take it from me, it can be quite a chore to keep all of these philosophical categories in order).

Now this sounds great and all, but why should college seminarians have to study philosophy? There are a few answers, but I attribute it to the wisdom of Holy Mother Church. The Church recognizes that the people of God are as varied as the different philosophical perspectives of the world. Some lean Descartes, some are like Aquinas, and some understand as Hume did. Yet, one day when I’m ministering to someone as a priest, I have to be able to try to understand the world through the various lenses of the minds of the people I’m serving. I’ll serve them in this way by not only leading them closer to knowledge, but ultimately to The Truth, namely, Jesus Christ.

So, while in Theology I’ll learn all about the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, Ecclesiology, the sacraments, etc., it’s with philosophy that I’ll learn the basics of human thought. It’s with knowledge of philosophy that I’ll be able to serve all of the people of God regardless of how they understand the world. It’s a service to all in the same manner as Jesus Christ.