Seminarian puts his study of theology to work in serving the hungry
By Christopher M. Riggs
Rickey Kotrba could write an essay about the philosophy and theology behind Jesus’ injunction to love our neighbor, but this summer he is getting something not available in a book.
Kotrba, the son of Scott and Mary Kotrba, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Wichita, is working at The Lord’s Diner doing just about everything that is done at the diocesan soup kitchen: preparing food, cleaning up, serving meals, and cleaning some more.
Because of the record numbers of people eating at the Diner this summer, Kotrba said he doesn’t get many opportunities to visit with those eating, “but when things are slower I’m able to talk with a few of the guests to get to know them.
“It’s been a very humbling experience but a very profound experience,” he said. “I’ve been able to meet those who really need assistance. It’s one thing to be able to read books and to study theology and talk about love, but to be able to experience what I have working here at The Lord’s Diner has taught me about loving our neighbors and loving those who are in need.”
Seeing the faith and the Lord through those who eat at The Lord’s Diner has been very rewarding, he added.
Kotrba, who is in his second year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., has his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in hand and three more year’s of theology to complete before he is eligible for ordination to the priesthood.
Last year, his first year studying theology, was satisfying but challenging, he said, because he was making a transition from college seminary to major seminary. “It was very rewarding, not only with the relationships I was able to have, but also in the ways the Lord was able to bless me in my own growth in the areas I needed to grow. I’m privileged to be able to study theology and have the professors around me who are excellent.”
Living a life of prayer and having a spiritual director is difficult to find outside of a seminary, Kotrba added.
“I have my feet settled in an area where I’ve already formed some very good friendships and kind of know the lay of the land,” he said. “I’m ready to dive into my relationship deeper with the Lord, trusting in him and allowing him to transform me into who he wants me to be.”
Kotrba said he is breathing easier now. “I don’t have to worry so much as I did my first year with just getting used to everything. This next year I’m excited for the amount of new things that will be there for me but for so much more growth that the Lord will have for me.”

Video of Kotrba online
Much of the interview and some video of Kotrba working at The Lord’s Diner is online at our YouTube channel: youtube.com/dioceseofwichita.