Rev. John P. Lanzrath
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” This opening verse of the Gospel of St. John the Evangelist speaks profoundly to us. Often referred to as “The Beloved,” St. John is the Patron Saint of our parish family and he is also my Patron Saint.
As I begin service as pastor to this parish family, I am humbly aware of the deep Catholic Faith that is rooted in the lives of the families here and of the many priests and religious sisters who have come before me in the last 138 years of our parish family history. While I am “in the beginning,” many of you have been long-time parishioners of this parish. Please be patient with me. During the next six months, you will hear me repeat two words often: listen and learn. I seek to listen and seek to learn.
I desire to listen to each of you and to learn from you as we walk this pilgrim journey to the Kingdom of God, accompanying one another in this journey of faith. I most desire to listen and to learn from the Word, the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. I pray that each of you share this desire in your heart. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
As your new pastor, the one truth about my life that I wish to share with you most is that I am a sinner! I am seeking to learn from the Word of God in Chapter 10 of St. John’s Gospel what a good shepherd is to be for the sheep. The Latin word, “pastoris,” means shepherd. In English, the word is “pastor.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the flock, for his sheep. This is the lesson that I seek to learn and embrace, in imitation of Jesus.
I have already witnessed some of the many ways that St. John’s Parish is alive with faith. I am grateful to Bishop Kemme for appointing me to serve as pastor, (shepherd), of this flock. I am anxious to meet you, to listen to you, to learn from you and to love you. The strength of family life here is the bedrock of a solid parish family.
I am blessed to come from a strong family of faith. My parents, Kay and Ralph, have been married 57 years. Their wedding anniversary is December 27, (which happens to be the Feast day of St. John the Evangelist). I have three younger brothers. One of my brothers, David, died in infancy. My brother, Leon, lives in Wichita and my youngest brother, Jerry, lives in Andover. We grew up in All Saints Parish in Wichita and later, when I was in high school, we moved near Andover. I attended All Saints Grade School, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel Catholic High School and Wichita State University, where I received a degree in mathematics and statistics. Upon graduation from college, I worked as an engineer at Boeing Military Airplane Company, before I entered the seminary. I attended Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland for five years and was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene Gerber on May 28, 1988.
In addition to serving as pastor of St. John Parish, I also am the Vicar for Priests for the diocese. I seek to “shepherd” all of my brother priests. My plan as of now is to spend Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday at the parish. Wednesday is my work day at the Chancery Office in Wichita for my diocesan responsibilities. I will be here Wednesday evenings for CYM. Thursday and Friday will be individual meetings throughout the year with all of my 128 brother priests. Of course, there will need to be flexibility in this schedule, just as there is much flexibility in your family schedules.
Let us pray for one another. God speaks and we listen. The Word of God speaks. May we listen to His Voice, learn from Him and follow His Way. St. John the Evangelist, pray for us!