October 15, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Apathy."  When searching in a dictionary, I find the following definition: absence of suppression of passion, emotion or excitement; lack of interest in or concern for thigns that others find moving or exciting.  I find excitement in watching the Kansas City Chiefs in the National Football League.  I know however, that just because I have a passion and excitement about the game of football, others have apathy toward football.  Some people have a passion for opera.  I, on the other hand, am apathetic toward opera.

Each of us have certain passions and excitement in life.  As each person is uniquely created by God, so too do our individual passions differ.  But what about our spiritual life?  Do we have a pssion for our spiritual life or are we apathetic, indifferent, unmoved?

A weapon of the devil is to downplay the importance of our spiritual life.  In the cunning action of the evil one, the devil revels when a person becomes apathetic in one's spiritual life.  When the spiritual life is out of sight, the spiritual life is out of mind.  Consequently, other things take the primacy of place in my life: my career, my possessions, my reputation, etc.

In today's Gospel, those who are invited by the king to his son's wedding banquet are apathetic to the invitation.  There is no passion, emotion or excitement to come to the banquet.  Rather, other concerns or indifference take center stage in their lives.  My sisters and brothers, "Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb."  We are the invited guests to come to the banquet of the Lord, the sacred meal that is served at the Altar of God.  Are we excited and passionate ino ur response to this invitation or are we disinterested, or possess a "so-so" attitude to what happens at the Mass?

How we answer this question gives us an insight into how important is our spiritual life.  Do we come to the Feast, the Banquet of the Lord, with attentiveness and excitement, passion and reverence or do we make excuses and absent ourselves and thus reject the invitation from the Lord?  We do well to reflect in prayer on the last line of today's Gospel, "Many are invited, but few are chosen."  We have been invited to the banquet.  Have we been chosen?  Take this question to prayer.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 8, 2017

Dear Friends,

Last Tuesday evening, our Parish Stewardsip Council met for our monthly meeting.  I am very grateful for the enthusiasm, energy and dedication of the parishioners who serve on this council.  In the next six weeks, you will be hearing many things about our preparation as individuals, as families, and as a parish family as we enter into our annual stewardship renewal.

Stewardship is the grateful response of a Christian disciple, who recognizes and receives God's gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor. Every year, our parish and diocesan family conducts a stewardship renewal.  Some people question the reason of why we do this every year.  Simply stated, our lives are never static.  Things continue to change.  There may be a change or a loss of job, addition of the birth of a child, the illness or death of a family member.  Life does not stand still.  We are either growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ or we are dying in our relationship with Jesus.

The annual stewardship renewal invites each of us to reflect upon the status of our spiritual life.  Remember the Gospel parable of last Sunday?  The father with two sons asked both of his sons to go and work in the vineyard.  One son initially said, "No, I will not go."  Later, he changed his mind and went to work.  The other son responded to his father, "Yes, I will go," but he never did.  Which son did the will of the father?

Each of us is called by God our Father to work in the vineyard of the Lord.  How will we respond?  It is one thing to say in words that I will work in the vineyard.  It is another thing to actually work in the vineyard.  As stewards, we are called to share the gift of life in working in that vineyard.  During these next six weeks leading to Stewardship Commitment sunday on November 18 - 19, we will reflect upon how we may be able to work in that vineyard of the Lord.  How will we respond to the command of our Heavenly Father?

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 1, 2017

Dear Friends,

As we enter into the month of October, I extend two invitations for retreat experiences for this month.  A retreat provides an opportunity to "retreat" from the common surroundings of everyday life and set aside time to review the state of one's spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.  The ancient philosopher Socrates once wrote, "An unexamined life is not worth living."  Retreats provide us a chance to stop and examine where we are in life, what is going well and what needs a directional change.

The first invitation is extended to the men of the parish.  For the last few years, I have been richly blessed by my participation in a group called Kapaun's Men.  Following the heroic and saintly example of the Servant of God, Fr. Emil Kapaun, this group of Catholic men recognizes the need for fraternity and accountability to strengthen and to challenge one another to be better men, better husbands, better fathers, better friends, better disciples of Jesus Christ.  Check out our website, www.kapaunsmen.org and learn more about our mission.  A weekend retreat for men will take place on October 21-22, 2017 at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg, Kansas. (The ranch is a two hour drive northeast from Wichita).  "The glory of God is man fully alive." said St. Irenaeus.  Most men want to feel fully alive, but waht does it really mean, and how do we achieve it?  Our model, Father Kapaun as we seek to encounter Jesus in Scripture and become men who are fully alive.  Register online at www.kapaunsmen.org

The second invitation is extended to all of our parishioners, regardless of age.  I will be leading a morning reflection at the parish home of Fr. Emil Kapaun in Pilsen, Kansas.  This day will be Saturday, October 28.  We will leave the parking lot at St. John's at 7:30 a.m. and drive to Pilsen.  Upon arrival, we will tour St. John Nepomucene Parish, spend time in prayer and visit the Fr. Kapaun Museum and his boyhood home.  We will return to Clonmel by 2:00 p.m.  Although it is a quick trip, it will be inspiring and prayerful as well as providing an opportunity to spend time with parishioners.  Call the parish office at 620-545-7171 to register for this day.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

September 24, 2017

Dear Friends,

This coming week, I will be in St. Louis, Missouri attending a conference of my peers from throughout the Midwest who serve as Vicars for Priests.  I certainly see that many of you wear a variety of hats: a work hat, a parent hat, a spouse hat, etc.  Like you, I also wear different hats.  My two main hats are serving as pastor here at St. John the Evangelist Parish and the other is serving as Vicar for Priests for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.

The role of the Vicar for Priests is to assist Bishop Kemme in his role as shepherd, especially in shepherding his priests.  How blessed we are to have many priests and our diocese is unique in that many of our priests are very young.  The median age of our active priests is 44.5 years.  I cannot believe that 78 of the priests in our diocese are younger than I am!  On the other end of the spectrum, our diocese is graced to have 27 retired priests, who have given their life in faithful service to the People of God for many years.  I spend a great deal of time with both our young, newly ordained priests and caring for our older priests who must deal with the frail aging of the body and mind.

One of those aging priests died last week - our former pastor, Fr. Leroy Linnebur.  May he rest in peace.  I am so grateful to those of you who attended the Rosary Vigil on Friday evening and the Mass of Christian Burial last Saturday morning at Sacred Heart Parish in Colwich.  I constantly tell our young priests how blessed we are that the people of our diocese are so supportive of us in our service as priests.  Sadly, this is not the case in other parts of our country.  Consequenly, such places have fewer priestly vocations.

It is not said to you enough.  "Thank you" for your prayers for us who serve as Priests of Jesus Christ.  Please continue to pray for us.  Pray for Deacon Derek Thome as he prepares for his priestly ordination next May.  Pray that more young men and women from our parish family of St. John the Evangelist will heed the call of the Lord to serve as priests and consecrated religious.  "The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." (Matthew 9:37-38).

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

September 17, 2017

Dear Friends,

As I continue to learn more about our parish family and listen to you as pastor, I am hearing from individuals, from families and from organizations in our family of the desire for retreats for our parishioners.  For six years, I served at the Spiritual Life Center, our diocesan retreat center.  It was a blessing to see how God works in the hearts and minds of those who come away and rest for a time and listen to the Lord speak.

In October, there are two retreat opportunities that I ask you to consider.  On the weekend of October 20 - 22, a weekend retreat for men will take place at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg, Kansas.  This retreat is for men who wish to become better husbands, fathers, leaders and friends.  "The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive," wrote St. Irenaeus.  Taking as our model the life of Father Kapaun, Kapaun's Men are men who are committed to fighting the great spiritual battle that rages around us.  We are a band of brothers who do not fight alone.  Jesus Christ is our strength and our leader.  Father Kapaun is our friend and our guide.  A true Servant Leader, Father Kapaun epitomized Christian manhood and challenged his men to do the same.  Learn more about the retreat by going to www.kapaunsmen.org.

The second retreat opportunity will be for all parishioners of our parish.  On Saturday, October 28, we will leave from the parking lot at St. John's around 7:30 a.m. and drive to Pilsen, Kansas - the boyhood home of Fr. Emil Kapaun.  There, we will have a morning retreat of prayer and reflection.  We will pray in the parish church of St. John Nepomucene.  We will also have the privilege of touring the museum and seeing the Medal of Honor that former President Barack Obama presented posthumously to the Servant of God, Fr. Emil Kapaun.  We will be back at the parish before 3:00 p.m.

More details will be forthcoming about these two retreats.  Let me know if you have questions.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog postshere)

September 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Who are you following?" One way to answer that question is to look at your calendar. We are stewards of the gift of time. Every second of time is a gift from God. It is a great spiritual exercise to look at how each of us choose to use the gift of time in a given week. At last weekend's Masses, I encouraged you to do this spiritual exercise. Look at your calendar. How many hours during a week do I...

  •  Spend at work? _______
  •  Spend at school? _______
  •  Sleep? _______
  •  Eat? _______
  •  Spend bathing, grooming? _______
  •  Spend on social media? _______
  •  Spend with my spouse, children? _______
  •  Exercise? _______
  •  Play sports or engage in hobbies? _______
  •  Talk with friends? _______
  •  Seek to help others? _______
  •  Shop? _______
  •  Spend in others ways not listed above? _______
  •  Pray to God? _______

The total number of the above answers should equal 168, the number of hours each week that God gives to each of us. "Who are you following?" Is this plan of life working well for you? What changes need to be made? We are stewards of the gift of time! Thank God for this precious gift.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog postshere)

September 3, 2017

Dear Friends,

The scenes on television and social media are horrendous and heart-breaking as we watch people in Texas and Louisiana suffer from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. How do we as Christians seek to reach out and help those who are in such great need?

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) is the official domestic relief agency of the Catholic Church in the United States. Should you decide to make a donation to this cause, your gift to CCUSA's Disaster fund supports disaster response and recovery efforts including direct assistance, rebuilding, and health care services. To learn more or to make an on-line donation to this effort, go to catholiccharitiesusa.org

The Diocese of Wichta will also be making a contribution to the Catholic Charities USA. One of my classmates from Rome is the Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria, Texas which was hit very hard as was most of the Gulf coast of Texas. I have not been able to reach him by phone, but I have certainly been keeping all of these brothers and sisters in prayer as I know you have been as well.

I encourage you who are parents to talk to your children about the scenes that they are watching as this tragedy unfolds. Ask questions in a non-threatening way to open discussions that are age-appropriate to their understanding.

There have also been incredible acts of courage, compassion, love and the very best of the human spirit that emerges from such tragedies. Let us pray for God's love upon all who have been affected by this storm.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog postshere)

August 27, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of hte Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)

As our young parishioners return to the classroom for the beginning of another academic year, plans are well underway here at St. John the Evangelist Parish for the beginning of our formation year as well. The opportunities for our parhsioners, (of all ages), is not only academic to develop the mind, but formation to develop the person in the Image of God - body, mind and spirit. We are blessed to have parishioners who serve generously as catechists in Religious Education (RE) classes forming our children from Kindergarten thorugh 12th grade on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings; catechists in adult education classes on Sunday mornings between Masses; catechists serving in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) in the atrium each week; catechists introducing the Catholic Faith to inquring adults on Sunday mornings who are interested in learning about our faith in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, (RCIA).

I am very grateful to all of our catechists and to Cassi FitzGerald, our Facilitator of Faith Formation, who supervises the formation programs for our parish family. Please extend a word of thanks to the catechists of your children when the opportunity arises. Our classes begin on Wednesday, September 6, and Sunday, September 10. This year, we are inviting you to a Bible study on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. in which we will reflect, pray and discuss the Scripture Readings for the following Sunday Mass. More details will be forthcoming soon about this newest addition to our formation curriculum at St. John the Evangelist. Come Holy Spirit!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog postshere)

August 20, 2017

Dear Friends,

We welcome Fr. Ken VanHaverbeke to be with us again to celebrate the weekend Masses. He serves as the Director of the Spiritual Life Center. This weekend, we are trading places. He is celebrating Masses here at St. John the Evangelist, while I am presenting a retreat at the Spiritual Life Center on St. Teresa of Calcutta. Welcome back Fr. Ken!

Bishop Carl Kemme is inviting the People of God from throughout our diocese to meet with him for a listening session that will address three important questions for the future of our diocese. The first listening session, (which also happens to be the closest proximity to our parish), is next Sunday, August 27, from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. Another session will be held on Thursday, August 31, from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.

Bishop Kemme would like to hear your responses to the following three questions that will be posed at each listening session:

  • As a diocese, what do we do well?
  • As a diocese, what could we be doing better?
  • As a diocese, what should our pastoral priorities be for the next three to five years?

For a full listing of dates and places for the sessions, go to the this link: http://catholicdioceseofwichita.org/listening-sessions. On that page, you may also submit your written reponses if you are unable to attend the llistening session in person. To register to attend a session, please call the Chancery at 316-269-3900 or send an email to the address provided on the website.

I do encourage your to consider attending one of these listening sessions and to provide your thoughts and insights to Bishop Kemme. Our bishop desires to listen to you.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

August 13, 2017

Dear Friends,

There are certain days throughout the year that we celebrate with family and friends such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, family vacations, job promotions. There are certain days that we celebrate throughout the year as a nation: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day. There are certaind ays that we celebrate as a Catholic family of faith. We call these Holy Days. In addition to the 52 Sundays of each year where we celebrate the Lord's Day, there are six days in our year that are designated as Holy Days of Obligation. As Catholics, we are to attend Mass on each of these 58 days of the year. This obligation is a serious commitment that God places upon us as his children.

One of those Holy Days of Obligation is this Tuesday, August 15. It is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Blessed Mother is the first disciple as she trusted that the Lord's words to her spoken through the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation would be fulfilled. Her "Yes" to God's will brought forth the Incarnation whereby the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was born. By his life, death and resurrection from the dead, he shows us the way to our eternal home - the Kingdom of God.

The feast we celebrate this week is our Catholic belief that Mary was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven. We ask her intercession that we too may one day share in the glory of the Kingdom of God. Masses at St. John the Evangelist Parish will be celebrated Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. and on Tueday at 8:00 a.m. and at 7:00 p.m.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John

(Read archived blog posts here)