April 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

Jesus Christ is risen fromt he dead.  Alleluia!  Think for a moment...what event in the history of the human race has been more significant than the Son of God destroying death and rising to new life?  This event that happened over 2000 years ago is not "old news," nor is it "fake news.'  It is "Good News," and we call it the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.  Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, inner emptiness and loneliness.  With Christ joy is contantly born anew."  With these opening words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," we do well this Easter Sunday to question how much joy fills our heart this day.  Is joy born anew in your heart today?

Besides being Easter Sunday, today also happens to fall on a day that we call April Fool's Day.  The very first followers of Christ were called fools to believe that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead.  The first followers of Jesus were called foolish to think that a cross, a means of torture and execution reserved for the for the worst criminals, was now the means of salvation for humanity from sin and death.

St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians in 55 A.D., "Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: "He catches the wise in their own ruses," and again: "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

Christians are today often seen as fools to believe that a man who died on a cross, rose from the dead and now lives forever.  That man was Jesus of Nazareth.  He was not only fully human, but fully God.  He died on a cross.  He rose from the dead and now he sits at the right hand of God, interceding on our behalf that we too should die with him and rise with him to eternal life.  Alleluia!

May you and your family be blessed this Easter Season!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

March 25, 2018

Dear Friends,

We enter into the most holy week of our Church year.  We call it "Holy Week" as we process with Palm branches into Jerusalem.  On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the institution of the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders.  On Good Friday, we venerate the Cross, (which by Christ's death, becomes the Altar of Sacrifice).  On Holy Saturday, we pray in Vigil for Easter Sunday and the fifty days that follow.

How will your family make this a Holy Week?  Please join us our parish family of St. John the Evangelist at one or all of the Liturgies listed above.  May we pray for our parish family that we may grow in holiness as we meditate upon the Paschal Mysteries of this most holy time.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

March 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

At every Mass, I pray for each one of you as you continue in your Lenten Journey 2018.  You will soon be receiving a letter in the mail along with a postcard highlighting the Liturgy schedule for Holy Week here at St. John the Evangelist Parish.

During Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday, and continuing to Easter Sunday, the Church focuses and meditates in prayer upon the "Paschal Mystery." What does this mean?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Paschal mystery of Christ's cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world.  God's saving plan was accomplished 'once for all' by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ." (CCC n. 571) 

Throughout his Gospel, St. John the Evangelist focuses the life of Jesus toward "the hour."  The hour that Jesus glorifies his Heavenly Father is the entrance of Jesus into his Passion, Death on a cross, and his Resurrection from the dead.  The Paschal mystery is not just an event that happened once in time 2000 years ago.  Rather, the Catechism states that for Jesus, "His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past.  The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is - all that he did and suffered for all men - particiaptes in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all.  The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life." (CCC, n. 2085) 

We reflect upon this Paschal mystery during Holy Week and throughout the fifty days of the Easter Season.  I invite you and your family to make Holy Week an intense time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Prayerful ways to make the week holy is to attend the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday night, praying the Stations of the Cross and venerating the Cross on Good Friday, and participating in the most magnificent Liturgy of the Church liturgical year - the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.  Please plan on joining our parish family as we gather in prayer to help us grow in holiness!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

March 11, 2018

Dear Friends,

"We lose an hour of sleep this weekend!"  I find this statement amusing.  While it is true that at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, we adjust our clocks ahead one hour and "spring forward," we really do not "lose" any time in life.  Just as on November 5, 2017, when we set our clocks back one hour, we really did not "gain" any time in life.

But this practice of changing our clocks forward and backward does allow us to reflect upon a spiritual practice.  During last Sunday's homily, I quoted a verse form St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 6:19: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"  Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are stewards of our very body.  How do I care for my body?  My body is not my own. My body and my life is a gift from God! 

As a young boy, I sometimes resented the fact that my parents insisted on a mandatory bedtime for me and my brothers.  That mandatory bedtime was the same all seven days of the week.  There was no difference between the school year and the summer vacation.  Looking back now, I am no longer resentful but rather, grateful.  I learned at a young age the importance of developing the habit of a godo night of sleep.

We are learning more and more from medical researchers of the health complications resulting from a sleep-deprived society.  While we may complain this weekend, "We lose an hour of sleep," how many times do each of us cheat ourselves of necessary sleep to care well for our bodies?  When I am not reseted, I am more impatient, more irritable, quicker to make imprudent comments or judgments.  How do you respond to others when you are not well rested?

I suspect that many of you who are young parents, who have babies and toddlers may be rolling your eyes as you read this reflection!  How you long for a restful night of sleep!  I am in awe of you for the way in which you live your vocation in truly sacrificing your bodies for the good of your children.  No matter what your age, have you ever considered that developing a habit of going to bed at the samet ime and arising the next morning at the same time is a good spiritual exercise?  I suggest that it is.  Think and pray about it!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

March 4, 2018

Dear Friends,

One of Pope Francis' often used phrases is "the art of accompaniment."  He states that none of us walk this pilgrim journey on earth alone.  Rather, we need to be accompanied in our faith journey and we need to accompany others in their faith journey.  This accompaniment occurs in one's own family.  Spouses accompany one another and their children.  The art of accompaniment also happens in one's parish family.

At St. John the Evangelist Parish in our Lenten Journey of 2018, we are called to accompany five specific individuals who are journeynig into full reception into the Catholic Faith at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, March 31.  Two of these individuals, Angela Stump and Kyler Frost, have yet to be baptized.  At the Easter Vigil, they will receive the three Sacraments of Initiation into the Catholic Church: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion.  Three others, Caleb Handy, Sherrie Pelz and Carlos Perez, have been perviously baptized but will enter full communion into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on March 31, by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Communion.

These five brothers and sisters have been studying our Faith every week since last September in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, (RCIA).  Classes are conducted each Sunday morning here at our parish between the Sunday morning Masses from 9:15-10:15 a.m.  I extend a special word of thanks to Emily and Jarrod Thome, who serve as our RCIA Coordinators.  They do a great job in "accompanying" our brothers and sisters to introduce them to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Faith.

I ask you to join in "the art of accompaniment" as we continue our Lenten Journey 2018.  Please pray for Angela, Kyler, Caleb, Sherrie and Carlos in these days leading to the Easter Vigil.  Their journey is not theirs alone...it is also our own journey of faith.  We seek first the Kingdom of God. Jesus says, "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life." No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.

May we accompany one another in our parish family in this Lenten Journey 2018 and beyond.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

February 25, 2018

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, the ladies of our Altar Society host their annual "Taste of Spring" Breakfast.  This year marks the 23rd year of the event.  As pastor, I take this opportunity to excpress my sentiments of gratitude to our St. John the Evangelist Altar Society for their diligent work throughout the year.  The proceeds from the Taste of Spring Breakfast help the ladies provide necessary liturgical articles for the celebration of Mass at our parish throughout the year.  Your support of the Taste of Spring Breakfast is appreciated.  Thank you Altar Society Ladies for your gift to our parsih family!

This Friday evening, March 2, we gather for Stations of the Cross at 6:30 p.m., followed by Mass at 7:00 p.m. Aftre Mass, we will gather for our Lenten Soup Supper.  This evening provides us as a parish family the opportunity to meet new friends and enjoy a delicious soup supper.  I invite you and your family to this event on Friday evening.

We are blessed here at St. Johnt he Evangelist to be a parish family.  Each of us must make the effort to reach out to those parishioners whom we do not know and introduce ourselves to them.  I know that this can be challenging for some people.  Yet, the effort to welcome one another strengthens our parish family. 

May the Lord bless our Lenten Journey 2018.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

February 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

On this First Sunday of our Lenten Journey, I invite our parish familyh to accompany prayerfully our Catechumens and Candidates in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  Last September, our RCIA Catechumenate began at St. John the Evangelist Parish.  Over these last six months, our RCIA Coordinators, Emily and Jarrod Thome, along with Vickie Berntsen and Jim Leibold, meet weekly with those persons in the community who wanted to learn about our Catholic Faith.

There are two specific groups on this journey: Catechumens, (those persons who have never been baptized), and Candidates, (those persons who have been baptized in a non-Catholic Faith).  Over the last six months, our RCIA Class has met weekly on Sunday mornings at the parish.  They have learned the major beliefs of our Catholic Faith.  At the 10:30 a.m. Mass this weekend, we will celebrate the Rite of Sending.  Our Catechumens and Candidates from our parish will travel Sunday afternoon to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, where they will be received by Bishop Carl Kemme as the Elect.

In these next six weeks entering into Holy Week, I ask you to pray for our Elect.  These sisters and brothers are now in the most intense part of their formation into the Catholic Faith.  We pray for them; we accompany them; we encourage them; and we learn from them.  Their desire to become Catholic should inspire us to be better Catholics.

God willing, we will be welcoming these individuals into Full Communion into our Catholic Faith at the Easter Vigil on March 31.  On that most holy night, these Elect will be receiving the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, (for the Catechumens); Confirmation; and Holy Communion.  They will join us at the Altar of God and become full members of our St. John the Evangelist Parish family.  Please pray for these Elect.  We anxiously await their full communion into the Body of Christ.

May the Lord bless our Lenten Journey 2018.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

February 11, 2018

Dear Friends,

The Season of Lent is soon upon us.  Ash Wednesday is this week, February 14.  While it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is a day of fasting and abstaining from eating meat.  Masses will be celebrated at 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Ash Wednesday.

Catholics, from the 18th birthday up to the 59th birthday (the beginning of the 60th year) are obliged to fast, that is, take only one full meal and two lesser meals, with nothing to eat in between meals.  Drinking fluids is not contrary to the practice of fasting.  Catholics, beginning with the 14th birthday, are obliged to abstain from eating meat.  People who are unable to practice bodily penance, due to pregnancy, illness, or hard physical labor may choose another form of penance or charity.  The Church urges that works of penance be linked to works of charity - for example, using the money saved on less expensive meals or giving up snacks to feed the poor.

We will be distributing Lenten Rice Bowls today at Mass.  Place this rice bowl on your dining room table as a visible reminder to remember the hungry and poor.  This can be a very valuable lesson for young children.  Explain to them that by placing coins in the rice bowl, we give thanks to God that we have food to eat and that our small acts of sacrificial giving will be used to provide the poor in the world with food to feed their families

All Fridays of the Season of Lent are days of abstaining from eating meat.  Additionally, you are invited to come on Friday eening during Lent to the parish as at 6:30 p.m. on each Friday of Lent we will pray the Stations of the Cross, followed by Mass at 7:00 p.m.  There will not be the 8:00 a.m. Friday morning Mass during the Season of Lent.

As we encouraged last Lent, consider making "Our Sunday Rest."  Spend the Lord's Day as a family by going to Mass together on Sunday morning and then spending relaing time as a family.  Plan ahead so that chores and tasks around the house can be done other days of the week.  Try this for the six weeks of Lent and see how this practice impacts your family. 

Lent reminds us of our death.  "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return." But Lent prepares us for the joyful Season of Easter.  Death is not the end, but our birth to Eternal Life.  May the Lord bless our parish family of St. John the Evangelist this Lenten Season.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

February 4, 2018

Dear Friends,

We welcome Fr. Dwight Birket this weekend at all of our Masses to St. John the Evangelist Parish.  As I mentioned in last week's bulletin, I am one of the speakers this weekend at the Kansas Catholic College Student Convention at Pittsburg State University.  Catholic students attending colleges or universities from all over the State of Kansas gather once a year to pray, study and meet new friends.  College-age Catholics face great challenges to live their faith and to witness to the faith on college campuses. Pray for them!

As you know, every Sunday between the 8:00 and 10:30 Masses, our parish campus is bustling with activity.  One of the classes that takes place from 9:15 - 10:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings is an adult education class.  This weekend, the class is beginning a new subject for study and discussion and I invite all adult parishioners to the class.

Fr. Stanley Rother was a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.  Born in Okarche, Oklahoma in1935, he attended Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, (the same seminary that Deacon Derek Thome now attends and the seminary where I graduated 30 years ago).  Fr. Rother was ordained a preist in 1963.  He asked his bishop five years later to serve as a missionary in Guatemala.  He served there from 1968 until he was murdered in his rectory in 1981.

Our adult formation class will study the life and death of Fr. Stanley.  His sister lives in Wcihita, Sr. Marita Rother, a Sister of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.  Fr. Stanley was beatified on September 23, 2017 and is now one step away from being canonized a Saint of the Catholic Church.  Come and learn more about this amazing story of faith - a farm boy from Oklahoma who one day we hope to call a Saint!

For many years, Fr. Dwight Birket served as a missionary priest in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.  We are blessed to have examples of holy priests who bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations of the world.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

January 28, 2018

Dear Friends,

Next weekend I will be one of the presenters at the Kansas Catholic College Student Convention at Pittsburg State University.  Every year, one of our Catholic colleges or universities invites the Catholc college students from all over the State of Kansas for a weekend convention of prayer, study and fellowship.  College-age Catholics face great challenges to live their faith and to witness to the faith on college campuses.  I ask tha you join me in pryaing for all of our Catholic students who are attending college.  May the Holy Spirit inspire them to remain courageous and to be witnesses for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Because of my absence from the parish next weekend, we welcome Fr. Dwight Birket to our St. John the Evangelist Parish.  He will celebrate all fo the Masses. Give him a warm Clonmel welcome!

From Pittsburg I will travel to the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri.  On Tuesday, February 6, one of the priests of our diocese, Fr. Shawn McKnight, will be ordained the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City.  Along with many bishops and priests from throughout the country, I will concelebrate the Episcopal Ordination Mass of Bishop McKnight, as a Successor of the Apostles.

How blessed the Diocese of Wichita is to share the gift of priests with the sider Church.  Recent priests from the Diocese of Wichita who have been ordained to the Order of Bishop include Bishop Emeritus Eugene Gerber, Bishop Emeritus Ronald Gilmore of Dodge City, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, Bishop Jim Conley of Lincoln, Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City and now Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City.  As God blessed or diocese with new priests, the diocese then shares our preists with the wider Church to serve as Bishops.  This is an act of trust and stewardship.  When we share what we receive from God, then God blesses us with more.

There will not be daily Masses on Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6.  We will have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as normally scheduled on those two days.

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)