November 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

"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."  Next weekend on November 18-19, each of us will share our gifts in love of God and neighbor for the next year.

People often ask, "Why do we have a stewardship renewal every year?"  The simple answer is that life never remains the same.  Our life is constnatly changing.  Situations can change in life - the birth of a child, a serious illness of a family member, the loss of a job, the death of a spouse of parent.  Other changes in life are less significant.  Interests and hobbies change.  Some parishioners have been doing a certain thing for a long time in the parish and would like to do something else.  An annual stewardship renewal allows us to reflect about our life and how we are "stewarding" our gifts of life.

"Who are you following?"  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to follow Jesus.  The way of the world quickly leads us away from Christ.  Today's Gospel reminds us to be prepared for the coming of the Lord.  Some of the virgins were prepared at the wedding banquet for the arrival of the groom; however, others were foolish and did not prepare and were not ready when the groom arrived.  The door to the banquet was locked and the foolish virgins were barred from entering.

One day, the Lord will call us from this life.  Each one of us will have to give an accounting to the Lord of how generous we were as stewards in sharing our gift of life with others in love.  We can either be wise or foolish.  Be aware that there are consequences for either decision.  This week, prayerfully consider how you will share your gift of life in love of God and neighbor.  Bring your completed Stewardship pledge commitment with you next weekend.  Be wise, not foolish!

 

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

November 5, 2017

Dear Friends,

The month of November is a month in which we pray for the dead.  One of the spiritual works of mercy is to pray for the living and the dead.

"In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them."  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 958).

Our parish family is blessed to have a Catholic cemetery as part of our parish grounds.  To see the grave markers in our cemetery is a visible reminder to all of us of the members of our parish family who have died.  We need to pray for the repose of their souls and to ask God to have mercy upon these souls and by his mercy, welcome them into the Heavenly Banquet.

During this November, we especially pray for the members of our parish family who have died this past year in 2017: +Aaron Garner (1/2/2017); +Dean Pauly (2/20/2017); +Greg Hurt (7/14/2-17); +Steve Cotton (7/9/2017); +Fr. Leroy Linnebur (9/12/2017) and +Jim Pauly (10/30/2017).  Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.  We also pray for the consolation of their family members.

I invite you to add the names of deceased loved ones in our Book of the Dead.  At every Mass in the month of November, we will remember the names of all of these souls and pray that God welcome them into the Kingdom of Heaven.  

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 29, 2017

Dear Friends,

"Who are you following?" Pope Francis writes, "I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.  No one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord."

This weekend we begin a three week prayerful preparation toward our Stewardship Commitment Sunday of November 18-19.  At the Masses this weekend, I invited you to complete your personal plan to grow as a Christian disciple.  There is a saying, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."  How can I grow as a Christian disciple if I have no plan, no road map, no direction?

Today, the Gospel lesson taught to us by the Lord Jesus is very clearly stated: love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.  Stewardship spirituality is the way in which we follow these commandments as disciples of Jesus.  When we share the gift of our life with God, (e.g. attending Sunday Mass, receiving the Sacraments, praying with the Word of God, spending a Holy Hour each week in Adoration, praying the rosary), we love the Lord God with our heart, soul and mind.  When we share the gift of our life with our neighbor, (e.g. visiting the homebound or those in a nursing home, working at the Lord's Diner to feed the hungry, serving as a liturgical minister at the parish, making a commitment of treasure to support the mission of the Church), we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Stewardship spirituality is not a program.  Stewardship spirituality is a way of life, a way of living the Gospel, a way of encountering Jesus Christ.  May our St. John the Evangelist parish family prayerfully prepare for our Stewardship Commitment Sunday of November 18-19.  "Who are you following?"

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

October 22, 2017

Dear Friends,

At the Masses this weekend, our St. John the Evangelist Parish family welcomes Fr. Jerry Beat, a "retired priest" of our diocese, who speaks to parishioners throughout the country about a lay ministry called Unbound. (I place quotation marks around "retired priest" because anyone who knows Fr. Jerry knows him to be a very active and engaged priest, especially one who is a voice for the poor).

Unbound is an organization founded in 1981 that has served more than 600,000 children, youth and elderly in 19 developing countries throughout the world.  Fr. Beat will invite us this weekend to consider sponsoring a child, youth or aging person in a developing country.  Through the monthly contribution, the sponsor provides food, medical and dental care and an opportunity for youth to attend school.  Please welcome Fr. Jerry back to our parish and consider prayerfully whether your family would sponsor a brother or sister in Christ who needs your help.

I am participating this weekend at a Kapaun Men's Retreat in Williamsburg, Kansas.  There are men from our parish of St. John the Evangelist Parish on this retreat with me, along with 90 other men of all ages from throughout the Diocese of Wichita.  Please pray for us on this retreat as we seek to grow in faith so that we can be more faithful men, faithful husbands, loving fathers, generous friends, intentional disciples.

Lastly, you are all welcome to join me next Saturday, October 28, as we go on a day-trip retreat to Pilsen, Kansas - the home of Servant of God, Fr. Emil Kapaun.  We will leave the parking lot here at St. John's at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and carpool to Pilsen.  There, we will tour the Church and the grounds where Fr. Kapaun grew up.  We will be back at Clonmel no later than 3:00 p.m. "Nourished by the soil of Kansas, he nurtured the soul of Korea."  With the mounting conflict and tension that exists in North Korea at this time, we do well to ask the intercession of Fr. Kapaun to pray for peace in our world.  Any and all ages are invited to join me this Saturday.  Please call Debbie at the parish office at 620-545-7171 to register. Fr. Kapaun, pray for us!

In Christ's Service,

Fr. John 

(Read archived blog posts here)

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)