Kanopolis — While “farm animals” are not permitted to reside within the city limits, a quartet of goats from Sarah Goss’ rural farm made the trip into town to be blessed as part of the “flock and field” blessing during the annual St. Isidore Day celebration for the Salina Diocese. “Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless this goat and his partner in the cage,” Father Richard Daise intoned after Mass, on the lawn of St. Ignatius Loyola Church. He continued: “Bless them for what you created them to be as goats.” He then walked over to the bed of Goss’ truck, where an additional trio of goats were penned. “There’s a whole herd in here,” Father Daise exclaimed. “We’ve got the three musketeers in here,” he said before blessing and sprinkling the additional goats with Holy Water.
The annual diocesan celebration, which is held May 15 every year, is hosted by the diocesan Rural Life Commission. About 50 gathered for the festivities, which included Mass, a blessing of the seeds and soil, a blessing of the flock and field, lunch and an agricultural-related tour. Attendees brought a sample from their fields, as well as seeds, which were blessed at the conclusion of Mass.
Angelus — Founded on the pillars of faith, family and farming, the community of Angelus has stood proudly on the plains of Northwest Kansas since the mid-1880s. Since 1887, St. Paul Catholic Church has been the jewel at the center of the community. The current parishioners of St. Paul Church and many area residents with long-standing ties to the parish recently completed 100 hours of Eucharistic Adoration to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the building that now serves as the church proper.
While serving as the primary coordinator for the 100 Hours of Adoration event that took place May 14-18, Elsie Rietcheck, is quick to give credit where it is due. “This is not an idea I came up with,” Rietcheck said. “The parishioners at St. John Nepomucene in Beardsley did this at their church, so I spent time talking to Deb Pochop [parishioner of St. John Nepomucene] about that event during a Cursillo retreat. Then I talked to our Altar Society before approaching Father [Donald Pfannenstiel, pastor of St. Paul Church] about it. “I was nervous because it was such a big project,” she added. She needn’t have worried. Father Pfannenstiel was quick to put his stamp of approval on the venture. “How could I say no to that?” he said. “How could I turn down something that holy?”
With the pastor’s blessing, Rietcheck got to work, enlisting the help of her daughter, Amanda Ostmeyer to organize the plan. Within a couple of weeks, the groundwork was completed and Father Pfannenstiel presented pamphlets listing the available hours to the parishioners after Sunday Mass. Each of the 100 hours corresponded with a year in the building’s history, giving parishioners the opportunity to sign up for an hour/year that was meaningful to them, such as the year they got married or were baptized in the church. “There was a concern that this was going to take place right during planting season,” Rietcheck recalled. “But Father said the blessings we [the community] would receive from this would be worth the hours. “He asked people to take the pamphlet home, pray about it, and bring it back with the hour or hours they would be able to fill.”
Following the initial wave of sign-ups that saw parishioners of all ages volunteering to take an hour or two, Rietcheck said she spent a few hours on the phone contacting people who hadn’t responded, as well as people who had long-standing ties to the parish but who had moved to nearby communities over the years. “Honestly, I didn’t have to coerce anyone to sign up,” she said with a laugh. “And you know God’s hand was in this when I walked into Dollar General and ran into a man from the parish who was able to fill the last slot. This was definitely the work of the Holy Spirit!”
In all, the process took less than one month to bring the plan to fruition. The 100th anniversary celebration began with Mass at 7 p.m. on May 14, followed by the first of the 100 hours of Eucharistic Adoration at 8 p.m. The hundredth hour concluded at midnight on May 18.
Angelus — The original community of St. Paul Church began in 1887. With a few families served by Capuchin Father Fitzpatrick, a traveling priest, Mass was held once every three months. As the membership expanded in 1888, Mass was offered “occasionally” in the home of George Korte. When a priest was not available to offer Mass, the parishioners gathered to pray a rosary and read the Sunday’s Gospel passage.
With 49 members in 1889, efforts began to construct a church. After disputes about the location from parishioners, Bishop Richard Scannell decided on the final location, where the church still sits today. Construction of the original church began in March 1890 and concluded in 1891. The cost of construction was $650, aided by “home labor” and donations from parishioners. A short six years later, due to expanded membership, the parish invested slightly less than $860 to lengthen the church by building on a new sanctuary and sacristy to the original building. The expanded church was dedicated June 1, 1897.
Twenty years later, in 1917, the parish needed additional room. On May 10, 1917, the cornerstone of the current St. Paul Church was laid. On May 5, 1918, the new church was dedicated. In all, the new church cost slightly more than $35,400. The new bell tower stood at 130 feet tall, and the building was 52 feet wide, 118 feet long and seats 400 people.
The new church was built in the same location as the original church. The original church was relocated on the property, and used as a parish hall until the Knights of Columbus built a hall.
The building, now 100 years old, saw a few additional interior renovations throughout the years. In 1947, Msgr. Michael Dreiling, oversaw a redecoration, which included the addition of padded kneelers. Several improvements and remodels occurred in the mid 1960s.
In 1966, a new approach to the church, as well as a concrete walk and landscaping were added. From 1966-67, a sacristy, cry room and restrooms were added to the rear of the church. Also in 1966, to comply with the Second Vatican Council, the church interior was remodeled. The $8,870 improvement included installing walnut paneling, as well as moving the altar, repairing stained glass windows and adding new shingles to the roof.
The parish is currently accepting donations for exterior repairs of the church, including pin-tucking the concrete, steeple work and guttering issues. Once the exterior work is paid for and complete, the parish will examine potential interior repairs. Interior repairs could include repairs to the cracking plaster, and ceiling repairs.
For more information about St. Paul Church, or to support its improvements, please visit http://sjoakley.org/st-paul.
Salina — As his June 2 ordination nears, Deacon Andy Hammeke said he is looking forward to beginning his service to the Salina Diocese. “I’m really excited for priesthood and am ready to get going,” he said. “I love my time at St. Meinrad. I’ve made a lot of good friends., but I’m preparing to say goodbye to all that and begin what I’m called to do.” He will be ordained at 10 a.m. June 2 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. All are welcome. A light reception will follow in the Hall of Bishops.
The focus of his last year of seminary at St. Meinrad in St. Meinrad, Ind., has shifted from academics to the practical side of the priesthood, Deacon Hammeke said. “More classes are practicums,” he said. “Baptism practicums and Mass practicums. I’ve enjoyed the academics, but I’ve enjoyed practicing things you will do as a priest.” He spent last summer immersed at St. Thomas More Parish in Manhattan, learning about parish life within the diocese. “I learned a ton from Father Frank (Coady),” Deacon Hammeke said. “He showed me the ropes. I did a lot of baptisms and preached every weekend and several times every week. I also helped with funerals and weddings. That was a great start to my diaconate.” During his seminary studies, he was also assigned to assist at local parishes. “I would go to parish events and help with RCIA, parish formation and Knights of Columbus,” he said. “I learned a lot from my experience in those parishes as well.”
Deacon Hammeke said he is looking forward to the fraternal aspect of the priesthood. During the ordination, he said he is looking forward to what is called the “kiss of peace,” which is when every priest hugs the newly ordained. “I’m excited about the brotherhood that comes with the priesthood, knowing we are all on the same team with the same mission, leading people to Christ,” he said. “I look forward to hugging all those guys I love and look up to. I’ve come to know and love and respect a lot of priests in our diocese. I look forward to being the newest member of (the presbyterate).”
Bishop Carl Kemme, from the Diocese of Wichita, will preside at the ordination. Deacon Hammeke said he has met Bishop Kemme several times because he has friends from the seminary who are from the Wichita Diocese. “As much as you come to know and love the bishop you have, bishops move on,” Deacon Hammeke said of the fall assignment of Bishop Edward Weisenburger to Tucson, Ariz. “As long as it’s a bishop (who ordains me), a descendant of one of the apostles, I’m joining a presbyterate that will stay. I’m getting ordained for our diocese.”
Deacon Hammeke, 29, is a native of Hays and grew up in Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. He is the son of Curtis and Annette Hammeke, and the grandson of Dennis and Arlene Stastny, of Dwight, Neb., and the late Norman and Joleene Hammeke of Great Bend. He has a brother, Nick, and sister Alicia Knight and husband Kegan, who have two daughters, Emery and Kollins.
Two priests for the Salina Diocese will celebrate silver anniversaries: Father Fred Gatschet and Father Mark Wesley. Father Gatschet, 56, attended Kansas State University, earning degrees in Spanish and Milling Science. He then attended at St. Meinrad Seminary in Meinrad, Ind., and was ordained May 22, 1993, at Seven Dolors Church in Manhattan by Bishop George Fitzsimons. Because he’s fluent in Spanish, Father Gatschet said he often assisted with translation during his seven-year tenure at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. “There would be days when I’d say 6:30 a.m. Mass (in English), and then the phone and doorbell would ring and I would got o bed at night and think ‘I don’t think I spoke English all day,’ ” he said, adding he spent much of his time working with the Hispanic community.
The connection with the Hispanic community is something he strives to maintain as the parochial administrator of St. Joseph in Hays. He said he works to find Bible studies and other ways to catechize the Spanish-speaking population, in addition to those who speak English. One of his primary — and unexpected — roles was that of a teacher at Thomas More Prep-Marian Jr./Sr. High School. He describes the 12 years he spent in the classroom as “a blessing.” “Due to the breakdown of catechesis over the last 50 years, people know nothing about their faith,” he said. “Being able to go in and provide classes and instruction … watching people have that ‘aha’ experience is very satisfying.”
As a child, his family often invited the clergy over for meals, and he would help around Seven Dolors parish where he grew up in Manhattan. So not much of the daily life of the priest was a surprise to Father Gatschet. He said Father Damian Richards summarized the most surprising aspect of the priesthood the best. At the priest gathering to commemorate his 25th anniversary in 2017, he said: “ ‘When I look at my life as a priest, how interesting and rewarding it is, I cannot understand why we don’t have guys banging down the door to become a priest.’ ” Father Gatschet quoted.
He then expanded on Father Richards’ statement. “People complain about their jobs, that it’s a dead end or not rewarding,” he said. “The priesthood, when you talk to any of us, is the antithesis of all that. It’s a career with never the same thing twice. When i get up every morning, I never know what I’m going to encounter. You have to learn how to think on your feet and be creative. It’s not boring or the same old, same old.” Father Gatschet said he doesn’t have any formal plans for his anniversary.
His assignments have been: