The Catholic Diocese of Salina, formerly the Catholic Diocese of Concordia, was established on August 2, 1887.  It was moved from Concordia to Salina on December 23, 1944.  The counties included in this diocese are Cheyenne, Sherman, Wallace, Logan, Thomas, Rawlins, Decatur, Sheridan, Gove, Trego, Graham, Norton, Phillips, Rooks, Ellis, Russell, Osborne, Smith, Jewel, Mitchell, Lincoln, Ellsworth, Saline, Ottawa, Cloud, Republic, Washington, Clay, Dickinson, Geary, and Riley.  It covers 26,685 square miles and has a Catholic population of 46,671 out of a total population of 315,983 (14.7%).

Sacred Heart

The Bishops of the Diocese Salina
The Most Reverend Richard Scannell
The Most Reverend John J. Hennessy (Apostolic Administrator)
The Most Reverend John F. Cunningham
The Most Reverend Francis J. Tief
The Most Reverend Francis A. Thill
The Most Reverend Frederick W. Freking
The Most Reverend Cyril J. Vogel
The Most Reverend Daniel W. Kucera
The Most Reverend George K. Fitzsimons
The Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley
The Most Reverend Edward J. Weisenburger 2004-2011


Bishop Richard Scannell:  1887-1891

When the Diocese of Concordia was established August 2, 1887, Concordia became the episcopal See.  The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help became a Cathedral.  This small stone church was built under the direction of Father Mollier, who from St. Joseph, had cared for Concordia as a mission.

It had opened for services in 1879 within the Diocese of Leavenworth.  But when Father Joseph Perrier came as first resident pastor in 1880, the interior was not yet plastered and the furnishings were limited.  Father Perrier set about building a rectory which was completed in 1882; he then opened a school staffed by lay teachers. By 1883 a two story school building was in place.
With the approval of Bishop Fink of the Diocese of Leavenworth and the assistance of Father Perrier, Mother Stanislaus Leary and five other members of the Sisters of St. Joseph moved into the school building in 1884.  Soon they were able to move into their new convent built by the sisters on lots purchased through personal donations of the priest augmented by contributions of Concordia citizens.
It was in these surroundings that Bishop Richard Scannell received an enthusiastic welcome upon his arrival on December 6, 1887 as the first bishop to be appointed to the new Diocese of Concordia.
Bishop Scannell was born May 12, 1845, in Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland, the son of Patrick and Johanna (Collins) Scannell.  He entered All Hallow's College in Dublin, Ireland during 1866.  He was ordained on February 26, 1871 by Bishop John F. Whelan for the Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, and arrived in that city in 1871.  He was assigned duty at the Cathedral where he remained until 1878, after which he was appointed pastor of St. Columba's Church, East Nashville.  In 1879 he was recalled to the Cathedral where he served as Administrator "sede vacante," (the See being vacant), until June, 1883.  At that time he took a leave of absence for health reasons, but returned in 1885 to organize a new parish and build St. Joseph's Church in West Nashville.  In August, 1886 he was appointed Vicar-General of the Diocese of Nashville, the position he held when appointed Bishop of Concordia, August 9, 1887.  He was consecrated bishop in St. Joseph's Church on November 30 of the same year.

Only twenty of the 62 churches in the Diocese at that time had resident pastors, with some of the churches having three or four missions.  More settlers had moved into the western part of Kansas by this time, among them several groups of diverse ethnic backgrounds.  There was an urgent need for priests.

Bishop Scannell proposed to meet the priest shortage with the erection of a college for boys (preparatory seminary) at Belleville.  The foundation was completed for the projected building and the cornerstone was laid by the bishop on June 9, 1890.
Although everything favored this action at the time, the seminary never got beyond this first step.  There had been a "boom" just before a depressed economy spread throughout the country. Not only was the college never built but some of the consequent debt remained to be paid in 1898 when Bishop Cunningham, as the episcopal head of the Diocese, had to initiate a diocesan-wide collection effort.
On top of depression came the drought years of 1890-91 followed by another invasion of grasshoppers in 1892.  Those involved in farming and farm-related businesses suffered staggering reverses.  It was estimated that over 8,000 Catholics left the Diocese of Concordia and the five counties of the eastern border which would be a part of the Diocese after 1896; one hundred seventy-four families left Concordia.
An historical step was marked on May 27, 1888 when Bishop Scannell ordained Father John C. Regan, of Esbon, first diocesan vocation to the priesthood.  On June 29, 1889 the Bishop also ordained Father August Heimann, who was the second priest ordained for the Diocese.
There were a total of five priests in the Diocese at the time of Father Heimann's ordination.  So the bishop called them together and told them to divide the Diocese into five districts.  To Father Heimann fell the lot of caring for the three most western counties in the Diocese.
"The Bishop told me," Father Heimann wrote (to the late Msgr. Michael Mulvihill in 1949), "Go out there and find Catholics."  So, in the course of a few years Father Heimann found Catholics and organized 24 parish missions.  "I could give only one day of the month to each mission," he explained, "but to me it was like Sunday each day of the month."
Bishop Scannell assisted the Sisters of St. Joseph to become permanently established in Concordia.  Before the creation of the Diocese of Concordia, negotiations had been underway for the Sisters to begin a mission in Abilene, in Dickinson County, within the Leavenworth Diocese.  A building was erected for them north of the city with the cornerstone laid August 4, 1887.  Bishop Fink would have liked for that site to be the Motherhouse; however, the community decided to stay in Concordia.  The Sisters in Abilene who chose to stay there eventually moved to Parsons, and later to Wichita, becoming the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita.  Mother Bernard Sheridan was made superior of the small group who stayed.
Before the close of the year 1890, an announcement of the transfer of Bishop Scannell to the Diocese of Omaha came from the Holy See.  After presiding over the struggling Diocese of Concordia for just three years, Bishop Scannell was installed as Bishop of Omaha on January 30, 1891, filling the position left by the death of Bishop James O'Connor, the second Vicar Apostolic of Nebraska and the first Bishop of the Diocese of Omaha, also established in 1887.
Upon the departure of Bishop Scannell in 1891, the Diocese of Concordia had twenty-two priests, seventy-six churches and missions, and parochial schools in the following towns:  Concordia, Beloit, Clyde, Hays City, Munjor, Salina, St. Joseph, Tipton, Victoria and Zurich.  There were ten seminarians enrolled in theological seminaries.

Bishop John J. Hennessy (Apostolic Administrator):  1891-1898

After Bishop Scannell's transfer to Omaha in 1891, the Right Reverend John J. Hennessy, D.D., Bishop of Wichita, was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Concordia; he served in that capacity until the coming of Bishop John F. Cunningham on September 28, 1898.  During these difficult years, Bishop Hennessy literally went begging, seeking financial assistance from more prosperous Catholic communities in the eastern United States in order to alleviate the needs of many poverty-stricken parishes and institutions in his two dioceses.
Bishop Hennessy had been appointed bishop of the Wichita Diocese in late 1888 (the first priest appointed to that position died before being officially notified) and so had been bishop just over two years when given administrative responsibility for a second diocese.
Bishop Hennessy was born on July 19, 1847.  Like Bishop Scannell, he was born near Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland.  He came to the United States with his parents and grew up near St. Louis.  He attended Christian Brothers' College there and then entered the Seminary of St. Francis de Sales, Milwaukee.  Being under canonical age, he was ordained with a papal dispensation in 1869.  He served as a missionary in southern Missouri for ten years.  From 1880 to 1888 he was pastor at St. John's Church in St. Louis.
Following his consecration in St. John's Church by Archbishop Peter Kenrick on November 30, 1888, he left to begin serving in Wichita.
In spite of the size of the territory under his jurisdiction Bishop Hennessy took an interest in the parishes and in the religious communities.  He made a number of visits to administer the sacrament of Confirmation as evidenced by records drawn from parish histories.
Hoffman's Directory for 1898, the last year of his administration, reveal the following statistics for the Concordia Diocese:  31 priests, 78 churches, 15 stations.
Bishop-elect Thaddeus J. Butler:  1897
The Right Reverend Thaddeus J. Butler, D.D., pastor of St. John's Church, Chicago, was appointed the second bishop of Concordia in June, 1897.  Although he died on July 17, 1897 after arrival in Rome before plans were completed for his consecration, it seems fitting that a brief biography of his life be included in this history.
Thaddeus Butler was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1833, attended All Hallow's College, Dublin and the Propaganda College in Rome.  There he met Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick who encouraged him to go to Chicago.  He was ordained there around the year 1855 and served as pastor of St. Mary's parish, while teaching at St. Mary's Seminary.  He also served as chaplain in the Union Forces.  In 1871 his church and rectory were destroyed in the great Chicago fire. He then served as pastor of St. John's Church.  It was while there that he was chosen Bishop-elect of Concordia to succeed Bishop Scannell.
It was at this time that the priests and people in the Concordia Diocese had heard and were deeply concerned about a rumor that the Wichita and Concordia dioceses might be combined.  This was strongly opposed by the priests of the Concordia and Salina deaneries and especially by the citizens and parishioners of Concordia.  In the name of the priests, a protest was made to Rome by Father Perrier, then Vicar General of the Diocese.  On July 1, 1897 Pope Leo XIII responded by an Apostolic Letter "Quae Rei Sacrae," by which the boundaries of the Concordia Diocese were extended to include five more counties to the east:  Washington, Clay, Dickinson, Geary and Riley.  Thus the Diocese of Concordia grew from 26 to 31 counties, its present size.  (This same document realigned the boundaries of all the dioceses in Kansas.)  At this time the Holy See also appointed the Very Reverend John F. Cunningham of Leavenworth, a pioneer Kansas missionary and a contemporary of Father Perrier, as new bishop of the Concordia Diocese.
Bishop John F. Cunningham:  1898-1919
When consecrated Bishop of Concordia on September 21, 1898, John Francis Cunningham was no stranger to the efforts of his predecessors and of the priests and people in building a strong foundation for the Church in northwestern Kansas.
He was born on June 20, 1842 in Irremore, County Kerry, Ireland.  He came to Atchison and enrolled as a seminary student at the fledgling St. Benedict's College in 1860.  After completing studies at St. Benedict's and at St. Francis' Seminary, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Father Cunningham was ordained a priest by Bishop Miege on August 8, 1865 in Leavenworth.
During the mid-1870's, Bishop Fink sent Father Cunningham on trips to seek funds to pay off the remaining debt on the Leavenworth Cathedral and to help the Kansas settlers who were in desperate need because of the depressed economy of the period.
During 1877-81 he was pastor of the Church of the Assumption at Topeka, where he also built a new church.  On January 1, 1881 he was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Leavenworth and then was made Rector of the Cathedral parish by Bishop Fink.  He held both positions when appointed bishop of Concordia some seventeen years later.  It was said that "The Bishop leaned heavily on his vicar-general for he knew him to be a man of zeal and an untiring worker."
Father Cunningham was consecrated Bishop of Concordia at Leavenworth on September 21, 1898, by Archbishop John J. Kain of St. Louis, assisted by Bishop Thomas Bonacum of Lincoln, Nebraska and Bishop John J. Hennessy of Wichita.
The new Bishop was 56 years of age and had been a priest for thirty-three of those years.  Upon his arrival at Concordia, he was greeted by happy citizens of that city and by Father Perrier, who like him had served both Bishops Miege and Fink in eastern Kansas more than two decades earlier.
Bishop Cunningham has been described as the "Diocesan Builder."  The title seems appropriate for a number of reasons, one of which is that much new construction took place during his tenure as Bishop of Concordia.
The return of bountiful harvests and a much improved economy made it possible, along with much labor and sacrifices, for the Catholics of the Diocese to launch into a period of building.  It is very probable that the people were encouraged to even greater efforts by such comments as the Bishop's in one recorded instance.  When asked for his permission to build at Grainfield, he is reported to have said, "All these towns around here want to build churches.  If you think you can get enough money together, I shall consider your request.  If you do build, I want you to build a decent looking church.  I don't want any more chicken houses."  Much evidence of the efforts of the Catholics of this period remains visible on the plains and in the towns of northwest Kansas--the churches stand as visible symbols of the Faith.
Some fifty-four churches were erected during the 1898-1919 period.  Also built in this time span were seventeen elementary schools and five high schools.  Hospitals were opened:  St. Joseph's, Concordia (1903), St. Anthony's, Hays (1909), and St. John's, Salina (1913).  Other buildings newly built or renovated were:  Nazareth Motherhouse, Concordia (cornerstone laid 1902), Hays Catholic College, Hays (1908), St. Joseph's Orphanage, Abilene (1915).  Several rectories and convents were also erected.
The history of the beginnings of the Knights of Columbus in the Diocese dates back to Bishop Cunningham's tenure.  The first Council within the Diocese was established in Salina in September of 1901.
The bishop celebrated the golden jubilee of his priestly ordination in 1915; that same year he appointed Father John Maher, Salina, to succeed Msgr. Joseph Perrier as Vicar-General of the Diocese.  Four years later, after an extended illness, Bishop Cunningham died on June 23, 1919.  He was buried in the Nazareth Cemetery at Concordia.
Upon his death it was said that, "while he retained the flavor of his native land (Ireland) to his death, the Bishop was a typical Kansan, a Westerner. . .The pioneers who built up the greatness of the West were not less fearless. . .than the priest and Bishop who was a pioneer in the spiritual field."
The twenty-year period of Bishop Cunningham's episcopate was a period of growth.  The Catholic population had doubled from 17, 250 to 34, 362.  The number of parochial schools had also doubled.  The number of churches with resident pastors had risen from twenty-eight to fifty-nine.  The number of diocesan priests had increased from twenty-five to sixty-three; a number of them had been ordained in Ireland.
Father John Maher, Salina, served as Administrator of the Diocese for nearly two years while the See was vacant.  The next Ordinary was Bishop Francis J. Tief who was installed at Concordia on April 6, 1921.
Bishop Francis J. Tief:  1920-1938
The Very Reverend Francis J. Tief, Vicar General of the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri was appointed fourth Bishop of Concordia December 15, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
He had been born March 7, 1881 in East Port Chester, Connecticut, son of John and Catherine (Glynn) Tief; he was the first bishop of Concordia born in the United States.  After his education at Niagara University, Niagara, N.Y., and at St. Bonaventure's College and Seminary Allegheny, N.Y., he was ordained June 13, 1908 by the Most Rev. Charles Colton, Bishop of Buffalo, N.Y.  He served briefly as an assistant in the Archdiocese of New York and in the Diocese of Kansas City when he was appointed as first resident pastor of Webb City, MO.  In 1910 he became rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City and was appointed Vicar General in 1916.  He was consecrated Bishop of Concordia on March 30, 1921 in the Cathedral by Most Rev. Thomas Lillis assisted by Bishop Peter Muldoon, Rockford and Bishop J. Henry Tihen, Denver.  He was installed in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Concordia on April 6, 1921.
Father John Maher, Salina, who had acted as Vicar General under Bishop Cunningham was reappointed by the new Bishop; he served in this capacity until Bishop Tief left the Diocese in 1938.
Bishop Tief's tenure began in the period of euphoria and good will which occurred upon the return of Kansas' veterans following World War I.
There had been a great demand for wheat in the European countries wracked by war; much of Kansas pasture land had been plowed under and successfully planted into wheat.  Modern machines began to replace human muscle and horses.  The era of "Wheat is King" began.
Diocesan building continued.  Built or renovated were eight churches, eight rectories, six schools, two convents, a home of the aged, the Home of the Little Flower in Concordia (1924), and St. Mary's Hospital, Manhattan (1936), the new St. Joseph's College and Military Academy, Hays (1931), and Marymount College, Salina (1922).
Bishop Tief presided at the dedication of Marymount College in 1922.  It was the first college to award 4-year degrees to women in the state of Kansas.  It was the "answer to the demand for higher education for women," particularly for the many teachers in the parochial schools.
During the seventeen years and three months of his episcopate, Bishop Tief ordained 28 young men to the priesthood.  He built a new bishop's home and chancery in Concordia (1926-1927), and pioneered the religious vacation school movement which officially began in 1927 with teachers trained at Marymount.  He established the Northwestern Kansas Register as the official diocesan newspaper in November 1937.
The first national disaster of Bishop Tief's tenure was the Stock Market Crash of October 1929.  On the heels of this, was the second disaster of the "dust storm" period, when the Kansas farmers watched their fertile soil erode away as it was swept up by destructive winds and carried hundreds of miles before settling.  The storms began in the summer of 1930 and lasted nearly all decade.  According to several references the worst occurred on March 15, 1935.  There were also exceptionally hot summers, cold winters, flooding and invasion of grasshoppers.  The dust storms were called "black blizzards" as the dust drifted over roads and railroad tracks, and even covered farm implements; it also sifted into houses and other buildings, creating health hazards.
Bishop Tief and the Capuchin Friars were confronted with serious fiscal problems during the decade of the 1930s due to the depressed economy and prolonged drought.  Several projects had to be abandoned.  It was not until the fall of 1942, after the Kansas rural economy revived again, that the next bishop of Concordia and the Capuchin Friars together with their advisers and legal counsel succeeded in developing a plan acceptable to all concerned creditors for cancellation of all diocesan indebtedness.
Despite the grave problems that arose during this period, the Diocese experienced both material and spiritual growth.  By 1938 sixty-five vacation schools were in operation in three-week summer sessions.  Catholics numbered 44,000 at the end of 1938; there were seventy-one diocesan priests and thirty-four religious order priests.  The number of parishes with resident pastors totaled sixty-six, a gain of seven from 1919.  There were thirty-nine missions and stations, seven less than in 1919.  Fifteen students were studying for the priesthood.  The number of women religious (including novices and postulants having mission work in the diocese) was 608.
The four hospitals served a total of 7,128 patients.  There were thirty-two grade and sixteen high schools with a total of some 5,000 pupils, while the academies, colleges and nursing training schools were educating some 700 students.
On May 16, 1933, Bishop Tief celebrated his priestly Silver Jubilee with a Solemn Pontifical Mass on the campus of Marymount College.  During 1937 he presided over several celebrations commemorating the Golden Jubilee of the Diocese.  Because of ill health, Bishop Tief retired in June, 1938.  He lived in retirement until his death on September 22, 1965.
Msgr. John B. Bornholt, pastor of St. Joseph's Church, New Almelo, served as Diocesan Administrator during the period June - November 1938 preceding Bishop Frank A. Thill's arrival as the fifth Bishop of the Concordia See.
Bishop Francis A. Thill:  1938-1957
His Holiness, Pope Pius XI appointed Right Reverend Frank A. Thill, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, as the fifth Bishop of Concordia on August 26, 1938.
The future Bishop had been born on October 12, 1893, the son of Bernard and Margaret (Schele) Thill of St. Mary's Parish in Dayton, Ohio.  After primary, secondary, and college studies in Dayton, he enrolled at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary of the West, Norwood, Ohio in 1914.  While a seminarian, he established and organized the Catholic Students' Mission Crusade to aid missionaries in foreign fields, and he maintained interest in this organization throughout his life.
On February 28, 1920 Frank Thill was ordained a priest by Archbishop Henry Moeller of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  In 1926 he was sent to Rome where he studied at the Collegio Angelico and then toured American missionary outposts in the Orient.  In 1935 he became Chancellor of the Cincinnati Archdiocese and in 1937 was made a Domestic Prelate.
Msgr. Thill was consecrated Bishop in the Cathedral of St. Monica, Cincinnati, on October 28, 1938.  The new bishop was installed as the fifth Bishop of the Concordia See by His Eminence John Cardinal Glennon, Archbishop of St. Louis, on November 15, 1938.
The nearly nineteen years of Bishop Thill's tenure were years of growth and change for the Diocese.  Troubles in Europe, which were brewing when he assumed his episcopate, soon escalated, leading to the eventual involvement of the United States in World War II.  This left its effect not only on the families whose sons and daughters entered the military services but also on many of the cities and towns within the Diocese.
Fort Riley increased in size and function quickly; this in turn had its effect on the nearby towns, especially Junction City.  Near Salina both an infantry camp and an air force base were erected.  Later Concordia became the site of a German prisoner of war camp (1943).  Many civilians were employed in construction while others found employment in the United States Civil Service.
The war-time economy combined with the return of abundant harvests brought an extended period of prosperity.  Bishop Thill was able to overcome the misfortunes of the early 1930s and liquidated a diocesan debt of nearly a quarter of a million dollars in late 1942.
One of the most significant events of this period was the transfer of the See from Concordia to Salina, the largest city in the diocese.  This matter had been under consideration since the administration of Bishop Cunningham.  The official letter of Petition to Pope Pius XII from Bishop Thill, co-signed by the members of the College of Consultors, the Vicar General, and the Chancellor was dated April 13, 1944.  In it, the Bishop wrote, "Most Holy Father, Humbly prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, the undersigned Francis Augustine Thill, Bishop of Concordia in America, and the Diocesan Consultors of the same diocese, beg Your Holiness:  to translate the See to Salina, suppressing the See at and the name of Concordia; to designate the Church of the Sacred Heart in Salina as the sole Cathedral of the diocese."
The see was transferred on December 23, 1944.  How did the Concordia people react?  Stunned.  In spite of some warning signs and newspaper stories, very few believed it could happen.  The French pioneers felt that the See belonged to Concordia--that they had given every ounce of energy and much of their money to maintain the See.  To lose their bishop was a reflection on them, they felt.  It was obvious, however, to those with vision that the more centrally located city of Salina had greater potential for a more prosperous See, significantly capable of development far beyond that of Concordia.  The decision proved to be a wise one.  While the Concordia deanery for the major portion of 75 years was the heart of the diocese, and though a great letdown was felt in Concordia and the surrounding area, this "heart transplant" was truly life giving to the Diocese.
Msgr. John A. Duskie succeeded Msgr. Daly both as Rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral and as Vicar General.  Bishop Thill also gave him the additional responsibilities of "providing our Diocese with a worthy Cathedral Church."  On June 4, 1951 Bishop Thill officiated when the cornerstone of the new Cathedral was blessed.  Two years later, on June 6, 1953 the Bishop dedicated the new Cathedral and rectory.  The complex, which cost about one million dollars, was debt-free on the date of dedication.
Resulting from his leadership, the generosity and sacrifice of the people of the Diocese, there was other building during Bishop Thill's episcopate.  Twenty-five churches were erected in addition to the Cathedral.  Also erected or remodeled during this period were ten schools, eleven rectories, nine convents, and six institutional chapels.
Bishop Thill purchased a home in Salina on Country Club Road and adjacent to it built a modest Chancery Office which served until 1983 when the Diocesan Offices were moved into the 6th and 8th floors of the United Building in downtown Salina.  In September 1990, chancery offices were again moved into the former Sacred Heart Convent in Salina on the corner of 9th and Iron.
Notable accomplishments of Bishop Thill's tenure include the ordination of 35 young men into the priesthood, the organization of the Catholic Youth Organization of Concordia in 1939, continued improvement of the diocesan newspaper which had been under the leadership of Msgr. Raymond M. Menard since 1945, and the continuance of the vacation religion school (bible school).  4,895 child were enrolled in such schools in 1957.  Combining this total with the number of children and youth in diocesan schools and colleges reveals that 28% of the Catholic population of the Diocese (44,453) received religious education that year. Bishop Thill also approved the acquisition of a tract of land in south Salina (1954) which became the site of a second parish complex and a new interparochial high school under his successor.
One of Bishop Thill's last official acts was to appoint a commission to explore the options available in connection  with the care of the homeless in the Diocese.  This had a direct bearing on the establishment of a diocesan social services center under his successor.
After shepherding the Diocese from November 15, 1938, Bishop Thill died on May 21, 1957.  His remains rest in Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Salina.  The dual panel of stained glass windows in the Cathedral sanctuary on the west wall, given by the Catholic Students Mission Crusade, an organization which he already promoted as a seminarian, is a memorial to him.
Msgr. Samuel V. Fraser, pastor of St. Peter's Church in Aurora, served as Diocesan Administrator for the four months between Bishop Thill's death and the appointment of the new bishop of the Diocese of Salina, Msgr. Frederick W. Freking.
Bishop Frederick W. Freking:  1957-1964
Pope Pius XII appointed the Reverend Monsignor Frederick W. Freking, J.C.D., a priest of the Winona Diocese and Spiritual Director of the North American College in Rome, as the sixth Bishop of the Diocese on October 10, 1957.
Msgr. Freking was consecrated Bishop in Rome at the North American College on November 30, 1957, by Guiseppe Cardinal Pizzardo, Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office.  Msgr. Carl Engbarth and Father Richard Eilert attended the ceremonies as representatives of the Salina Diocese.  With the new Bishop, they were received by Pope Pius XII in a semi-private audience the day after Bishop Freking's consecration.
The new Bishop was born on August 11, 1913, the son of August and Rosa (Oberbroeckling) Freking of Heron Lake, Minnesota.  He was one of a family of eighteen children.  He was ordained a priest in Rome on July 31, 1938 at St. Ignatius Church by Archbishop Luke Pasetto, O.F.M. Cap., for the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.  In that Diocese he had served as assistant pastor, editor of the diocesan newspaper, and chancellor, before attending the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.  After receiving a doctorate in Canon Law, he began his assignment at the North American College in Rome.
Bishop Freking was installed as Bishop of Salina in Sacred Heart Cathedral on January 7, 1958 by Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
During his tenure (1959) priests of the Society of the Most Precious Blood in Liberty, Missouri accepted an invitation to labor in the Diocese and began serving in four parishes.
The Salina Council of Catholic Women (SCCW), an affiliate of the National Council of Catholic Women, was organized on November 18, 1958.  Bishop Freking gave much of his time and capable pastoral leadership to the promotion of this organization in the diocese.
In 1959, Bishop Freking appointed Father Armand Girard to serve as his Vicar General, a position he ably held through two more bishops until 1983 when the new Code of Canon Law came into effect.
Under Bishop Freking's leadership the work of various diocesan offices and organizations was enhanced and some new ones initiated.  The former Mowery Clinic, Salina was purchased and converted into St. Joseph's Children's Home, replacing St. Joseph's Orphanage in Abilene.  Catholic Charities of Salina, Inc. obtained its charter in January of 1959.  This action officially broadened the dimensions of Diocesan social service efforts beyond the original concept of providing shelter for children in need.  During 1962-1964, a spacious home across the street from the cathedral rectory was purchased and remodeled to provide offices for Catholic Charities, Religious Education, and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
In June 1961, Bishop Freking presided and preached at a departure ceremony at which he commissioned five papal volunteers to serve in Latin America.  In the same year, he released one of his priests, Father John George Weber, to serve as Executive Secretary of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC), a position which he held until 1976.  Three years after the appointment of Father Weber, the Bishop became president of the organization.  Also in 1961 a wing was added to St. John's Hospital in Salina and the St. Mary Hospital in Manhattan was moved to a new building.
The first Diocesan Synod was convoked on May 21, 1962 in the Sacred Heart Cathedral.  This synod was significant as a general diocesan assembly of priests and people with their Bishop, who proposed, discussed and formalized diocesan legislation.  The convocation of this Synod followed many months of preparation and study.
Another highlight of the year was the Solemn Consecration of the Cathedral and its altars on June 19, 1962.  The ceremonies commemorated the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese.  That same year, the Capuchins opened St. Francis Minor Seminary at Victoria.  At Manhattan, St. Isidore's Chapel was dedicated by Bishop Freking in April 1962.  The St. Robert Bellarmine Student Center was dedicated two years later.
The Second Vatican Council opened in Rome in the Fall of 1962.  Bishop Freking attended the first three sessions.
On December 28, 1962 Bishop Freking announced that Pope John XXIII had conferred papal honors on sixteen priests and thirteen lay persons of the Diocese. These honors were conferred in Sacred Heart Cathedral on January 24, 1963.
In January of 1963 Bishop Freking announced that the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome affirmed the Primary and Secondary Patrons for the Diocese of Salina:  The Primary Patroness being Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Secondary Patron, St. Francis of Assisi.  The choice of the Primary Patroness derives from the fact that the former Cathedral in Concordia was under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  St. Francis was chosen as Secondary Patron in recognition of and as a tribute to the devoted work of the Capuchin Friars over the years in the Diocese of Salina.
The Bishop celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on July 30, 1963, by offering a Mass of Thanksgiving with a few of the priests of the Diocese in the Bishop's private chapel.
On June 28, 1964 St. John's Rest Home, staffed by the Sisters of St. Agnes, was formally dedicated at Victoria.  Antoinette Residence Hall at Marymount College in Salina was completed that same year.
Also during Bishop Freking's administration a new parish, St. Mary Queen of the Universe, was established in Salina.  In addition, seven new churches, eleven new convents, four new high schools, and seven new grade schools were erected, while seven county seats were given resident pastors.  To assist the parishes in financing their construction and renovation projects, the Bishop and the College of Consultors expanded the Charity and Religion Fund established by Bishop Thill in 1944 creating a diocesan revolving fund supported by surplus funds from parishes and other resources.
With the termination of Bishop Freking's tenure as Bishop of the Diocese of Salina, there were 75 parishes of the diocese with resident pastors and 27 without.  At this time many priests of the Diocese were making preparations for installing altars in the center of the sanctuary and offering Mass facing the people.  Many of these altars were made by local artisans, sometimes by the pastors themselves.
On December 27, 1964, Bishop Freking was transferred to the diocese of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  Following a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Cathedral and a farewell luncheon at the Salina Country Club on February 22, the Bishop, accompanied by representatives of the clergy, religious and laity, left Salina in a special Union Pacific railway car for his installation on February 23, 1965 in the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker at LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
Msgr. Thomas Keogan, pastor of St. Francis Xavier's Parish, Junction City, served as Diocesan Administrator during the interim prior to the appointment of the next bishop, Msgr. Cyril J. Vogel, P.A., Vicar General of the Greensburg Diocese, Pennsylvania, on April 20, 1965.
Bishop Cyril J. Vogel:  1965-1979
His Holiness, Pope Paul VI appointed Msgr. Cyril J. Vogel, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese on April 10, 1965.  He was consecrated Bishop of Salina in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Greensburg, Pennsylvania on June 17, 1965 by the Most Reverend William G. Connare, Bishop of Greensburg.
On June 25, 1965, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Bishop Vogel was installed in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina by Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.  A brother of the Bishop, the Very Rev. Claude Vogel, O.F.M. Cap. former rector of the St. Francis Minor Seminary, Victoria, was a concelebrant of the Mass.
Bishop Vogel was born on January 15, 1905 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the second youngest of ten children of Henry J. and Mary Agnes (Foley) Vogel.  When designated Bishop-Elect, he was sixty years of age.
After graduation from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the future seventh Bishop of the Salina Diocese began theological studies at St. Vincent's Seminary conducted by the Benedictines of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  The reader will remember that the Benedictines who founded St. Benedict's College in Atchison had come to Kansas from St. Vincent's Abbey.
Cyril J. Vogel was ordained a priest on June 7, 1931 for the Diocese of Pittsburgh by Bishop Hugh C. Boyle.  He began his priestly work as an assistant pastor in Pittsburgh.  In 1950 he was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Sagamore, Pennsylvania, and also served as Director of Adult Education as well as a member of the Diocesan Tribunal.  Through a change in diocesan boundaries in March, 1951, his parish became attached to the Diocese of Greensburg.  In that Diocese he was appointed to various offices, including Chancellor, a position in which he served while pastor of the parishes of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Delmont, Pennsylvania, and Holy Family at Latrobe.  Bishop William Connare appointed him Vicar General in 1960.
The new Bishop attended the fourth and final session of the Second Vatican Council shortly after his installation in Salina.  He subsequently promoted many of the directives and recommendations of the Council.  It was during his episcopacy that the Diocese saw the formation of Diocesan and Parish Councils, the Priests' Senate and a Clergy Personnel Board, the Clergy Health and Retirement Association, and a program of education at all levels under the office of Christian Education.  He established the Diocesan Liturgy and Building Commissions and directed a study of Diocesan needs and resources.
Under Bishop Vogel's direction, new churches with parish centers attached were erected in Washington (1979), Wallace (1963), Minneapolis (1967), Clyde (1969) and Hoxie (1979).  In Hays, a second parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary, was established (1967).  In addition, several parish centers, convents, and rectories were erected during this period.  The Bishop approved the purchases of two houses which were converted into a "student center" for the Catholic Student Union at the Fort Hays State University (1969).
During Bishop Vogel's tenure the number of challenges facing him appears to have increased, or perhaps the kinds of challenges faced differed from those of the past.  Just as in the past, the Diocese was affected by the economic, social and political conditions of the times.  This time, however, it was not a depressed economy which left its mark.  Instead it was a social and political unrest and an inflated economy.
While the Kansas prairies were a considerable distance from the turbulence of the period, the people were a part of it as a nationwide effort to come to terms with the problems of segregation evolved; an increasingly unpopular war in Southeast Asia was fought; and Americans were shocked by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, first Catholic president, and later his brother, Senator and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King.  The Nation also witnessed a political scandal resulting in President Nixon's forced resignation.
It is notable that many of the first parishes established in the Diocese began celebrating their centennial birthdays during this period.  The Bishop, in his cheerful, unassuming way made himself available to the people at these events.  He felt the difficulties of being a bishop during the years of post-Vietnam change and subsequent unrest in the Church.  It was during these years also that the Diocese experienced a rather rapid decline in population as well as the number of priests and religious.  As a result, mission churches had to be closed and some parishes combined with others, thus losing their resident pastors.  A number of schools were closed due to increasing costs and declining enrollment.
Bishop Vogel was a cautious administrator, fiscally conservative in approach; under his aegis the parish debts were reduced.  He began the publication of an annual certified diocesan financial statement in the Northwestern Kansas Register.  Available diocesan and surplus parish funds were gainfully invested by the Diocesan finance officer thus enabling the Diocese to assist parishes in financing their building projects at a low rate of interest.  In 1976 the Diocese also was able to make a sizable contribution of $100,000 to Marymount College in affirmation of its belief in Catholic higher education.
Bishop Vogel died suddenly of an apparent heart attack while seated at his desk on October 4, 1979.  He was preparing to leave for Chicago to attend the meeting of the American bishops with Pope John Paul II.  He would have been 75 years old on January 15, 1980.
In the homily at his funeral Mass, Bishop Norbert Gaughan of the Greensburg Diocese, referred to Bishop Vogel as a remarkable man, always willing to serve the Lord with a lovely smile and with cheerfulness who used his talents to serve the Lord and His people with joy, even in spite of the trials and difficulties he faced during the post-Vatican II era.
Msgr. Francis J. Senecal, V.F. pastor of the Holy Cross Parish in Pfeifer, served as Administrator of the Diocese until Bishop Daniel W. Kucera, O.S.B. was appointed on March 11, 1980 and installed on May 7, 1980 in the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina.
Bishop Daniel W. Kucera:  1980-1983
On March 11, 1980 the Apostolic Delegate, Most Reverend Jean Jadot, S.T.D., Washington, D.C., announced that Pope John Paul II had appointed the Most Reverend Daniel W. Kucera, O.S.B., Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Illinois, as the eighth Bishop of Salina.
Bishop Kucera was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 27, 1923, one of four sons of Joseph F. and Lillian (Petrzelka) Kucera.  He and his three brothers attended what was then St. Procopius Academy and College at Lisle, Illinois.  He made his profession in the Order of St. Benedict at St. Procopius Abbey (Lisle), June 16, 1944, taking the name Daniel.  After obtaining a B.A. degree at St. Procopius in 1945, he served there as Registrar (1945-1949).
On May 26, 1949 the young monk was ordained a priest in Joliet, Illinois.  He then attended Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., earning both a master's degree and a doctorate by 1954.  His major field was education.  Two of his brothers also became Benedictine priests.
During 1954-65 he first served two more years as Registrar at St. Procopius College followed by four years as Dean of Studies, and a six year term as president of the college.  In 1964-1971 he served as the Abbot of St. Procopius Abbey, then resigned that position to serve again as President of the Illinois Benedictine College (formerly St. Procopius College) from 1971-1976.
Before his election as Abbot in 1964 he served nine years as assistant at the St. Louise de Marillac Parish, La Grange Park, Illinois, in addition to his college responsibilities.  On July 21, 1977 he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Joliet, Illinois by Bishop Romeo Blanchette.
Bishop Kucera was installed as Bishop of Salina at Sacred Heart Cathedral, on May 7, 1980 by Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker of Kansas City, Kansas.  During his brief tenure of three years and nine months, Bishop Kucera, his priests, religious and laity continued and expanded upon several programs begun under his predecessors and also initiated new endeavors.
Bishop Kucera was the first bishop to hire a lay person to assist the Diocese as Business Manager, Gene Scheibmeir.  The Bishop likewise saw a need to further expand the personnel of the Chancery and did so by hiring additional tribunal officials.
With the Bishop's guidance and encouragement the Priests' Council promoted a Priestly Formation and Continuing Education Committee, and recommended the establishment of a Diocesan Office of Planning.  In July, 1980 this office was established and Father Melvin Long, Vicar General of the Diocese, was appointed as its first director.  The Priests' Council also fostered expansion of programs in many areas, among them:  education, youth ministry, family life, and social justice.
Bishop Kucera's belief in and concern for Catholic education was shown by his establishment of the Bishop's Council for Catholic Education in 1980.  Plans were developed for a permanent endowment of funds providing Diocesan-wide support for parochial schools through annual donations coupled with the use of unrestricted funds in the Seminary and Education Fund established some years earlier.
Also during Bishop Kucera's tenure the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia decided to relinquish ownership of their health-care institutions and Marymount College of Salina.  At their request and urging and after consultation with his priests, Bishop Kucera assumed the responsibility of the college as a diocesan institution, but as a separate legal entity with its own Board of Trustees.
In Hays in 1981, All boys' Thomas More Prep School (founded in 1970 by the merger of 62-year old St. Joseph's Military Academy and 22-year old St. Francis Seminary), and all girls' Marian High School (founded in 1918 as Girls' Catholic High School), were merged under a common administration through the joint efforts and collaboration of the Bishop, the Capuchin Friars and the sisters of St. Agnes.
In 1982 Bishop Kucera sold the Bishop's Home and the small Chancery building on Country Club Road.  It was decided that the Bishop's Home was larger than needed and the Chancery office space was too confining.  So a smaller, more modest home was purchased for the Bishop; the Chancery offices were moved to the United Building in downtown Salina.  With this move all the diocesan offices except the offices of Catholic Charities and Family Life were united in one location.
Under Bishop Kucera three new parishes were established:  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Salina; St. Thomas More in Manhattan; and St. Nicholas of Myra in Hays.
A memorable event of this administration was the 25th anniversary meeting and celebration of the Salina Council of Catholic Woman held on November 4, 1982 in Salina.  Bishop Freking, in whose episcopate the organization was founded, concelebrated Mass with Bishop Kucera, together with visiting bishops and priests who were attending the occasion in the Bicentennial Center in Salina.
In February, 1984 Bishop Kucera established an Office for Youth Ministries and appointed Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, C.S.J. as its first full-time director.  Taking this important step reinforced the diocesan commitment to youth.
Bishop Kucera was appointed Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa on December 20, 1983.  Two months later, on February 23, 1984 a Diocesan delegation attended the installation ceremonies in the Five Flags Civic Center in Dubuque.
Msgr. Gilbert J. Landoll, pastor of St. Michael's Parish, Chapman and Comptroller of the Diocese, was selected by the Diocesan College of Consultors to act as Diocesan Administrator, relinquishing his finance office role for a short time as required by canon law, until the appointment of the new bishop, Most Reverend George K. Fitzimons was announced on April 3, 1984.
Bishop George K. Fitzsimons:  1984-2004
The appointment of Auxiliary Bishop George K. Fitzsimons of Kansas City, Missouri, as the ninth Bishop of Salina was made by Pope John Paul II, and announced by Archbishop Pio Laghi, Pro-nuncio of the United States, on April 3, 1984.
George K. Fitzsimons was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 4, 1928.  His parents were George K. and Margaret Mary (Donovan) Fitzsimons, both native Kansans.  He attended St. Francis Parish Grade School and Rockhurst High School and College in Kansas City, Missouri.  After service in the U.S. Naval Air Force (1950-1954) and a brief time in the business world, the future bishop studied for the priesthood at Conception Seminary in Missouri.  He was ordained priest on March 18, 1961 by Bishop (later Cardinal) John Cody in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri.
Father Fitzsimons served the diocese in a number of capacities, among them:  associate pastor, high school teacher, college chaplain, chancellor and vicar general.  On July 3, 1975, he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop in the Cathedral where he had been ordained a priest.  At the time of his appointment as Bishop of Salina, he was serving as pastor of Christ the King Parish in Kansas City, Missouri.
Fully 1000 people filled Sacred heart Cathedral, Salina on the day of his installation as Bishop, May 29, 1984.  The installing prelate was Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas.  Archbishop Daniel W. Kucera and Bishop F.W. Freking, former Bishops of Salina, the Bishop's sisters, other family members and friends, and numerous other visiting clergy, government officials, priests, religious and laity of the Diocese attended the ceremonies.  Members of a 100-voice choir assembled from all parts of northwest Kansas for the occasion.
Without delay Bishop Fitzsimons sought to learn about the parishes in the 26,000 plus square miles of his territory, by stopping for brief visits with priests on his way to and from Salina as he attended meetings and ceremonies in various parts of the Diocese.  He visited patients in hospitals, attended receptions for senior citizens, concelebrated Masses with pastors, spoke frequently to various groups, dedicated or blessed recently completed buildings, and was at hand for ground breaking for others.
Under Bishop Fitzsimons, lay ministry began to flourish in the Diocese.  Various lay ministries that were expanded and developed included Liturgists, Religious Education Coordinators, Youth ministers, Ministers to the elderly and Pastoral Assistants.  During Bishop Fitzsimons' tenure, an Office of Lay Ministry was established with a director and an advisory Board.  Mary McGill was the first director of this new office.  The program was funded and initiated by the Catholic Church Extension Society in Chicago.
The RENEW parish spiritual growth program was conducted during Bishop Fitzsimons episcopacy, leading to a better understanding of Catholicism and a closer relationship with Christ among parishioners throughout the Diocese.  A Diocesan Rural Life Commission was also founded under Bishop Fitzsimons.
In the spring of 1986 the Bishop announced the closing of Luckey High School in Manhattan and the combination of Sacred Heart Junior High with Sacred Heart Senior High School in Salina.  It was also during this time that Marymount College began to experience fiscal problems.  In order to help the college survive, it became necessary for the Diocese to support the college with substantial contributions over a three-year period.  These efforts were not enough.  When a $4.8 million fund drive fell short, Marymount closed in 1989.
Bishop Fitzsimons led the diocese's centennial celebrations on September 20, 1987 with a gathering of priests, religious and lay people for a Mass of Praise and Thanksgiving at the Bicentennial Center in Salina.  This 100 year celebration was the highlight of his episcopacy, the Bishop said.
June 27, 1990 saw an historic first for the diocese as the provisions of Canon 517.2 were utilized for the first time and Sister Carolyn Juenemann, C.S.J. was appointed by Bishop Fitzsimons as the diocese's first Parish Life Coordinator (then called Pastoral Administrator) at St. Michael's Parish in Chapman assisted by Father Richard Lutgen as Priest Supervisor (then called Canonical Pastor).  Since that time, Parish Life Coordinators have served at several parishes in the diocese due to a dearth of priests.
In July 1990, Bishop Fitzsimons attended the 100th anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower's birth in Abilene as a honored guest when President Ronald Reagan spoke during the occasion.  In September of 1990, the chancery offices were moved from the 6th and 8th floors of the United Building in downtown Salina to the former Sacred Heart Convent at the corner of 9th and Iron streets where they have remained since.
Because of a declining population in the diocese and a growing shortage of priests, over a dozen parishes were merged with others and their churches were closed during Bishop Fitzsimons tenure.  But he never gave up his affability and trust in the Lord, consistently upholding the value of Catholic schools and education and the need for young men and women to consider the priesthood or religious life.  "I ask youngsters the question frequently:  'Have you thought about a vocation?'  If they say no, I tell them that's the wrong answer.  They need to stop and think, what is the will of God for me?"
Bishop Fitzsimons appointed Msgr. James Hake to serve as his Vicar General in 1988, a position still held by the good priest.
New churches for the parishes of St. Nicholas of Myra in Hays and St. Thomas More in Manhattan were dedicated and consecrated by Bishop Fitzsimons.
Upon completing 75 years of age, Bishop Fitzsimons submitted his letter of resignation to the Holy Father on September 4, 2003.  His resignation was not accepted until Oct 21, 2004, when the apostolic nuncio in Washington, D.C. announced that Pope John Paul II had appointed Father Paul S. Coakley of the Wichita Diocese as the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Salina.
Bishop Fitzsimons retired in Ogden, Kansas in 2004 and assisted at St. Patrick's Parish, a mission of Seven Dolors Parish in Manhattan.  He remained active in diocesan events until his death on July 28, 2013.
Bishop Paul S. Coakley:  2004-2011
Pope John Paul II appointed Father Paul S. Coakley as the tenth Bishop of Salina on October 21, 2004.  He was consecrated Bishop in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Salina by Archbishop James P. Keleher of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas on December 28, 2004.
Immediately after his episcopal ordination, Bishop Coakley began a series of pastoral visitations of the Diocese's eighty-eight parishes, discerning their strengths and needs.  During the course of these visitations, Bishop Coakley saw the need for a diocesan-wide Strategic Pastoral Plan to address the spiritual, educational, and pastoral challenges facing the diocese and its parishes.  In early 2008, he established a Diocesan Planning Commission comprised of priests, religious sisters, a permanent deacon, and lay members of the faithful.  Calling on the services of Dr. David Byers, former executive secretary of the USCCB's Committee on Home Missions to coordinate the commission's activities, the Bishop and the Planning Commission are currently (2009) engaged in a process that will lead to the promulgation of a Strategic Pastoral Plan in 2010 as well as produce a plan to address parish status and staffing.
Totus Tuus, a summer youth religious education program, returned to the Diocese with the Bishop's active encouragement.  The Prayer and Action Youth Ministry program also thrived during his episcopacy, giving seminarians and other young people the opportunity to offer help to those in the Diocese most in need of aid with needed projects they could not accomplish on their own.
Bishop Coakley saw the need to expand chancery staff to assist with diocesan ministry.  To this end, he appointed Fr. Randall Weber as a full-time Vicar General  in 2007 to assist with the administration of the diocese, and established diocesan offices of development/stewardship and information technology.  The Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Salina, an affiliate of the Greater Salina Community Foundation, was erected during Bishop Coakley's episcopacy to address the future financial needs of the diocese and its parishes.
Bishop Coakley also discerned the need for a full-scale effort of vocation promotion to address a looming clergy shortage in the diocese.  A Year of Prayer for Vocations was inaugurated on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2007 and concluded on December 8, 2008.  Fr. Jarett Konrade was appointed full-time Director of the Office of Priestly Vocations in July 2008.  These efforts saw success as more men than usual answered the call to train for the priesthood for the diocese at various seminaries.
On May 18, 2008, Bishop Coakley celebrated his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination (May 21, 1983) with a Mass of Thanksgiving at Sacred Heart Cathedral and a dinner and reception at the Salina Country Club attended by hundreds of clergy, friends, and family.
January 3,  2009 was an historic first for the Diocese as Bishop Coakley ordained the first ever class of permanent deacons.  Seven men were ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral and assigned to serve their home parishes.
With Bishop Coakley's encouragement and support, the first Serra Club in the diocese was chartered at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina on May 20, 2009.  The Serra Club is an international lay organization dedicated exclusively to the promotion and support of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
On June 20, 2009, the Diocese of Salina saw another historic event as the Bishop received vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience from the diocese's first canonical hermitess, Sister Kathryn Ann of the Holy Angels,  at his private Chapel in Salina.
July 1, 2009 was an occasion of both joy and sorrow for the Diocese of Salina.  Happily, a new diocesan Office of Family Life was established at the diocese's central offices.  Sadly, two parishes, Sts. Peter and Paul in Morrowville and St. Paul in Delphos were merged with nearby parishes due to declining population and lack of sufficient clergy.
Stewards of Hope: A Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Salina was promulgated at a Diocesan Assembly in Hays on June 6, 2010 with implementation set to begin in January 2011.  A Capital Campaign to raise funds for priests' retirement, seminarian education, Catholic Charities, and Pastoral Plan implementation was initiated in the Fall of 2010.  The diocesan office of the New Evangelization was established December 1, 2010.
On December 16, 2010, the Holy See announced that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed Bishop Coakley as the Archbishop of Oklahoma City.