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April 10, 1998     The Message
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April 10, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Sisters, seminarians fr( ,rn Mexico fill Editor's note: This story about the Diocese f Salina is one of series of stories describing fforts to cope with the declining numbers of priests and religious. SALINA, Kan. (CNS) -- A decline in the numbers of priests and women religious has many dioceses looking for solu- tions to fill the gaps, and the Salina Diocese is no exception. Several diocesan offices and Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Salina have been coordinat- ing efforts to bring in two sem- inarians and four women reli- gious from Mexico to help parishes meet pastoral needs. About two years ago Bishop George K. Fitzsimons of Salina wrote in his diocesan newspa- per, The Northwestern Kansas Register, that between 1960 and 1995 the number of active Salina diocesan priests had changed from 76 to 52 and the active reli- gious priests had gone from 44 to 25. While in that same time peri- od the number of parishes declined from 100 to 92, parishes with a resident priest decreased from 70 to 48, he wrote. Salina's efforts to recruit church workers from Mexico have been in the works for about two years but have now borne fruit. In February Father Fred Gatschet, Sacred Heart's associ- ate pastor, made a 3,200-mile trip from the Salina Diocese in the northern part of Kansas into Mexico to speak the heads of convents and seminaries there. He first visited the convent of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Family and Holy Spirit in Saltillo in the state of Coahuila. Members of the order had visit- ed Father Gatschers parish in January in response to a letter from the Spanish-speaking priest asking for help. The order is diocesan and has about 90 sisters, the majority under age 35. i i i i , ii i Mercy Sunday Come celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy April 19 at Holy Spirit Church &' Rese Dr. I HolySlrit -- [ Covert Ave. I- Washington i Bettemeae ,.,0 ! lit Ave. Ave, Starting at 1 p.m., Mass at 3:30 p.m. Main Celebrant: Father Vincent Bork Confessions, Rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Divine Mercy Chaplet "Divine Mercy" Novena starts Good Friday: Look for Novena in vestibule. i i i iii i ii i i i ii ,i Four of its members arrived in the Salina Diocese at the end of February to work primarily with Hispanic immigrants The sisters were given temporary quarters until Salina's Catholic Charities agency completed ren- ovation of a house for them. While in Mexico, Father Gatschet also visited the seminary of Holy Mary of Guadalupe in Morelia, in Michoacan state. He said the seminary is different from most others because the gradu- ates are not bound to serve in the diocese from which they came. As they near the end of their studies, they are responsible for contacting a diocese any- where in the world that will take them and allow them to finish their theological train- ing. They then are expected to become incardinated into that particular diocese. Two young men, Jose Rodolfo Diaz Ramirez and Francisco Montoya, plan to arrive in Sali- na in July. According to The Northwest- ern Kansas Register, 25-year-old Diaz was born in Mexico, the youngest of 11 children. He spent time as a teen-ager living with his family in Lake Tahoe, Calif., and going to school there. "He is a kind and gentle young man who is very likable. He is athletic and coaches the seminary's basketball team," Father Gatschet said. "He is very outgoing, works well with others, and is well liked in the seminary community. He has received the ministries of lector and acolyte." Montoya, 31, finished his theological studies at the sem- inary of the Diocese of More lia, Mexico, and was at the Holy Mary of Guadalupe sem- inary for classes to prepare him for "He sa theU.S, because the scarcity of believes his appreciated," Gatschet. "He .' lems with sects the U.S. as moral decay try to help." Last Gatschet efforts by religious can people parishes away Catholic faith. His other members from Mexico. The Salina 26,685 52 :7