Bishop caps Catholic Schools Week
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
They both knew the final day of Catholic Schools Week would be special this year.
The new bishop in town to say Mass. The first year for a Catholic junior high. The end of a packed week of activities.
But Friday was better than they even could imagine, said Bill DeWitt and Rachel Wentling, principals at the two Catholic schools in Hays.
DeWitt and Wentling, also alumni of Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, joined their students from TMP Junior-Senior High and Holy Family Elementary School in helping fill Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for the finale to Catholic Schools Week this year.
"That was nice, wasn't it?" Wentling said right after the Mass that included more than 650 students in kindergarten through 12th grades, along with more than 100 faculty and staff.
"A nice culmination of the week," DeWitt said. "A perfect way to end it."
In his sermon, Weisenbuger told the students and others in attendance how he had spent a few years in Hays during his childhood and attended St. Joseph Grade School, which now is Holy Family Elementary. His late mother, Asella Walters Weisenburger, is a native of Ellis County, having grown up in Catharine.
He talked about his grandparents, who were wheat farmers.
"(Farming) is about 90 percent preparing the soil properly and sticking the seeds in the ground, and after that you have to depend on God," said Weisenburger, who compared that same philosophy to everyday life of Catholics. "We plant the seeds of faith, and in looking back over my life, I'm astounded the way God speaks to me."
Weisenburger said Mass at two other locations in the diocese, last Sunday in Salina and Tuesday in Manhattan, as part of Catholic Schools Week activities.
Since being ordained a bishop in Salina in May, Weisenburger also made stops across the Diocese of Salina, visiting the five high schools and 11 elementary schools in the diocese.
He said he thoroughly enjoys each stop, especially this week.
"It gives me great hope and a sense of confidence to find the Catholic faith alive and well everywhere I go," he said. "One of the glory of Catholic Schools is that we weave our faith into every aspect of our lives. We learn early that faith has to be part of everything we do."
But, Weisenburger admitted, his time spent Friday in Hays was a "great way" to end Catholic Schools Week.
He especially complimented TMP senior Sam Schmidt, the lector at Mass, and TMP junior Jacob Brull, who served as cantor.
Little did Weisenburger realize he still was in for a treat.
The combined choirs of TMP Junior and Senior High, under the direction of vocal music instructor Michael Brandel, sang "Beautiful Savior," including one verse a cappella, at the conclusion of Mass, to which the bishop replied, "There hasn't been better music anywhere else in the diocese."
* Two competitions are part of Catholic Schools Week each year at Holy Family Elementary School, a school spelling bee and geography bee.
This year's winners and their grade are:
Geography bee -- 1. Grant Ginther, sixth; 2. Kaleb Hagans, sixth; 3. Cameron Rozean, sixth.
Spelling bee -- 1. Noah Flynn, fifth; 2. Mariana Ramirez, fourth; 3. Landon Dinkel, fifth.