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This past Saturday, I had the blessing of attending the ordination of five young men to the priesthood. Even more exciting, at least for me, was immediately after the Mass when I was asked to come into the sacristy and meet the new associate pastor of Blessed Sacrament. I can’t tell you the many thoughts that were going through my mind as I had no idea who was being assigned to our parish. Happily, I found out that it was Fr. Curtis Hecker. We exchanged a fraternal hug and I told him that he would love it at Blessed Sacrament.

On the following day, May 24th, I attended his First Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Ark City, Kansas. The small, old church reminded me of my parish church in Tampa, Kansas, Holy Redeemer. I was so impressed at how well and reverently he celebrated the Mass. I was truly moved and knew immediately that he would be a great blessing to the people of Blessed Sacrament.

On Monday, Fr. Hecker came for a tour of the facilities at B.S. and then lunch. He shared with me that he is full of zeal to start his work at Blessed Sacrament. He then shared that his two great passions are vocations and the New Evangelization. Oh man, the New Evangelization—he is speaking our language! To conclude, I would like to include a section of Fr. Hecker’s thank you letter from his First Mass program. It is very telling of his interior life:

"Praised be Jesus Christ! It is with a heart brimming with joy and gratitude that I celebrate this First Solemn Mass of  anksgiving on this great feast of Pentecost with all of you. My ordination to the Holy Priesthood yesterday marks the end of a long six and a half years of seminary formation, and, God willing, the beginning of a long life of dedicated service to the people of the Diocese of Wichita. Looking back over the course of my life, I am truly amazed at God’s overwhelming goodness to me in the paths on which He has led me and the good people whom He has put into my life. . .  ank you to the people of the Diocese of Wichita and especially the parishioners of Sacred Heart Catholic Church here in Arkansas City. You have been so good to me over the years and I pray that through the service of my life I can repay the many kindnesses which you have shown me. I have always looked forward to the warm welcome I would receive when coming home on breaks. I could not be more proud to be from the Diocese of Wichita and to call Sacred Heat my home. I look forward to a life of Service here in the Diocese of Wichita and I pray that God will continue to bless us all with his abundant goodness. Please pray for me as I begin priestly ministry and be assured of my prayers for all of you."

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor

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