Ellinwood native to be among Kansas representatives greeting Pope Francis

By David Myers, Editor

Southwest Kansas Catholic

Ellinwood native Basil Dannebohm has been selected to be among a small contingent of Kansas Catholics who will greet Pope Francis upon the steps of the capitol building in Washington, D.C.

“We won’t know until we get there whether or not we’ll get to greet the pope, face to face,” Dannebohm said. “We are told that the Holy Father specifically requested that he go to the west steps of capitol and greet members of faithful.”

The Holy Father will be in Washington, D.C. the first two days of his Sept. 22-27 trip. He will then travel to New York, and conclude his trip in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families.

Dannebohm and other representatives were chosen by a congressional delegation. Each are allowed to bring a small group of guests.

Accompanying Dannebohm will be Ron and Cathy Straub of Great Bend, Hays resident Donetta Robben, executive director of Divine Mercy Radio, Inc., and Dr. Mirta Martin, president of Fort Hays State University.

Dannebohm briefly served as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives before he resigned for health reasons. In 2012, Dannebohm was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s Disease. He continues to be a sought after public speaker, and offered a workshop at the 2014 Stewardship Conference in Dodge City.

“It will be a very quick trip, but we will get to experience a moment that so few get,” Dannebohm said. “He’s the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress. It’s the third time a pope has been invited, and the first time accepted. We’re humbly witnessing history. It will be interesting to hear what he says.”

As former representative of District 113, Dannebohm has made several trips to the nation’s capital; “I never thought I’d say this, but this is my pilgrimage to Washington. To say ‘pilgrimage’ and ‘Washington’ in the same sentence … it’s crazy.

“Taking a journey to see the Holy Father is the greatest birthday present anyone could ask for,” said Dannebohm, who celebrated a birthday Sept. 9. “We are so lucky to blessed with our popes. John Paul II was the adopted patron of Parkinson’s. Benedict brought such profound theology. And now Francis, who has this unspeakable love and clarity that shines forth in his eyes. For me to be able to see those eyes, not on camera, but face to face, it will bring one to their knees in prayer.

“He’s shown that the Church is indeed a church of love and mercy and a place of repentance.”