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Father Ken Vavrina Book Signing – Sunday, Jan. 3

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

 

 

Sunday, January 3, 2016
at 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
St Benedict The Moor, 2423 Grant Street, Omaha
Father Ken Vavrina will sign copies of his new book, “Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden,” from 10:30 a.m. to Noon on Sunday, Jan. 3 at St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, 2423 Grant Street, In North Omaha. The signing will take place in the social hall located in the church basement. The book chronicles Father’s inspiring life of service at home and abroad. As I helped Father Ken realize the book, I will be there as well. Come out and support Father Ken, a much beloved man of God and of the people whose ministry is both a testimony of faith and a call to action. This social justice champion has served parishes on reservtions and in Omaha’s inner city. He’s worked with lepers in Yemen and with the poorest of the poor in India. He’s aided war refugees in Liberia and earthquake surviors in Italy. He’s given all he has to give and now it’s time for the community to show its appreciation for this once close confidante and colleague of Mother Teresa.

Refreshments will be served. All are welcome. We hope to see you there.

 

 

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A big thank you to Mike Kelly for his fine column on Father Ken Vavrina

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

A big thank you to Mike Kelly for his fine column on Father Ken Vavrina

In the Omaha World-Herald issue dated today (Wednesday, December 23, 2015), columnist Mike Kelly finds the heart of Father Ken Vavrina and of the book I did with him, “Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden.”  Mike was aware that Father Ken got to know Mother Teresa quite well during his missionary years overseas.  At Mike’s urging, he, Father and myself took in a screening together of the new dramatic feature film about Mother Teresa, “The Letters,” since Father alone among us could provide first-hand impressions of what Mother was really like.  Mike took notes as Father reacted to various things depicted in the film.  After the film, Mike interviewed us.  Mike’s resulting fine column takes the full measure of the humble humanitarian and servant that is Father Ken.  It is Father’s ardent wish that each of us cross our own bridges to experience other cultures and serve diverse peoples.  This is how we grow and this is how we make the world a better place to live.

BOOK EVENT:

Sunday, January 3rd

Father Ken will be signing his book starting at 10:30 a.m. at St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church (in the social hall in the basement of the church), 2423 Grant Street. Refreshments will be served.

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BUY THE BOOK:

“Crossing Bridges” is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. You can also access it on your Kindle. You can also order the book at- http://www.upliftingpublishing.com/#!book/c24jx

The only two local bookstores carrying “Crossing Bridges” are The Bookworm at 2501 South 90th Street and Hudson Booksellers at Eppley Airfield.

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EXCERPT FROM KELLY’S COLUMN:

 

At the new movie about Mother Teresa of Calcutta, an Omaha priest occasionally leaned over and whispered about the saintly Nobel Peace Prize laureate he knew well.

“Sadness took a toll on her,” Father Ken Vavrina said at one point. At another: “Tough lady.”

At the Aksarben Cinema for a showing of “The Letters,” the 80-year-old priest, who himself worked with lepers, admired the actress’s portrayal: “Mother walked stooped, just like that.”

Through letters Mother Teresa wrote over 40 years, the biopic tells of her work amid the slums — and her crisis of faith, never feeling she did enough for God.

Father Ken knew nothing about the letters she wrote to her spiritual adviser, but he knew Mother, who died in 1997. He tells about her in a new autobiography with Omaha writer Leo Adam Biga, “Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden.”

As we left the theater and walked into afternoon light, the cleric remembered the nun, who died in 1997, as an inspiration.

“We meshed well together,” he said. “She contributed so much to my life and was a great influence in the way she was so humble. She reached out to help people without expecting anything in return.”

The last time I interviewed Father Vavrina was 1998, not long after he returned from 19 years of missionary work overseas. He’d just been assigned to troubled St. Richard Catholic Church at 43rd and Fort Streets, where the former pastor was Daniel Herek, convicted of child pornography and sexual assault.

Vavrina, who had worked in poor, sad situations for most of his priesthood, proclaimed that the parish and elementary school would turn the “negative publicity” around. Always optimistic, he predicted: “This school will still be here in 25 years.”

He tried. But because of declining attendance and enrollment, the church and school closed 11 years later.

Vavrina later served as pastor of St. Benedict the Moor parish in north Omaha. He eventually stated from the pulpit that, against his wishes, Archbishop George Lucas was forcing him to retire at 75.

The priest, who since has survived cancer, now looks at the situation differently. “The archbishop was right, and I was wrong. It was time.”

In retirement, Father Ken can look back on a lifetime of helping the poor — and, as a missionary, assisting “the poorest of the poor.”

He grew up in Clarkson, Nebraska, and was 9 when his father died after a fall from a ladder. As a teen, Ken dated and looked forward to a possible law degree.

But he felt a calling and was ordained in 1962. He worked on the Winnebago and Omaha Indian Reservations in Nebraska and later took medical supplies to members of the American Indian Movement during a 1973 protest in Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

He also served inner-city Omaha parishes, taking part in the civil rights movement.

In 1976, Mother Teresa came to Omaha and received an award at Boys Town. (Its official address today is Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, 14086 Mother Teresa Lane, Boys Town, NE 68010.)

Vavrina had long been inspired by her work, and in 1977, he received a leave of absence from the Omaha archdiocese.

In Rome, he met Mother, asking if he could help.

“She threw her hands up in her typical way when she was excited,” he recalled. “She said, ‘Father, I need a priest in Yemen to help the sisters working with lepers.’ ”

And so he went, staying five and a half years. He lived in a dirt-floor hut, scraped dead skin from lepers and witnessed amputations. He called it taxing but fulfilling work, “the best job I ever had.”

He contracted malaria, but not leprosy. Eventually, he was arrested and jailed for two weeks, suspected of spying for the CIA. (He says he was not.) The U.S. Embassy arranged his release.

Catholic Relief Services hired him to manage a rebuilding effort after an earthquake, and then to supervise aid in India. As he says in his book:

I will never forget my first night in Calcutta. I said to the driver, “What are in these sacks we keep passing by?”
“Those are people.”

Hundreds upon thousands of people made their beds and homes alongside the road. It was a scale of homelessness I could not fathom.

Father Ken was reunited with Mother Teresa, noting the admiration she received wherever she went. When he left Calcutta in 1991, he wept. He said Mother teared up, too.

He next went to Liberia during civil war, supervising Catholic Relief Services aid and dealing with ruthless dictator Charles Taylor, whom the priest calls “a paranoid egomaniac.”

 

Father Ken hadn’t planned to write a book, but so many people urged him to do so that he agreed, hoping his story might inspire readers.

He contacted Biga, a freelance writer whose work includes a book about director-screenwriter Alexander Payne. Biga also has traveled to Uganda and Rwanda to write about relief work by world champion boxer Terence Crawford of Omaha.

For the rest of the story, visit-http://www.omaha.com/columnists/kelly-from-mother-teresa-to-a-liberian-dictator-nebraskan-priest/article

 

 

 

More praise and news for my new book with Father Ken Vavrina

October 6, 2015 3 comments

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More praise and news for my new book with Father Ken Vavrina
“Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden”

5.0 out of 5 stars “A Humble Man with a Powerful Story” Sept. 1 2015
By Sandra Wendel – Published on Amazon.com

“As a book editor, I find that these incredible heroes among us cross our paths rarely. I am indeed lucky to have worked with Father Ken in shaping his story, which he finally agreed to tell the world. You will enjoy his modesty and humility while serving the poorest of the poor. His story of his first days in the leper colony in Yemen is indeed compelling, as is his survival in prison in Yemen. Later, his work in Calcutta, Liberia, and Cuba made a difference.”

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5.0 out of 5 stars Father Ken Vavrina Sept. 28 2015
By Sandra L Vavrina – Published on Amazon.com

“Crossing Bridges. Father Ken’s life is amazing! He is my husband’s cousin and performed our wedding ceremony 51 years ago right after he was ordained.”

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5.0 out of 5 stars “Great Book” Sept. 1 2015
By ken tuttle – Published on Amazon.com

“Such an amazing life story.”

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BOOK NOTE:

The book is available through http://www.upliftingpublishing.com. You can also find it on Amazon and Kindle and at The Bookworm. Ask for it or order it at your favorite bookstore.

After Father Ken recoups the cost of the book’s priting, all proceeds will go to Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

BOOK NOTE:

I will join Father Ken at a Saturday, November 7 signing from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Bookworm.

COVER STORY NOTE:

Look for my cover story about Father Ken that I adapted from the book in the November 2015 issue of the New Horizons newspaper published by the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging.

Father Ken Vavrina CROSSING BRIDGES News

September 26, 2015 Leave a comment

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Father Ken Vavrina CROSSING BRIDGES News:

My new book with Father Ken Vavrina, “Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden,” has been selling out at The Bookworm. It’s available there, at other select bookstores, on Amazon and Kindle and through Uplifting Publishing at www.upliftingpublishing.com.

The November issue of the New Horizons newspaper will carry my cover story about Father Vavrina.

Thanks to the pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Omaha, Father Mike Eckley, for referencing the book in the parish newsletter. I’ve copied Fr. Eckley’s message to the congregation below, He uses the book’s subject – Fr. Ken’s life serving the poorest of the poor as a missionary for Mother Teresa and for Catholic Relief Services – as a jumping off point to discuss matters of charity and poverty.

You can order the book at the link below.

“Before I started writing this on Labor Day afternoon, I went through the mail I received over the weekend. Among the mail there was a package with a book, Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden. It was a gift from Fr. Ken Vavrina, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha, who is also the author of the book. Last week I was at the Priest Council Meeting in Schyuler. It was a 2 day meeting and on Monday night, we were sitting around telling stories. It was mentioned a few times to one of my brother priest who was telling some extraordinary stories that he should write a book. Fr. Ken has actually done it. He has had an extraordinary life working among the poor both here in this Diocese and throughout the world. I’ve heard some of his stories and look forward to reading his book. He has worked among Lepers and has worked hand in hand with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

“Blessed Teresa, Fr. Ken, Pope Francis and many others among us show us their faith not only in there model of prayer but in their actions. St. James in today’s Second Reading talks about the relationship of our faith to our works. He states, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Our faith must come forth in the way we choose to live our lives. It is not just about coming to celebrate the Eucharist or praying regularly but also how those things influence how we live and most importantly, how we reach out to those in need.

“The film, Mother Teresa, shows her looking over a house being prepared for the nuns in San Francisco. A priest narrates, “I was gently informed that the springs could go, the mattresses could go, the carpeting …” A workman then explained the workings of the building’s hot water heater, and the nun lightly tells him, “I don’t think we will be needing it. For us to be able to understand the poor, we must know what poverty is.”

“I know for myself I would not be able to live without hot water, especially during the winter months. As I write this I’ve been on the phone with Cox Communication because the new boxes they put into the rectory are not receiving ESPN and I wanted to watch the Ohio State Game tonight. I’m feeling very put out at the moment. Watching a football game on cable is definitely a luxury and I’m not happy. It is hard to imagine living without a necessity, which I consider hot water to be one of those necessities. I admire and am challenged by those who radically live their faith.

“I’m not suggesting we turn off the hot water heaters at home or throw out our beds. What I am suggesting though is if we are serious about living our faith, we should look at ways we can simplify our daily lives and be more attentive to the needs of others. As James says, “Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” For those who would like to order Fr. Ken’s book, you can go to http://www.upliftingpublishing.com. All proceeds of the book will go to Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Omaha.”

THANK YOU, FR. MIKE

Order your copy of Crossing Bridges at www.upliftingpublishing.com.

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My new book with Father Ken Vavrina, ‘Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden,’ officially releases today – August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015 1 comment

My new book with Father Ken Vavrina

Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden

Releases today, August 26, 2015

Order your copies at-

http://www.UpliftingPublishing.com

My new book with Father Ken Vavrina, Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden, officially releases today, August 26, 2015, in conjunction with the birthday of Mother Teresa. He variously knew the late nun and humanitarian now in line to become a saint in the Catholic Church as his inspiration, boss, colleague and friend.

Before going overseas to do missionary work the Clarkson, Neb. native served various parishes in the state, including Sacred Heart and Holy Family in Omaha. After years away serving the poorest of the poor, he returned home and served at St. Richard and St. Benedict the Moor.

He’s ministered to many diverse communities in his time, including Native American reservations, Hispanic parishes and inner city African-American congregations. He is a long-time social justice champion and an outspoken equal rights advocate. He’s also served divese populations around the world, including long stints in Yemen, India and Liberia.

The book is the story of this beloved priest’s life and travels – simple acts that moved him, people that inspired him and places that astonished him. Father Vavrina has served as a priest for many years and has served several missions trips to help the needy. Father Ken worked with lepers in Yemen, and was ultimately arrested and thrown in jail under false suspicions of spying. After being forcibly removed from Yemen, he began his tenure with Catholic Relief Services, first in the extreme poverty and over-population of Calcutta in India, and then with warlords in Liberia to deliver food and supplies to refugees in need. Father Ken also spent several years working with Mother Teresa to heal the sick and comfort the dying. Father Ken has spent his life selflessly serving the Lord and the neediest around him, while always striving to remain a simple, humble man of God.

The book features a beautiful full-color album with Father Vavrina’s photo collection. Crossing Bridges is available online for single copy or bulk purchase at-

http://www.UpliftingPublishing.com

It is also available in black and white and Kindle ebook formats on Amazon.com.

Soon to be available in select bookstores. Watch for announcements about signings.

After the costs of publishing are subtracted, all proceeds from this book will be donated to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Omaha. It is Father’s sincere hope that others will read the stories and be inspired to serve their fellow man, either right next door or somewhere across the world.

From the book:
“The very first bridge I crossed was choosing to study for the priesthood, a decision that took me and everyone who knew me by surprise. Then came a series of bridges that once crossed brought me into contact with diverse peoples and their incredibly different yet similar needs.”

From Father Ken:
“I pray this account of my life is not a personal spectacle but a recounting of a most wonderful journey serving God. May its discoveries and experiences inspire your own life story of service.”

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPTS FROM

CROSSING BRIDGES: A PRIEST’S UPLIFTING LIFE AMONG THE DOWNTRODDEN

©2015 Kenneth Vavrina

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NOTE: Father Vavrina contracted malaria in Yemen and he’s dealt with malaria attacks ever since. He describes one in the book that ;anded him in the  hospital

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The cover for my new book with Father Ken Vavrina, “Crossing Bridges, A Priest’s Uplifiting Life Among the Downtrodden”


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Blank bookcover with clipping path

The cover for my new book with Father Ken Vavrina-

“Crossing Bridges, A Priest’s Uplifiting Life Among the Downtrodden”

Father Ken served diverse populations in need in America and in developing nations. His overseas work brought him in close relationship with Mother Teresa.

Look for future posts about where you can get your copies. All proceeds will be donated to Catholic organizations.

Coming Soon: A new book I wrote with Father Ken Vavrina, “Crossing Bridges,” the story of this beloved Omaha priest’s uplifitng life among the downtrodden

July 24, 2015 6 comments

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Blank bookcover with clipping path

COMING SOON A new book I wrote with Father Ken Vavrina-
“Crossing Bridges”

The story of this beloved Omaha priest’s uplifitng life among the downtrodden.

Look for future posts about where you can get your copies. All proceeds will be donated to Catholic organizations.

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