#BreakingNews Seminarian Brian Bergkamp Body disappears in River after saving a Life - Statement by Bishop
Bergkamp was a seminarian who disappeared while kayaking on the Arkansas River. Brian Bergkamp disappeared into the Arkansas River on Saturday morning while trying to save the life of another. “It was in his heart,” said Jan Haberly, director of the Lord’s Diner, where Bergkamp was an intern for the summer. “That was him. He put others first, he truly, truly did.”
As of Sunday, crews were still looking for the young man in the swollen waters of the Arkansas River. Bergkamp, 24, had been kayaking with four friends, a man and three women, Saturday morning on the Arkansas River when they hit churning water under the 21st Street Bridge. Police say one of the women fell into the water, and Bergkamp left his kayak to help her. The woman was able to reach safety, but the currents were too strong for Bergkamp, and he was swept under.
Now, friends and family are gathering to grieve, pray and remember the man who they say always strove to imitate Christ.
Jimmy Schibi got to know Bergkamp during the time they spent together in seminary. He called Bergkamp a “man of great faith.”
“He was never about himself, always looking to do something for others, never thinking of himself,” Schibi said.
“He was a really an inspiration to us in the seminary and really a man that you want to model yourself after.”
Bergkamp, the son of Ned and Theresa Bergkamp, grew up in Garden Plain as one of seven children. He attended one year at Benedictine College before deciding to enter Conception College Seminary in Missouri and become a Catholic priest. He was in Wichita for the summer after completing his second year of a four-year program.
As search efforts continue, friends, family and fellow seminarians will gather to comfort one another and pray. The Catholic Diocese will hold a daily vigil at 7 p.m. in St. Anne’s Church, 2801 S. Seneca, until Bergkamp’s body is recovered.
Schibi said he will remember his friend for his devotion to his friends and his faith.
“He gave up his life to be a priest, but before he could do that, he gave up his life for another,” Schibi said. “Probably one of the most selfless individuals that I’d ever met.”
Edited from Kansas.com STATEMENT from Bishop Kemme of Wichita:
Today I received word that one of our seminarians had a canoeing accident on the Arkansas River in Wichita. His name is Brian Bergkamp. Brian was to be a third year theologian at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland. Now, his rescue mission has been changed to a recovery mission. Brian is a quiet but dedicated man, whom I was honored to know and serve as his bishop. I want to ask for your prayers for his family who are facing the incredible pain of losing a son and brother. I also ask your prayers for our diocese who has lost a seminarian who demonstrated great promise for ministry in the Church. I am praying that he will intercede for all of us as we find the strength to move onward without him. God bless you Brian with eternal life and may the angels welcome you to your eternal home. Bishop Kemme