Kansas Seminarian Missing After Rescuing Woman in Arkansas River
Diocese of Wichita offers prayers for Brian Bergkamp, 24.
WICHITA, Kan. — The Diocese of Wichita, Kan., is offering prayers for a seminarian who is missing after rescuing a woman in the Arkansas River on Saturday.
Brian Bergkamp, 24, had finished his second year at seminary. He was scheduled to be ordained a priest in 2018.
The seminarian was kayaking with four friends July 9 on the Arkansas River. They hit rough water, and one of the women in the group fell out of her kayak.
Bergkamp plunged in after the woman and was able to help her reach safety, but he was then pulled under by the strong current, according to officials.
Search crews are still looking for the missing seminarian, and prayer services are being held every evening at St. Anne Catholic Church in Wichita until he is found.
Those who knew the seminarian described him as selfless and said they were not surprised by his act of self-sacrifice to save the life of another.
“He would go out of his way to help someone and forget about his own, probably, self in the process. So what he did was a very natural thing for him,” Mount St. Mary’s University’s vice rector, Father Kenneth Brighenti, told KSN News.
“He said he just had a desire to help people, to save people. He thought about being a fireman or a paramedic or a policeman, but decided the priesthood was what he wanted to do,” added Jan Haberly, director at Lord’s Diner, which serves meals to those in need. Bergkamp had been an intern at the diner this summer.
Fellow seminarian Jimmy Schibi described Bergkamp as deeply faithful and generous.
“He was never about himself, always looking to do something for others, never thinking of himself,” Schibi told The Wichita Eagle. “He cared. He totally cared about each little individual job he was doing.”
“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.”