by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — If 2020 was the year of the pandemic, 2021 was the year of . . . “It ain’t over till it’s over,” as the late great Yogi Berra famously said.
Even as the church and the world struggled to get back to “normal,” the COVID-19 virus and its variants continued to vex.
Even so, life went on. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann ended the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation effective the weekend of June 5-6. Some parishes held “welcome back” activities.
Along with the universal church, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas began 2021 by celebrating the Year of St. Joseph and ended it by starting the synodality process here locally with a Mass on Oct. 24 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.
Nationally, Archbishop Naumann wrapped up his three-year term as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities at the USCCB fall general assembly from Nov. 15-18.
Meanwhile, locally, the archdiocese wrapped up its “One Faith. One Family. One Future . . . in Christ” capital campaign.
At the end of the year, retired Abbot Barnabas Senecal, OSB, of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, also died. He was known by many through his pastoral assignments, his teaching at Maur Hill-Mount Academy in Atchison and the many children he confirmed over the years.
Happily, the archdiocese also celebrated three priestly ordinations and two ordinations to the transitional diaconate.
The Leaven could document only a snapshot of archdiocesan life in its weekly 16 pages — all the social and religious activities, the sacraments, liturgies, evangelization, health care, education, charity, fundraising, personal milestones — in short, all the things that comprise the lives of Catholics here in northeastern Kansas.
Still, before we close the book on this memorable year, let’s take one last look back at the events and people that affected the lives of Catholics in northeast Kansas in 2021.
• John and Terry Gillcrist, members of Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park, were named honorary chairpersons of the 2021 Archbishop’s Call to Share appeal.
• Archdiocesan high school faculty and staff attended an “Enflame Our Schools” event on Jan. 4 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
• On Jan. 8, all 150 Benedictine Sisters and laypeople of the Mount St. Scholastica community and its long-term care facility, Atchison, received the first of their two-dose COVID-19 vaccinations.
• Craig and Karen Gaffney, members of Holy Angels Parish in Basehor, were presidents of the virtually held 47th annual Catholic Charities Snow Ball gala on Jan. 16.
• After a run of 27 years, the last Support Our Seminarians fundraising gala was held on Jan. 28 as a virtual event.
• Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrated the opening Mass on Jan. 28 for the annual National March for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. A livestreamed Mass with the bishops of Kansas was celebrated on Jan. 21 in Topeka, followed by a march to the state Capitol.
• Archdiocesan schools celebrated Catholic Schools Week Jan. 31-Feb. 6.
• Under the “metropolitan model” of Pope Francis’ new rules for dealing with abuse allegations “Vox estis lux mundi,” Archbishop Naumann was tasked with carrying out a canonical preliminary investigation of a complaint against Bishop John B. Brungardt of the Diocese of Dodge City.
• Katie Walters, a theology teacher and director of the community/house system at St. James Academy, Lenexa, received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Kansas Association of Independent and Religious Schools.
• Father John Reynolds, 58, who served as a priest for a little more than 30 years, died from Parkinson’s disease on Feb. 16 in hospice care in Kansas City, Missouri.
• Archbishop Naumann suppressed the male branch of the Apostles of the Interior Life, a Clerical Association of the Christian Faithful, effective Feb. 19, as requested by its members.
• More than 200 junior high youths gathered at Prairie Star Ranch on Feb. 28 for a youth rally sponsored by the archdiocesan office of youth evangelization.
• Burmese Catholics joined with others to protest a Feb. 1 military coup in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
• A U.S. government forensic team announced on March 4 that it had identified the remains of Father Emil Kapaun, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita who was an Army chaplain and died in a Chinese prisoner-of-war camp during the Korean War. In 1993, Father Kapaun had been named a “Servant of God” by the Catholic Church.
• Father Arul Carasala, pastor, presided on March 21 at a groundbreaking for a new parish rectory at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca.
• Senior Marcel Pryor and junior Sean McConnell, of Hayden High School in Topeka, won the Kansas Debate Classic and the Kansas State High School Activities Association 4A 2-Speaker state tournament, a feat Hayden hadn’t accomplished in 24 years.
• Sister Ann Albrecht, CSJ, leader of the archdiocesan deaf ministry from 1974 to 2001, was honored on March 19 upon her 75th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
• About 120 teens attended the Rural Catholic Youth Conference from March 27-28 at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg.
• Father Marc Tillia, 89, a former Trappist monk who became a missionary for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas in 1970, died on April 1 in São Gabriel, Brazil.
• Archbishop Naumann and Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor David Alvey received their COVID-19 vaccine shots on April 5 at the Unified Government’s Public Health Department’s vaccination site in the Kansas National Guard facility.
• The historic first cohort of 17 permanent deacons for the archdiocese who were ordained on April 9, 2011, observed their 10th anniversary.
• Sister Irene Nowell, OSB, of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, and Scott and Kimberly Hahn, renowned theologians and speakers, were awarded the Lumen Vitae medal of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison during the annual Abbot’s Table event on April 10.
• The annual Scouting Awards Mass was held at the Cathedral of St. Peter on April 18.
• Dr. Christopher Shingledecker, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Benedictine College in Atchison, was part of a group of scientists who discovered new molecules in interstellar space.
• A record-breaking $218,000 was raised for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas at the 40th Ben & Betty Zarda Family Golf Classic on May 10 at the Lake Quivira Country Club.
• Deacon Andrew Gaffney and Deacon Sudeep Kodigandla were ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 22 at St. Matthew Parish in Topeka.
• Mike Scherschligt, founder and director of the Holy Family School of Faith, led the 1,000th podcast rosary on May 23 at Fiorella’s Event Center in Overland Park.
• The archdiocesan vocations office sponsored a virtual Seminarian Trivia Night on May 26.
• Father Keith Chadwick, Father Luke Doyle and Father Thomas Maddock were ordained priests by Archbishop Naumann on May 29 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.
• The archdiocese announced the restructuring of three major archdiocesan-sponsored health care ministries under a new governance organization, the Northeast Kansas Catholic Healthcare Services, Inc. The three ministries were Catholic Community Hospice, Santa Marta senior living community in Olathe and Villa St. Francis in Olathe.
• The first-ever Catholic Youth Organization tennis camp, for youths aged kindergarten through eighth grade, was held June 1-3 at Genesis Health Club in Merriam.
• Archbishop Naumann ended the COVID pandemic-initiated dispensation from the Sunday obligation effective the weekend of June 5-6, the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).
• The Leaven won 12 national press awards at the virtual Catholic Media Conference from June 8-10.
• A severe thunderstorm damaged the church and parish hall at St. Boniface Parish in Scipio on June 11.
• Approximately 560 people from 37 dioceses and archdioceses — including eight archdiocesan parishes and one high school — attended the “Amazing Parish” conference June 21-23 at the Overland Park Convention Center.
• The archdiocesan pro-life and social justice offices co-sponsored “Pray — Reflect — Act for Religious Liberty,” a rally on June 26 at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park.
• The archdiocese wrapped up its “One Faith. One Family. One Future . . . in Christ” capital campaign, which generated $42.9 million in pledges with an additional $21.3 million raised by 11 parish co-campaigns.
• The 42nd annual Telly Awards recognized the video series “Hebrews: The New and Eternal Covenant,” featuring Andrew Swafford, an associate professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison.
• Howard and Lori Elliott, members of St. Ann Parish in Hiawatha, were honored as Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker by the Kansas State University Research Extension in Manhattan.
• Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, FSGM, was appointed archdiocesan delegate for religious and consecrated life.
• A Totus Tuus for people with special needs was held July 19-23 at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe.
• Archbishop Naumann issued a July 27 letter to the priests and deacons of the archdiocese concerning Pope Francis’ document, issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative), “Traditiones Custodes” (“Guardians of Tradition”), regarding the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal.
• Mike and Mary Ann Caffrey, and Robert and Elena Fallon, members of Church of the Nativity Parish in Leawood, were honored with the Echo of Kateri award on July 30 for their service to youth ministry and Prairie Star Ranch.
• Father Michael Hermes, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Olathe, was appointed to the new position of vicar for Hispanic ministry.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed and dedicated a new parish hall on July 31 for Mater Dei Parish in Topeka. The building is next to Holy Name Church.
• Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher celebrated his 90th birthday on July 31.
• About 200 people participated in the first Master’s Cup golf charity event and luncheon, sponsored by the archdiocesan vocations office and Johnson County Serra Club, on Aug. 2 at the Iron Horse Golf Club in Leawood.
• Josh Ruoff, a member of Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka, succeeded Tom Racunas as lead consultant for the archdiocesan special- needs ministry on Aug. 2.
• Archbishop Naumann led 21 archdiocesan seminarians on an Aug. 4-11 pilgrimage to shrines, churches and historic sites in the northeastern states.
• Archdiocesan Catholic school teachers began the school year for the first time with four all-teacher Masses Aug. 11 and 12 celebrated by Archbishop Naumann at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, and St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka celebrated its 75th anniversary on Aug. 15 with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Naumann.
• Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, formerly housed in a seven-story repurposed hospital, moved into its new academic building in late August.
• The archdiocesan office of the permanent diaconate held a series of information nights Sept. 1-Oct. 12 for the formation of a new cohort of aspirants.
• In recognition of his work promoting priestly vocations, Msgr. Michael Mullen was honored by having his name added to the Monsignor Thomas Culhane/Monsignor Mike Mullen Endowment. The endowment is used to benefit archdiocesan seminarians.
• A meditation garden at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa was dedicated to the memory of the late Father Tom Dolezal.
• Benedictine College in Atchison launched a new, strategic plan called “Transforming Culture in America” on Sept. 9.
• More than 300 people gathered on Sept. 9 for a block party and rosary, led by Archbishop Naumann, in the parking lot at Church of the Nativity in Leawood.
• Archbishop Naumann celebrated a Mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Legion of Mary on Sept. 10 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at a Mass on Sept. 12 celebrating the 150th anniversary of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Burlington. Concelebrants included parochial administrator Father John Samineni, and Father Earl Dekat, Father Mike Hawken, Father Francis Hund and Father Quentin Schmitz. Father Anthony Saiki was master of ceremonies.
• Pastors and parishioners in the Nemaha-Marshall pastoral region gathered at St. Bede Parish in Kelly on Sept. 18 for a Day of Prayer and Reflection.
• The retreat center Sanctuary of Hope, which operated in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas, for 25 years, held its last retreat on Sept. 18. The facility will be converted to other uses.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed and dedicated on Sept. 21 the new parish hall of Holy Family Parish in Alma.
• Catholic school teachers and staff from across the archdiocese were honored for their work during the 2020 pandemic on Sept. 23 at a brunch hosted by the Catholic Education Foundation at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
• The Youth Catechism in American Sign Language became available, thanks in part to the leadership of Katie Locus, consultant for the archdiocesan deaf ministry.
• Archdiocesan Catholics traveled to Hartman Arena in Wichita for the funeral Mass on Sept. 29 of Servant of God Father Emil Kapaun, a U.S. Army chaplain who died in captivity during the Korean War.
• The construction of the new Kapaun Priests’ House at Prairie Star Ranch near Williamsburg was completed in September.
• Archdiocesan parishes and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas began collecting items to help resettle Afghan refugees.
• Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, celebrated Mass on Oct. 3 to bless and commemorate a rare organ installed at Holy Angels Parish in Basehor.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed and dedicated a 4D-imaging ultrasound on Oct. 9, a gift of the Knights of Columbus, at the Kansas City Pregnancy Clinic in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Father Pete O’Sullivan, 65, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Paola, died on Oct. 9 while in hospice care in Kansas City, Missouri.
• Sacred Heart Parish in Sabetha held a “Hope Arising” event on Oct. 10 as a welcome back and invitation to parishioners to resume participation in parish life.
• Father Ramiro Sanchez Chan, CS, assumed the duties of director of Hispanic ministry for the archdiocese on Oct. 11.
• Priests from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, took a 4-3 lead in the Pitching for Priests series when they defeated the priests of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas on Oct. 15 at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas.
• The Holy Family School of Faith hosted an outdoor youth rosary on Oct. 17 at Fiorella’s Event Center in Overland Park.
• The Catholic Education Foundation gave the Michael and Patty Morrisey Angels Among Us award to all the Catholic school teachers of the archdiocese at the annual Gaudeamus gala on Oct. 23 at the Overland Park Convention Center. St. Patrick School in Kansas City, Kansas, received the Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann CEF School of Excellence Award. The gala raised $2,437,387 for scholarships.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed and dedicated the new offices of Catholic Community Hospice in Lenexa on Nov. 1.
• The Archbishop’s Call to Share raised more than $6.3 million for more than 40 ministries and programs, thanks to the generosity of 13,966 parishioners, including 1,965 Crosier Society members.
• Archbishop Naumann celebrated a memorial Mass and 50th anniversary celebration on Nov. 10 for the Serra Club of Kansas City, Kansas, at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee.
• Pat and Mel McAnany, members of St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee, and Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, were given the Deo Gratias award on Nov. 11 at an annual dinner sponsored by the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas at Savior Pastoral Center.
• Msgr. Stuart Swetland was the celebrant and homilist for the first regional Gold Mass for scientists on Nov. 16 at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison.
• Youth from the archdiocese attended the National Catholic Youth Conference from Nov. 18-20, in Indianapolis.
• Jerry Tuckwin, a Prairie Band Potawatomi and member of the Haskell University Catholic Campus Center permanent community in Lawrence, was presented the Duchesne Award on Nov. 21 at Sacred Heart Parish and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Shrine in Mound City.
• Retired Abbot Barnabas Senecal, OSB, the eighth abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison and longtime educator, died on Dec. 7 at the abbey. He also served at five archdiocesan parishes.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed two ultrasound machines on Dec. 8 at the Advice & Aid Pregnancy Center in Overland Park.
• Archdiocesan parishes held Holy Hours on Dec. 12 in thanksgiving for Archbishop Naumann’s three years of service as chairperson of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities; in prayer for his successor Archbishop William Lori and for the unborn and their mothers; and for the success of the “Value Them Both” amendment to the Kansas Constitution.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at the Catholic Education Foundation Mass and dinner for parents of scholarship recipients on Dec. 13 at his residence.
• Archbishop Naumann presided at the annual seminarian vespers and dinner on Dec. 28 at his residence.
• Father Thomas Ambrose Kearns, 87, died on Dec. 16 at Villa St. Francis Care Center in Olathe. He was a priest of the archdiocese for 61 years.