by Joe Bollig
OLATHE — Unity and community greeted Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann when he made a pastoral visit to St. Paul Parish here on April 2.
Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at two Masses — the 10 a.m. Mass in English, which was also signed for parishioners who are deaf, and the 12:30 p.m. Mass in Spanish. Pastor Father Michael Hermes concelebrated with the archbishop.
The three languages used — Spanish, English and American Sign Language — were a demonstration of the diversity of St. Paul Parish, as well as its unity, something Archbishop Naumann later noted.
In the time between Masses, the archbishop had an opportunity to hear several brief presentations at a “working lunch” covering various aspects of parish life.
The presentations treated the parish’s efforts at evangelization and formation, works of mercy, faith and community, religious education and family formation, deaf ministry, finance and the capital campaign to build a new parish campus at 115th Terr. and Lone Elm Road in Olathe.
“I hope we didn’t throw too much at you, kind of feeding you with a fire hose this morning,” parish council member Jim Boldt told the archbishop.
The chief themes in the parish leadership’s presentations were parish vitality and growth — both current and projected.
Currently, there are 2,148 registered families in the parish. With the construction of the new parish facility in a growing area, the parish is projected to grow to an estimated 3,600 families in 10 years.
The various phases of the new parish site were also reviewed, with Mass in a multipurpose area until the church is built in Phase Three.
In his concluding remarks, Archbishop Naumann thanked the parish leaders and Father Hermes for their hard work and many accomplishments.
“It’s been a very educational meeting, and this . . . is exactly what I was hoping for — more than me talking to you, but a report from you on how the pastoral priorities are being looked at and the unique challenges St. Paul faces,” said Archbishop Naumann.
“Moving a parish is much harder than starting a parish,” he added. “I know it’s a big challenge you face, and there has to be a lot of coordination and timing.
“We’re grateful to Father Michael for his leadership,” the archbishop continued. “I know he would be the first to admit that it would be impossible to do without a great team of people around him, and I’m impressed with the progress you’ve made.”
The archbishop specifically noted the vitality and growth of the parish and the school.
“It was impressive during the Rite of Election to see the large delegation from St. Paul,” he said.
Evangelization is the highest priority of the archdiocese, and St. Paul Parish does well in this area.
“Your numbers would indicate the work you’re doing intentionally on that,” he said. “As a whole church, we need to get better at that. We always have to be working on the mission Jesus gave us, which isn’t to maintain and preserve but to go out and make disciples.
“[Because] an important part of that is to be a welcoming parish, it’s nice to hear that emphasis you’ve put on it. If someone does come to St. Paul Parish, they are acknowledged and welcomed.”
At the conclusion of the presentations, Boldt presented Archbishop Naumann with a magazine featuring a cover photo of “Stan the Man” Musial, autographed by the player.
Musial, who played baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals, also played briefly with Archbishop Naumann’s father.