By Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — No great endeavor can succeed without great leadership, and the leadership given the archdiocesan capital campaign makes Lesle Knop proud.
“We want it to be successful, and I’m proud of the leadership of our archbishop and our clergy,” said Knop, executive director of the archdiocesan stewardship and development office.
In addition to his normal pastoral duties, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has devoted a tremendous amount of time and effort to make the “One Faith. One Family. One Future. . . in Christ” campaign a success, she said.
The campaign came out of the archbishop’s vision of the future.
“I just turned 69, which means in six more years I’ll be required to submit my resignation to the Holy Father,” said Archbishop Naumann.
“I was thinking a couple of years ago about some of the most important things we need to do to put the archdiocese in the best possible shape for the next archbishop,” he said, “and some of the things I would regret if we didn’t address them now.”
Those thoughts were the seeds of the effort that Archbishop Naumann will officially launch at 5:30 p.m. on June 25 when he hosts a campaign launch kickoff celebration in the Keleher Conference Center at Savior Pastoral Center, 12615 Parallel Pkwy., Kansas City, Kansas.
For the campaign, archdiocesan parishes have been organized into three blocks. The launch will be attended by pastors and volunteer lay leadership of the 31 parishes comprising Block 1.
“We’ll also invite members of the priests’ advisory committee, the archbishop will be there and some guest speakers,” said Mike Hutchinson, local campaign director. “It’s really a celebration for the pastors and the volunteers running the campaign in their parishes for Block 1.”
“It’s going to be a historic and fun event,” said Knop. “[Attendees] will pick up campaign material, signs and giveaway items for their parishes,” she said. “And it’s an opportunity to learn from others who are going through this same exciting time.”
Although the pastors have been fully briefed by the archbishop about “One Faith. One Family. One Future. . . in Christ,” many parishioners haven’t had that opportunity. This launch celebration will be a chance for the lay parish leaders to hear directly from the archbishop about his vision for the campaign — and the future of the archdiocese.
“A campaign is about relationships,” said Knop. “We are all part of the larger church in northeast Kansas. And we don’t want people to feel like they’re in isolation, that they’re doing this on their own.
“There are others who share the same experiences, and ask the same questions and want a successful outcome. They want to learn from others.”
The campaign’s goal is to raise $65 million in gifts that will be distributed in four categories:
- $22 million for parishes, schools and evangelization
- $17 million for priests’ retirement
- $10 million for serving the elderly, especially through Villa St. Francis nursing facility in Olathe
- $10 million for Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas
A participation incentive is an important part of the campaign. Parishes will keep 25 percent of the gifts raised up to their assigned target. Those funds can be used for whatever parish leadership determines to be its greatest need.
One need the campaign will address is dear to the hearts of many: care of our elderly priests. Some funds will be used to improve pensions, and some will be used to build and endow a shared retirement residence.
Father Al Rockers, now retired, would like to live in community with his peers and experience prayer, socialization and brotherhood.
“The benefit of a group is that: camaraderie, companionship,” said Father Rockers.
“It’s also attractive to seminarians,” said Msgr. Michael Mullen, co-director of seminarians for the archdiocese. “If they can see in a diocese there’s direction and support in the early years, guidance and fraternity in the middle years of service, and [care] as you approach retirement years, it’s very attractive.”
Also addressed in the campaign is one of the jewels of the archdiocese: Villa St. Francis in Olathe. The funds raised will be used for the purchase of the now-rented facility and do capital improvements.
“With the rise and expected boom of people turning 65 and even 80 over the next couple of decades, statistics show that almost three-quarters of us do at some point — whether it’s long term or short term — end up in a nursing facility,” said Rodney Whittington, administrator and CEO. “The necessity of Villa St. Francis is going to be ongoing, and the support for this ministry is critical.”
Although it may not seem obvious, the imperative for evangelization undergirds the campaign. A good example is what is planned for Savior Pastoral Center.
“This is the part that will enhance our ability to engage in evangelization,” said Tim Chik, director of the center. “We’re going to spend some of the money on improving our capacity, particularly in Hunkeler Hall.
“A redesign will allow more people to come on retreat, particularly adult overnight retreats for conferences and workshops to grow in their faith. This is what I feel is evangelization outreach.”
About 60,000 people a year utilize Savior Pastoral Center, and the vast majority are Catholics participating in church programs and activities.
It’s important for people to consider, even if they’ve never been there, that Savior Pastoral Center benefits every single Catholic in the archdiocese.
Pastors gather there for their prayer groups. Candidates to become permanent deacons and people in the Spiritual Mentorship Program receive formation at Savior.
There are many other groups and ministries that use Savior, too: Cursillo, Retrouvaille, Marriage Encounter, Engaged Encounter, Catholic Youth Organization, Kairos retreats — just to name a few.
“We are the behind-the-scenes people and rooms that take care of the people who serve everyone else,” said Chik. “If you think about it, a priest or deacon or spiritual mentor — every single one of those who go through their formation, we serve them. We’re the servants of the servants.”
The campaign is not only a chance to address extraordinary concerns and avoid burdening future generations of archdiocesan Catholics, it’s a chance to show gratitude.
“There’s a stewardship element of gratitude that permeates this entire campaign,” said Knop. “Trust in Jesus.
“At the end of the day . . . we’ll be grateful for our faith, grateful we gave and grateful for the others who have shared the journey with us.”