by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The chief shepherd was out sharing his take on “The Big Picture” in the archdiocese Feb. 9 when Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann met with Hispanic ministry leaders at Our Lady of Unity Parish in here.
Our Lady of Unity pastor Father Kent O’Connor and associate pastor Father Oscar Garavito had invited the archbishop to visit with parishioners about the 10-year mutually shared vision for the archdiocese promulgated last fall.
Copies of the plan — in Spanish — were passed out to the more than 160 people who attended, and Father O’Connor and Father Garavito started off the evening with some introductory remarks.
Father Gianantonio “Johnny” Baggio, CS, who serves as animator of Hispanic ministry for the archdiocese, also spoke and interpreted for the archbishop during the Q&A.
In his presentation, given in the sanctuary of St. John the Evangelist Church in Kansas City, Kansas, Archbishop Naumann spoke about being the leader of the archdiocese for more than 11 years.
“Last year, during the tenth anniversary of me coming here, I thought it an important moment to reflect over what had happened over the past 10 years,” he said.
He was grateful for all the great things that have happened, especially with Hispanic ministry. He realized that he had 10 more years to go before he’d be required to submit his resignation to the pope, so he decided the archdiocese needed to develop a plan for that time.
“I wanted to ask the question: ‘What are the most important things we can do to strengthen the life of the church in the archdiocese?’” said Archbishop Naumann.
After much consultation with the people of the archdiocese, pastors and parish and ministry leaders, the 10-year mutually shared vision was formulated.
Central to that plan is the mission statement: The Catholic Church in northeast Kansas: Growing as disciples of Jesus; making disciples for Jesus.
“I hope that everyone in the archdiocese will commit that short mission statement to memory,” said the archbishop.
Additionally, the mutually shared vision has three key initiatives, which the archbishop called “super priorities.”
The first super priority is “building a culture of evangelization across the archdiocese.”
Evangelization is simply sharing the good news of the Gospel, said Archbishop Naumann. To do this is a source of great joy. To evangelize is to share God’s love.
“There’s nothing that can make our hearts happier than having brought another person to know Jesus and for them to have his love,” said Archbishop Naumann.
In another year or two, the archdiocese will give parishes benchmarks to help them think about how to become evangelizing parishes.
“We want to identify certain parishes in every region of the archdiocese and help them develop this idea of being an evangelizing parish,” said Archbishop Naumann. “We would like to have a Spanish-speaking parish do this, maybe Our Lady of Unity.”
The second super priority is “strengthen the vocation of marriage and family life.”
“Everything depends on the family,” said the archbishop. “Our neighborhoods, our community, our country and our church depend on having strong families.”
Also as part of this priority, the archbishop wants the church to help parents fulfill their vital vocation of being the first teachers of the Christian faith to their children.
“I think parents take [the child’s baptismal commitment] seriously, but they don’t know how to be the first teachers of their children,” said the archbishop.
“I think our English-speaking community could learn from the Spanish- speaking community in this area,” he continued. “I like how in the Spanish- speaking community there is family catechesis, where the family gathers together to learn the faith.”
The archdiocese would like to develop resources and tools to help parents pass on the faith to their children. The archbishop would also like to see more Spanish-speaking children in Catholic schools.
The third super priority is “cultivate relationships by engaging in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”
“Pope Francis speaks all the time about how the church needs go to the peripheries, the church needs to go outside of the church to bring Christ’s love and to find Christ,” he said. “We don’t just go to serve others, but to discover Jesus in those we encounter.”
The pope has asked all Catholics to more fully live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy during this jubilee Year of Mercy. Parishes are being asked to do this in a more intentional way.
“We’ve asked the pastors [to meet] with their parish councils and by Easter to decide what they’re going to do either new or recommit to something that they are already doing,” said the archbishop.
He also said that in two years the plan will be revisited, with the possibility of adding new super priorities.
After his presentation, Archbishop Naumann opened the floor to take questions. A reception was held later in the parish hall.