by Megan Marley
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The young adult Catholic community of the Kansas City metro and lay apostolate Holy Family School of Faith are joining forces: An agreement signed early this September will put the community’s outreach and leadership formation under the direction of the School of Faith.
“We both have the same vision on how to go about evangelizing and growing the kingdom,” said Father Andrew Mattingly, director of the young adult community.
City on a Hill is the Kansas City area young adult apostolate of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph that exists “to be the community that inspires our generation to be saints.”
Its small groups, fun events, sports, mission trips/pilgrimages, retreats, spiritual direction, and faith and leadership formation involve over 1,500 adults from both sides of the Missouri/Kansas state line. That’s a lot for a staff of 1.5 people.
Holy Family School of Faith’s mission is similar: to instill the faith in all people through the deepening of individuals’ prayer lives, relationship with Christ and meaningful friendships, and then inspiring and equipping them to invite others to do the same.
The School of Faith, based in Overland Park, currently forms over 10,000 annually through a variety of evangelization and faith-formation courses, pilgrimages, media and leader mentorship that would also benefit the young adult community.
“It’s a tough group for us to break into because we’re in the ’burbs and parishes,” said Troy Hinkel, vice president and executive director of mission for the School of Faith. “[This agreement] is going to — for the first time — give us explicit and direct access to the age group we’ve always wanted.”
Father Mattingly said there will be no immediate changes with how City on a Hill is organized. The partnership is mostly to create a better way to form lay leadership in faith and disciple- making . . . and to do it faster and on a larger scale.
“The merger enables us to expand our staff and resources [which] we desperately need,” he said.
Merging is no small feat for either organization: the young adult Catholic community is one of the largest in the nation, and there are over 250,000 young adults in the Kansas City metro area.
“We’ve got to adjust our infrastructure to reach this many people — money, personnel support, operations, et cetera,” Hinkel said.
According to the agreement, three associate directors — for communications and marketing, leadership formation and development, and apostolic development — will be hired by School of Faith to assist the director in running City on a Hill, along with appropriate support teams.
The diocese has rights to appoint a chaplain for the community, and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas can also assign a co-chaplain. The diocese will contribute a set amount each year for the running of City on a Hill and director and chaplain salaries, while the archdiocese is responsible for any co-chaplain’s salary. The School of Faith fundraises for all other expenses.
Father Mattingly currently serves as both director and chaplain and maintains independent diocesan directorship of college campus ministries and any young adult initiatives outside the metro area.
“For now, I’ll remain the director. Once I get reassigned away, at that point it’ll be under the direct oversight of Mike Scherschligt (CEO/president and founder of the School of Faith),” he said.
The School of Faith CEO and the diocese could then elevate one of the associate directors to the director role or form a selection committee for the City on a Hill director position.
Father Mattingly is confident that even after he’s gone, the School of Faith will continue developing the community and lay leadership in the same vein as he did.
“These young adult leaders in our community now have enough of a baseline common language to talk about what it means to live mission — and equipping them with various tools to carry out the mission. That’s where School of Faith will help us abundantly,” he said.
An associate director of apostolic development has already been selected to focus on external outreach in the metro area: Dain Finney, former director of the John Paul II Commons Newman Center at UMKC, young adult and member of the diocesan visioning team.
She’ll visit parishes on both sides of the state line and nearby college campus ministries to raise awareness of and connect young adults with the Catholic young adult community and help community leaders — both those in official positions and those in day-to-day life apostolate.
“There are already infrastructures in place within City on a Hill, much like the early church. It’s just people — the leaven of the laity. . . . They don’t get paid. They’re just commissioned disciples and want [Jesus] to be known,” Finney said.
“For the first little bit here,” she continued, “I’m going to learn what they’re doing, know their names, know their hearts, support them in whatever way I can.”
The current young adult office manager, Lilly Tighe, will also continue serving City on a Hill in a new role as project manager.
“We’re just excited to look at the people of this city as one — not two separate dioceses, [but] as a whole community,” Hinkel concluded.
For more information on City on a Hill, visit the website at: kansascity onahill.org. For more information on the School of Faith, visit the website at: schooloffaith.com.