Column: Close friend of the pope to speak in Atchison

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

At our Priests’ Council meeting this past week, our pastors were overjoyed and amazed at the generosity of their parishioners in response to the appeal to assist the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Your donations go to Catholic Relief Services, the organization established by the Catholic Church in the United States to help bring the love of Jesus to victims of international disasters, as well as to attend to the basic needs of food, shelter and health care for the poor in the poorest nations of the world. Catholic Relief Services, thanks to you, already had 300 staff members working in Haiti, helping improve the lives of the people of the poorest of nations in the Western Hemisphere. On behalf of the people of Haiti, thank you for your generosity.

I continue to be amazed at the goodness and generosity of the people of the Archdiocese and Greater Kansas City metropolitan area. At the same time, I am just as grateful for the remarkable way in which the Lord continues to bless abundantly our Archdiocese.

One event that illustrates God’s remarkable blessing to our local church is the visit this weekend of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, Austria. His Eminence, Cardinal Schönborn, is one of the most respected bishops in the world. Before becoming a bishop, the late Pope John Paul II appointed then Father Schönborn, to be the editing secretary for the pontifical commission charged with drafting “The Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Cardinal Schönborn was a student of Pope Benedict XVI when the Holy Father was a theology professor at Regensburg, Germany. He remains a close friend and collaborator with Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Schönborn is coming to the Archdiocese because of his friendship with the Little Sisters of the Lamb, who made their first foundation in the United States here in Kansas City, Kan., just one and a half years ago. Two weeks ago, The Leaven did a front page article about the Little Sisters of the Lamb and the monastery that they are striving to build at the site of the former St. Benedict Church in Kansas City, Kan. Cardinal Schönborn became a friend of Little Sister Marie, the foundress of the Community of the Lamb, when they both were theology students in Paris in the late 1960s.

When the Little Sisters of the Lamb arrived in Kansas City in the spring of 2008, Cardinal Schönborn called me to thank me for inviting the Little Sisters to the Archdiocese and he assured me that they would be a great blessing to our community. The cardinal told me he hoped to be able to come and visit the Little Sisters in Kansas City some day. When Cardinal Schönborn is in Rome, he often stays at the convent of the Little Sisters of the Lamb, relishing the opportunity to share in the simplicity and prayerfulness of their lives.

The Little Sisters of the Lamb also have a convent in Vienna, where the cardinal visits regularly to celebrate Mass and pray with the Sisters. I did not know, until recently, some of the Little Sisters, who had been serving in the Vienna convent, are among the Little Sisters now serving in Kansas City. I hope the cardinal does not hold this against me!

Cardinal Schönborn, during his brief visit to Kansas City, agreed to celebrate a noon Mass on Jan. 31 and give a 2:30 p.m. lecture at Benedictine College
in Atchison that is open to the public. The Little Sisters of the Lamb will lead the singing at the Mass in St. Benedict Abbey Church. Cardinal Schönborn’s lecture is entitled: “Benedict XVI, Regensburg, and the Controversy of Creation and Evolution.”

This past year, Cardinal Schönborn was one of the presenters for an international retreat for priests sponsored by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy as part of the celebration of this special year for priests. On Sunday evening, Cardinal Schönborn will preside and preach at a vespers service for our priests and priests of surrounding dioceses.

I believe, because of the generosity, goodness and faithfulness of the people of the Archdiocese, the Lord is spiritually blessing us in so many ways. We are so blessed to have: 1) a record number (at least for recent years)
of 27 seminarians; 2) in addition to women’s religious communities that have served for many years (Sisters of Charity, Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, the Ursuline Sisters, the Sisters, Servants of Mary, etc.), three new communities have come in recent years (the Apostles of the Interior Life, the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George and now the Little Sisters of the Lamb); and 3) many remarkable faith formation opportunities for our laity, such as Benedictine College’s School of Faith classes, Christ Renews His Parish retreats, the Light of the World retreats, That Man Is You program, Men of Valor and Women of Virtue conferences, the Men Under Construction conference, Cursillo, the National Catholic Youth Conference, Prairie Star Ranch and its many camp programs, to name only a few.

I hope many of you will be able to come to Atchison on Sunday to participate in Mass celebrated by Cardinal Schönborn and/or to attend his afternoon lecture. It will be a unique and special opportunity for the people of the Archdiocese to hear from one of the great intellects and great pastors of the Catholic Church. We give thanks to God’s providence for bringing the Little Sisters of the Lamb to our Archdiocese. We are blessed by their prayerful and joyful witness of following Jesus with such purity and passion. We are blessed twice by the opportunity to meet their beloved friend, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

The Scriptures tell us that God will not be outdone in generosity. Cardinal Schönborn’s visit is just one more manifestation of this truth for our Archdiocese.

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