The tale of two feasts
by Archbishop Joseph Naumann
Dear Friends in Christ,
This past Sunday was the Epiphany, the feast recalling the mysterious Magi who left everything that was familiar in order to search for the One whose birth was revealed by the appearance of a new star. Eventually, they were led to Bethlehem and were able to recognize in Mary’s baby all that they were seeking. The Wise Men present gifts to Jesus symbolizing his divinity (frankincense), his humanity (myrrh) and his royal dignity (gold).
This coming Sunday we celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River. Jesus did not need baptism as we do. Instead, Jesus was beckoning us to follow him into the waters made sacred and life-giving by Our Lord. The baptism of Jesus was the inauguration of his public ministry. It was the occasion for the revelation of his identity — God in human flesh, beloved Son of the Father, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity.
Through our baptism, we were liberated from sin and given a share in the life of Jesus. In baptism, we became beloved daughters and sons of our heavenly Father. Our baptism is the most important day in our life. Nothing the world can offer us can compare with life with God, the eternal destiny we were given through the waters of baptism.
Confirmation completes our initiation into the life of the Trinity. In confirmation, the Holy Spirit descends upon us just as he came to the apostles at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit empowers us with the tools to follow Jesus and to be his witnesses in the world.
Gratitude – the natural response to God’s goodness
The fundamental starting point for the Catholic worldview is gratitude. We see all life as a gift. To be given a share in divine life through baptism is the most incredible gift. Our birth and our baptism can only be understood as pure gift. We are not owed life in this world and we certainly are not entitled a share in the divine and eternal life of Jesus.
Properly understood, our response to our birth and baptism can only be profound gratitude that must express itself in a fervent desire to share generously the gifts that have been entrusted to us. A well-formed Catholic does not grasp desperately the abundant gifts God has provided, but instead is seeking opportunities to bring the love of Jesus to others and to bring others to Jesus.
This past year, after extensive consultation with the priests, deacons, religious and laity, a vision was developed for the next 10 years for our archdiocese. As part of the visioning process, a concise mission statement was developed: Growing as Disciples of Jesus; Making Disciples for Jesus. I hope every member of the archdiocese will memorize those two simple phrases, because they provide a succinct description of the mission of the Catholic Church in northeast Kansas.
We always have to be deepening our relationship with Jesus. Like any significant friendship, our relationship with Our Lord cannot remain stagnant. In our increasingly secular culture, if we are not growing closer to Jesus and his church, then we are at high risk for having our faith stolen from us.
Jesus, however, did not commission his disciples simply to just keep the faith, but to go and make disciples of all nations. The Christian family is an essential component of how the church strives to fulfill Our Lord’s command. The family is the environment for the formation of the next generation of disciples.
At the same time, the church’s evangelization efforts cannot be confined to the family. We are called as individuals as well as a community of believers to live in such a way that others desire the One who animates our lives. We should be eager and generous in sharing with others Jesus, who is the source of our hope, our joy and our power to love.
Financial report highlights
This year’s financial report reveals how Catholics in northeast Kansas are striving to live grateful and generous lives of service. Once again, I am amazed by the generosity of the people of the archdiocese.
This year’s report is organized according to our five pastoral priorities: 1) conversion; 2) evangelization; 3) catechesis and Catholic education; 4) serving those in need; and 5) cultivating a spirituality of stewardship. These priorities provide a framework for understanding the essential elements of the church’s life. Each expense line item is grouped under the pastoral priority that is most significantly impacted by this portion of our annual budget.
For example, because our priests and deacons are so critical in their administration of sacraments and preaching, they provide many of the opportunities for Catholics to encounter Jesus. Similarly, Savior of the World Pastoral Center hosts retreats, Cursillos, the Spiritual Mentorship Program, diaconate formation, etc., that provide opportunities for individuals and groups to encounter the Lord in both beautiful and powerful ways. Thus, these expenses are grouped under the pastoral priority of conversion.
Similarly, one of our largest expense items results from the insurance and employee benefit program administered by the archdiocese as a service to our parishes, schools and ministries. The archdiocese also provides legal counsel, internal auditing, human resource services, safe environment programs to protect our children, and construction and facility maintenance guidance to our parishes and ministries. With economies of scale, we can manage these more efficiently and effectively than an isolated parish or ministry could do on its own. Thus, these services are categorized under stewardship.
The report is also organized according to the streams of income that fund the central operations of the archdiocese. It identifies the source for funding for each ministry and service. One the significant income sources is the cathedraticum, an annual assessment provided for in canon law in which each parish is obligated to pay a fair portion of the cost for the central operations of the archdiocese.
The bigger picture
It is important to note that this report does not include the income and expenses for parishes, elementary and secondary schools, Donnelly College, Catholic Charities, the Catholic Education Foundation, national collections, etc. While the pie charts show the percentage of expenses of the central administration dedicated to each pastoral priority, this does not represent all the resources the Catholic community of northeast Kansas is devoting to these areas.
For instance, Call to Share funds the operational expenses for the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) so that every donation given directly to CEF funds scholarship grants. Similarly, Call to Share makes a significant, undesignated grant to Catholic Charities each year that can be devoted to funding essential overhead costs.
It is important to note that our ministries leverage the support from Call to Share in order to do so much more in the areas of conversion, evangelization, education and serving those in need. Also, a large portion of parish revenues, none of which are included in the report, are devoted to religious education in all its forms. Similarly, parishes dedicate a significant portion of their budgets to worship, the sacramental life, youth ministry, retreat experiences, etc. All of these parochial ministries and activities significantly contribute to implementation of all of our pastoral priorities.
A sidebar does provide the dollar amounts for the services Catholic Charities provides to the poor, as well the scholarship grants provided by CEF. The sidebar also contains the level of contributions made by the people of the archdiocese to the Peter’s Pence collection (the pope’s charitable fund), Propagation of the Faith (support for the church’s missionary activity throughout the world) and the other national collections. None of these dollar amounts are reflected in the pie charts.
Incredible generosity of the Catholic community
As I look at the overall financial picture of the church of northeast Kansas, I am amazed and edified at the generosity of so many parishioners. There is no other church community or service organization that comes close to matching the charitable and educational services provided by the Catholic community of northeast Kansas.
For example, thanks to 170 donors participating in a multi-year effort, the private appeal for Catholic high schools reached its $14 million goal by Dec. 31, 2015. Catholic Charities Snow Ball, for the second consecutive year, raised more than $2 million, making it again one of the most successful charitable events in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Call to Share 2015 raised almost $6 million. These are remarkable accomplishments and are tangible expressions of the stewardship and generosity of the Catholic community.
Present and future challenges
Nevertheless, there is more that we need to do and can do. We would like to make the love of Jesus tangible by assisting more people not only address immediate needs, but to break out of the cycle of poverty. Even with all the scholarship money we are already providing, there are several hundred children and youth prevented from attending our Catholic schools because of a lack of financial resources.
The No. 1 priority that emerged from our visioning process was to do more to create a culture of evangelization in all of our parishes and institutions. To accomplish this goal, we need to devote more resources to this essential aspect of the church’s life. In part, this will involve the reallocation of existing resources. However, with your generous support, I hope we can accomplish this without diminishing the assistance we provide to other critical charitable and pastoral ministries.
Due to a tepid economy and therefore changing investment assumptions, we have lost ground in our efforts to fund fully our priest retirement program. Moreover, several priests have expressed a desire to have a priests’ retirement independent living residence, where retired priests would have the opportunity to pray together and to enjoy the fraternity of brother priests.
We need to make Savior Pastoral Center accessible to individuals with disabilities. Originally built to be a high school seminary, the architects never considered the challenge for those in wheelchairs to negotiate the various levels of the campus. Donnelly College needs either to do an extensive renovation of its current facility or relocate to another site in the eastern portion of Wyandotte County.
These are just a few of the challenges that we face. In addition, every archdiocesan ministry recognizes opportunities to be able to serve more individuals better, if additional resources were available. My commitment to you is that every dollar you sacrifice to donate to the church will be used carefully and wisely to have the biggest impact in bringing the love of Jesus Christ and the hope of his Gospel to the greatest number of people.
Finally, many individuals today are seeking, whether consciously or not, the same Christ born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. It is our privilege and our responsibility to help make the love of Jesus real and alive in the world today. We are called to live in such a way not to draw others to ourselves, but to Jesus Christ who animates all that we do.
Thank you for your generosity this past year. Like the Magi, you have recognized God in the flesh, Christ the king. Like the Wise Men, you do not come empty-handed, but eager and generous in your desire to share what God has entrusted to you to help others experience his love and to provide them with the opportunity to share in Our Lord’s divine life through the waters of baptism. In this new year, may we together: Grow as Disciples of Jesus and Make Disciples for Jesus.
Gratefully yours in Jesus, the Lord of Life,
+ Joseph F. Naumann
Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas