by Joseph F. Naumann
On May 23, it will be a joy and a privilege to ordain four new priests for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
All four are graduates of the University of Kansas and benefited from the formation received at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center. It is a big day for the Catholic Jayhawk nation!
These four new priests, coupled with the ordinations of several other priests in recent years, are helping to renew and modify the demographics of our presbyterate. Still, I do not believe we have realized our full potential regarding priestly vocations.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph will ordain nine new priests this year. The dioceses of Wichita and Lincoln each have approximately double the number of our seminarians. All three of these dioceses have a significantly smaller Catholic population than we do.
It is inconceivable to me that the Lord is calling fewer men to the priesthood in northeast Kansas than he is in Kansas City, Missouri, or in Wichita, or in Lincoln, Nebraska! We need to continue to encourage, promote and pray for more priestly vocations.
Of course, more important than the numbers being ordained to the priesthood is the quality of the men. Hopefully, you have had the opportunity to read the Leaven articles about our newly ordained. They possess impressive gifts and talents that will enrich the life of the church. Most importantly, they are men of deep faith with a great love for the Lord and his bride, the church.
This past Saturday, I ordained Samuel Miloscia a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, who — God-willing — will be ordained a priest next year around this time. Deacon Samuel is from St. Louis. I knew his family, in part because some years ago his father had run unsuccessfully for Congress. Sam’s father, Steve Miloscia, is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a retired Air Force pilot.
Steve Miloscia and his remarkable wife Beverly have 12 children. One of Sam’s brothers, David, will be ordained a priest in St. Louis on May 23. Sam has another brother in seminary formation.
I met with Sam the day before the ordination. He told me that his parents taught him and his siblings that the most important event every week for their family was Sunday Mass. Sam said that his earliest recollection was at the age of 4 kneeling next to his father at Mass. When the priest raised the Eucharist before the distribution of holy Communion, Sam’s father pointed to the Blessed Sacrament and said: “Son, that is Jesus. Jesus is truly making himself present to us. That’s Jesus!”
Most often, priestly vocations are the fruit of a family where parents took seriously their vocation as being the first teachers in the ways of the faith. It is not surprising that in a family where the Eucharist was so highly esteemed that there would be multiple priestly vocations. Helping children develop a love for the Eucharist is the greatest gift parents can give their children.
Sometimes in my confirmation homily I ask: What is the reason to go to Mass every Sunday? It is not because the homilies are always informative and inspirational. It is not because the music is beautiful and fits our taste. It is not because we like the other people at Mass and they are perfect examples of living the Christian life. Certainly, these are all helpful accessories that can enrich our experience of the Eucharist, but these do not get to the heart of why the Eucharist is so important to us.
In the Ten Commandments, God required the people of Israel to make one day a day of rest and a day of prayer. God asked this of his people not because he needed their prayers. God required this of his chosen people because he knew that they needed a day of rest and a day of prayer.
Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper to do “this” in his memory. The “this” Our Lord was talking about is what the first disciples called the “breaking of the bread” and what we call today the Eucharist or the Mass. Jesus promised that he would make himself uniquely present to his people through this sacrament. For the Christians from the earliest times, the heart of keeping the Lord’s Day holy was participating in the Eucharist.
The God who has created the universe, who gave us life as well as all our talents and abilities, who gave us our families, friends and every other blessing in our lives, asks us to give him one hour a week. Is this really too much to ask of us? The real reason to go to Mass every Sunday is because this is what Jesus asks us to do.
If we go to Mass and enter into the liturgy with all our hearts, if we give God our full attention during this one hour, the reality is that God will give us so much more than this small gift of our time that we give to him. Parents, if you want to do your children a great favor, teach them that Sunday Mass is the most important event each week. Teach them this in words, but more importantly, teach them this by your example. In doing this, you will give them a great gift that will help to nourish and sustain them for a lifetime.
Each year, on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Archdiocese of Kansas City and the Diocese of Kansas-St. Joseph sponsor a joint eucharistic celebration. This year, the solemnity of Corpus Christi is on Sunday, June 7, and our inter-diocesan celebration will be at the Little Sisters of the Lamb Lumen Christi Monastery at 36 S. Boeke in Kansas City, Kansas.
The celebration will begin with a noon outdoor Mass. A Holy Hour will follow, beginning at 1 p.m. and will conclude with a 2 p.m. eucharistic procession through the surrounding neighborhood. After the concluding Benediction, we will enjoy an ice cream social at the Little Monastery.
Every Catholic in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri is invited to participate in all or part of what will be a beautiful celebration of the solemnity of Corpus Christi. Not fair, just coming for the ice cream social! Parents, bringing your entire family to the Corpus Christi celebration is a wonderful opportunity to teach your children to make the Eucharist the most important event of every week.