Column: Youth assessment’s first fruits are impressive indeed

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

I was very proud to be in Washington, D.C., last week with hundreds of primarily young people from the archdiocese, participating in the annual March for Life.

As was reported in last week’s Leaven, Benedictine College alone brought eight busloads of students and was given the distinct honor of leading the march.

The young people that were part of our archdiocesan pilgrimage arrived in Washington on Monday. That night at St. Dominic Church in D.C., we had a beautiful time of eucharistic adoration. I wish you could have seen the faith and devotion of our young pilgrims. The next night, our group participated in a special evening of education and prayer in Arlington, Va., where many of the pilgrims went to confession. The night concluded again with eucharistic adoration.

On Wednesday, the day of the march, I celebrated Mass with over 800 pilgrims from Kansas at Nativity Church. Then, our young people braved the frigid tempera- tures to attend the rally and March for Life. A couple hours after the march, our young pilgrims boarded their buses for the grueling 20- hour bus ride home.

In last week’s Leaven, there was an article about 50 young people who on
Jan. 4 participated in Renew Year Heart retreat at Sacred Heart Parish in Emporia. A few weeks ago, The Leaven reported about the Dec. 30 opening of the Reach KCK youth center (Blessed Sacrament campus). Approximately 400 youth participated. Both of these events included a time for eucharistic adoration and both were made possible by the funding provided by all the parishes in the archdiocese through their contributions to the new youth formation assessment.

The assessment will also provide $350,000 annually to make additional scholarship grants available to students attending any of the seven Catholic high schools in the archdiocese (Bishop Ward in Kansas City, Kan.; Hayden in Topeka; Immaculata in Leavenworth; Maur Hill-Mount Academy in Atchison; and the three Johnson County schools — Bishop Miege, Aquinas, and St. James).

The youth formation assessment will also provide $4 million over a 10-year pe- riod to Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan. The grants to Donnelly will be evenly divided between scholarships and capital improvements. Donnelly College is the only Catholic diocesan-sponsored college in the nation that serves primarily students who are the first in their family to attend college.

This new youth formation assessment was part of a plan developed more than two years ago by a special task force of priests and lay leaders in consultation with the Presbyteral Council, the archdiocesan Pastoral Council, the Finance Council, and a special advisory council. The task force was charged with reviewing a proposed all-parish capital campaign that was mainly focused on a greater commitment in serving and engaging the youth of the archdiocese.

In addition to making a significant donation as the sponsoring entity to Donnelly College that will be leveraged to acquire other major gifts from the broader Kansas City community, the youth formation assessment is helping ensure that young people throughout the archdiocese have access to high quality youth programs, as well as assisting with keeping our Catholic high schools economically accessible for all families. The assessment was adopted in lieu of every member of the archdiocese being asked to contribute to a capital campaign.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has a proud history of supporting Catholic education and investing in our youth. The youth formation assessment is the most recent manifestation of the continuing commitment of the people of the archdiocese to pass on the faith to our young people. From what I observed
at the March for Life, the inauguration of ReachKCK, and the Renew Year Heart retreat, this commitment to our young people is bearing good fruit.

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