by Kara Hansen
Special to The Leaven
Leawood — The official anniversary celebration was Sept. 26, but that did not stop Curé of Ars parishioners from starting the festivities a little early.
In fact, the Leawood parish has been celebrating a little each weekend at Mass since Aug. 4, the feast day of St. John Vianney.
“Each week at Mass, there were different photos displayed, depicting various aspects of parish life,” said Jodie Stockwell, who directs the catechumenate at Curé of Ars and helped in the planning of the official event. “We did the ‘then and now’ of baptisms and marriages, as well as photos of what the old parish buildings looked like. We highlighted past priests and previous parish celebrations, as well as current groups and activities going on in the parish.”
The culminating anniversary event was held Sept. 26 on the parish grounds. The celebration followed a French theme, in keeping with the parish’s namesake, St. John Vianney, the curé of Ars. A “Rue de Vianney” was set up outside the parish school for all ages and included boutiques, games, inflatables, puppet shows, caricatures, lunch, and adult cafés.
Archbishop James P. Keleher then celebrated a 5 p.m. Mass, assisted by pastor Msgr. Charles McGlinn; associate pastor Father Greg Hammes; and former pastors and associates — Father Mike Stubbs, Father Al Rockers, Father Craig Maxim, and Father Brian Schieber. Father Bob Burger also concelebrated.
“I thought [the Mass] was absolutely beautiful and the music was phenomenal,” said Stockwell.
Parishioner Barb Truesdell agreed.
“It was a wonderful celebration and a beautiful liturgy with some of our previous pastors there, and with Msgr. Charles, who has been here almost half of the parish’s existence,” she said.
Truesdell said she was especially moved by the wide range of ages in attendance at the celebration.
“I thought the best part of the entire day was the wonderful showing from both young and old,” said Truesdell. “As Monsignor [McGlinn] gave his homily and was talking about the parish’s history, he asked original parish members to stand up, and several did. It was very inspiring.”
A special choir comprised of 65 parishioners helped lend an especially festive air to the anniversary Mass; it was joined by a chamber trio, a timpanist, trumpeters, and a handbell choir.
“We wanted the music to be general, but festive and familiar, so the congregation could fully participate. And they really did,” said Ellen Tuttle, director of music at Curé of Ars. “The singing of the congregation was so moving. The Holy Spirit was truly with us that day and it really was a celebration for everyone.”
After Mass, the adults-only portion of the evening began with a social hour that included cocktails and appetizers. A sit-down dinner followed, with a dance in the gym until midnight. Nearly 1,000 people attended the festivities in the afternoon; close to 900 participated in the evening.
Stockwell said even after the day’s events were over, she was reminded of and touched by the commitment parishioners have at Curé.
“I looked around and every single person was working and knew their role to play,” she said. “It was truly the body of Christ in action, and it’s an experience I won’t forget.”