by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Offering a “thank you” united with prayer is a powerful thing, and archdiocesan Catholics at several parishes demonstrated this on Dec. 12 as they expressed their appreciation for Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s national pro-life leadership with Holy Hours.
The devotions were sponsored by the archdiocesan pro-life office, archdiocesan office for liturgy and sacramental life, and the participating parishes.
“We wanted to thank Archbishop Naumann for his incredible service, incredible courage and his tireless work,” said Debra Niesen, lead consultant for the archdiocesan pro-life office. “He has done tremendous service for all those whose lives are vulnerable.”
Archbishop Naumann began his three-year term as chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities when he was elected to the position in November 2018. He was succeeded by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who assumed leadership of the committee during the bishops’ annual meeting Nov. 15-18 in Baltimore.
The Holy Hour in appreciation for Archbishop Naumann’s leadership also included petitions for Archbishop Lori, the unborn and their mothers, and the successful passage of the “Value Them Both” amendment to the Kansas Constitution.
“We wanted to thank Archbishop Naumann for being a courageous and amazing leader through very challenging times, which included going through an election and a pandemic, both of which had pro-life implications,” said Niesen. “He always led with a voice of faith, courage and compassion — and he always did it with a smile. In my role, I heard from many across the nation say how grateful they were for the archbishop’s leadership and truly appreciate him for his voice and what he accomplished.”
Holding Holy Hours in appreciation is an appropriate act, said Father Anthony Saiki.
“The archbishop is incredibly devoted to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,” said Father Saiki, rector of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.
“Our Lord is the Lord of life, the great giver of life who has redeemed and sanctified our lives. Life is a gift from God, so it’s incredibly appropriate to acknowledge that before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It’s also such a place for us to offer intercession, to pray for those who are struggling, to pray for those who are doubting, to pray for moms in crisis pregnancies and who are being pressured to abortion, to pray for those who are discouraged in their own lives.”
A Holy Hour was also held at Mother Teresa Parish in Topeka.
“We are happy to thank the archbishop and pray for him for what he did, and also pray for Archbishop Lori, that he will continue the good work that Archbishop Naumann started,” said Father Tom Aduri, pastor.
It was providential that the Holy Hours were being done on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and between the solemnities of the Immaculate Conception and Christmas, said Michael Podrebarac, consultant for the archdiocesan office of liturgy and sacramental life.
“We are in a special season of the Incarnation,” said Podrebarac. “These holy hours fall on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is not only patroness of the Americas, but also patroness of the unborn. And it is fitting that we recognize Mary’s desire to be our mother — a mother who protects us.”
As Our Lady of Guadalupe gave her message to a people who only recently had human sacrifice as part of their culture, so too is her message relevant to people in our own culture today.
“That’s the situation we find ourselves in today,” said Podrebarac. “We’re in a society where people are trying to take other paths to happiness . . . thinking we have more important priorities. And here is Our Lady and all the other witnesses of the pro-life movement. It is a recognition of the reality, of the fact that Mary speaks through their witness, and Archbishop Naumann has demonstrated that witness with distinction — ‘Do you not know that you are under my protection?’ says Our Lady. The church is saying this as well.”
The Holy Hours were a wonderful opportunity to give thanks to God not only for Archbishop Naumann, but also to offer supplication that Archbishop Lori will do an equally good job.
“Mary’s conception, the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the birth of our Blessed Lord and Savior remind us that life matters . . . that life will be victorious, which is the archbishop’s episcopal motto,” said Podrebarac. “It is a fitting expression of gratitude, and a fitting occasion to recalibrate our minds to what is truly important.”