by Dean Backes
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Through her conversations with other ministries of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas that assist parishioners with end-of-life needs, Terri Lynn, associate director of planned giving for the archdiocesan office of stewardship and development, had an aha moment.
Her revelation? Other archdiocesan ministries like the pro-life ministry, Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas and the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas shared many of her organization’s goals.
“We all want to help parishioners finish faithful,” Lynn said, “to plan for a happy death by being prepared through estate planning, making funeral and burial plans, and following church teaching as they are dying and possibly in hospice.
“That’s why we decided to hold a conference where everybody could come together and learn all about the last things in planning for death in one place and at one time.”
After conferring with the other ministries, Lynn ran with her inspiration and organized the archdiocese’s first Finishing Faithful conference, which will take place at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on May 14.
Called “All Things Preplanning for Your Legacy and Preparing for End of Life,” the one-stop conference gives parishioners the valuable tools they will need to finish faithful at the end of their lives.
Open to everyone, Holy Spirit’s 8 a.m. Mass will kick off the day’s festivities before check-in at 8:30. Then, Holy Spirit pastor Father Andrew Strobl will offer an opening prayer, followed by a welcome from Bill Maloney, director of stewardship and development for the archdiocese. Lynn will then introduce keynote speaker Joe Heschmeyer, a staff apologist for Catholic Answers Radio.
The popular author, speaker, blogger and podcaster will speak on “The Gift of Everlasting Life,” starting at 9:15 a.m.
Other speakers include: Father Anthony Williams, of Sacred Heart Parish in Ottawa, on “The Catholic Guide for End of Life and Establishing Advanced Healthcare Directives”; and estate planning attorney Jon Stanfield — of Rees, Kincaid and Stanfield Law — on “Catholic Estate Planning with Wills and Trusts.”
Bryan Alonzo, the director of sales and marketing at Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas, closes out the presentations at noon with “Why Do People Choose to Preplan their Final Arrangements?” A box lunch, courtesy of Alonzo and Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas, will be provided to parishioners that take in his presentation shortly before the conference closes with a prayer at 1 p.m.
Debra Niesen, consultant for pro-life ministries in the archdiocese, said parishioners should take advantage of the conference in order to get a head start on making some difficult decisions late in life.
“Complex questions at the end of life should not overshadow what’s important at that time,” Niesen said. “Because the important end-of-life moments are things like saying goodbye to our loved ones, attending to our spiritual needs and maybe healing relationships. Those are the things that we should be able to focus on at the end of life, so that we can have a peaceful and a happy goodbye.”
Holy Spirit Parish is located at 11300 W. 103rd St. in Overland Park. To register, go online to: archkck.org/finishfaithful-registration; call (913) 647-0365; or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.