by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Several years ago, after I had come to the Archdiocese of Kansas City, a friend sent me a CD of the testimony of a woman from St. Louis, who had a powerful conversion experience that motivated her to embrace fully the church’s teaching on human sexuality. Her name is Patty Schneier.
Patty was a devoted wife and mother. She went to Mass every Sunday. She was active in her parish, serving as a cantor and a leader in the music ministry. From external appearances, Patty was a model Catholic.
A little over 10 years ago, she attended a mission in her parish that was given by the Apostles of the Interior Life. That mission for Patty proved to be life-changing. Her website provides the following description of the impact of the Apostles of the Interior Life upon her: “The Sisters of the Apostles of the Interior Life inspired Patty to search for holiness, to read sacred Scripture every day, and to grow in her relationship with Christ.”
Even though Patty was by all appearances a very good Catholic, there was an important dimension of her life where she failed to live the church’s teaching. Patty and her husband used contraception. This part of her life Patty had refused to surrender to Jesus and trust in God’s love for her.
The mission that the Apostles of the Interior Life gave was not focused on the theology of the body or the church’s teaching on human sexuality. It was directed to helping participants to encounter Jesus by developing a much richer and deeper life of prayer.
For Patty, this new encounter with Jesus and enriched prayer life resulted in a greater openness to God’s will in every aspect of her life. Patty simply could no longer ignore the discrepancy between what the church taught and her use of contraception. After much prayer, she spoke to her husband about the internal conflict she was experiencing because of their use of contraception in their marriage.
Patty was motivated to become more knowledgeable about Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. She wanted to know not only what the church taught about sexuality, but why. Eventually, she would be mentored by Christopher West, who has made it his life’s work to help people understand the theology of the body. Patty and her husband began practicing faithfully the church’s teaching regarding marital chastity.
Patty was invited to give her testimony of the conversion in her life that resulted from her participation in that mission. She has exceptional communication skills. As they say, the rest is history.
Some CDs of her testimony began circulating. Soon she was being invited to give talks all over the Midwest and beyond. Bishop Paul Zipfel — the former bishop of Bismarck, N.D. — sent a copy of Patty’s CD to every family in his diocese.
As part of our Year of Faith initiative, the Apostles of the Interior Life are offering missions throughout the Archdiocese. If there is just one extra activity you are going to do during the Year of Faith to strengthen your prayer life, I encourage you to participate in one of these missions.
If you have wondered what Pope Benedict means when he says that our Catholic faith is primarily about an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, make one of these missions. If you hear others talk about a personal relationship with Jesus and wish you had such a friendship with Our Lord, then come to a mission.
The following is a schedule of the missions being offered in the Archdiocese through the spring of this year:
• St. Benedict, Atchison: Feb. 11 and 12
• Christ the King, Topeka: Feb. 18 and 19
• Divine Mercy, Gardner: Feb. 18 and 20
• Sacred Heart, Emporia: Feb. 25 and 27
• St. Michael, Leawood: Feb. 25 and 26
• Holy Trinity, Lenexa: Feb. 26 and 27
• Holy Family, Kansas City, Kan. : March 5 and 6
• Sacred Heart-St. Casimir, Leavenworth: March 5 and 6
• Annunciation, Frankfort: March 11 and 13
• Prince of Peace, Olathe: April 16 and 18
• Sacred Heart, Sabetha: April 16 and 18
We are so fortunate to have the Apostles of the Interior Life serving in our Archdiocese. Take advantage of this special opportunity and bring a family member or friend with you. It could deepen your relationship with Jesus in ways that you cannot even imagine. It could change your life forever.