by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Archdiocesan Catholic school teachers greeted the beginning of the 2021-22 school year with four all-teacher Masses celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
“We wanted these commissioning Masses for the purpose of having unity among our teachers in the archdiocese, but also as a blessing and sending forth as they begin the school year,” said Vince Cascone, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
The archdiocesan school system has approximately 1,200 faculty members, teaching approximately 13,000 students in 36 elementary schools and six high schools.
Due to COVID precautions and the distances involved, the school office decided to have four Masses at different times and locations over two days.
Two Masses were held on Aug. 11 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood. The morning Mass was for Johnson County elementary school teachers, while the afternoon Mass was for high school teachers from Atchison, Johnson County, Wyandotte County and Topeka.
Two Masses were held on Aug. 12. The morning Mass at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka was for elementary school teachers from Emporia, Garnett, Lawrence, Ottawa and Topeka. The afternoon Mass at St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kansas, was for elementary school teachers from Atchison, Leavenworth, Marysville, Seneca and Wyandotte County.
Short talks were given after the Masses by Libby Knox, director of development, and Vince Anch, executive director, both of the Catholic Education Foundation; and Sebastian D’Amico, director of faculty formation, from the Holy Family School of Faith.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann spoke about the saints who played significant roles in pioneering Catholic schools in the United States, and the mission of Catholic education.
“What we do in Catholic schools is meant to be different from what our young people could receive in public education,” said the archbishop. “Obviously, it’s different for the fact that we can pray with our students and that we can teach our Catholic faith.
“But our Catholic schools will never be what they’re called to be if it’s just about religion class. Our Catholic schools fulfill their identity and mission by making disciples of Jesus Christ — young men and women who don’t just know about Jesus but come to know Jesus as a real person.”
If making disciples for Jesus is at the heart of the mission of Catholic education, that mission is made possible by Catholic educators.
“The most important ingredient for that to happen is not in any textbook, is not in any video, but the living witness of you as teachers,” said the archbishop. “That they see in you individuals who know Jesus Christ and are in love with him and place him at the center of your lives.”
As a gift to help them through the school year, each teacher was given a copy of “The Great Adventure Catholic Bible.” The Bibles were donated by the archdiocesan office of evangelization, the Holy Family School of Faith, Chris and Millie Carney, and Mid-America Bank.