New community gets help from Kansas

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Vince Huber once had a choice to make: become a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas or be one of the first members of a new religious community in Rome.

Huber, from Church of the Nativity in Leawood, chose Rome instead of home.

Now, in an unforeseen twist, he will serve both.

Thanks to an agreement between the religious community called the Apostles of the Interior Life and the archdiocese, Huber and four other seminarians will become — at least temporarily — archdiocesan priests after ordination.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann will ordain Huber and three other men to the transitional diaconate on Aug. 21 at the St. Lawrence Center. The four men will be ordained to the priesthood in early 2011, with a fifth man being ordained a transitional deacon at that time, and then a priest later that year.

Three of the men are Americans and two are Italians. They have visited Lawrence during the past three summers, where the female branch of the Apostles has a house.

“The Apostles of the Interior Life, which is a public association of the Christian faithful, does not have, as of this time, the canonical status of being a religious order,” said Father Gary Pennings, archdiocesan vicar general.

“They’re not [in] the canonical category that would allow them to incardinate or attach priests to their organization,” he continued. “Since they don’t have that capacity, they need to find another entity, such as a diocese, to which their priests could be connected.”

Huber and the other members of the male branch of the Apostles of the Interior Life are grateful for this helping hand from Kansas.

“We are extremely happy and grateful to Archbishop Naumann for being so generous,” said Huber, a 2000 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park. “The priesthood is not anyone’s right. It’s an honor that Archbishop Naumann esteems us enough to trust our formation and give us this huge blessing.”

Although the five men will officially be archdiocesan priests, they will live in community. The location hasn’t been determined, said Sister Susan Pieper, president of the female branch of the Apostles. They will likely be assigned to serve as associate pastors at different parishes in the same city or general area.

“The plan is for the Brothers [the five male branch members] to live and minister in the archdiocese in July, August and September, and then to go back to Rome because most of them still have to finish their studies,” said Sister Susan, who is at the Apostles’ Overland Park provincial house. “Also, they will be with the founder [Father Salvatore Scorza] who received the [new community’s] charism.”

The Apostles asked the archdiocese to incarnate the “Brothers,” as the male branch members are called, because they have established a very good relationship with the archbishop and the people of the archdiocese.

“This archbishop and archdiocese — more than any other — know us,” said Sister Pieper. “Years might go by before we could approach another, so this is the most reasonable path. On a sentimental basis, we’ve got a relationship with this archdiocese, this archbishop, and the vicars general. This just seemed more rational and reasonable.”

There is no set number of years the male Apostles will serve within the archdiocese, said Sister Pieper. That depends on how long it will take for the Apostles to achieve the necessary canonical status. It might take years.

“I think [the arrangement] is mutually beneficial,” said Father Pennings. “It enables the Apostles of the Interior Life a mechanism for getting their candidates ordained and incarnated, and at the same time allows us to have some priests that will be available at least part time to assist in parish ministry.”

“Another thing, too, is that eventually the Apostles of the Interior Life who are being ordained priests hope to offer spiritual direction for parish priests,” he continued. “It’s really important if they are going to [do this] that they have some idea of what a parish priest does. This will give them the opportunity to work alongside diocesan priests and to learn the intricacies of parish life, and thus become better equipped to minister to priests.”

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