by Dean Backes
Special to The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In what was a role reversal of sorts, all six Serra clubs of Kansas City hosted 18 congregations and 115 nuns to three hours of bingo, prayer and reflection, a barbecue dinner and song at the Religious Sisters Appreciation Day at St. Patrick Church here on Aug 28.
For just a few hours that weekend, those that serve others were served themselves.
“I just appreciate the opportunity to be appreciated by our Serrans,” said Sister Stephen Patrick Joly of the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Independence, Missouri. “They do so much to support us throughout the year, and to be able to come out and have an afternoon together with all of these different Sisters is beautiful because it renews us in our mission.
“I think it means a lot to [the Serrans] to be able to serve us for an afternoon and for us just to be able to receive that.”
Open to all religious Sisters in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, as well as Serrans and guests, the event was kicked off by former appreciation day organizer Gene Schreiner and St. Patrick pastor Father Mark Mertes in welcoming remarks.
A rousing game of bingo called by Serran Ken Corsini followed, and then Bishop James Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas led all in prayer.
The buffet-style dinner was served by Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue and the Sisters themselves closed out the festivities by singing a beautiful rendition of “Salve Regina.”
Shortly after joining the Serrans in 1995, Jim Conrad was asked to take over what was then called “A Sisters’ Picnic,” which was held outside at Pierson Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Activities back then included bingo, fishing, softball, badminton, volleyball and a nail-driving competition created by Conrad himself!
The Sisters came together and enjoyed a packaged picnic lunch and participated in the activities of their choosing, or just sat and visited among themselves during those early years. The festivities moved indoors about 20 years ago to combat the heat, and bingo was the only activity that survived.
After moving indoors, the appreciation day bounced to different parishes before settling in at St. Patrick about five years ago.
“The joy for me was seeing the different orders,” Conrad said of the appreciation day. “Seeing the different orders come together . . . it was just a joy to be there and see them having a good time. At this function, they got to let their hair down and be real people.”
While the Sisters all enjoy bingo and the barbecue, a huge draw on the day is the fellowship and sharing they encounter while visiting with each other and other attendees throughout the afternoon.
“I enjoy having the time to chat with all of the people,” Sister Stephen Patrick said of her favorite part of the day. “Over the course of the day, different people come to us just as we’re interacting with each other, or during bingo, or during dinner. I think meeting the different Sisters and being able to share what we do is an exciting part of the day.”
Sister Maritza Arce of the Sisters, Servants of Mary in Kansas City, Kansas, said she enjoys visiting with her counterparts as well.
“I met some of the Sisters that stayed with us in our convent last year,” Sister Maritza recalled. “So, it was nice to catch up with them. We talked with the Dominican Sisters about the lack of vocations and what we’re doing and not doing about it.”
Sister Rose Manjula Allam of the Sisters of St. Anne in Olathe said they set aside the time to attend the appreciation day activities each year because they don’t want to miss the day.
“It’s very exciting and a privilege for us to be able to share our experiences with one another, which enriches us in our mission,” Sister Rose said. “It helps us to be strong in our faith and in our mission.”
For a full album of photos from the event, click here.