by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When Leawood’s Nativity School students walked into the Cathedral of St. Peter here, they not only passed through a Holy Door, but they also stepped into a new relationship with Resurrection School.
“I think the sky is the limit on this relationship,” said Maureen Huppe, principal of Nativity.
The two parishes recently began a twinning partnership, in which they will share a range of resources, as well as come together for various events and celebrations throughout the year.
“The blessings of getting to experience a church beyond our own boundaries and to share a broader perspective of our archdiocesan church [are priceless],” said Father Francis Hund, pastor of the Leawood parish.
As part of his 10-year vision, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann encouraged parishes to consider a twinning initiative, especially in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
“I mentioned this to [Father Hund] on a retreat last June and asked him if Nativity would be interested,” recalled Father Harry Schneider, rector of the cathedral.
Father Hund was very intrigued by the opportunity.
“The parish at Nativity has had a long history of supporting various outreach ministries in the cathedral neighborhood,” he said.
This new relationship seemed like the perfect fit.
“Our parish is blessed to partner with the cathedral,” Father Hund continued. “We will get to share some beautiful experiences here.”
The first of those experiences was a Mass for both schools held at the cathedral on April 12.
“That was incredible, what an amazing Mass,” said Father Schneider.
“It’s a church that has so much wonderful history and beauty, so all of those blessings [were] part of our celebration,” said Father Hund.
During the Mass, the Nativity kindergarten class put on a presentation that explained the parishes’ new relationship, as well as the meaning behind the Holy Door.
“A pilgrimage, a pilgrimage, we’re going on a pilgrimage!” they exclaimed.
They described how their bus ride to the cathedral was a journey to holiness, just like the new twinning initiative.
Father Hund gave a brief homily following the presentation.
“As partners together on a journey, we will share our stories and our histories as parish communities,” he said. “Together, we tell the good news of God’s mercy and love.”
Lynda Higgins, principal at Resurrection, noted how much her students enjoyed hosting the Nativity kids.
“They were impressed by the number of parents who attended and liked seeing how different schools prepare their weekly Mass,” she said.
After Mass, Father Schneider gave the Nativity students, parents and staff a tour of the cathedral, highlighting both its history and its treasures.
That was something the kids really enjoyed, said Huppe.
“Sometimes, our students do not always get a chance to get outside their immediate neighborhoods, mainly just because everything is so convenient to them around their homes,” she said.
A hopeful future
Although the parishes are only just beginning this relationship, both are eager to see what the future holds for their new undertaking.
Both principals look forward to growing the relationship between the two schools and broadening the horizons of both student bodies.
“I think it will be a great experience for all the kids to know that all of them have the same interests and have more in common than they have differences,” said Huppe.
“It is important for students to interact with those from other schools because it shows how much we truly are alike,” she said.
Higgins said that opportunities like celebrating Mass together are “the perfect way to show that we are all children of God, united by the same faith.”
The two principals will work together to come up with activities for both schools to participate in throughout the coming year.
Father Schneider said that, above all else, the most important aspect of this endeavor is building a greater understanding and appreciation of the different parishes of the archdiocese.
For him, hosting Mass for Nativity was a special moment. Many parishes in the archdiocese offer so much beauty, he explained, and often people don’t get the chance to see it.
“As this develops, I think it’s going to develop a mutual awareness, understanding, appreciation and support,” he said.
Opportunities like this open doors for parishes to get to know one another better and to grow as one, he concluded.
Some ideas for the future, which aren’t set in stone just yet, include swapping church choirs, celebrating Mass at Nativity and attending different festivals together.
One thing is certain — each parish has its own unique things to offer, and the benefits that will come of the joint endeavor promise to be invaluable.
“I’m very pleased with this parish partnership,” said Father Hund, “and I look forward to the blessings for the years to come.”