by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, was the 10th anniversary of the Mass of welcome for my arrival in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
At that time, I was the coadjutor archbishop, assisting Archbishop Keleher with the pastoral care of the people of the Archdiocese. On Jan. 15, 2005, Pope John Paul II accepted Archbishop Keleher’s retirement and I succeeded him as the 11th bishop and fourth archbishop to lead what is today the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
It is hard to believe that 10 years have elapsed. Anniversaries are a time to recall God’s abundant blessings and give thanks. They are also moments to assess the past and plan for the future. At a recent meeting of the Priests’ Council, I reviewed with our priests what I consider to be some of the highlights of the past 10 years. I am not claiming credit for any of these positive developments. In fact, in reality, these achievements by the priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese occurred despite my many leadership weaknesses. These are not listed necessarily in the order of importance.
1) Increase of priestly vocations with 35 seminarians discerning a priestly vocation for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas
2) The establishment of the School of Faith as a public association of the faithful, providing adult faith formation
3) The ongoing faith formation of all Catholic elementary and secondary school teachers
4) The Year of Faith initiative: “Faith: Love It, Learn It, Live It,” during which tens of thousands of individuals made a personal commitment to deepen their friendship with Jesus as well as increase their knowledge of their Catholic faith
5) Inauguration of the Spiritual Mentorship Program that helps form spiritual mentors who are trained to assist others enrich their prayer life and enhance their relationship with God
6) The arrival of new and the expansion of some existing religious communities, e.g., the Little Sisters and the Little Brothers of the Lamb, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, Sisters of St. Anne, the Franciscans Poor of Jesus Christ, the Society of St. Augustine, the establishment of the male branch of the Apostles of the Interior Life and the expansion of the presence and ministry of the female Apostles of the Interior Life. Along with the many well- established religious communities that have been in the Archdiocese for many years, these new foundations have enriched the spiritual life of the Archdiocese. Religious life, when it is well-lived, is leaven within the church, helping the entire church grow closer to Jesus.
7) The ordination of the first permanent deacons for the Archdiocese and the establishment of the diaconate office that organizes the formation of new candidates for the diaconate and provides ongoing formation for those already ordained
8) Strengthening of Marian devotion by the promotion of the family rosary and Marian consecration to Jesus Christ
9) The development and implementation of the plan: a) to strengthen the financial foundation of our Catholic high schools; b) to make Catholic secondary education more financially accessible; c) to strengthen youth ministry in the Wyandotte and rural regions; d) to provide a lead gift for Donnelly College’s capital campaign; and e) to assist urban parishes
10) Regional Pastoral Planning has helped in the formulation of a realistic plan for the assignment of the limited number of archdiocesan priests. It has also fostered collaboration and cooperation among parishes to better use our limited resources wisely and to realize their maximum impact. It also has helped us move forward with the consolidation of some schools and the merger of some parishes. It has also fostered parish planning around five pastoral priorities: a) conversion; b) evangelization; c) catechesis and Catholic education in all its forms; d) serving those in need; and e) fostering a spirituality of stewardship.
11) The generosity of the people of the Archdiocese, which has made possible: a) the dramatic growth of the Catholic Education Foundation (providing annually more than a million dollars in scholarships for Catholic elementary schools); b) the doubling of the dollars ($2 million) raised by the Snow Ball to support the ministry of Catholic Charities; c) the near doubling of the amount donated to the annual Archbishop’s Call to Share that supports charitable, educational and pastoral ministries; and d) providing for the operational needs of parishes as well as funding many parish capital projects (new buildings and renovations)
12) Formation of an Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and the expansion of the Archdiocesan Finance Council, allowing me to take advantage of the wisdom and expertise of members of the laity
13) The inauguration of the My House ministry: a) to combat pornography; b) to promote the church’s beautiful vision for human sexuality and the dignity of the human person; and c) to provide positive assistance to those struggling with the use of pornography
14) Expansion of Hispanic ministry to the Cathedral of St. Peter, Blessed Sacrament Parish, and St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan.; Holy Trinity Parish, Lenexa; St. Agnes Parish, Roeland Park; and St. John the Evangelist Parish, Lawrence
15) Strengthening of marriage and family life by: a) the renewal of the marriage preparation program; b) the “Living in Love” retreats; c) the establishment of the School of Love as a public association of the faithful providing marriage preparation and enrichment programs; and d) Dr. Laurie Heap’s Prescription for a Long and Happy Life seminars
This is in no way an exhaustive list. However, it helps to paint a picture of how extraordinarily we have been blessed in the Archdiocese in the past 10 years.
I originally planned to list only 10, but I found it too difficult to limit the list to that number. Still, there are many other blessings that I was forced to omit.
If there is something that I have not listed that you think should be on this list of blessings, please send your recommendations to me online at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In future columns, I will share with you my desire, in consultation with priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese, to formulate a plan for the next 10 years, identifying the most important things we could do to build up and make even stronger the Catholic Church in northeast Kansas. I am very excited about what the Lord is calling us to attempt to do in the coming decade.