by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
This past weekend, May 14-16, was both busy and enjoyable.
On Friday afternoon, I had the privilege to celebrate the baccalaureate Mass for the 2021 graduates of Benedictine College.
Several of the 2020 graduates also participated, since because of Covid protocols last year, there was no baccalaureate Mass or commencement ceremony. It was inspiring to witness the joy of the graduates as well as their prayerful devotion.
Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an alum of Benedictine and currently an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, concelebrated the Mass and was the commencement speaker for the graduation ceremony on Saturday.
Bishop Cozzens is the chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Evangelization and Catechesis. He is a brilliant scholar and a young leader in the bishops’ conference. It was encouraging to imagine the impact that the 2020 and 2021 Benedictine graduates will have on the church and society.
Saturday morning, I participated in the commencement exercises for Donnelly College. Nearly 80% of Donnelly graduates are the first generation in their family to receive a degree in higher education.
The student speakers were an inspiring part of the commencement program as they shared some of the obstacles, magnified by the Covid pandemic, that they and their classmates overcame to earn their degrees.
Donnelly College is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Throughout its more than 70 years of history, it has been a doorway into higher education for its students, changing the lives not only of the graduates, but also the future for their children and grandchildren. If a parent is a college graduate, the percentages are very high that their children and grandchildren will also earn a college degree.
Later, Saturday afternoon, I celebrated a Mass at our cathedral for 20 Catholic Kansas University medical school graduates and their families.
At the end of the liturgy, the new medical doctors professed the Hippocratic Oath. Unfortunately, in most medical schools today, the Hippocratic Oath has been rewritten in order to exclude statements in the original text that rejected abortion and euthanasia.
The oath taken by these newly minted doctors during our Mass included these sentences: “I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform act or omission with direct intent deliberately to end a human life. I will maintain the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.”
These new doctors also made certain promises based on their Catholic faith and spirituality that included:
• To continually improve my professional abilities, in order to give my patients, the best care I can
• To respect my patients as human persons, putting their interests ahead of political and economic considerations, and to treat them without prejudice arising from religion, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic or sexual differences
• To serve the public health, promoting healthful policies respectful of life and the dignity and nature of the human person
• To donate part of my time for free and charitable care of the poor
• To recognize the word of God as the inspiration of all my actions, to be faithful to the teachings of the church and to form my professional conscience in accord with them
• To cultivate a filial relationship with God, nourished by prayer, and to be a faithful witness to Christ
• To practice Catholic moral principles, in particular to those related to biomedical ethics
• To express the benevolence of Christ in my life, and in my relationships with patients, colleagues and society
• To participate in the evangelization of the suffering world, in cooperation with the pastoral ministry of the church.
I was truly edified and encouraged by these gifted young women and men, who successfully completed the rigors of medical school and who desire to allow the Lord to use them as the instruments to continue his ministry of healing. They represent all that is best in our church and American society.
On Sunday morning, I had the honor to celebrate a Mass at Curé of Ars Parish during which Sister Julie Galan, a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia observing her 75th year as a religious, renewed her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
For 52 years of her life as a religious Sister, she has served the parishioners of Curé of Ars Parish, as a director of religious education, a teacher, a catechist and, among other responsibilities, a certified instructor of line dancing!
It was beautiful to witness Sister Julie’s joy as we celebrated her many years of service to God’s people and her witness, as a consecrated religious, of our risen Lord’s victory of life. At the reception after the Mass, it was exhilarating to hear the many ways in which God used Sister Julie to touch the hearts of so many with Our Lord’s love, hope and joy.
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, I celebrated baptisms at the Cathedral of St. Peter for the fifth child of a family from St. Michael Parish in Axtell and for the seventh child of a family from Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee.
It was an honor to celebrate with these two beautiful families the baptism of their newest members. I admire the openness to life and the generosity of the parents. It was beautiful to share in the joy of these amazing families. What a grace for me, because of the faith of the parents, to be able to give these children the life of Jesus and an eternal destiny to live with God and the saints forever.
I share these experiences with you, not primarily to give you a glimpse into the weekend of a bishop, but because each of these events was a great source of joy and hope for me.
Despite all of the challenges in our culture and society, these celebrations were a reminder that the church is alive and well.
This Sunday, we celebrate the great solemnity of Pentecost, the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in the church, animating her young college and medical school graduates, her consecrated religious Sisters, her parish communities and her young, vibrant families. Alleluia!