by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Recently, I received a message from a grandparent that attended the graduation ceremony of one of our elementary schools.
This grandmother was confident that I would have been pleased to hear the eighth grade student speakers. She shared: “All outstanding and truly genuine talks about their own faith and trust in Jesus. This was their entire message, not just an add-on. . . . These kids made me feel so good about where they are in their faith lives.”
I was delighted to hear this grandparent’s description of the eighth grade student speakers. One of our highest priorities in the archdiocese is the faith formation of our Catholic school teachers that is funded in part by the annual Call to Share campaign and enhances their ability to impart the beauty of our Catholic faith to their students.
This weekend, I celebrated Mass at St. Columbkille in Blaine. Recently, the parishioners renovated the interior of the church. The church is beautiful! At the dinner after the Mass, I was talking with a youth who was completing her junior year in high school. She shared with me that she enjoys being a member of the Northeast Kansas Rural Youth Council. Our rural youth ministry is funded by the Youth Formation Fund that all of our parishes support.
I was very impressed by the joy and sincerity of this teenager. She also expressed her love for our youth camp and was planning to participate in Extreme Camp this summer. Of course, Prairie Star Ranch and all of our youth camps also receive funding from Call to Share.
Also this weekend, I participated in the graduation ceremony for Donnelly College that is sponsored by the archdiocese. Thanks to your generosity, the archdiocese made a $4 million lead gift to Donnelly College’s capital campaign. This extraordinary gift was only possible because of our parish-supported Youth Formation Fund. The commitment of the archdiocese was the catalyst for Donnelly College raising more than $34 million that resulted in a beautiful new academic building, a transformation of the entire campus and the seeding of a scholarship endowment.
Donnelly College graduated over 120 men and women this year. Almost 100 of the graduates were the first in their family to receive a higher education degree. Many of these graduates would be considered at high risk for gang involvement. Instead, our graduates have a bright future in front of them. Your generosity has helped make the “Miracle on 18th St.,” the new Donnelly College, a reality.
In a few weeks, the archdiocese will be able to open the Vianney House — a retirement residence for our priests. The Vianney House is one of the fruits of the One Faith, One Family, One Future campaign. Also funded by the One Faith campaign is a renovation project underway at Villa St. Francis, a skilled nursing residence for the elderly.
The entire staff at Villa St. Francis receives weekly ongoing formation on the Catholic ethical principles and moral values that guide our care for the residents of Villa St. Francis. We challenge our staff to recognize the great dignity of each of our residents, who have been created in the divine image and are of such worth that Jesus gave his life on Calvary. We form our staff to treat those they serve as they would care for Jesus.
In two weeks, I will ordain three outstanding men to the priesthood. Their formation is funded in part by Call to Share as well as the Good Shepherd Sunday Priests — Past, Present and Future — collection.
Speaking of great priests, today (May 19) the funeral Mass for Msgr. Vince Krische was celebrated at Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence. Msgr. Krische had been recently honored for his national leadership for the Catholic Church’s ministry to the students and faculty of higher education institutions.
Under Msgr. Krische’s leadership, the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center became and remains today one of the premiere Catholic campus ministry programs in the United States. Many of our current priests discerned the call to priesthood while a member of the St. Lawrence Center, and many amazing marriages also began at St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence Center as well as our other college campus ministry programs receive financial support from Call to Share.
Recently, I received a short video from Sacred Heart Parish in Sabetha that describes some of the beautiful ways that the Holy Spirit has been renewing the life of that parish community. The parish leaders have adopted a method of cultivating discipleship that is founded on commitment, first and foremost, to prayer. Sacred Heart in Sabetha is one of 11 parishes that has taken advantage of the Communio marriage enrichment model that provides tools and a method for assisting couples to strengthen their marriages by developing skills to deepen their love.
The church and society are dependent upon the health of the family, and the foundation of the family is marriage. I am very encouraged by what is happening in the parishes that have embraced the Communio model, placing an emphasis on not only strengthening marriages but helping all parishioners to foster virtuous friendships. Communio is being funded also by Call to Share.
Recently, Catholic Charities reopened Shalom House, a homeless men’s shelter at the site of Sanctuary of Hope in Kansas City, Kansas. This newly renovated facility will make it possible for Catholic Charities to serve more men in a much better facility. Shalom House helps men gain the dignity of becoming independent by developing the skills to find employment. Again, your generosity made this possible by your support of Call to Share, the annual Catholic Charities Christmas collection and Snow Ball!
There is so much good that is happening on a daily basis throughout the archdiocese. As the archbishop, I have the opportunity to witness how the Holy Spirit is touching hearts and changing lives through our parishes, schools and ministries.
I want to thank everyone for your generous support of your parishes, the One Faith campaign and Call to Share. We are actually having a record number of individuals becoming members of the Call to Share Crosier Society, by donating at least $1000 or 1% of their gross income.
At the same time, there are more families and individuals who need assistance because of the economic impact of high inflation on the poor. If you have continued to be blessed financially and have not yet made a donation to Call to Share, I encourage you to consider making a sacrificial gift.
There is no limit to what God’s grace can accomplish within the church when we are united in our commitment in following Jesus!
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