Toasted and roasted

Msgr. Tank and Msgr. McGlinn honored for archdiocesan ministry

by Joe Bollig 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It was an evening of laughter, song, appreciation, and a great truth: Behind every successful archbishop is a hard-working vicar general — and in some cases, two.

An appreciation dinner was held the evening of Aug. 12 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan., for Msgr. Thomas Tank and Msgr. Charles McGlinn, who served as vicars general of the archdiocese since 1996.

As of July, the two monsignors stepped down from their duties to return to full-time pastoral work.

The evening began with vespers in the pastoral center chapel, followed by a dinner, where the honorees were heartily toasted and gently roasted by a series of speakers, who offered tributes and fond remembrances.

“This is a night to show our affection and esteem for two truly great priests,” said Michael Podrebarac, archdiocesan liturgist and archivist, who was master of ceremonies.

Msgr. Tank was named vicar general for administration in 1996 and served as chancellor from 1997 to 2008, but those appointments followed on the heels of various assignments in archdiocesan administration for the last 40 years.

As vicar general and chancellor, Msgr. Tank was directly responsible for oversight of the pastoral ministries and services of the archdiocese. He also headed up several special projects and served on various boards and committees, while still serving as a full-time pastor. He is currently assigned to Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.

Msgr. McGlinn became vicar general for priests of the archdiocese in 1996, while also serving as a pastor. He, too, served in various capacities on the archdiocesan level, as well as for special projects and on boards and committees. He is the longtime pastor of Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood.

In addition to working closely together in their administrative capacities, the two monsignors are lifelong friends and are quick to point out each other’s accomplishments.

“[Msgr. Tank] has had some remarkable achievements,” said Msgr. McGlinn. “If not for him, we would not have Prairie Star Ranch. He is almost single-handedly responsible for that coming about, and Santa Marta [retirement community in Johnson County]. There were so many things he’s done with housing in Wyandotte County, that they’re too numerous to mention.”

Msgr. Tank, in turn, found much to admire in Msgr. McGlinn.

“Really, [Msgr. McGlinn] has had the toughest job, because he has had to assist in some very difficult times in our history — not only in the archdiocese but in the United States,” said Msgr. Tank. “He’s had a difficult and challenging job, and he took to it with such dedication and commitment.”

In his remarks during the dinner, consultant for evangelization and Catholic formation Dana Nearmyer remembered how he “walked into [Msgr. Tank’s] church as a wayfaring evangelical preacher with a number of questions I thought were unanswerable, and he answered every one of them.”

He went on to say that Msgr. McGlinn is famous for welcoming foreign priests not only into the archdiocese, but also into his home — so much so, that Nearmyer called the guest house at Curé of Ars the “Ellis Island of Johnson County.”

The two men, said Nearmyer, did many tiny things that touched people’s lives. But they did giant things, too.

“You’re both silent foot washers, both extraordinary preachers, but most of your work has been done in silence,” he said.

As the two monsignors reveled in their “demotion” to simple pastors — albeit of very large parishes — Abbot Barnabas Senecal, OSB, of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison said that “neither wanted to be called monsignor, neither of them complained about their workload, and neither of them appear to be sad today.”

It was not only their co-workers at the chancery who held them in high esteem, however. Church of the Nativity in Leawood parishioner Tom Creal recalled that as he faced career challenges, Msgr. Tank’s friendship was honest, supportive and unwavering. St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood parishioner Brent Blake called Msgr. Tank “one of the smartest business persons I’ve ever met.”

Msgr. Michael Mullen, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., noted that the dinner also marked the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the two monsignors’ ordinations. He marveled at their zeal and hard work . . . and the legacy they produced.

“When you and I come to thank God for the spirit of our archdiocese — for its growth, for its vitality, and for its sense of unity,” he said, “we do not hesitate to say the beauty, and compassion, and outreach of our archdiocesan church stands in a significant and lasting relationship to your leadership. Monsignor Tank and Monsignor McGlinn, we can’t thank you enough.”

Father John Torrez, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Olathe, remembered how Msgr. Tank built up his faith and confidence when he was a young priest.

Father Anthony Putti, pastor of St. Gregory Parish in Marysville and St. Malachy Parish in Beattie, recalled how Msgr. McGlinn took him, as a young priest from India, under his wing — and taught him how not to ruin a load of laundry with bleach.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann spoke of his gratitude for the two monsignors, the “incredible generosity” of their service, and the quality of their leadership.

“This is a great beginning of ‘The Year of the Priest’ and an opportunity to step back and appreciate the priesthood of these two great priests and their great contribution to the archdiocese,” said the archbishop. “So again, Charlie and Tom, thank you for letting us to have this night. . . . It’s been a very enjoyable and inspirational night, but only because you’ve given us the material for laughter and the material for being inspired.”

At the conclusion of the dinner, Archbishop Naumann and Father Gary Pennings, vicar general/moderator of the curia, presented gifts to the two monsignors.

The gifts — fraught with meaning on several levels — were bookends in the style of bridges: two gifts to two of a kind, who worked in concert and connected pastors and archbishops, parishes and the archdiocese, and laity with their pastors.

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