Archdiocese Local

2011: Archdiocesan year in review

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — If you looked at 2011 in terms of ordinations, this year we hit the jackpot: 26 total.

Here’s how they went by the numbers.

Three men were ordained to the archdiocesan presbyterate. Five members of the Apostles of the Interior Life were ordained — four priests and one transitional deacon. One man was ordained a transitional deacon for the archdiocese, and the 17 members of the first archdiocesan class of permanent deacons were ordained.

Then there were the ups and downs.

The Kansas Legislature passed the most significant pro-life laws in the history of the state, while the federal government began implementing parts of the universal health care act that the U.S. bishops found fatally flawed.

One of the many legacies of the late Pope John Paul II enriched a new generation of archdiocesan pilgrims as they travelled to World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain. Three months later, 850 archdiocesan teens headed off to Indianapolis to participate in the biennial National Catholic Youth Conference there.

And, most significantly, Englishspeaking Catholics around the world received a new translation of the Roman Missal, which was implemented in the United States on the First Sunday of Advent.

Finally, it was a year of widespread natural disasters, and subsequent collections and mission trips.

Archdiocesan Catholics contributed to relief efforts for several — including earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, and tornados in Reading and Joplin, Mo. — and sent numerous teams of relief workers to the latter.

New people were greeted in our parishes, schools, institutions and archdiocesan offices. And we said goodbye to those who moved on, retired or died. Most notably, we remember the passings of Father Matthew J. Horvat, Father Francis J. Krische, Father Anthony E. Blaufuss and Father Joseph I. Okoye.

So as the book is closed on 2011, let’s take one last look back at the events and people that affected our lives as the church of northeast Kansas.


• Jeff Hart, a member of an American drilling crew that helped rescue 33 trapped Chilean miners, lectured students on Jan. 7 at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kan.

• Father Francis J. Krische, 79, longtime pastor of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, died on Jan. 12 at his Topeka home.

• Gov. Sam Brownback addressed some 2,000 pro-life persons Jan. 21 on the south steps of the Kansas Capitol during the annual March for Life.

• Sister Carol Ann Petersen, OSB, was presented the 2011 Woman of Achievement Award on Jan. 22 from the Kansas City area chapter of Zonta International. She is the founder and director of the Keeler Women’s Center in Kansas City, Kan.

• Greg Wellnitz became the new director of Prairie Star Ranch, Williamsburg.

• Ninety-two Benedictine Sisters from around the country gathered at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison to examine the past, present and future of monastic life in the United States.


• Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann installed Bishop John B. Brungardt as ordinary of the Diocese of Dodge City on Feb. 2 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City.

• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and Bishop Robert Vaza, coadjutor of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Calif., was the homilist at the White Mass for health care workers on Feb. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kan. The sponsor was the Catholic Medical Association.


• Benedictine College in Atchison announced the launch of a new academic program, the Gregorian Fellows. Its purpose is to advance intellectual culture on campus.

• A blue-ribbon task force was created by Archbishop Naumann to review needs identified in a feasibility study for a capital campaign.

• A massive 23-foot tsunami, triggered by a 9.0 earthquake, struck the east-central coast of Japan, leaving 15,839 dead and 3,647 missing. Archdiocesan parishes raised $356,100 for relief.

• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at the dedication Mass of the new Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Chapel on March 19 at Prairie Star Ranch.

• More than 700 people indicated their desire to enter the church during rites of election on March 13 at St. Matthew Parish in Topeka, and on March 20 at Holy Angels Parish in Basehor and St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.

• The new Atchison Region Serra Club was granted and presented its charter after a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Naumann on March 26 at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison.

• Archbishop Naumann completed his historic, all-parish tour of the archdiocese with a visit on March 27 to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Mayetta and St. Dominic Parish in Holton.


• Father Harry Schneider led a groundbreaking and blessing on April 2 for a new Heartland Habitat for Humanity house in Kansas City, Kan., built through the cooperation of the Church of the Nativity Parish in Leawood, Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, and the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kan.

• Father Joseph I. Okoye, 58, was found deceased in his room on April 7 at Savior Pastoral Center, where he was recovering following surgery. A memorial Mass was celebrated on April 29 in the Savior chapel, followed by burial at the cemetery of the Basilica of the Blessed Holy Trinity Cathedral in Onitsha, Nigeria.

• Archbishop Naumann presided at the ordinations of the 17 members of the first archdiocesan class of permanent deacons on April 9 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.

• Gov. Sam Brownback signed two historic pro-life bills on April 12. They were the Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Actand the Fetal Pain and Late-Term Abortion Act.

• Father Charles Polifka, OFM Cap., the provincial of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of Mid-America, was the main celebrant at the 25th anniversary Mass of the Catholic Campus Center at Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence.


• Although the store had been in operation since February, the grand opening of the second TurnStyles, at Mur–Len and 151th St. in Olathe, was held on May 14.

• Gov. Brownback signed the Licensure of Abortion Clinics Act on May 20.

• Father Arul Carasala became an American citizen on May 20 at the federal courthouse in Topeka. He is the pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Onaga, St. Patrick Parish in Corning, St. Bede Parish in Kelly, and St. Columbkille Parish in Blaine.

• Deacon Oswaldo Sandoval was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Archbishop Naumann on May 21 at St. Peter Cathedral in Kansas City, Kan.

• Tornados caused extensive damage in Reading, in Joplin, Mo., and in other parts of the United States on May 22. Archdiocesan parishes raised $250,925 for relief efforts.

• Deacons John Blaha, Barry Clayton and Michael Peterson were ordained priests by Archbishop Naumann on May 28 at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa.


• Archbishop Naumann appointed Father Gary Pennings, vicar general and moderator of the curia, as director of the office of the permanent diaconate.

• The archdiocesan liturgy office offered a series of workshops, from June until October, for the laity about the new Roman Missal translation. Other training sessions were held for archdiocesan clergy.

• Catholic Cemeteries assumed management of Mount Calvary Cemetery in Topeka.

• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at the 125th anniversary Mass on June 18 at Immaculate Conception Parish in Louisburg.

• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at the 125th anniversary Mass on June 19 at St. Joseph Parish in Waverly.

• The Leaven won one first place, one second place, three third place and one honorable mention awards at the Catholic Media Convention June 22- 24 in Pittsburgh.

• Sister Delores Dolezal, OSB, who retired on June 26, was the 255th and last Benedictine Sister assigned to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca. Her retirement ended a relationship between the parish and the Sisters that lasted 135 years.

• Nine Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth marked their golden jubilees on June 26 with a Mass at the motherhouse chapel on June 26. They were: Sisters Marianna Bauder, Helen Bristow, Carol Depner, Maureen Hall, Paula Rose Jauernig, Barbara Kushan, Roberta O’Leary, and Jean Anne Panisko.


• Ann Connor became the new associate superintendent for archdiocesan schools on July 1.

• Jacki Corrigan, consultant for the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life for nearly 16 years, retired.

• Father Pat Sullivan was the main celebrant at the final Mass on July 6 at St. Joseph Parish in Lillis. The parish was established in 1865. The current church was built in 1916.

• Five members of the Apostles of the Interior Life were ordained by Archbishop Naumann on June 18 at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park. Deacons Mirco Sosio, Scott Kallal, Vince Huber and Edward Ahn were ordained to the priesthood. Alessandro Borraccia was ordained a transitional deacon.

• Deacon Tony Zimmerman became the lead consultant in the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life on July 18.

• Cardinal Raymond Burke and Gianna Emanuela Molla were among the speakers at “Being Faithful Unto Death,” a national conference on the Catholic perspective on end-of-life issues held July 23 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan.

• The Southern Region Pastoral Plan was accepted by Archbishop Naumann.

• The St. Philippine Duchesne Latin Mass Community took possession of the former Westwood Lutheran Church in Johnson County. The structure was remodeled to become a chapel for the community, which met at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kan.

• Reporter Jessica Langdon joined the Leaven staff.

• Nine Benedictine Sisters celebrated their golden jubilees on July 31 at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison. They are: Sisters Eleanor Suther, Genevieve Robinson, Martha Schweiger, Joanne Yankauskis, Therese Elias, Mary Margaret Kean, Loretta McGuire, Linda Zahner and Jeannine Neavitt.


• The archdiocese was represented by 67 pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain. The pilgrims were joined by Archbishop Naumann and archdiocesan seminarians.

• Xavier Elementary School in Leavenworth moved into the newly renovated, former Muncie public school building, a consolidation from three separate campuses. The school was dedicated on Aug. 20, and opened its doors for class on Aug. 24.

• Archbishop Naumann blessed the site for a new monastery for the Community of the Lamb during a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 27 at the site, 36 S. Boeke St., in Kansas City, Kan. The cost is estimated at $2 million.

• Parishioners joined Archbishop Naumann as he broke ground on Aug. 28 for a new church at St. Stanislaus in Rossville.


• About 350 people attended the first biennial archdiocesan convocation of parish ministries, held Sept. 15 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan.

• The National Catholic Bioethics Center hosted the seminar “Catholic Health Care Ethics: A Tradition of Compassion and Care for the Human Person,” Sept. 23 – 24 at Savior Pastoral Center.

• Wangari Maathal, Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate and graduate of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, died of cancer on Sept. 25.

• Kansas bishops wrote Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, of the Department of Health and Human Services, to express their emphatic opposition to rules that would force coverage of morally objectionable items — like abortifacients and contraception —under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

• Brad and Libby DuPont became consultants in the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life.

• The fourth annual Catholic New Media Conference was held Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 at Savior Pastoral Center.


• A blessing and groundbreaking were held on Oct. 6 for a rosary garden in memory of the late Aubry Williams, 12, at Christ the King Parish in Topeka.

• Archbishop Naumann blessed the new Guardian Angels Shrine and the memorial to victims of abortion on Oct. 3 at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Kansas City, Kan.


• Archbishop Naumann presided over a blessing and groundbreaking on Nov. 1 for a new residence hall at Benedictine College in Atchison.

• Charles Berkel, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee, and Father Michael Hermes, president of Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kan., both received the Deo Gratias Award from the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas during its annual Deo Gratias dinner on Nov. 3 at Savior Pastoral Center.

• The Catholic bishops of Kansas and bishops representing two Protestant denominations issued a joint statement about immigration reform on Nov. 9 at the state Capitol.

• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant of a Mass of thanksgiving on Nov. 12 for the beatification of Blessed Mary Catherine Irigoyen Echegaray at St. Peter Cathedral in Kansas City, Kan. Sister Catherine, the immediate successor of the founder of the Sisters, Servants of Mary, was beatified in Madrid on Oct. 31.

• A total of 850 pilgrims from the archdiocese attended the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 17 – 19 in Indianapolis.

• Father Matthew J. Horvat, 80, pastor of St. Mary-St. Anthony Parish in Kansas City, Kan., died on Nov. 21 while recovering from a stroke.

• Father Jerry Spencer retired on Nov. 22 after serving as a chaplain at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., since 1975.

• The new English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal was implemented the first weekend of Advent, Nov. 26 – 27.


• Dr. Nancy Mikhaeel was named full-time medical director of Saint Vincent Clinic in Leavenworth and Duchesne Clinic in Kansas City, Kan.

• Father Anthony E. Blaufuss, 78, died on Dec. 21 in retirement at Garnett.

• Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas launches its “Give. Hope.” initiative, to offer encouragement as well as temporal support to those in need.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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