Archdiocesan Year in Review: 2013

by Joe Bollig

Every year is filled with important events, but the year 2013 was especially noteworthy, if only for being the year of two popes.

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the church and the world when he became the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, saying that, due to age and health, he was no longer able to serve effectively.

The conclave of March brought a surprise: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected pope. He took the name Francis.

Pope Francis is the first pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit pope, and the first pope to take the name Francis. From the moment he stepped out on the loggia, Pope Francis made it clear that this new papacy would be personal, humble and accessible. If John Paul II was the pope of faith, and Benedict XVI was the pope of hope, then Francis is the pope of love — and of mercy.

This was also the Year of Faith, as proclaimed by Pope Benedict in his apostolic letter of Oct. 11, 2011, “Porta Fidei” (“The Door of Faith”). The Year of Faith began on Oct. 11, 2012, and concluded on Nov. 24, 2013. It was a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord” and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas observed the Year of Faith by launching its own initiative — “Faith: Love It, Learn It, Live It.” With a convocation in October, the archdiocese then transitioned into a new phase, with an emphasis on living out the new evangelization: “Proclaim It!”

To promote the new evangelization, the archdiocesan office of evangelization, directed by Father Andrew Strobl, replaced the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of adults. New collaborative efforts were begun with the School of Faith Institute and St. Paul Outreach.

The year for the archdiocese was filled with celebrations and anniversaries, of exciting initiatives and pastoral action, and of personal milestones and final farewells.

So before we close the book on this eventful year, let’s take one last look back at the events and people that affected our lives as the church of northeast Kansas in 2013.


• It was announced on Jan. 11 that Father James Robert Albers, OSB, a native of Bendena, had been elected the ninth abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison on Dec. 22, 2012.

• Archdiocesan Catholics contributed $86,084 for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

• Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann blessed the new chapel of the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Latin Mass Community, located in Westwood, on Jan. 12.

• Mary Jo and Phil Doherty, members of Ascension Parish in Overland Park, were named 2013 chairpersons for the Archbishop’s Call to Share appeal.

• More than 600 youths and young adults from the archdiocese joined tens of thousands of others at the annual March for Life, held Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C.

• Father Gerald E. Sheeds, 71, a priest of the archdiocese since 1968, died on Jan. 28 in Kansas City, Kan.

• The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth announced on Jan. 29 that they would sell Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth to Prime Healthcare.


• The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison opened their yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of their founding, called “With Grateful Hearts,” by inviting women religious for a Mass and luncheon on Feb. 10. Earlier, on Feb. 5, the Sisters participated in a historical panel presentation on Atchison in the 1860s at Benedictine College.

• Pope Benedict XVI surprised the church and the world when he announced on Feb. 11 that he would resign at the end of the month, due to declining health, after serving an eight-year pontificate.

• Father Ronald Joseph Cornish, 71, a priest of the archdiocese since 1968, died on Feb. 15 in Olathe.

• Men Under Construction 17, an archdiocesan-wide daylong retreat for men, took place on Feb. 25 at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.

• Deborah and Deacon Dana Nearmyer were awarded the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict at the annual Benedictine College Scholarship Ball on Feb. 23.

• Father Richard Wempe, 88, a priest of the archdiocese since 1952, died on Feb. 25 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, in Lawrence.

• The Vatican II Lecture Series, taught and livestreamed in February and March by Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher and Father John Melnick, SSA, of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan., attracted a worldwide audience thanks to being included on the Vatican’s website for the Year of Faith. The series was part of the archdiocesan Faith Initiative.


• Archdiocesan Catholics waited anxiously as the cardinals met in conclave beginning on March 12 to choose a new pope. The world was surprised on March 13 when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected pope. The Argentine chose the name Francis.

• Archbishop Naumann and pastor Father Thomas Aduri broke ground on March 16 for an addition to Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka.

• Father Pat Murphy, CS, stepped down as archdiocesan animator for Hispanic ministry to become director of a shelter for migrants in Tijuana, Mexico. He was succeeded by Father Livio Stella, CS.


• Archbishop Naumann joined local dignitaries and college officials on April 5 for the dedication of the newly completed Donnelly College Community Events Center.

• The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica conducted a special “Atchison Day” celebration as part of the order’s yearlong 150th anniversary celebration.

• Archbishop Naumann presided at the archdiocese’s inaugural celebration of the Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb, held on April 20 at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park.


• More than 1,000 people participated in the 112th Knights of Columbus state convention, held May 2 to 5 in Overland Park.

• Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa celebrated its school’s 100th anniversary on May 3.

• Jaime Zarse, Adam Wilczak, Anthony Saiki and Mark Ostrowski were ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 18 at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka.

• Deacons Lawrence Bowers, Nathan Haverland, Daniel Schmitz and Quentin Schmitz were ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Naumann on May 25 at St. Matthew Parish in Topeka.

• Former members of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica made “the great return” to Atchison on May 25 and 26 in honor of the order’s 150th anniversary.

• Catholics throughout the archdiocese and other parts of Kansas contributed to recovery efforts following tornadoes that damaged property near Marysville on May 27 and Corning on May 28.


• Archbishop Naumann joined pastor Father Arul Carasala for a Mass of dedication on June 1 for the renovated Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca. Joining them at the altar was Bishop Prasad Gallela from the Diocese of Cuddapah in India.

• Former Major League baseball player Mike Sweeney conducted the first Catholic Baseball Camp June 4 to 6 at Mid-America Sports Complex in Shawnee.

• St. Joseph Parish in Wathena celebrated the restoration of its lighted steeple cross and honored then-pastor Father Roderic Giller, OSB, on the occasion of his retirement on June 5.

• Father John Patrick Dunnivan III, 84, died on June 7 at Aberdeen Village in Overland Park.

• The Leaven won a total of nine awards at the Catholic Media Convention, held June 19 to 21 in Denver: four first place, two second place and three third place.

• The archdiocese held four Fortnight for Freedom events from June 21 to July 4 at Holy Spirit Church in Overland Park, St. Matthew Church in Topeka, St. Francis Xavier Church in Burlington and Corpus Christi Church in Lawrence.

• Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan., launched its Urban Teacher Education Program.


• The four parishes of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Sacred Heart and St. Patrick, in and near the city of Atchison, were merged effective July 5 to form St. Benedict Parish. Atchison Catholic Elementary School was named St. Benedict Catholic School.

• Keeler Women’s Center in Kansas City, Kan., celebrated its 10th anniversary with a luncheon on July 12 at the Jack Reardon Civic Center in Kansas City, Kan.

• The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison continued their yearlong celebration of their 150th anniversary with visits by Sisters from daughter monasteries in Brazil, California and Mexico. On July 7, they feted their golden jubilarians. Wanjira Mathai, the daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, was a guest speaker at the Keeler Women’s Center luncheon and visited the mount.

• St. Joseph of the Valley parishioners in rural Leavenworth County invited Archbishop Naumann to join them in a celebration of the parish’s 150th anniversary, the installation of Father Matthew Francis as pastor, and the dedication of the parish hall in the name of former pastor Father George Bertels.

• The archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth announced the addition of Angie Bittner as rural outreach coordinator for youth and Liz Halfmann as youth outreach coordinator for Wyandotte County.

• Father Scott Wallisch was appointed archdiocesan vocation director, succeeding Father Mitchel Zimmerman.


• After 15 years of service, Jerry Mayne was succeeded by Carla Mills as archdiocesan chief financial officer.

• Jan Lewis, who served as president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas for seven years, was succeeded by Ken Williams.

• Archbishop Naumann, two priests and 33 seminarians made a pilgrimage to cathedrals and shrines in Wisconsin from Aug. 7 to 10.

• The second cohort of men seeking to become permanent deacons passed from aspirancy to candidacy during a Mass and Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders on Aug. 25 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan.


• An open house was held on Sept. 7 for the Nativity House residence for homeless women in crisis pregnancies in Kansas City, Kan.

• Benedictine College was consecrated to Jesus through Mary on Sept. 8, the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

• The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison continued the celebration of their 150th anniversary with a special “Kansas City Day” on Sept. 15 at St. Pius X Parish in Mission.


• St. Francis Parish in Lapeer celebrated its 150th anniversary with a Mass and potluck dinner on Oct. 4.

• Relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, were on display for public veneration on Oct. 8 at the Church of the Nativity in Leawood.

• Archbishop Naumann dedicated a new altar and installed Father Barry Clayton as pastor on Oct. 13 at Sacred Heart Parish in Sabetha.

• Father Thomas Francis Cawley, CM, 83, died on Oct. 18 at the Vincentian Parish Mission Center in Independence, Mo.

• The Sisters, Servants of Mary gathered at a special Mass on Oct. 19 honoring four women of their order who were martyred during the Spanish Civil War. Nine of the Sisters attended the beatification Mass on Oct. 13 in Tarragona, Spain.

• The archdiocese capped its one-year Faith Initiative: “Love It, Learn It, Live It,” and began the next step, “Proclaim It!,” at the annual archdiocesan convocation of parish ministries on Oct. 30 at Savior Pastoral Center.


• The Catholic Education Foundation celebrated the 10th anniversary of its annual Gaudeamus fundraiser on Nov. 2 at the Overland Park Convention Center.

• The St. James Academy Thunder girls volleyball team won its sixth straight Kansas 5A championship on Nov. 2 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.

• Archbishop Naumann dedicated a new altar on Nov. 3 at St. Dominic Parish in Holton.

• Bernie and Jackie Madden of St. Ann Parish in Prairie Village, and Sacred Heart Parish in Emporia, received the Deo Gratias Award during the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas’ Deo Gratias dinner on Nov. 7 at Savior Pastoral Center.

• Pastor Father Mitchel Zimmerman and parishioners of Christ the King Parish in Topeka celebrated the 20th anniversary of the beginning of perpetual Eucharistic adoration at the parish.

• Abbot Owen Purcell, OSB, 82, who led St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison from 1989 to 1994, died on Nov. 8 at the abbey.

• Father Bertrand LaNoue, OSB, 86, longtime economics professor at Benedictine College, died on Nov. 16 at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison.

• Archdiocesan superintendent of schools Kathleen O’Hara received the 2013 St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Award from Archbishop Naumann on Nov. 17 at Sacred Heart Parish in Mound City.

• Archdiocesan Catholics took up special collections to aid those who were affected when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines.

• Catholics of the archdiocese were invited to join others around the world in sharing their input through a Vatican survey on the family, in preparation for the Oct. 5 to 19, 2014, Synod of Bishops.


• Father Albert J. Fey, CPPS, 92, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Baileyville from 1994 to 2007 and a member of the Kansas City Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, died on Dec. 7 at the St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio.

• Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher celebrated the 20th anniversary of his arrival in Kansas subsequent to his appointment as ordinary of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

• Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann dedicated the newly renovated ReachKCK facility in the former Blessed Sacrament School in Kansas City, Kan., at its grand opening, “One Thing Remains,” Dec. 30.

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.

Leave a Comment