by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The big story of 2023 can be said in just two words: Eucharistic Revival.
It’s a continuing story, to be sure, begun in 2022 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launched its Eucharistic Revival initiative on the solemnity of Corpus Christi on June 19.
The initiative is divided into three “years,” each beginning in June. In June 2023, we entered the diocesan year of Eucharistic Revival. In response, many parishes hosted various activities, events and liturgies, especially eucharistic processions and eucharistic adoration.
But the revival wasn’t the only big news.
There was big papal news. Catholics around the world mourned the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who just missed 2023 by dying on Dec. 31. Likewise, people commemorated the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate on March 13.
Events far away from the archdiocese still had local impact.
The Synod on Synodality (the Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops) began in 2021 with local “listening sessions” and finally reached the universal stage in Rome beginning on Oct. 4, lasting three weeks.
In parishes all over the archdiocese, many prayed for those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was in its second year. They also prayed for those affected by the Israel-Hamas War, which began with terrorist attacks from Gaza on Oct. 7.
Happily, we celebrated the ordinations of Deacon Aaron Waldeck and Father Colm Larkin, Father George Rhodes and Father Timothy Skoch.
The year 2023 was filled with celebrations, anniversaries, initiatives, pastoral action and personal milestones. Only a small part of archdiocesan life could be recorded in The Leaven.
So, before we close the book on the old year, let’s take one last look back at the people and events that comprised the life in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas in 2023.
• Archdiocesan Catholics mourned the death of Pope Benedict XVI, 95, who died on Dec. 31, 2022, at Monastero Mater Ecclesiae in Vatican City. He reigned from April 16, 2005, to Feb. 28, 2013, the first pope to resign since 1415.
• The Kansas attorney general released a report on Jan. 13 by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation of an investigation of historical allegations of sexual abuse made against Catholic clergy in the state.
• Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrated a Mass and later blessed the new eucharistic adoration chapel and Marian grotto on Jan. 15 at Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Marys.
• Father John Edward Melnick, 62, of the Society of St. Augustine, died on Jan. 15 at St. Luke’s Hospital North in Kansas City, Missouri. A native of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, he was former director of campus ministry and religious studies instructor at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Deacon Philip Gilbert of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and his wife Christine visited students at St. Benedict School in Atchison on Jan. 19 after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
• Archdiocesan Catholics joined Archbishop Naumann at the National March for Life Vigil Mass on Jan. 19, later followed by the National March for Life on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.
• Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas held its annual Snow Ball on Jan. 21 in Overland Park.
• Bishop Gerald Vincke of the Diocese of Salina was the homilist at the annual Red Mass for those involved in government, celebrated by the bishops of Kansas on Jan. 23 at St. Joseph Church in Topeka.
• The annual IGNITE for Life rally was held on Jan. 24 at the Topeka Performing Arts Center. The event featured speaker Lila Rose, Mass with the bishops of Kansas and the state March for Life and rally on the south steps of the Kansas Capitol.
• The archdiocese announced the death of Father John C. Maier, 87, on Nov. 18, 2022, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Des Moines and native of Leavenworth, at St. John Hospital in Leavenworth.
• The Church of the Nativity in Leawood held the Journey to Joy women’s retreat on Jan. 28.
• Archdiocesan Catholics Terry and Peggy Dunn, Jan and Lynn Reardon, and Mark and Abby Henke helped raise funds for building a new motherhouse for the Sisters of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) in Violet, Texas.
• The deteriorating upper third of the Assumption Church twin towers in Topeka were removed.
• The archdiocesan school office held its first-ever Discover Day and Career Fair for teachers on Feb. 4 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. The Discovery Day was for families to learn more about Catholic schools, while the Career Fair was for educators to learn about employment in Catholic schools.
• Archbishop Naumann joined the management of Villa St. Francis in Olathe for a groundbreaking on Feb. 7 on a project to improve the facility.
• The Kansas Catholic College Student Convention Mass on Feb. 10 was celebrated by Archbishop Naumann.
• Archbishop. Naumann celebrated the annual White Mass for Catholics in the medical professions on Feb. 11 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Kansas City, Missouri.
• Archbishop Naumann celebrated the World Marriage Day Mass on Feb. 12 at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe.
• A “Week for Your Marriage” retreat for Hispanic married couples was held Feb. 13-18 at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Deacon Tony Zimmerman, 71, former lead consultant of the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life, died on Feb. 18. He served as a permanent deacon for more than 16 years.
• Brad DuPont became lead consultant of the archdiocesan marriage and family life office.
• Three nuns from a new community to the archdiocese, the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SCTJM), arrived in the archdiocese on Feb. 20.
• The University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, for the first time held its annual Lincoln Event on Feb. 21 at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
• The Benedictine College Scholarship Ball was held on Feb. 25 at the Overland Park Convention Center.
• The archdiocesan Junior High Youth Rally was held on Feb. 26 at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg.
• Men from across the archdiocese gathered for the one-day Men Under Construction retreat on Feb. 25 at Ascension Parish in Overland Park.
• Rites of Election for people entering the Catholic Church were held at St. Matthew Parish in Topeka and Church of the Ascension in Overland Park on Feb. 26.
• Schools and parishes in Atchison, Purcell and Good Intent raised funds to help Father Hughes Sundeme buy and ship a pickup truck to Ghana to aid in his mission work upon his return home.
• Joe Loughman, a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, became the sixth of the boys in his family to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in Scouts BSA.
• Archdiocesan Catholics observed the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis on March 13.
• The Catholic Charities Golf Classic luncheon was held on May 15 at Lake Quivira Country Club in Johnson County.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at a Mass on March 19 for the blessing and dedication of the remodeled Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Shawnee.
• Sixth grade students from 14 Catholic schools in Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties participated in the Serra Club of Kansas City in Kansas’ annual essay contest. The winners read their essays on March 22 at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee.
• Youths in grades 9 to 12 from more than 20 parishes convened at the archdiocesan Rural Catholic Youth Conference March 25-26 at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg.
• Mary Osborne from Holy Family School and Judy Cucciniello from Hayden High School, both in Topeka, were honored as Archdiocesan Elementary Teacher of the Year and Archdiocesan High School Teacher of the Year, respectively. Cucciniello was also awarded the Kansas Association of Independent and Religious Schools Distinguished Teacher Award, Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
• Sister Monica Bernadette Arguello, SCTJM, was appointed to the archdiocesan marriage and family life office.
• Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota, and Adam Bartlett of Source and Summit music, received the “Lumen Vitae” (“Light of Life”) medal on April 1 at the Overland Park Convention Center from the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison.
• Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher celebrated the 65th anniversary of his priestly ordination on April 12.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at a Mass on April 15 to honor the former St. Joseph School in Olpe. The school — built in 1921, closed in 2013 and slated for demolition — will be replaced with a new Parish Life Center.
• The archdiocesan office of evangelization, with the Sophia Spirituality Center in Atchison, held a multicultural women’s retreat on April 16.
• Led by Archbishop Naumann, Catholics from several parishes in the Atchison Region participated in a eucharistic procession on April 16 in Atchison.
• The Keeler Women’s Center celebrated its 20th anniversary on April 21 at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at a Mass on the annual Day of Atonement for Those Harmed by Sexual Abuse on April 26 at Holy Angels Parish in Basehor.
• The Kansas Knights of Columbus held their annual state convention on April 29 in Topeka.
• Lee McMahon, consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization, began his “New Manna” podcast to promote the Eucharistic Revival.
• Relics of Blessed Carlo Acutis and St. Manuel Gonzales Garcia visited five archdiocesan parishes May 5-8.
• Archbishop Naumann celebrated Mass and blessed the renovation of St. Columbkille Church in Blaine on May 13.
• Msgr. Vincent E. Krische, 84, died in Lawrence on May 13. In addition to his pastoral assignments, he served for 28 years at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at Kansas University in Lawrence.
• Six inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility graduated with degrees on May 18 from the College in Prison program of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Aaron Waldeck was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Archbishop Naumann on May 20 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Shawnee.
• Deacon Timothy J. Skoch, Deacon Colm F. Larkin and Deacon George L. Rhodes were ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Naumann on May 27 at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe.
• Brad Heidrick was named the new CEO of Catholic Community Health.
• The first-ever Marriage Encounter retreat for Hispanic couples was held on June 2 at Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park.
• The Serra Club of Topeka celebrated its relaunch with a Mass, induction and luncheon on June 3 at St. Matthew Parish in Topeka.
• Bishop Andrew Cozzens, leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ national Eucharistic Revival, was retreat master at the June 5-8 annual priests retreat at Benedictine College in Atchison.
• The Leaven won 13 awards at the Catholic Media Convention, June 6-9, in Baltimore.
• Parishes throughout the archdiocese celebrated the solemnity of Corpus Christi and the national Eucharistic Revival with eucharistic processions on June 8.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at the 50th anniversary Mass on June 9 at Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee.
• There was a Mass and groundbreaking on June 10 for the Fiat Center at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Overland Park.
• There was a eucharistic procession on June 11 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.
• The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison announced on June 11 that they elected Sister Mary Elizabeth Schweiger as 13th prioress in their 160-year history.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at the 10th anniversary Mass of the Chin Community on June 18 at St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at the archdiocesan Mass on June 21 at Church of the Nativity in Leawood for couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries. The Mass was sponsored by the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life.
• The regional encuentro for Hispanic pastoral leaders was held on June 23-25 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
• Two Scalabrini priests joined the parish staff at Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park.
• Matt Thomas was appointed chairman of the Archdiocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting.
• Jenifer Valenti, director of the archdiocesan office for protection and care, after four years of work, promulgated the archdiocesan Abuse Prevention Policy, which replaced the Child Protection Policy.
• Fifty Prayer and Action teams from 10 parishes undertook service projects in Atchison in late June.
• St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lansing concluded its stained-glass window installation.
• The annual Pitching for Priests game, between clerics from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was held July 7 at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas. The priests of the archdiocese won 31-30.
• The Master’s Cup Invitational luncheon was held on July 10 at Iron Horse Golf Club in Leawood.
• Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Topeka held its Fiesta Topeka, formerly the Fiesta Mexicana, July 18-22.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed the new Vianney House for retired priests in Olathe on July 25.
• Twenty-four eighth and ninth grade boys from the archdiocese participated in Kenrick-Glennon Days, an annual vocation discernment camp at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
• The State Council of the Knights of Columbus donated $71,000 to pregnancy centers in Kansas.
• Archdiocesan Catholics attended World Youth Day, Aug. 1-6, in Lisbon, Portugal.
• The prefect for the Dicastery of the Clergy in Rome announced on Aug. 10 that Father Steven P. Beseau of the archdiocese would continue to serve for three more years as rector/president of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
• Religious Sisters Appreciation Day was held on Aug. 13 at Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee.
• Archbishop Naumann led a eucharistic procession in Paola on Aug. 19 for Catholics in the Southern Pastoral Region as part of the national Eucharistic Revival.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at a Mass for the 50th anniversary of Christ’s Peace House of Prayer retreat center in Easton on Aug. 19.
• The Annual Kelly Youth Rally was held on Aug. 19.
• Archbishop Naumann led Catholics from the Nemaha-Marshall Pastoral Region in a eucharistic procession on Aug. 21 in Seneca.
• Greg Mies, a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Shawnee, became director of facilities for Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas, on Aug. 21.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed the renamed Catholic Community Health’s Our Lady of Grace Hospice House at Villa St. Francis, Olathe, on Aug. 22.
• A new rosary path in a garden at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Bucyrus/Wea was blessed and dedicated on Aug. 22.
• Archbishop Naumann blessed the new Insight Women’s Center Selah Home in Lawrence on Aug. 31.
• The University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, was named to the Best in the Midwest regional college list by the Princeton Review.
• After a four-year pause, the archdiocesan convocation was held on Sept. 8 at Savior Pastoral Center. For the first time, the convocation had both English and Spanish language sessions.
• St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Mass on Sept. 16.
• Sacred Heart Parish in Sabetha held its “Quo Vadis” celebration for the parish and the community on Sept. 16.
• Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence blessed and dedicated its new, three-panel mosaic “Creation” on Sept. 17.
• Archbishop Naumann joined the Little Sisters of the Community of the Lamb on Sept. 23 for a Mass celebrating the 15th anniversary of their foundation in the archdiocese, the 10th anniversary of the dedication of their Lumen Christi Monastery in Kansas City, Kansas, and the fifth anniversary of the dedication of the Little Brothers’ Mother of God Monastery.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at a World Day of Migrants and Refugees Mass on Sept. 24 at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe.
• The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth and St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lansing held Season of Creation events Sept. 28 and Oct. 1.
• Forty participants were at the first-ever Walking with Moms in Need walk, held Sept. 30 in Overland Park.
• Coalition Life, a sidewalk prayer and counseling ministry, was introduced to the archdiocese during the annual Respect Life Mass on Oct. 1 at St. Joseph Church in Shawnee.
• SHINE, the annual fundraising gala for Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, was held on Oct. 5 at The Abbott in Kansas City, Missouri.
• The Red Mass for those in the legal professions was celebrated on Oct. 6 at St. Thomas More Church in Kansas City, Missouri.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at the 160th anniversary Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Lapeer on Oct. 7.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at the 100th anniversary Mass at Assumption Church in Topeka on Oct. 8.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant at a Mass celebrating the reopening of Assumption Parish in Topeka on Oct. 9.
• There was a candlelight dedication on Oct. 11 of the new Marian grotto at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park.
• The Advice & Aid Pregnancy Center in Overland Park held a fundraiser and 40th anniversary celebration on Oct. 17 at the Overland Park Convention Center.
• Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant of a Mass on Oct. 22 commemorating the foundation of the Sisters of the Fraternity the Poor of Jesus Christ in the archdiocese.
• Holy Cross School in Overland Park was named the Catholic Education Foundation’s School of Excellence.
• The St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence and St. Paul’s Outreach announced that they would begin a new mission partnership beginning in the 2024-25 school year.
• The archdiocese announced that seminarians would study and receive their formation under the new sixth Program of Priestly Formation, presented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on June 24, 2022.
• The Gaudeamus gala held on Oct. 28 at the Overland Park Convention Center raised $2.4 million for the Catholic Education Foundation.
• A first-class relic of Pope St. John Paul II was brought to St. Catherine Parish in Emporia on Oct. 29 for veneration by the people. It was brought by the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
• Benedictine College in Atchison was ranked number eight in the Midwest in the Top 10 of the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings of America’s Best Colleges.
• Marissa Easter was named the new director of communications for the archdiocese.
• Students from 11 schools attended the eighth grade Life Matters Day on Nov. 6 at Savior Pastoral Center, sponsored by the archdiocesan pro-life office.
• Safe environment coordinators and Virtus facilitators attended an appreciation day for them on Nov. 9 at St. Joseph Church in Shawnee, sponsored by the archdiocesan office for protection and care.
• Actor Jonathan Roumie, star of the TV series “The Chosen,” visited Unbound’s Kansas City, Kansas, headquarters and became the sponsor of the organization’s millionth friend.
• The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison celebrated the 160th anniversary of their founding with a choral concert on Nov. 5 and a lantern procession on Nov. 11.
• Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee was one of 23 schools out of the United States and 90 other countries to be recognized as a Cognia School of Distinction for 2022-23.
• Catholic Cemeteries of the archdiocese hosted Nov. 11 Veterans Day observances at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Topeka and Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa.
• Father Don Cullen, 80, a priest of the archdiocese for 52 years, died on Nov. 27.
• Archbishop Naumann celebrated a Mass on Dec. 2 designating the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas, as a shrine to St. Maria Soledad.
• Actor Jim Caviezel offered a public presentation on human trafficking on Dec. 2 at Holy Angels Parish in Basehor. Earlier, on Nov. 30, there was a showing of his latest film “Sound of Freedom” at AMC Town Center theater in Leawood.
• Sister Kate Cropp was consecrated as an Apostle of the Interior Life (AVI) on Dec. 8 at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence.
• The Franciscan Servants of the Holy Family sponsored a Living Nativity on Dec. 9 in Lawrence at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
• Young adults gathered on Dec. 9 for the annual City Lights gala, a benefit for the City on a Hill community, at Redemptorist Church in Kansas City, Missouri.
• Peter and Veronica Mallouk were named Snow Ball presidents, and Jack and Kathy Newman were named honorary presidents. The Snow Ball is the annual winter fundraiser for the Catholic Charities Foundation of Northeast Kansas.
• More than 60 women attended the first archdiocesan women’s discernment retreat weekend at Prairie Star Ranch.
• John and Claudia Caton, members of St. Ann Parish in Prairie Village, and Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka received the annual Deo Gratias award at the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas’ banquet.
• Dan J. Mason was named the new director of operations for the Catholic Youth Organization of the archdiocese.