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Column: Archbishop goes behind the scenes


by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

At Snow Ball 41 last Saturday, it was announced that among the 1,700 attendees was a couple who had been married the night before at Holy Angels Church in Basehor. I made a point to track down the couple in order to congratulate them on their marriage and thank them for spending the evening of their first full day of marriage at the Snow Ball.

I asked them if they were going to have a honeymoon. They got this rather sheepish look on their faces and, not really wanting to draw attention to themselves, said with humility, but also joy: “Archbishop, we gave the money that we would have spent on a honeymoon to the project our parish was sponsoring to build homes for families in Haiti. We are fortunate to have a nice home as we begin our married life. We wanted another family to have the joy of their own home.”

I was blown away by the beauty of what this couple had chosen to do to glorify God and to help another family as they began their married life! You will not see them featured on “Bridezilla” or reality television’s “Marriage Boot Camp.” What a beautiful example.

Snow Ball 41 set a new record for the money raised for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, exceeding $2 million for the second straight year. This means Catholic Charities will have the resources to bring the love of Jesus in very tangible and real ways to thousands of people in the 21 counties of northeast Kansas.

When I tell bishops in other dioceses about the Snow Ball, they cannot believe what this annual event does to help the needy in our community. They ask: How do you do it? I tell them that it began very small with just a group of generous couples wanting to do something to help others in the community and it snowballed!

As important as the financial resources generated each year are to help fund the essential work of Catholic Charities, I find the back stories of the attendees in some ways more fascinating. There are a few who were at the first Snow Ball. What is impressive is to meet their children and even grandchildren who now proudly attend each year.

The presidents for the Snow Ball this year were Paul and Mary Thompson. As you can imagine, it is rather a daunting task to take up the responsibility of leading what has become the premiere fundraiser in the Kansas City community. Each year, the Snow Ball committee starts from ground zero. Paul and Mary, along with many others, put in long hours over many months to make Snow Ball 41 such a resounding success.

Again, there was a beautiful back story for the Thompson family on the night of the Snow Ball. Paul’s sister Tricia had died earlier in the week as a result of injuries she received in car accident 26 years ago. Tricia has been profoundly disabled for those 26 years.

Paul’s remarks were particularly poignant. He admitted the difficulty of his family preparing to bury his sister as he and Mary also attended to the many last minute details involved with the Snow Ball. Paul gratefully acknowledged the incredible support that his family had received from so many in the Kansas City community at the time of the accident and these ensuing 26 years. Paul saw in the Snow Ball another expression of the goodness of so many in our community, who are generous in wanting to help others in time of need.

Each year, I am given the privilege of offering the invocation for Snow Ball. This year, I decided to do something a little different and rhyme my message, entitling it: “Ode to Snow Ball 41.” Despite the pretentious title, I readily acknowledge this does not qualify as poetry. It does not live up to the standards of the poet laureate for the archdiocese, Msgr. Charles McGlinn. However, it was fun to write and I hope you enjoy it. Who knows? Next year maybe rap?

Ode to Snow Ball 41

Our world at times seems to be filled with bad news.

Terrorists attacks, ISIS in Iraq, Riots in Ferguson, Deflate Gate

Give us plenty of reason for the blues!

Tonight our gathering has an opposite reason.

In between arctic blasts during this coldest season

For forty-one years now Kansas Citians

Have come together to help their less fortunate citizens.

What began very small to help one or two

Has snowballed to help way more than a few.

What began so simple and small

Has turn giving into something fashionable for all.

The Patron Committee has been for months hard at work

With the joy of helping thousands of others their only perk.

Sending emails, making personal visits and calls

To make Forty-One the Mother of all Balls!

Though one game short for the Royal Blue

And the Chiefs will not be sporting Super Bowl rings new.

Kansas City is a winner, we can truly boast

Because those the world considers least, we treasure most.

Tonight, we enjoy visiting with friends new and old

And those more graceful than me on the dance floor will make moves bold.

We will savor fine wine

And upon something better than Mickey D’s Value Meal dine!

Yet, the real joy of this night is not to be found

In the dining, the conversing or the twirling around!

Tonight, we give thanks to our God by whom we have been so blessed

And to glorify him as we in our brothers and sisters invest.

Our contribution to Snow Ball 41, big or small

Was not to grow our portfolio or indulge in binge shopping at the mall.

We pray that this annual miracle during winter’s bitterest cold

Will help make this year sweeter for those hurting young and old!

We give thanks for all those who contributed to the success of Snow Ball for Forty-One

And we give thanks also for those whom the preparations for Forty-Two have already begun!

About the author

Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Joseph F. Naumann is the archbishop for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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