by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Cathedral of St. Peter here is known as the archbishop’s church, but if you’re an archdiocesan Catholic, it’s your church, too.
That’s something worth celebrating. But there’s another reason to celebrate, too.
The cathedral is now the archdiocesan shrine of St. Maria Soledad, foundress of the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick — more commonly known as the Sisters, Servants of Mary.
The inaugural Cathedral Gala to support the cathedral and the shrine will be held on Feb. 10. It will begin with a 4 p.m. Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, followed by a social hour in the parish hall, and then a dinner. Msgr. Thomas Tank will be the guest speaker. The gala’s honorary chairpersons are Mike and Susan Carroll.
The attire will be formal and seating will be limited. Tickets are $125 for a single person and $250 for a couple. Also available are table sponsorships ranging from $500 up to $5,000. For information and tickets, go online to: cathedralkck.org/cathedral-gala.
“It’s being held to support the cathedral’s infrastructure and the shrine of St. Soledad,” said Father Anthony J. Saiki, cathedral rector. The goal is to raise $100,000.
The first Mass was celebrated in the bishop’s Kansas City, Kansas, residence in 1907, and the first church was dedicated in 1908. Construction of a grand stone church began in 1925 and was consecrated in 1927. It became the cathedral in 1947, when the see was transferred from Leavenworth to Kansas City, Kansas.
The cathedral is in one sense just another archdiocesan parish. Father Saiki, as rector, is its pastor. The parish has 500 families and thus is smaller than the archdiocese’s suburban parishes in Johnson County.
“[The cathedral neighborhood] is a very close-knit residential area,” said Father Saiki. “People walk the neighborhood and kids walk to school. It’s almost a throwback to how a lot of places were in the 1950s and the 1960s. People know their neighbors, and the church bells really do tell everybody in the community it’s time for Mass. In some sense, it hasn’t lost the old city neighborhood character.
“But there have been tremendous shifts in demographics. We’ve seen quite an increase in our Hispanic population and there’s a tremendous richness in that. We also have our community from Eritrea in northeast Africa. They’ve made this their home for the past 10 years and they’re very faithful coming to Mass here.”
“We have Micronesian families and Vietnamese families,” he continued. “Really, it’s a very diverse community. So many of these people feel comfortable calling the cathedral their home.”
But, in another sense, the cathedral has a much greater significance.
“’It’s the archbishop’s church,” said Father Saiki. “It houses his cathedra — his seat of authority. The symbolism is that it is his church, the mother church of the archdiocese. . . . Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has said that every Catholic in the archdiocese has a spiritual claim to the cathedral as their spiritual home.”
The cathedral gained even more importance on Oct. 10 when Archbishop Naumann designated it the archdiocesan shrine of St. Maria Soledad. On Dec. 2, which is Mother Soledad’s birthday, Archbishop Naumann celebrated the new status of the cathedral as a shrine.
This was done out of gratitude for the medical and spiritual ministry of the Sisters, Servants of Mary, whose provincial house is located just a few blocks from the cathedral.
The shrine, with a statue and relic of St. Soledad, is in Our Lady’s Chapel of the cathedral. The chapel is kept locked, but those who want to visit can call the parish office at (913) 371-0840 to make an appointment.
Two people who’ve been very active in the life of the cathedral are the honorary chairpersons of the upcoming gala, Mike and Susan Carroll. Susan literally spent most of her life hearing the cathedral bells calling her to Mass.
“We raised our family there,” she said. “I’ve experienced [almost all] of my sacramental moments there — baptism, first Communion and confirmation. Mike and I were married at the cathedral 60 years ago.”
They were heavily involved in many cathedral ministries over the years. Although they had to move and became members of St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee this past year, their hearts and history are very much tied to the cathedral.
“I like to call this gala a family celebration,” said Susan. “The cathedral is the family church of the archdiocese and belongs to all families. Archbishop Naumann is our shepherd and this is his church. The gala honors our past and our present, and it looks forward to an exciting future.”