Archdiocese Local

Gala message: Save your pastoral center

Mark Blaise was one of the many speakers at the “Savior Gala, Gilded in Green” event on June 1. Blaise spoke about his fondness for the pastoral center and his appreciation of the staff — noting how often the facility is used during the year. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Jay Soldner

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Although Savior Pastoral Center here has been the site of hundreds of formal gatherings and gala events in its nearly 60-year history, it hosted its first benefit event for itself on June 1, called “Savior Gala, Gilded in Green.”

Savior director Greg Mies organized this gala — which he hopes to make an annual event — to raise money for Savior’s operating costs and upgrades to accessibility. Toby Cook served as emcee for the event, and speakers included Greg Trum, Karen and Craig Gaffney, Mark Blaise, Josh Ruoff and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.

The night began with a welcoming Mass celebrated by Archbishop Naumann, after which gala attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and social time before the gala dinner and program.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrates Mass for the first-ever gala for Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Trum, who was ordained a permanent deacon on June 22, was the first speaker of the evening. He described how special a place Savior is for Catholic formation.

“Our past five years of formation [for the diaconate], he said, “would not have been nearly as fruitful had it not been for Savior [Pastoral Center].

“For us, here at Savior, we had full access to the chapel — from morning, evening, night prayer, eucharistic adoration, [all of] which are all so integral to the formation of the deacon. Our daily Mass was so convenient, as was Friday afternoon confessions.”

Moreover, Trum was inspired by the witness of faith formation that he saw others receive at Savior as well.

“In April, we saw a marriage prep weekend happening,” he continued. “There have been FOCUS missionaries . . . [and] Cub Scouts camping out on the yard.

“But the one that had the most impact on me was when a friend of mine told me of he and his wife spending a weekend here at Savior working on marriages in distress. He fully credits . . . the weekend here at Savior with turning their marriage around.

“Their family is now thriving.”

Greg Mies, director of Savior Pastoral Center, talks with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann during the inaugural Savior gala. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The Gaffneys spoke next, and after sharing some of their personal story, Craig turned to some plans for the future of the complex.

“There will be a very intentional marketing strategy going forward to communicate the facilities we have here at Savior,” he said, “to the likes of local convention and visitors bureaus and beyond — and, in particular, with parishes and schools across the footprint of our archdiocese.”

Blaise, too, spoke from the heart about his fondness for the pastoral center and his appreciation of the staff.

“We go on five retreats a year here. We spend three nights and four days. And the staff that works here is some of the most welcoming — and just make it a really family experience.”

Ruoff, lead consultant for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas special- needs ministry, addressed the gala, he said, “from a professional perspective — and a personal perspective.”

Joshua Ruoff speaks to the attendees of the inaugural Savior Gala. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

“Savior Pastoral and Retreat Center is a really reliable building and it’s allowed us to do a lot of amazing things and provide a lot of opportunities for people,” he said. “But the one major flaw in this building is it’s not accessible to everyone. You may not have noticed tonight but when you were at Mass, there is no way for a person with a disability or limitations to get from where the chapel is, up here to the dining hall. It’s all utilized by stairs.

“You have to go outside and go through the service elevator, which is used for transporting trash — and that’s just not — that’s just not what Savior stands for and that should not be the message that Savior sends to people.”

“If Savior is not accessible to everyone,” he summarized, “it seems that not everyone is welcome here — and that’s just simply not the case.”

Archbishop Naumann concluded the evening by encouraging support for the facility, and especially for money to go to the improvements in accessibility.

“I just want to underline what Josh [Ruoff] said,” said the archbishop. “I think it’s so important that this — kind of our signature building in the archdiocese — is accessible to everyone.

“My conviction is that the best days of Savior are really in front of it.”

To view more photos from the Mass and gala, click here.

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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