Local Special Issue - Convocation

‘My belief has always been strong’

Joanne Lally is a parishioner at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Joanne Lally

Age: 84

Parish: St. John the Baptist, Kansas City, Kansas

Occupation: Retired

What’s in your toolkit? My toolkit is the members of my parish — always available and always willing to lend a hand when needed. Our members are the heart of our parish and, although not a large community, a strong and godly one.

What is your Catholic superpower? I have no superpower, just a blind faith that the Holy Spirit will lead me to where I should go and what I should do, and it works. I have great devotion to my patron saint, St. Joseph.

Before the convocation

What led Joanne Lally to participate in the “Enflame Our Hearts” convocation? That’s easy for her to answer: her faith.

“I’m a cradle Catholic,” said Lally. “It’s always been my belief — my belief has always been strong. There have been times it’s been difficult — the loss of my parents and my husband. I don’t think there has been one specific moment when all of a sudden the light flashed. . . . My faith has always been the same.”

Lally is active in her parish, and one of the things she’s involved with is a women’s Bible study. Sometimes they discuss challenges facing the parish, too.

“We always want more parishioners,” said Lally. “We talked about how we could invite in people moving into the neighborhood . . . ways to get them interested in going to the parish or any of the three churches near them; maybe make a brochure about Mass times or groups they could join.”

One challenge is that Strawberry Hill is an old, urban-core neighborhood in transition. Another challenge is that they share one pastor with three churches, and that keeps him extremely busy. 

It’s amazing how much impact small things can have. Several years ago, Lally started a parish prayer line. She also began a monthly coffee and doughnuts gathering after Sunday Masses. Both bring people together and produce an atmosphere of fellowship.

Lally thinks change is good, but change takes time.

“I think it’s important that the changes come about slowly,” she said. “You don’t do them at the snap of a finger, overnight.”

What she hopes to bring back to her parish from the convocation is new ideas and new energy, to “get people doing more than what we’ve been doing recently.”

After the convocation

What was your most inspiring or impactful experience at the convocation?

The first evening during adoration as the music was playing, I looked to my left and saw a middle-aged man crying, kneeling down holding his handkerchief to his face he was so moved. 

It was a moving moment for me and one that I will remember for a long time.

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.

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