Archdiocese Local

Parade turns tragic: Miege grad killed; St. Agnes students among the injured

The Feb. 14 shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl rally that took the life of Lisa Lopez-Galvan, a graduate of Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park, and injured Melia and Madison Reyes, third and fourth graders at St. Agnes School in Roeland Park, has left the community reeling.

by Moira Cullings

ROELAND PARK — When the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade and rally ended in tragedy, the students and families of St. Agnes School here were left heartbroken at the shooting that left two of their students injured with gunshot wounds.

But they were also resilient.

The morning after the Feb. 14 shooting that rocked the Kansas City community, families of St. Agnes gathered at the parish church to pray the rosary.

“They filled the church,” said principal Jane Sullivan. “We were able to pray together, and then outside they were able to gather and hug and talk for a while.

“That was a beautiful thing.”

It was a stark contrast to the experience a number of the school’s families had endured less than 24 hours before.

‘It was just devastating’

Many Catholic Chiefs fans attended Mass the morning of Ash Wednesday to begin the Lenten season.

Some then headed to downtown Kansas City, Missouri, to celebrate the team’s second consecutive Super Bowl win.

But the celebratory rally that united fans into a nightmare.

Fans leave the area after gunshots were fired in Kansas City, Missouri, following the parade celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs winning Super Bowl LVIII. The mass shooting at the end of the parade left one dead and 22 injured, while sending terrified fans running for cover. (OSV News photo/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

According to the Kansas City Police Department, 22 people were wounded, around half of them children, during a shooting carried out by two juveniles.

The act of violence took the life of Lisa Lopez-Galvan, a 1998 graduate of Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park and a beloved member of the community.

Lopez-Galvan’s son Marc graduated from Miege in 2019, and her daughter Adriana graduated in 2023. Both attended St. Agnes.

Sisters Melia and Madison Reyes, third and fourth graders at St. Agnes, were also shot and injured at the rally.

As these details unfolded, the Catholic community was left reeling.

“You think it’s not going to happen here,” said Bill Creach, director of campus ministry at Miege. “You think it’s not going to happen to someone you know, or it’s not going to happen to you.

“It was just devastating.”

The aftermath

“There’s no book about how to deal with it,” said Sullivan of the recent tragedy.

But she began by simply being there for her staff and students.

“I think it’s being able to meet them where they’re at, love them where they’re at and show them that we’re ok,” she said.

Madison Reyes, a fourth grader at St. Agnes School in Roeland Park, received a special visit from Patrick and Brittany Mahomes at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. She and her sister Melia were shot at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory rally on Feb. 14 — Ash Wednesday — and had surgery that same day. The girls still had the remains of their ashes on their foreheads. COURTESY PHOTO

Shortly after school let out the day of the parade, Sullivan and her staff were notified of the shooting and learned that two of their students were injured.

Some parents had taken their children out of school to experience the milestone Super Bowl celebration.

“One of my [school] parents was right there” where the shooting happened, said Sullivan. “We had a number of parents who were right there.”

The educators were stunned by what they were told.

“We just sat there for a long time,” said Sullivan. “We went and said a rosary together as a staff.”

Since then, the principal has been in touch with the Reyes family while the girls recover.

Sullivan described the family as “quiet, gentle, faith-filled. Oh my goodness, they’re just so sweet.”

Melia Reyes, a third grader at St. Agnes School in Roeland Park, was visited by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. Melia and her sister Madison were shot at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory rally on Feb. 14. Both girls are now recovering at home. COURTESY PHOTO

She expressed concern for all who were harmed or witnessed the shooting, especially the children.

“I know they’re resilient,” said Sullivan. “It’s still going to change lives forever.”

St. Agnes didn’t have school the two days after the parade due to previously scheduled parent-teacher conferences.

“I think it was God’s gift to us,” said Sullivan.

Those days gave teachers the chance to meet with counselors from schools around the archdiocese.

St. Agnes planned on having counselors and therapy dogs available for students when they returned to school on Feb. 20 following President’s Day, and for the remainder of that week.

Jane Sullivan, standing on the right, and teachers of St. Agnes visited the Reyes family at their home after Melia and Madison, third and fourth grade sisters, were released from the hospital following their injuries at the Chiefs rally. COURTESY PHOTO

“People are going to be grieving at such different levels,” said Sullivan. “Some children were there and witnessed [the shooting].

“Some children have no idea, and mom and dad probably have hardly even talked about it.”

Heavy hearts

Across the parking lot, the atmosphere at Miege was similarly somber once news of the shooting and the loss of alumna Lopez-Galvan broke.

“Our hearts are heavy to have learned of the loss of Lisa,” said principal Maureen Engen.

Engen said multiple families whose children attend Miege are related to the Galvan family.

Students and staff were encouraged to visit the chapel whenever they needed in the days following the tragedy.

“We have told our students we want our school to be a safe and comforting place for them to grieve, pray and heal,” said Engen.

Spanish classes at Bishop Miege High School created paper lanterns to line the walls of the school’s chapel, which was an invaluable place of peace and prayer following the tragedy at the Chiefs rally. COURTESY PHOTO

Between their close proximity and the fact that many St. Agnes students go on to attend Miege, the communities are intertwined in their grief.

Miege sent a handful of students and staff to the rosary at St. Agnes Church the day after the shooting.

And the high school is ensuring its students feel continuous support.

“Our counselors are ready and available for all students who need to process this loss,” said Engen, “especially for those who were at the parade and experienced the fear of running for their lives.

“I’m sure we will continue to unite as a community in prayer for physical and mental healing for the Galvan family and the many family and friends who have been understandably shaken by this heartbreaking event.”

Faith and family

“When I heard the news of Lisa’s passing, my heart dropped,” said Evelyn Lopez, a family friend and guidance office administrator at Miege.

“I’ve known Lisa and her family since our kids were younger and attending St. Agnes School,” she said.

Lopez didn’t have the words to express her sadness.

“I loved Lisa’s smile, her love for life and her presence that brought smiles to others,” she said. “Lisa kept family and faith at the forefront of her life.”

Lisa Lopez-Galvan, second from right, stands with her family in a photo posted to her Facebook account Sept. 26, 2022. Lopez-Galvan, a parishioner of St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park, was killed Feb. 14 during a mass shooting following the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade. OSV NEWS SCREENSHOT/FACEBOOK

Lopez was especially saddened as she thought about her friend’s children, who are left without their mom.

“I hope our entire community realizes just how precious life is and hugs their family just a little bit tighter,” said Lopez, “since we don’t know the day, hour or minute that God will call us home.”

Contagious joy

Creach remembers Lopez-Galvan the way many do.

“She just had the biggest smile,” he said.

It was that smile, “and then that joy that was the source of that smile,” that stands out to him the most.

Creach graduated from Miege in 1983 before returning as a theology teacher in 1988 — a role he held until he became the director of campus ministry eight years ago.

He taught Lopez-Galvan during her time at the school and saw her at various events once her children were students there.

She was “just a great person — thoughtful, considerate, [and did] whatever she could do to help,” said Creach.

Lisa Lopez-Galvan, second from left, Bill Creach and other friends take a selfie at a Bishop Miege High School football game. Creach taught Lopez-Galvan while she was a senior at the school and continued to see her when her own children attended. COURTESY PHOTO

Many knew Lopez-Galvan as a popular DJ who played at events around the Kansas City area.

“But she would give her time and talents to the school,” said Creach. “And after our school auction would be over . . . she, the last few years or so, would have a little dance time.

“We’d move some tables and clear off the area for a little after-party for people who wanted to stick around and have some fun.

“For her to do that I think says everything about her.”

Creach emphasized how meaningful it’s been for Miege to lean on faith amid so much sorrow.

“Faith is the foundation of our community,” he said.

Four days a week, the school offers Mass before classes start, and in the days following the shooting, it was clear how comforting that was.

“We had a way bigger crowd than usual — almost at maximum capacity in our chapel,” said Creach. “It was a great balance of students and faculty, staff and parents.

“It was sad but beautiful to see everyone come with their prayers and their love and support for Lisa, her family and also the Reyes family over at [St.] Agnes.”

Bishop Miege High School’s chapel became an oasis for students and faculty following the tragedy at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, at the end of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory rally. LEAVEN FILE PHOTO

In the wake of it all, Creach was reminded of a quote from a book — one he sometimes shares with students who attend the school’s Kairos retreats.

“The person who wrote the book said that you get over the grief,” he explained, “but you never get over the loss.

“And so, I know there will be a time we’ll be in a better place with our grieving . . . but we’ll never get over the loss of Lisa and what she meant to her family and to Miege.”

Close to home

It’s a sentiment many expressed in the days following the tragic event.

“When these kinds of shootings occur, they seem to take place in other cities and the victims are people we do not know,” said Father Michael Hermes.

But this time, tragedy struck at home.

“And this time, many of us happen to know, respect and love the one who died, Lisa Lopez-Galvan, and her family — the Beto Lopez family,” said Father Hermes.

The pastor of St. Paul Parish in Olathe and vicar of Hispanic ministry for the archdiocese has known Lopez-Galvan and her family for years.

Her life had a deep impact on the Hispanic community.

“Lisa Lopez-Galvan was well known to many of us as the DJ of the Taste of Tejano show on KKFI Radio,” said Father Hermes. “I listened to her radio program frequently.”

Harrison Butker waves to the crowd gathered at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs’ kicker donated his jersey to the family of Lisa Lopez-Galvan so she could be laid to rest in her favorite player’s jersey. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

According to the priest, Lopez-Galvan’s father, Beto Lopez, has a mariachi band that has played at many birthdays, graduations, quinceañeras and weddings throughout the city.

“He has provided the music for countless Masses and celebrations in my parish over the years,” he said.

While St. Paul prayed the Stations of the Cross in Spanish the Friday after the shooting, prayers were offered for Kansas City and for an end to violence.

“We prayed for eternal rest and peace for our friend Lisa Lopez-Galvan,” said Father Hermes. “And then we prayed for consolation and hope for the Beto Lopez family — a family we all know, respect and love.”

Heavy topics

The night of the shooting, Jessica Switzer said she “went to bed feeling unsettled and defeated.”

“As I drove to work,” she continued, “the sadness and numbness was replaced with purpose.

“The purpose is to at least have a conversation, to apply concepts being analyzed in class to real life, and to attempt to find possible solutions on some level.”

The junior English teacher at Miege opened up a conversation with her students to help them process what had happened.

When she asked them about the tone they felt at school, their answers included “static” and “gloomy.”

“At first, my classes seemed shell-shocked,” said Switzer, “but then opened up by just sharing the things that were disturbing or upsetting to them.

“Then we discussed the issues that contribute to mass shootings and violence in the community.”

Jessica Switzer, a junior English teacher at Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park, opened up a conversation with her students to help them process the tragedy the day after the shooting. “Having safe outlets to have respectful and meaningful conversations are essential if we are to truly have quality discourse,” she said. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Switzer’s students expressed concerns about how many children were harmed at the rally, that the shooters were teenagers, the harmful effects of social media and society’s fascination with drinking, guns and violence, among other topics.

For Switzer, creating an open dialogue was an easy decision. 

“One reason is that I constantly advocate for students to use their voice and for them to find possible solutions,” she said, “because that is what gives life value and makes the world better.”

As a mother, Switzer said she understands the emotional challenges that children go through outside of school.

As an educator, she knows those struggles don’t stay in the parameters of the home.

“Having safe outlets to have respectful and meaningful conversations is essential if we are to truly have quality discourse,” she said.

“I know that if they feel that they can share their thoughts and perspectives with respect,” she continued, “and others can listen and share their thoughts and perspectives with respect, it will make the world better.”

‘Outpouring of love’

When tragedy strikes, it seems acts of kindness follow in droves.

“There’s been an outpouring of love,” said Sullivan of the community’s support.

According to Sullivan, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann called St. Agnes pastor Father Pat Sullivan the night of the parade to check in.

He also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of Lopez-Galvan in a statement posted to his Facebook page.

“We are surrounding her family with our love and support,” said the archbishop. “She was a beloved member of our faith community.

“Our prayers and deepest sympathies are with her family during this sorrowful time.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrates Mass at St. James Academy in Lenexa on Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday. The archbishop offered his prayers for Lisa Lopez-Galvan and all who were affected by the tragic shooting that occurred at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory rally held the same day. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

Sullivan said Vince Cascone, superintendent of archdiocesan schools, and associate superintendent Lorenzo Rizzi were quick to reach out to St. Agnes.

The school has also received an abundance of support from fellow Catholic schools who have sent cards, she continued, as well as a public school in Kansas City, Kansas, that sent “chains of love.”

“At basketball games, there were signs saying, ‘We love St. Agnes’ when they played this weekend at the different schools,” said Sullivan.

Members of the Chiefs organization have also responded to the aftermath of the shooting in various ways.

Among donations players have offered to the families affected, Patrick and Brittany Mahomes visited the Reyes girls in the hospital.

For Sullivan, the compassion she’s witnessed and the faith of her school community are the keys to forging ahead.

“Your emotions are so all over the place,” said Sullivan. “But it brings us back to the center with our faith and God wrapping his arms around us.”

The school will continue to “stay together and deal with this as a family with love and understanding,” she added.

In a show of strength, St. Agnes held its school auction as planned on Feb. 17.

Jane Sullivan, right, talks with attendees of the annual St. Agnes School fundraiser held on Feb. 17. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Father Sullivan was unable to be there due to illness, but the principal read a message he wrote, letting the school know of his prayers and support during this challenging time.

Sullivan said she’s grateful for how her staff has handled such a daunting situation.

“I think that this group is strong,” she said. “And they’re very faith-filled women and men. I couldn’t ask for a better staff.”

Despite all that the school has been through, it carries on.

“What an amazing community little St. Agnes is,” said Sullivan. “I truly do love all these people so much.”

Community raises funds for victims

GoFundMe pages for both Lisa Lopez-Galvan’s family and the Reyes family were set up to provide financial support during this tragic time.

They can be found by clicking here: Reyes Family Fund and here: Elizabeth Lopez-Galvan Memorial.

St. Agnes School also partnered with Damon Ortiz and Strawberry Hill InKC to create a customized T-shirt, with proceeds going to the Reyes family. They can be purchased here.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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