by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The duties of a bishop are many, but chief among them is his duty to pray with and for his people.
That’s why a letter from Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann requesting prayer intentions showed up in the mailboxes of registered Catholic households throughout the archdiocese in mid-October.
“Each year, I invite you to share your prayer intentions with our church community,” wrote Archbishop Naumann. “Throughout the year, I read your intentions and intercede with Our Lord and Our Lady to grant your requests.
“Your prayer intentions also help make me aware of the needs of the people of the archdiocese — sick family members, adult children not practicing the faith, economic and employment concerns, discerning God’s will, and many more in dire need of mercy and grace.”
The letters were sent with the assistance of the archdiocesan office of stewardship and development.
“Prayer is one of the four pillars of stewardship,” said Bill Maloney, director of the stewardship and development office. “Prayer being central to our faith, we wanted to promote stronger attention to prayer life and offering prayers of petition because of its importance in our stewardship journey.”
Archbishop Naumann has been accepting prayer intentions for 17 years, but the annual practice was begun under Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher.
“One of my responsibilities is to pray for the people of the archdiocese,” said Archbishop Naumann. “It is helpful to know the prayer intentions of the people of the archdiocese. It gives focus to my prayer but also helps me know . . . the concerns, burdens and challenges in the lives of Catholics in northeast Kansas.”
Most of the thousands of prayer intentions that are received at the office of stewardship and development arrive by the return envelope included in the archbishop’s letter. But others are also received by those who have answered through the website at: archkck.org/prayerintention.
The intentions — however they are received — are given to the archbishop. He keeps them in a basket in his home chapel. He also keeps a small stack on his writing table in the chapel, and he prays over a few of them every day.
Many of the intentions reveal the heavy burdens and critical concerns parishioners have. These little notes never fail to move him.
“It has helped me be aware of some of the struggles and suffering that people face in their everyday lives,” said Archbishop Naumann. “If adult children are not practicing the faith, the church needs to seek ways to reach out to this population.
“It also motivates me to seek ways that our Catholic schools, youth groups and parish schools of religion can be more effective in helping young people develop a love for Jesus and his church.”
If they have not already done so, Maloney urges parishioners to fill out the prayer intentions card and mail them back to the archdiocese. For people of faith, prayer makes a difference.
“There is nothing more important that I can do than to pray for members of the archdiocese,” said Archbishop Naumann. “Being more aware of what people are praying for and asking me to pray also helps me to establish pastoral goals and priorities that are responsive to the needs of God’s people.”