Archbishop makes pastoral visit to Leavenworth parishes
by Joe Bollig
LEAVENWORTH— When Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann began his first round of pastoral visits in 2004, the focus was on sharing with parishioners his five pastoral priorities for the archdiocese.
Now, he’s asking parishioners to share their priorities with him — whether they reflect their parish’s achievements or its challenges.
Archbishop Naumann continued his second round of pastoral visits begun in 2012 with a visit on March 23 to Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish in Leavenworth. His first pastoral visit to the parish was in 2005.
During his visit, the archbishop was the main celebrant and homilist at the Sunday morning Mass. After Mass, he met with parish high school youth to give a talk and answer questions.
Later, he had lunch with parish ministry leaders and pastor Father David McEvoy, O.Carm., after which the parish leaders presented their reports on how the parish was implementing the five pastoral priorities and the regional pastoral plan of 2006.
The five pastoral priorities are conversion; evangelization; catechesis and Catholic education in all its forms; serving those in need; and fostering a spirituality of stewardship.
During the course of his visit, Archbishop Naumann also reviewed the sacramental records of the parish.
In his visit with the high school youth, the archbishop acknowledged that among the greatest challenges they face was figuring out what to do with their lives.
Many people focus on career, guided by what they might like the most, or what will make the most money, or gain them the most prestige or fame, he said. Others simply want to choose the easiest way to get through life. Christians, however, have a different approach.
“As Christians, we look at it not so much in terms of careers, but vocations,” he said. “Vocation means ‘calling.’”
The archbishop said that whatever vocation they chose — priesthood, religious life, married life and secular employment — that there was a need for strong Christians in all walks of life.
“I strongly believe that if you ask God through your prayers, persistently — ‘Lord, help me to know what it is that you want me to do with my life’ — I am confident that he will answer that prayer,” said Archbishop Naumann. “He will reveal it to you in some way. Once you know, ask the Lord to give you strength and courage to do whatever he asks.”
Archbishop Naumann was delighted to hear the young people ask about opportunities to more fully live sacramental lives, particularly in regard to the availability of daily Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.
One of the challenges the parish faces is evangelization, said Deacon Tim McElvoy, in his report during the archbishop’s meeting with parish leaders.
“We’re trying to expose parishes to a variety of things they might do on evangelization,” said the archbishop. “I feel that this remains our most challenging goal for most of our parishes.”
“And, in some ways, that’s very understandable,” he continued. “Just to sustain a parish as it is, is challenging enough. That would be nice if that were an option that Jesus gave us. But it’s not, because the church has to have this missionary impulse on every level. And I think our parishes more and more have to try to become these evangelizing communities.”
The archbishop concluded the visit by thanking the leaders for their efforts, encouraging their efforts, and then fielding some questions. Father David then closed the proceedings with a prayer often attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero.