Local Parishes

Shawnee parish blessing takes pastor, archbishop back in time

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann blessed and dedicated the renovated Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Shawnee on March 19. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

by Joe Bollig

SHAWNEE — It was kind of like “Back to the Future” for Father Patrick Sullivan, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish here.

He was concelebrating the Mass on March 19 at which Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann blessed and dedicated the newly “enhanced” interior of the church.

The strong sense of déjà vu came from Father Sullivan being right there when Archbishop Naumann blessed and dedicated the new church on Nov. 20, 2005. The pastor then was Father Craig Maxim.

“Father Maxim did an amazing job with this entire facility, including the church,” said Father Sullivan. “I went to the dedication of the church because I was on break from the seminary.

“I just remember being amazed at this beautiful, new, crisp church. I really liked it. It felt welcoming. Something about it drew me. I had no idea that I’d someday be pastor. I’d only been in [the] seminary one year. I didn’t even know I’d be ordained, let alone what parish I’d go to five years later.”

Father Patrick Sullivan, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Shawnee, chats with parishioners following the blessing and dedication Mass of the renovated church. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

Archbishop Naumann also took a stroll down memory lane.

“It makes me feel old [to be here], because I was here for the dedication of the church some 18 years ago,” said the archbishop in his homily. “Thank you for all you’ve accomplished. It’s truly spectacular and beautiful. And I’m glad to know that the One Faith campaign rebate the parish received was the seed money to get this project started.”

Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, originally in Bonner Springs, lost its 1920 church to an arson fire in 1996. The parish worshiped at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas, until the new school, at the southeast corner of Johnson Drive and Monticello Road, was completed in 2000. The school’s multipurpose center became the temporary church until the present church was built.

But by no means were things done and over back then.

“It was always the intention of the parish and the pastor at that time that at some future date they would enhance the worship space,” said Father Sullivan, pastor since July 2015.

A young woman uses the new Communion rail as she receives the Eucharist from Archbishop Naumann. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

And that future date has arrived in style.

The recent interior enhancement brought more color, warmth and style to the church in a myriad of ways. (See below)

“It turned out spectacular,” said Ernie Straub, chairman and CEO of Straub Construction and general contractor of the work. “The space has a calming effect. The colors work so well. The focus is on the altar and the tabernacle.”

“We were fortunate to [have been chosen to build] the church in 2005,” continued Straub. “My wife Susan and I have been members of the parish since 1997. Our firm does nothing but purpose-driven work — churches, schools and higher education.”

Archbishop Naumann blesses a statue of St. Joseph and baby Jesus at Sacred Heart Church. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

His firm also built the parish middle school as well.

The designer for the project was Chris Castrop.

“He does a lot of church interior design,” said Straub, “and really understands all the parts and pieces that make a holy sanctuary.”

The $1.4 million interior enhancement project began on Sept. 6, 2022, and was completed this March 10. During the six-month project, the parish gathered for Mass once again in the school’s multipurpose room. The eucharistic adoration chapel was temporarily relocated to the church basement.

Interior enhancement features

• The main aisle from the baptistry to the altar, terminating at the tabernacle, received new tile with a black border on each side. There are seven diamond-shaped inserts symbolizing the seven sacraments. The sanctuary floor and steps received new tile. A new tabernacle and back altar will be installed by April.

• New stained-glass windows in the wall above the altar were created by Lynchburg Stained Glass in Virginia. They surround the circular window of Christ brought from the original church in Bonner Springs.

• Much creative use of paint is featured throughout the church — the narthex (gathering space) as well as the sanctuary. Norm Dahlor of Westwood painted the sanctuary wall a deep yellow with metallic gold fleck paint. Flanking the refurbished large crucifix are two white-gray, marble-looking pilasters that run floor to ceiling created by the technique of faux paint. This same effect is in the narthex. The ceiling above the altar is painted a deep blue symbolizing the night sky, with gold stars.

• The altar and ambo are a cream-colored marble and red oak. The soon-to-be-installed back altar by Ian Byrne will match them.

• Extensive use of wood trim was made throughout the sanctuary and narthex. The custom wood trim was created by former parishioner Dave Gill of Overland Park. Ian Byrne of Byrne Custom Woodworking created a curved Communion rail with an opening before the altar. 

• The space formerly occupied off to the side by the tabernacle has been converted to a eucharistic alcove where sacred vessels are placed for use during Mass. 

• Although steps lead to the altar, there is an accessibility ramp, behind the back altar, which is all but unseen from the pews.

• A stained-glass window of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be later installed above the baptismal font.

• The statue niches were redesigned with a curvature of the back walls. The walls are painted a deep blue to contrast with the white of the Italian marble statues — one of St. Joseph holding the Infant Jesus, and another of the Blessed Virgin Mary as depicted on the Miraculous Medal.

• New lighting has been installed throughout the church interior and narthex, including new chandeliers, pendant lights and LED lights. New speakers were also installed.

• The entry from the narthex to the church interior received yellow paint with gold flecks, and wood trim with curved tops. A hospitality desk was also installed. The narthex windowsills were replaced with quartz.

• The bathrooms were remodeled as well.

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.

Leave a Comment