Local Religious life

Sisters of Charity give whole new meaning to what makes for a ‘faithful fan’

Seated, from left, are: Sisters Mary Laura Huddleston, Marie Noel Bruch, Mary Jo McDonald, Sue Retherford, Paula Rose Jauernig, Dorothy Henscheid, Delia Lawless, Gloria Solomo and Rosalie Curtin. Standing, from left, are: Sisters Ruth Reischman, Genitha Regan, Mary Lex Smith, Maureen Kehoe and Marie Michael Mollis. If you were wondering how the Kansas City Chiefs made the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, look no further. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Therese Horvat
Special to The Leaven

LEAVENWORTH — Gathered for a pre-game huddle in Ross Hall at their motherhouse here, a spirited group of Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (SCLs) enthusiastically shared advice and encouragement in advance of the big Super Bowl game pitting the hometown favorite Kansas City Chiefs against the Philadelphia Eagles.

These women know their football — and related sports trivia. To Andy Reid, Chiefs head coach, Sister Paula Rose Jauernig had this to say: “Say your prayers. Eat your cheeseburger for lunch. Keep your team together!”

Sister Maureen Kehoe, who was once a cheerleader in junior high school, leads the Sisters of Charity in a “C-H-I-E-F-S” cheer while they rewatch the AFC Championship game on YouTube. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Sister Mary Laura Huddleston’s message to the Chiefs was even more succinct: “I’ll pray. You play.”

But Sister Maureen Kehoe thought a little help from the booth was in order — a very, very high booth.

“OK, Lord,” she prayed, “have the Holy Spirit tell the Chiefs what to do.”

Taking a more pragmatic approach, Sister Gloria Solomon advised, “Hold on to the ball,” and Sister Mary Jo McDonald said, “Stay safe.”

Sister Paula Rose Jauernig shows off an inflatable football while sporting a Chiefs T-shirt at the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth motherhouse. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Far from being a pregame prayer service, the interview with the SCLs was a rip-roaring experience. They tossed inflated footballs, wore their Chiefs apparel and expressed their opinions freely. Five or six of the participants are Kansas City area natives; at one time or another, all served ministries in the metropolitan area — a.k.a. Chiefs Kingdom.

Two of the Sisters who had lived in Denver confessed they finally converted from their Bronco fever to Chiefs’ fandom. Upon relocating to the Leavenworth motherhouse, Sister Marie Michael Mollis recalls the not-too-friendly looks she received when she mistakenly wore her Broncos shirt to a televised game played against the Chiefs. She learned her lesson and converted a few years later. (But she’s holding onto her Broncos shirt, just in case.)

Sisters Mary Jo McDonald, left, and Sue Retherford share a laugh as they chat about the Kansas City Chiefs’ upcoming Super Bowl appearance. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Whether they hail from Colorado, Montana, Wyoming or the Midwest, the Sisters’ loyalties tend to run Chiefs’ red — especially leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. They want the Chiefs to win, but the Sisters are aware that the final score predictions point to a close game.

They are fearful that the Philadelphia Eagles will “go after” Patrick Mahomes, KC’s legendary quarterback, but they know the Chiefs are preparing for this, and “Mahomes is smart,” was Sister Paula Rose’s assessment.

The SCLs would like to see Donna Kelce toss the coin to identify which team gets to choose whether to kick or receive the opening kickoff. Her two sons — Travis and Jason — are on opposing Super Bowl teams.

What the Sisters would really, really like is a future visit by Mahomes and/or Travis Kelce to the motherhouse and the Ross Hall skilled nursing facility.

Sister Rosalie Curtin, SCL, heads back to her room in her Patrick Mahomes jersey after celebrating the Chiefs with her fellow Sisters. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Sister Delia Lawless admires Harrison Butker, kicker, whose field goal clinched the AFC championship for the Chiefs. She’s also amazed at how the players barrel up and through the middle on handoffs from the quarterback.

Sister Paula Rose is hoping that the Chiefs make a long runback from the end zone to spice up the Super Bowl. If the Chiefs get way out front in scoring, Sister Sue Retherford hopes Reid will give other players the chance to experience the big game.

The SCLs interviewed are unanimously excited about the Super Bowl. Asked what they normally do during a game, the Sisters say they cheer, enjoy snacks and pray. Some pace the floor nervously or leave the room when the tension mounts.

The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth will be offering up many prayers for the Kansas City Chiefs as they compete in the 2023 Super Bowl on Feb. 12. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The interview closed with Sister Maureen Kehoe dusting off her junior high cheerleading skills and leading the group in a rousing show of support for the Chiefs.

After all, the Sisters live by the mantra expressed over a century ago by their founder who encouraged, “Look forward to the good that is yet to be.”

With that sage advice, hope springs eternal among the Sisters for a KC Chiefs Super Bowl victory.

Editor’s note: Following the interview, The Leaven photographer reportedly told one of the SCLs he would be back when Mahomes and/or Kelce comes to visit.

Reporter’s note: Bookies and bettors beware. Known to move mountains, prayer might just also influence game outcomes

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Leave a Comment

1 Comment

  • Great articles, Therese! You keep the ball bouncing at 4200