Local Parishes

Three parishes come together as one family in faith

Mike Minihan, center, chooses a white elephant prize after winning a round of bingo at an Enflame fellowship event at St. Monica-St. Elizabeth Church in Blue Rapids. Also at the table are, clockwise from bottom: Beth Buchura, holding daughter Emily, son Elliott, son Henry and husband Jeremy, all parishioners of St. Monica-St. Elizabeth. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATIE PETERSON

by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven

BLUE RAPIDS —  At the “Enflame Our Hearts: Be Disciples, Make Disciples” convocation in October 2019, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann explained to participants what real discipleship is all about.

“It means being so grateful for the gift of your friendship with Jesus — for your Catholic faith; for the meaning, the hope, the purpose, the joy that it brings to your life — that you want to share that gift with others,” he said.

Father Anthony Chendumalli and his three parishes — Annunciation  Church in Frankfort; St. Columbkille Church in Blaine; and St. Monica-St. Elizabeth Church in Blue Rapids — took Archbishop Naumann’s message to heart Jan. 11, with a fellowship event at the latter.

“We believe we are one in Christ, but it is not always true in reality,” said Father Chendumalli. “So we hope it will help each of us within our three parishes become true brothers and sisters in Christ.”

“This social event is simply for the sake of spending time together,” explained Sally Olson, St. Columbkille parishioner and co-event coordinator, “just like within our immediate families when we come together for Sunday dinners. It is not a fundraiser — just a ‘fun’ raiser.

“Our hope is that families from all three parishes will come for the food or come for the fun and relax and enjoy each other’s company.”

The convocation delegates from St. Monica-St. Elizabeth parish are pictured here from left to right: Janice Rowe, Jan Bergkamp, Father Anthony Chendumalli and Mary Ann Heinen. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATIE PETERSON

Planners hoped it would lead to future similar events among the three parishes.

 “Father Anthony has been with our parishes for about two years,” said Olson, “and one thing I have gathered from him, his culture and his family and friends in India, is their love for getting together.”

To help make the event more feasible for parishioners in all three parishes, Mass schedules were rearranged so that the event could start off with a 4 p.m. Mass before gathering together for a potluck and a night of bingo with white-elephant gift prizes.

“The bingo was a lot of fun,” said Marilyn Hazen, Annunciation Church parishioner and church office secretary. “I thought it went really well, and the Blue Rapids parish did a great job hosting the event. Everybody was very cordial and gracious.

“I believe we should work together toward being one family as a church.” 

Janice Rowe, St. Monica-St. Elizabeth parishioner, said that, after attending the convocation, she and the other parish delegates knew fulfilling the archbishop’s request starts in their own parish families.

“We thought we needed to share our love through fellowship and social time,” Rowe said. “I think it is important for us, although we are three parishes, to realize that we are all a permanent union of persons with God. We need to show that we are a life-giving community of love. We can demonstrate that by extending Christ’s love through time spent together.”

Father Anthony Chendumalli celebrates Mass for all three of his parishes. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATIE PETERSON

In his homily, Father Chendumalli tied Archbishop Naumann’s convocation message to the weekend’s feast of the baptism of Jesus.

“Everyone should baptize their children,” he said, “because we have the responsibility of spreading the good news to everyone.

“You don’t have to be great preachers going all around the world and preaching about Christ. It is where we are, where we work, with who we work, the daily conversation. We can bring Christ to others.”

Robert Bergman, St. Columbkille parishioner, said sharing the faith is what made the event so important.

“That’s what we’re supposed to do is get out and talk with our fellow Catholics and see what’s going on,” Bergman said.

He added that the parishes were brought together musically during the Mass as well, when he brought his banjo and accompanied musicians from St. Monica-St. Elizabeth who played the guitar and bass.

“People came up to me afterwards and said that it was really neat having that banjo,” said Bergman. “It created more interest.”

With the event complete, Rowe said she hopes it inspires other combined events in the future.

“We do hope that more families in our parishes will be inspired by this event and want to attend more combined events,” Rowe said, “so we can spread God’s love more efficiently in numbers.

“The team of delegates are already planning more three-parish events that each parish will [take turns] hosting. A special retreat for Lent is underway as is a special movie night.”

“We know that events like this take a lot of planning, working and scheduling, but we all need to realize that it is God’s love that we all share,” she added.

“Let that love enflame your heart and share with someone else,” she continued. “A good place to start is together as one.”

About the author

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson attended Xavier Catholic School, Immaculata High School and the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth. She majored in English and minored in music. Katie joined The Leaven as a freelance writer and photographer in May 2017. Her favorite assignment, though she’s enjoyed them all, was interviewing her dad, David, in 2017, after he completed his 100th shadowbox rosary, which he has been making as gifts since 1983. Katie’s full-time position is as reporter for the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper.

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