Archdiocese Local

‘To stir the hearts of the faithful’

Leaven photo by Lori Wood Habiger Mike Scherschligt, executive director of the School of Faith, delivers one of the two keynote speeches at the Sept. 13 kickoff of the Faith Initiative at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Leaven photo by Lori Wood Habiger
Mike Scherschligt, executive director of the School of Faith, delivers one of the two keynote speeches at the Sept. 13 kickoff of the Faith Initiative at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Archdiocese launches Faith Initiative


by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In an effort to “stir the hearts of the faithful” in a “new Pentecost in northeast Kansas,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann launched the new archdiocesan Faith Initiative on Sept. 13 at Savior Pastoral Center here.

The initiative’s name is as simple and direct as its purpose — “Faith: Love It, Learn It, Live It.”

The celebratory kickoff event — which drew close to 500 parish representatives, pastors, deacons and religious — offered inspiration and a broad overview of the initiative.

“My appeal to every Catholic in the archdiocese this year is simple and direct,” said Archbishop Naumann in his homily at the closing Mass for the event. “I am asking each of them to do something significant.”

“By that,” he continued, “I mean something sacrificial on their part to both deepen their friendship with      Jesus, and to grow in their understanding of what the church teaches and why, and so therefore grow in love of his church.”

Stirring hearts with three goals

The Faith Initiative has three goals.

The first is to help people embrace and love Jesus Christ by helping them develop daily patterns of prayer, both as individuals and as families.

The second is help people understand what we believe as Catholics by learning more about our faith, especially as it is articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council.

The third is to encourage people to actively live their faith by putting their love into action.

“Just imagine if something even small happened,” said Father Gary Pennings, vicar general and spiritual director of the Faith Initiative. “Just imagine if every family, every household in the archdiocese, decided to pray even once a week as a family. If nothing else happened, that would be a huge accomplishment and would bear much fruit.”

The goals of the initiative are readily achievable by practicing Catholics, said Lesle Knop, executive director of the archdiocesan office of stewardship and development and chairperson of the Faith Initiative coordinating team.

“Our goals this year have been very simple from the very beginning, and continue to be,” she said. “They are: to help our faithful regular Mass attendees become more immersed in their beautiful faith, to participate more frequently in our sacraments, to open the doors to faith-enriching programs and opportunities that they have not opened before, and to become emboldened to express their faith in their homes, workplaces and in their communities.”

For the average parishioner, the Faith Initiative began when it was announced at Masses the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16. The intention and hope is that parishioners will be inspired to adopt these new practices of faith as a permanent part of their lives.

Asking the Holy Spirit to stir the hearts of the faithful is, in a nutshell, what the Faith Initiative is all about, said Father Pennings in his keynote remarks at the kickoff event.

“This Faith Initiative: ‘Love It, Learn It, Live It,’ grew out of the [proposed archdiocesan capital campaign] case review task force,” said Father Pennings.

“But primarily it came from our priests,” he continued. “When the archbishop went to them to share some of the [task force] recommendations, they said, ‘What we really need, Archbishop, is something to stir up the hearts of the faithful. We need something to enkindle in them this new enthusiasm for their faith so they know it and live it well.’”

Universal church’s Year of Faith

The timing could not be better. On Oct. 11, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI issued his apostolic letter “Porta Fidei” (“Door of Faith”) calling for the celebration of a Year of Faith from Oct. 11, 2012, to the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe, on Nov. 24, 2013.

The Year of Faith begins on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and coincides with the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Holy Father’s call for a Year of Faith complements, both in timing and intent, the archdiocesan Faith Initiative.

“It’s a good idea to reopen the ‘door of faith’ periodically,” said Knop, “[and also] to remind ourselves that we have been transformed by grace and are now called to live as saints, the children of God and disciples of Christ, who bear witness to Our Lord’s victory over darkness, sin and death.”

Pope Benedict wrote that the Year of Faith is “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the World.” It is a time to work to more fully understand the content of the faith, to aspire to profess the faith, to celebrate the faith more fully in the liturgy, and to better witness to the faith.

The Year of Faith calls Catholics to a renewed relationship with Christ through the sacraments and prayer; additional catechesis with a special emphasis on the catechism and the gifts of the Second Vatican Council; and acts of charity and public witness — in other words, to love, learn and live the faith.

The door of faith is always open to us, and true conversion will come about if two things happen, said Father Pennings, quoting Pope Benedict XVI. The first is that the word of God is faithfully proclaimed, and the second is that people allow their hearts to be shaped by transforming grace.

Something for everyone

The Faith Initiative is basically a two-part program.

The first part involves getting the word out through a variety of means. This includes publicity efforts (like billboards and radio spots) that may be seen by the general public, as well as targeted efforts that only Catholics will likely see (like bulletin inserts and direct mail pieces).

The second part involves a smorgasbord of programs, opportunities and offerings — in short, something for everyone. There’s no “one size fits all” here.

The Faith Initiative programs will be offered at the archdiocesan, regional and parish levels. The programs are classified according to which of the three goals they fulfill: Love It, Learn It, Live It.

Some of them are new. Some already exist.

“I am hoping that this will motivate many of our parishioners to take advantage of what you are already offering at your parishes,” said Archbishop Naumann in his homily.

He urged parishioners to come to daily Mass, go to eucharistic adoration, go to confession frequently, sign up for programs like Christ Renews His Parish or go on Light of the World retreats, join men’s or women’s spirituality groups, or take part in a Bible study.

“I hope some will take advantage of the regional missions offered with the Apostles of the Interior Life,” he continued, “[and] that some will take advantage of the School of Faith catechism classes as ways to go about this deepening our friendship with Jesus and love for his church.”

For all: One simple thing

During the rollout of the Faith Initiative at parishes on the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16, many parishioners saw a video in which Archbishop Naumann asked parishioners to do one simple thing.

“At the end of the DVD,” said the archbishop in his homily during the Faith Initiative kickoff, “I invite people to do one simple thing: to gaze on the image of Christ crucified, or they could gaze on his presence in the eucharistic species in an adoration chapel, or just to ask the Lord in their prayer like [St.] John Chrysostom, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ This is the real question we want to pose to our people, and to be attentive to his answer.

“I’m confident that if we can motivate our people to have that conversation with Jesus — ‘Lord, is that what you want me to do in this Year of Faith?’ — then we will see a new Pentecost in northeast Kansas.”

To the Source

Would you like to see the Faith Initiative video again? Do you need a copy of the Faith Initiative prayer? Do you need to know about the various Faith Initiative programs?

All this and more can be found on the archdiocesan website at: Click on either the English or Spanish Faith Initiative logos.

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.

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