Local Parishes

Tonganoxie generations build solid foundation — together

From left, Connie Putthoff, Addie Dean, Adlen Johnson and Father Mark Goldasich share a laugh during a game of generation gap trivia. Individuals in the younger generation were challenged to questions the older generation would likely know the answers to and vice versa. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

by Moira Cullings

TONGANOXIE — Religious educators at Sacred Heart Church here believe parishioners of all ages have much to offer one another.

“This older generation has great stories — not just about their faith, but life in general — that they could share with these kids,” said Jennifer Eastes.

“And I think the older generation gets a kick out of interacting with the younger kids,” she added.

Eastes and Nancy Lanza, directors of religious education at Sacred Heart, brought the generations together during a shareholder dinner held Dec. 3 at the church.

The evening included a meal and entertainment provided by the youth involved in religious education, particularly its confirmation program.

Dominic Jones, left, and Griffith Dean chat with parishioners at Sacred Heart Church in Tonganoxie during the shareholder dinner on Dec. 3. The evening, which benefited Sacred Heart’s religious education program, included musical performances by some of the youth. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Leading up to the event, parishioners had the opportunity to select an envelope with a number from $1-$100 representing the amount they wished to pay for the experience.

“It really means that almost every person in the parish can participate,” said Lanza, “regardless of what kind of financial means they have.

“And nobody ever knows how much you spent.”

In the past, donations have funded the youth group’s trips to places like the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) and other needs.

From left, Audrey Wensel, Veda Alvarez and Lauren Breuer entertain those gathered at the Shareholder Dinner. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Father Mark Goldasich, pastor of Sacred Heart, said it’s a chance for parishioners who support the youth to receive a “return on their investment.”

“They get a nice dinner and get to meet the kids in person,” he said, “and experience how their generosity is paying off in growing the faith of our younger parish members.

“It’s a win-win for the adults and the kids.”

Seeing that their fellow parishioners care about them is important for the youth, said Eastes.

“I think it was neat to see how much support they get in our parish,” she said, “even from people that they don’t even know.”

Parishioners at Sacred Heart Church in Tonganoxie enjoy dinner and entertainment put on by youth involved in the parish’s religious education program. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

A favorite part of the dinner for many was the generation gap trivia.

A few of the youth were challenged to questions the older participants would likely know the answers to and vice versa.

“It was a lot of fun with good-humored competition and friendly teasing,” said Addie Dean, one of the youth.

“It made it a lot of fun to try and answer questions that you had no idea about,” she continued, “while the person next to you was practically bursting with the answer.”

Like her peers, Dean also helped with the event’s preparation by setting up tables, serving dinner and clearing plates.

“I thought it was really important to make sure that everyone there knew how much their contribution to the confirmation program means to us,” she said.

“We have a lot of fun,” she continued, “so I was happy to help with the dinner and tried to make sure everyone there knew that we appreciated their support.”

Cale Andersen, left, poses a trivia question to Paula Zishka as Elijah Gould looks on. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Lanza hoped that by fostering the relationship between the generations, the youth felt a sense of belonging.

“Everybody at the parish wants them there,” she said. “I can only hope and pray that down the road they remember that and will want to stay in their faith at a parish.

“And knowing that no matter what their age is they have a place there — they’re welcomed.”

Father Goldasich said the strong youth participation in religious education at his parish is a sign of hope.

“It gives great comfort to the older generation to see young Catholics,” he said, “to know that the church will continue to go on and be strong.

“And the kids can know that they contribute to the life of their parish by their presence and their joyfulness.”

Parishioners enjoy each other’s company and a nice meal hosted by the religious education program at Sacred Heart Church in Tonganoxie. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

Lanza said the strong turnout at the shareholder dinner is a testament to the spirit at Sacred Heart.

“We have an absolutely amazing parish,” she said, “especially for the size that we are and the resources that we have.

“They are absolutely the most generous people that I’ve ever seen. There’s never a time that they don’t respond joyfully and generously to any of our needs.”

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage the website, social media channels and Archbishop Naumann's Facebook page. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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  • Great post! It’s heartening to see different generations coming together to build a solid foundation. The Tonganoxie community is lucky to have such dedicated and passionate individuals working towards a common goal. It’s a great reminder that age is just a number and that together, we can achieve great things.