by Therese Horvat
Special to The Leaven
Olathe — Ministry awards, board recognition, goodwill and a great performance by The Priest Band marked the recent 65th anniversary celebration of Villa St. Francis, the archdiocesan skilled nursing center here. An estimated 325 persons attended the benefit dinner held on Oct. 17 at Ascension Parish, Overland Park.
Villa staff members Father Robert Burger, sacramental minister, and Sister Mary Kenneth Messina, SCL, pastoral care associate, received ministry awards announced by John May, administrator/CEO, and presented by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. May highlighted the special roles and dedication of Father Burger and Sister Mary Kenneth in supporting the Catholic ministry of the skilled nursing facility.
Archbishop Naumann found a special significance in Father Burger receiving this award during the Year of the Priest, and Sister Mary Kenneth’s boundless energy for her ministry of service.
“Because of their consecration to vowed life, religious have a special gift,” he said, “and they symbolize the Resurrection for all of us.”
Sister Maureen Hall, SCL, councilor with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, gave a reflection on the importance of Villa St. Francis as a “house where residents find refuge and comfort.” She noted that the Sisters of Charity have been associated with the Villa since its founding, and that 70 SCLs have served the ministry over the past 65 years.
Robert W. Chenoweth, outgoing chair of the board of trustees, received special recognition for his two terms of office and long and continuing service to the Villa. Robert Dvorak, current board chair, also presented plaques to outgoing board members Ronald Benjamin, Mark Henke and Msgr. Tom Tank. The Ladies of Charity, represented by Naomi Dillard, announced a $10,000 donation to the Villa to commemorate its 65th anniversary.
The evening closed with a performance by The Priest Band, which came out of retirement for this event. Fathers Ken Kelly, Mark Mertes, and Kent O’Connor joined Steve Dekker for the performance, with a guest appearance by Father Matthew Schiffelbein.