What I’m Doing & Why

Nearly a year ago, I was transferred from Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Kansas City’s northland to Rockhurst University in midtown, along with some neighboring parishes.  Returning to my alma mater after forty years and to inner city ministry after twenty-two, I more thoughtfully contemplate my pastoral mission and time on earth.  As best I can summarize it, here is what I do and why.

The ”what” is multi-layered: my work connects people, starting at the Alvin Brooks Center for Faith Justice (ABCFJ) at Rockhurst, with agents of faith and agencies of justice on and around Troost Avenue; it invites students and others to participate via retreats, immersion experiences, service projects, and other faith-in-action offerings.  The “why” is simple: I believe that what happens at the heart of the city impacts the heart of our religious faith throughout the metropolitan area.  I hope to spend the remainder of my priesthood helping to reinforce the city center in spiritual ways.

This apostolate involves enhancing worship in urban parishes and the impact that flows from prayer, connecting the Rockhurst community and other people of good will with social agencies that improve lives, and inviting residents throughout the greater metro region to share their time, talents, and/or treasures to magnify faith and works at the heart of our municipality.  Rockhurst’s tagline, “In the City for Good,” implies that the university is situated at the urban center both for the long-haul and for its betterment.  I want to adopt the same attitude.  Here are some key operational beliefs that guide me:

*Inner-city parishes are good models of worship and outreach that touch the heart of the Gospel mission, especially as they upgrade lives and relationships

*Rockhurst University’s ABCFJ is an important hub that helps students and others understand what it means to be men and women with and for others

*Faith points to trust in things unseen and hope in things not yet known, while justice has little to do with the popular sense of getting even (in a legal or street manner) and much to do with the ancient sense of getting right (in the biblical tradition)

*Understanding of faith-that-does-justice will bring about a better Kansas City from its core to the entire metropolitan region and beyond

*Connecting Rockhurst and inner-city Catholic parishes to social agencies and people of good will in and around Kansas City can animate and mobilize collaborative efforts to create a healthier, happier, holier, and more wholesome metropolitan community

*Those who live, work, and/or worship in Kansas City’s urban core can be a beacon of light that shine forth for our Catholic dioceses and region

*Troost Avenue is being transformed from a symbol of oppression and place of division into a place of gathering and sign of unity-through-diversity, and, over the past quarter-century, it has illustrated what faith can do

*The placement of Rockhurst’s ABCFJ and other businesses and agencies on or near Troost Avenue offers an ongoing commitment to strengthen the welfare of Kansas City residents

*From the hub (at Rockhurst and inner-city parishes) Catholics from various parishes, neighborhoods, and metropolitan regions can collaborate on issues of faith and social justice through dialogue, discussion, and discernment, while working to bring about more unity within churches and more understanding for people of different races, creeds, and cultures

*Through retreats and other times of reflection, we achieve greater wisdom of our purpose and can offer more wholesome direction to others

During the past year, I have welcomed over a thousand people to my retreat home (Farnan Spirituality Center) where hundreds have participated in retreats or spiritual direction.  Reflective prayer and conversation, I believe, is foundational to the work we are called to do as Christians.  The spirituality center can assist in our personal and communal mission.