Luckiest Priest in Town

Kansas City area readers have been immensely helpful to me during my two years at Saint Charles Borromeo (SCB) Parish.  If any of you are available and interested in joining me and this parish community for a party to celebrate, please gather with us next Saturday, September 22, for the 4:00 Mass, followed by a wonderful Italian dinner provided by Cascone’s and Brancato’s, then the marvelous music of The Elders until the sun sets.  This is our third annual fall friend-raiser event, a time to come together to rejoice in the gift of one another.

Here’s a brief overview of what has transpired at SCB in just over two years.  In the summer of 2016, the faith-community battled the announcement that their long-time school would close at this one-time huge parish that diminished to an unsustainable level of operation.  As interested stakeholders stepped in, we assessed the dire situation to discover it was worse than what anyone knew.  Parish members, joined by parishioners-without-borders from south Kansas City, joined together to donate time, funds, and labor to repair, rebuild, rejuvenate, and recommit.  In 2017, we presented a new model for educating children to move us beyond a neighborhood religious school to a Catholic classical liberal arts academy.  We gave attention to long-deferred maintenance issues.  Four roofs were replaced, as were 1950’s school windows; the dilapidated rectory was rehabbed and the school building renovated.  In 2018, to address the crumbling parish office building, we began construction of a new edifice and a gathering space addition to our church.  The total cost of all the building repairs and new structures is around $2.7 million.  We have raised around $2.4 million with the hope of raising the remainder by the end of this year when construction is completed.  Meanwhile, school enrollment is growing and the parish census increasing.  Though the fiscal deficits are large and it will take several years to reach solid ground, we’re headed in the right direction and I have confidence that we will arrive at a sustainable place a few years into the future.  These external realities reflect the revitalization of the community’s interior spirit.

The late great senator, John McCain, often said, “I am the luckiest guy you’ll ever meet,” echoing the words of Lou Gehrig who, in 1939 before a packed crowd in Yankee Stadium, proclaimed, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”  Many others have expressed similar sentiments; and I join their chorus.  I feel lucky to know such tremendous people in the Kansas City area who see beyond the church as an institution to the church as a reflection of God’s love, who see beyond their own parish community to the community of believers here and far beyond.  I believe that Saint Charles Borromeo Parish and Borromeo Academy will get where we need to go because you are near to encourage and support us as we recover and revitalize.

If you’re able to join us next Saturday, you’ll get to see our new construction.  If kids want to come early, there will be a small petting farm with horses to ride (3-6:00).  You could go home in a vintage 1965 shiny red convertible Ford Mustang that’s being raffled for $10/ticket; you can buy them on line here or that evening.  Though the dinner and concert are free, our hope is to raise $50,000 from raffle sales to help our school get on solid footing.  And, of course, The Elders are making their final Kansas City appearance.  Under the magical leadership of Ian Byrne, they have had quite a run since 1998; and we are incredibly blessed to host them for their final event.  I am, indeed, the luckiest priest in town!