By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY – They may be just a bit older than the teenagers who receive the Sacrament of Confirmation from Bishop Robert W. Finn.
But the bishop told the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women that the Holy Spirit is no less alive and at work within every one of them.
“Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, you are part of the apostolic work of the church,” Bishop Finn told them during his homily at Mass opening their biennial convention April 9.
“I am thankful of your work, and I urge you to carry Christ into the world that is waiting for him,” the bishop said.
At the convention held at Kansas City’s Embassy Suites Hotel near the Country Club Plaza, the women also heard from Bill Quatman, grandson of telephone entrepreneur George Quatman who bankrolled the restoration of a home in Ephesus, Turkey, that is believed to be where the apostle St. John the Evangelist took Blessed Mother Mary to escape persecution in Jerusalem.
The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is officially promoting the sainthood cause of Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey, a 19th century French nun and missionary who used her personal fortune to discover and restore the home.
Following the miraculous cure of his brother David from polio in 1954, Bill Quatman said that his grandfather bankrolled a second restoration of the shrine, and established the American Society of Ephesus for its continued maintenance.
Shortly before his death in 1965, George Quatman was honored by Pope Paul VI for his work. During Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey, Bill Quatman accepted another honor as a guest at a small papal Mass celebrated at the shrine.
Quatman told the DCCW members that Sister Marie, serving in nearby Smyrna, Turkey, near the turn of the 20th century, became a student of the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich who described the stone house on a hill overlooking the ancient city of Ephesus, now in ruins.
Sister Marie, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent, sent Vincentian priests to scour the hillsides around Ephesus. They discovered the site of the home, revered by both Christians and Muslims, who also pray to Mary as the mother of Jesus, whom Muslims consider a great prophet.
“Mary is mentioned 34 times in the Qu’ran,” Quatman told the DCCW. “That is more than she is mentioned in the New Testament. It’s not just a Christian shrine. It’s a Muslim shrine, too.”
Quatman said his grandfather instilled a deep devotion to Mary throughout his family that continues to this day.
When his brother Dave was stricken with polio, Quatman said his grandfather made a pilgrimage to Fatima where he prayed for his grandson’s cure.
“When he came back, Dave was already walking around the hospital, cured,” Quatman said. “The doctors said it was a miracle.”
In thanksgiving, George Quatman then made a pilgrimage to Ephesus where he found the Marian shrine that Sister Marie had salvaged 50 years earlier in utter disrepair following two world wars.
“He said, “Somebody has got to do something, and that somebody is me,”” Bill Quatman said.
Bishop Finn told the DCCW that he was honored when Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Ismir, Turkey, personally asked the Kansas City-St. Joseph bishop during Bushop Finn’s own pilgrimage to Ephesus in 2007 to take on Sister Marie’s cause, since the Turkish archdiocese lacked the resources.
Bishop Finn said there is no greater model of Christian faith than Mary, Mother of Jesus.
“The most extraordinary follower of our Lord was the Blessed Mother,” he said.
“The most important human being who ever lived, bar none, no argument, is this extraordinary woman, full of grace.” Bishop Finn said.
He joked that the short answer to the question of why the diocese is taking on the sainthood cause of a French nun who worked in Turkey is: “I don’t know.”
But Bishop Finn does know that the Holy Spirit is working. It is that same Spirit that sends all believers, including the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, to go into the world with the good news of salvation.
“If we carry Jesus Christ into the world, and hold up his truth, his way and his life, we will freeze evil in its tracks,” the bishop said.
“Thanks be to God that we can rely on the Holy Spirit,” he said. “And thanks for your spirit of service that makes so many things happen in so many ways.”