By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — The Year of Faith in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph will open with a bang, not a whimper.
A candlelight procession on Oct. 13 — two days after the universal church begins the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI — will unite participants in the rosary as they process with Bishop Robert W. Finn from Divine Mercy Park, 3800 NE Davidson Rd., north to St. Patrick Parish, 1357 NE 42nd Terr., a distance of just under one mile.
Deacon Ralph Wehner, director of the diocesan Office of Sacred Worship, said that when the procession reaches the church, there will be a Gospel reading, reflections by Bishop Finn and by Father Jim Keleher, SOLT, leader of the international Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade, exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and benediction.
The date, said Deacon Wehner, is significant.
Pope Benedict set the “Year of Faith” to begin Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the 20th anniversary of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church. The pope set aside the year, to end on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 23, 2013, to urge Catholics to deepen their knowledge of the faith by studying the council documents and the catechism.
That date, Deacon Wehner said, fell on a Thursday. But two days later, on Saturday, fell the 95th anniversary of the apparition of Mary to three children at Fatima, Portugal.
“Oct. 13 just couldn’t be passed on,” Deacon Wehner said. “It just all came together.”
The procession is jointly sponsored by the diocese and the Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade, who also sponsored the procession and public rosary in 2008 that drew thousands to Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.
Thousands of participants would certainly stretch St. Patrick Church well beyond its capacity of 500, but Deacon Wehner said that plans are already in place to provide a meaningful prayer experience for all who come to the 7 p.m. event.
Participants are urged to park their cars at the parish or at St. Pius X High School’s lots just north of the parish, then walk south to Divine Mercy Park, arriving no later than 6:30 p.m.
“We know that with this large a group of people, there will be a long gathering time. We are asking people to be in their place by 6:30,” Deacon Wehner said.
The Diocesan Choir will sing sacred hymns, ending with the Divine Mercy Chaplet just before the procession begins.
Led by Bishop Finn and Knights of Columbus in full regalia, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be carried from the park to the church, with the procession praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary in unison.
And here is where high technology comes into play, Deacon Wehner said.
The rosary will be led by five deacons, each leading a decade, from the ambo of the church. A speaker system will be installed along the procession route to carry the prayers of the deacons so that all participants are praying together. This includes those who choose, because of difficulty with walking, to go directly to the church.
“Those people who want to join in prayer but are unable to process can gather in St. Patrick’s Church,” Deacon Wehner said. “We will be praying together whether it is along the procession route or in the church.”
The Oct. 13 procession is just the beginning of a series of events that will celebrate the Year of Faith.
The Bishop Helmsing Institute is planning special events highlighting the Vatican II documents and the catechism.
Also in the works are a series of Masses that Bishop Finn will celebrate in parishes throughout the year, with special emphasis on the promises of Baptismal vows and the healing grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Details about those and other upcoming events will be announced when plans are finalized, Deacon Wehner said.