By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Nominated by the pastors, some 75 volunteers from parishes throughout the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph were honored Sept. 14 at the annual Bishop’s Recognition Award Mass.
And each one of them, in a special way, has contributed to the vibrancy of the church itself, Bishop Robert W. Finn told them.
“In every field collectively, you have given yourself,” he said.
“Each in his or her own way has contributed so that we function as a Body: hands, feet, head and heart,” the bishop said.
“Any one of us on our own could not do so much,” he said. “But as a living entity, we cooperate and make a tremendous contribution to individual’s lives, to our parishes, neighborhoods, indeed to the world, all in Christ’s name and out of a motive of love of him.”
People who give of their time and talent in the name of Jesus have a great impact and not just for those whom they directly serve, Bishop Finn said.
“You teach by word, even more by example,” he said.
“You volunteer hours and loving energy to visit and care for those in need; to feed, to listen, to encourage, to be advocates for life at every moment, womb to tomb,” he said.
“Your efforts change hearts, laws and lives,” Bishop Finn said. “You bring to fruition the corporal and spiritual works of mercy: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, counseling, forgiving, comforting and praying.”
That is the very mission of the church itself, Bishop Finn said.
“This is your call. This is our call. This is the mission of the church,” he said. “You, my friends, cause it to be realized in the world. You know there are many others. In receiving these certificates and pins, do so proudly but also on behalf of many others who are likewise deserving.”
Bishop Finn said it was appropriate that this year’s Bishop’s Recognition Awards Mass fell on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
“Exaltation certainly implies a glorious victory, a cross raised up in honor. But if the cross is real — and it is real — the carrying of the cross costs,” he said.
“Your work, your dedication and service costs you,” Bishop Finn said. “It requires real sacrifice, even when you may carry it out in love and joy. It takes time to listen to others. It takes prayer, reflection and energy to prepare a class for engaged couples, for parish School of Religion classes or RCIA.
“Responding to the needs of your parish — the athletic program, the parish council or pro-life apostolate, or the food bank, or the clothing drive, means that we won’t necessarily have all the time we might prefer four ourselves,” Bishop Finn said.
But such sacrifices do have their rewards, he noted.
“These sacrifices born out of love for Jesus Christ are truly life-giving to others and, often, to ourselves,” Bishop Finn said.
“Our Holy Father Pope Francis has told us so many times that ‘we must go out in the streets’ to care for Jesus in his people. We must prepare to get messy,” he said.
“I can only begin to say thank you through this small gesture of recognition, and I do so,” Bishop Finn said.
“Thank you, honorees, for the generous love with which you carry out the call of God in the church,” he said. “I hope you will wear these little pins proudly as an emblem which ties you to our diocese and which inspires and challenges others to serve Christ’s people along whatever path he may lead.
As listed by the diocesan Office of Sacred Worship at the deadline for parishes to honor their volunteers, the 2014 honorees are:
Jo Marie Armilio, Jacob Armstrong, Gus Bannick, Michael Bohaty, Thomas Blosser, Joe Brocato, Deacon Marcelino Canchola, Glenna Coleman, Joyce Dahlquist, Michael Dailey, Pam Evans, Rosalie George, Ray Goffinet, Tom and Margaret Hall, Mike and Carol Harris, Mark and Jane Hausman.
Dean Heimes, Donna Johnson, Curtis Jones, Patti Jones, Ken Karr, Robert and Juanita Klenklen, Becky Kopecky, Larry Lackamp, Mary Loomis, Barbara Lott, Jay Meacham, Teresa Medrano, Bill and Rita Marie Menard, Leonard Messner, John Mischlich, Jeff Mohajir, Armando Moran, Susan Moran.
Dennis and Sheila Ottinger, Kathy Ousley, Kristy Owen, Dr. Robert Pavlu, Kathleen Philpott, John Robert and Loretta Ralston, Don and Mary Puhr, Clella Rehkow, Cheryl Ross, Jim Ross. Mark Sabec, Dawna Sbisa, James and Rose Scanlon, Charles Schroder, Julie Seck, Earl Seipel, Jo Skelton.
Bill Skillin, Jessica Stewart, Becky Stoeklein, Amy Thompson, Janet Tirshel, JoAnn Townsend, Becky Turner, Marvin and Mary Weishaar, Joyce Wendel, Carrie Whitson, Steve Whitson, Jackie Williams, Bill Wright, Ann Yoakum, Susan Zaner.