By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor
LEAWOOD, Kan. — As they do every year, the sick, the elderly and those facing surgery, gathered at Cure of Ars Church in Leawood March 11 for the annual Anointing Mass, sponsored by the Knights and Dames of Malta Federal Association. The principle celebrant of the 21st joint diocesan sacramental event was Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, with Archbishop Emeritus James Keleher of Kansas City in Kansas as the homilist.
In his homily Archbishop Keleher quoted Pope St. John Paul II, saying “Christ did not come to remove our afflictions, no no. He came to share in them with us and take them upon himself. … There’s power in suffering.”
He reminded the congregation that “no one knows better the sufferings in our lives than Jesus. As the Mass continues, he invites you and me to join him as he offers himself up once again in a powerful but unbloody manner to the Heavenly Father for the salvation of the world and the glory of God.”
He spoke of the Marian apparitions at Fatima 100 years ago, and urged the assembly to “listen to Our Lady and pray for our poor world.”
Archbishop Keleher recounted the Gospel reading, the healing of the centurion’s servant, Matthew 8:5-13, and gave an overview of the sacrament of the sick that would follow the homily. He said the congregation was invited to offer up the beautiful Eucharist for the sake of the world and for themselves. The sacrament would give them the energy and the power of the sacraments of the Church.
Following the homily, Bishop Johnston, Archbishop Keleher, and the concelebrating priests, Fathers Richard Storey, Cure of Ars pastor, Tony Lickteig and Jerry Spencer, senior priests in residence, Father Charles Rowe, Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan vicar general; Father Pat Rush, chaplain, Order of Malta, Kansas City Region; Fathers John Riley, chancellor, KCK archdiocese; Vincent Giacabazi, S.J., Rockhurst Jesuit Community; Greg Haskamp, pastor, St. Elizabeth’s Church, and Sam Miloscia of Visitation Parish joined in the laying on of hands, blessing of the oil and the anointing of the sick. The priests and prelates were assisted by Knights and Dames of Malta.
At the conclusion of the Mass, there was a solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and procession around the church, with Bishop Johnston lifting the monstrance in blessing as he passed each pew.
A reception followed in the parish hall.
The Knights of Malta, officially the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, a lay religious order was founded about 1099, with the opening of a hospital in Jerusalem for the care of sick pilgrims of any faith or race. Worldwide, today the Order has about 14,000 Knight and Dames, and 200,000 volunteers whose charism is the Defense of the Catholic faith and the Care of the Sick.