Formation for missionary discipleship

Ed. Note – Bishop Johnston shared the following letter and announcement with priests, deacons and chancery staff this week, and here with all the faithful of the diocese.

One of the many blessings we enjoy as the People of God of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is the number of dedicated priests, deacons, religious, and laity who serve in a variety of capacities in the Chancery as well as in our parishes, schools, and other institutions and organizations. It has been a privilege and a pleasure for me to continue discovering the talents of so many of these dedicated laborers in our Diocese.

Along with this, I have recognized a great eagerness for a renewal of life and ministry in our Diocese to best fulfill our mission to go and make disciples. Some of the models and approaches which may have served well in the past must be re-evaluated and new approaches must be considered.

I have been prayerfully reflecting for some time on “formation” within our Diocese that we are each called to attend to for ourselves and provide for others. Priests, deacons, and seminarians have all received some formation but obviously continued work and review necessarily remains as a lifelong process of growth in their respective ministries and service. In an effort to foster and assist our Chancery staff as they work together in unity of mission as well as to raise an awareness of each department’s ministry, we have instituted the monthly Eat, Pray, Learn sessions you see listed in the Pastoral Bulletin as yet another opportunity of ongoing formation for all who serve the Diocese. Now I wish to focus particular attention in a comprehensive manner on the formation of all: clergy, parish liturgical ministers, and all parishioners in their call to holiness. Quite specifically, I am speaking about formation for missionary discipleship, a formative focus of the New Evangelization frequently spoken of by Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope Saint John Paul II.

Most recently, Pope Francis gave explicit expression to this need to provide renewed structures to form missionary disciples in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel: “The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with him. As Pope John Paul II once said . . . ‘All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion.’” (no. 27)

As we prepare once again to enter into the Lenten season, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that after much prayer, consultation, and reflection, effective March 1, 2017, I will be making the following changes on my staff here at the Chancery:

Father Paul Turner will become the Diocesan Director of the Office of Divine Worship. As we are all aware, Father Turner assists ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) and is an internationally, highly respected liturgical theologian who has given most informative presentations on the Mass, liturgy, and sacraments for our presbyterate (and many others) several times over the years. His duties as the Director of the Office of Divine Worship include assisting the Bishop in his episcopal role as shepherd, promoter and guardian of the entire liturgical life of the Diocese making, when appropriate, recommendations to the Bishop regarding pastoral liturgical matters and implementation of liturgical policies. As the Director of the Office of Divine Worship, Father Turner will also serve as a resource for parishes and individuals for formation and training. Father Turner will continue to serve as pastor of Saint Anthony Parish and direct the Ecumenical/Interreligious Commission.

Deacon Ralph Wehner will continue to serve as Coordinator of Special Events, Special Assistant to the Office of the Bishop, Overseer of Liturgical Artifacts and Reclamation; additionally, he will assume new duties as a team member in the Office of Diocesan Archives. Deacon Wehner will continue to arrange the bishop’s liturgical calendar and preparations for many of the bishop’s pastoral visits. Since the Lenten and Sacred Triduum liturgies have been prepared for a number of months, Deacon Wehner will also continue to facilitate many of them.

Mr. Marc Cardaronella will be named Director for the newly created Office of Discipleship and Faith Formation. This new office will assist parishes to carry out the mission of evangelization and faith formation for all ages following the three stages of discipleship: to Know Christ (evangelization); to Grow in Christ (establishing the evangelized); and to Serve Christ (equipping for ministry). As he begins, I have instructed Marc to engage in several listening sessions in our parishes so that he can become more familiar with the needs in our parishes and how we might better serve them throughout these formative processes.

Concurrently with the creation of this new office, the Bishop Helmsing Institute will conclude its functions, though the sessions already scheduled for this 2017 spring academic semester will proceed as scheduled.

Dr. Claude Sasso will continue to serve in a specialized role with the following responsibilities: oversee the completion of the BHI Legacy courses for 2017; campus ministry oversight; Diocesan Media/Resource Center; oversee other initiatives and programs until completion.

I express my sincere appreciation to Deacon Ralph and Dr. Sasso for their dedicated service over the past decade in their director roles.
Please keep all at the Chancery in your prayers as we continue to plan to meet the needs of the Diocese and assist with the training and formation of those ministering in the liturgy as well as provide ongoing formation for all the baptized in becoming missionary disciples.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Jr.
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph


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October 20, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph