Demonstrating their faith … from their works

Bishop Johnston presents parish volunteer with a blue Cloisonné pin with an antique gold finish bearing the inscription, “Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop’s Recognition.” (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — From Forest City across to Gallatin up north; south to Pleasant Hill, Harrisonville and many places in between, volunteers nominated by their parishes across the Diocese were honored Sept. 16 in a special Mass celebrated by Bishop James Johnston, Jr., and concelebrated by Fathers Paul Turner, Justin Hoye and Steven Yavorsky, S.J., at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The annual Bishop’s Recognition Mass congratulates and thanks those named for their dedication to ministry and service to God’s people in their parishes.

The Second Reading for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time could have been addressed to those 66 men and women: “… I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (James 2:14-18). And many have demonstrated that faith for a long time.

In his homily, Bishop Johnston said, “This is an annual occasion to be grateful for the gifts that you have used for God and His Church. As your bishop I give you all my thanks for your generous service to building up the Kingdom of God in your parish and in our diocese. I speak not only for myself, but for all in our diocese. All of you honorees present today represent dozens of parish communities which together make up the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

“I don’t think you do what you do for honors and recognition, but it is a Christian thing to be grateful; to say, ‘thank you,’ and to acknowledge goodness and generosity when we see it. And, at a time when the news seems only about bad news in the Church, this is an opportunity to shine a light on good news and the many who do such good and beautiful things because of their faith and their life in the Church. Mostly, we come together to thank God for calling us and giving us the gift of faith and then the grace to express faith in works of love.

“How appropriate that we have as our Second Reading today that famous reading from the Letter of St. James in which we hear that ‘faith without works is dead.’ What St. James says here is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. If faith is going to save us, it must express itself in action.

“I recently read somewhere,” he added, “that claiming to have saving faith, but no demonstrated action, is like telling all your friends that you can really fly but declining to ever demonstrate your flight powers in person. No one would take you seriously. Neither should they take you seriously if you claim to have faith in Christ without the acts of love that faith makes possible. Faith without love-in-action is not true faith, nor is it a saving faith.

“That said, we must remember that we are not earning our salvation. Faith is a gift which enables us to receive grace, which is God’s power in us to act. Salvation is all grace; salvation is all God’s power at work in us and acting in us by the Holy Spirit. It certainly requires our cooperation, but it is all God’s work.

“That is what I see in you and that is what we honor: God working in you by His grace, with your faith in action through love and service. This is what all the baptized are called to: faith expressed in works by God’s grace. So, once more, thank you, and together we say, ‘thank you, Lord!’”

He continued his reflections by calling attention to the Gospel reading, Mark 8:27-35, in which Jesus asks a question, teaches the disciples and us a lesson, and sends a message. “He asks, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ to which Peter replies, ‘You are the Christ.’ Peter doesn’t really understand who Jesus is yet, even though he gave the correct answer.”

Then, “Jesus gives a teaching to His disciples about his suffering and death, and Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes Him for this, after which Jesus rebukes Peter for thinking as Satan does in this instance.

“Peter’s rebuke of Jesus is important because it ought to make us see our own unwillingness to accept the suffering and death involved in following Jesus. If we are honest, many of us want to follow Jesus as long as it’s not hard and does not involve sacrifice and suffering and conversion on our part.” He added, “We must remember, it’s not about us, It’s all about God.”

In the third part of the Gospel, Jesus sends a message. “’Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.’

“This is not a comforting message: if we choose to follow Jesus it means a path of suffering and death. But, it is a message of hope, because Jesus says by following him we will save our lives. Here is why this teaching is good news. Whether we like it or not, we are all still going to experience sufferings in this life and eventually death—even if we don’t follow Jesus as disciples. What Jesus is saying is, follow me and by embracing the suffering that comes from following me, it will lead to salvation. That truly is good news!”

Immediately following the homily, Bishop Johnston stepped down to the main floor, greeted the honorees and presented each with a dark blue cloisonné pin with an antique gold finish saying: Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop’s Recognition.

The 2018 Honorees

Sacred Heart Parish Hamilton – Joe and Beverly Graham

Guardian Angels Parish- Bill Breeden and Rita Hernandez

Mary Immaculate Parish Gallatin- Terry and Mary Jarboe

St. Charles Borromeo Parish- Dick Scheetz and Eileen Hutchinson

St. Mary Parish Higginsville- Brent Schlotzhauer and John Spiegelhalter

St. Sabina Parish- Gloria Garcia and Frank Hansel

St. Andrew the Apostle Parish Gladstone- Rene Daniels

St. Bridget Parish Pleasant Hill- Daniel Zaner and Katy Crabtree

St. Francis Xavier Parish Kansas City- Kaler Bole and Steve Bruns

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Harrisonville- Larry Priddy and Cathy Bennefeld

Holy Rosary Parish Kansas City- Joann Molle and Gloria Pizzichino

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Raytown- Mary Ann Gensler and Gerry Sharkey

St. Therese Parish Parkville- Ken Bischof and Lisa Klose

St. James Parish Liberty- Don Ollier and Judy Keisling

St. Thomas More Parish – Larry and Sandy Otto

St. Patrick Parish Kansas City- Steve Gosoroski and Bob Chaney

St. Bernadette Parish- Chris St. Germain and Dan Schroer

Nativity of Mary Parish- Sara Breunig and Mary Vitt

St. Margaret of Scotland Parish- Ken and Katie Kleffner

St. Robert Bellarmine Parish- Henry and Nina Marsh

St. Catherine of Siena Parish- Van Tillmon and Frank Ruisinger

Holy Family Parish- Rozanne Prather and Dave Rogowski

St. Therese Little Flower Parish- Sheilahn Davis-Wyatt and Brett Wyatt

Holy Trinity Parish Weston- Pam Wittmeyer

Twelve Apostles Parish Platte City- Darcy and Scott Mendenhall

St. John Francis Regis Parish- Mike Apprill and Valerie Scarborough

Our Lady of the Presentation Lee’s Summit- Dale Anastasi and Bridget Bahr

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish- Patricia Acton and Daniel Quintero, Sr.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception- Bob and Sharyn Connor

St. Jude the Apostle Parish- Jim Boss and Dana Tucker

St. Peter Parish – Annie Houlehan and Chrystal Johnson

St. Rose of Lima Parish- Jerry Ingle

St Patrick Parish Forest City- Mike Podany

St. John LaLande Parish- Michael and Susan Becker

Our Lady of Sorrows Parish- Thomas and Tammy Papreck

A reception for the honorees and their families was held at the Catholic Center following the Mass.


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October 23, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph