“Open Wide The Doors To Christ!” New Residential Center, Campus Ministry Opens

Bishop Johnston blessed the halls of the newly-opened John Paul II Commons with holy water on September 30. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

Megan Marley
Social Media Coordinator

“Open wide the doors to Christ!” Pope St. John Paul II told youth and young adults at World Youth Day 2000. That’s exactly what the newly-opened John Paul II Commons and Newman Center near the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus hopes to do.

Nearly 100 people, most walking over from Sunday Mass at adjoining St. Francis Xavier parish, came for the dedication and blessing of the Commons and parish hall on September 30. Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., fresh from attending a transitional diaconate ordination in Rome, presided over the blessing ceremony.

“It’s the fruit of really a lot of hard work, lot of sacrifice, and certainly a lot of prayer and discussion. I’m so grateful to be here with the parish community to bless this JPII Commons facility today,” said Bishop Johnston in his little homily.

Though the building is now named after St. John Paul II, Johnston said that the naming of the hall shared by the commons and the parish was also providential.

“This space, the hall, is called Xavier Hall—that was part of some prayerful discernment for the parish,” the Bishop said. “It does two things: it connects this space with the parish, St. Francis Xavier parish, but I also think it is a beautiful link to the outreach to students.”

The bishop explained that St. Francis Xavier “heard this call to be a missionary, and set out on this great, but also very perilous, adventure to take the Gospel literally to the ends of what was then the known earth…he had this great love for Jesus and wanted the people to know the good news.”

“That’s a desire that I have, that I know Dain Finney (JPII Commons campus minister) has, the director of our campus ministry Fr. Mattingly has, and I think this entire parish has is to bring people to know Jesus, especially in those critical years of college.”

“In the reading we had today (Ephesians 2:19-22) St. Paul used that term we’re now part of the household of God, and I love that term because it reminds us that we all are God’s family.”

“May this be a place where all members of God’s family will encounter the person of Jesus. He’s the center, the reason why we’re all here for today. He’s the reason that the parish, the diocese, campus ministry, and the benefactors who made this possible are really committed to doing this,” the bishop concluded.

“May God be given the glory in all things.”

With those in attendance following him in procession, Bishop Johnston then walked through and blessed the halls, recreation areas and common rooms of the building. The procession ended back in Xavier Hall with a concluding hymn.

According to the JPII Commons website, the residence is to serve as a physical and spiritual home for college students in Kansas City, featuring faith-based housing open to students of all faiths, with ministry opportunities provided by the Catholic Church. There are 110 modern residential bedrooms arranged in suites on upper floors of the building, while the lower level houses the Newman Center where all students, residents and non-residents, can come for events, to study or to hang out with friends.

For more information on St. John Paul II Commons, visit jpiicommons.org. To learn more about young adult and campus ministry in the diocese, visit kansascityonahill.org or kcsjcatholic.org/office/college-campus-ministry


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September 26, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph