Keeler Women’s Center dedicates new home

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann dedicates and blesses the entrance to Keeler Women’s Center July 15. Benedictine Sisters Bridget Dickason, director, and Suzanne Fitzmaurice serve as readers. Standing between the two sisters is the prioress of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, Sister Esther Fangman OSB, who also participated as a reader. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For a long time, Keeler Women’s Center occupied the second floor of the Catholic Charities building at 22nd and Central Avenue serving and empowering women of all races and creeds through education and advocacy, personal and spiritual development. Several programs were designed for men also. Keeler Women’s Center, established in 2003, is a ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kan, who arrived in Atchison more than 150 years ago to teach young women. The center continues the Sisters’ first ministry, in a different way.

Through the various programs and services, the staff and volunteers saw firsthand how women became instruments for change in their families and their neighborhoods. Helping a woman learn to read or speak English, manage her health or finances, or start a business, they watch her create ripples of hope and change that lift up her family and community.

When it came time for Keeler to find a new facility, a suite of rooms about a mile distant was available, and well suited to house the ministry. The Center moved in and on July 15, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City In Kansas blessed and dedicated the new Keeler Women’s Center. He praised the Center, as the work of the staff and volunteers “contributes to the work of the Kingdom of God.”

Keeler staff members are Benedictine sisters Bridget Dickason, director and Suzanne Fitzmaurice, an associate director and a part-time counselor. There are also several former interns who have returned as licensed volunteers, a master’s level social work intern from the University of Kansas and more than 100 volunteers each month, as well as other non-profit agencies. Combined, staff and volunteers enable Keeler to offer classes, professional counseling, spiritual direction, free legal advice, free haircuts, “Pretty Nails,” learning about acupuncture, and four programs in Spanish, including Las Mujeres, Salud Emocional, La Hora Financiera, and Sabores Del Mundo. There are other offerings during August including Understanding Medicare Benefits (bilingual), “Ceramic Art,” “Painting Birds of Summer,” “Is your Plate Heart Healthy?” and “Wreath Making.”

Archbishop Naumann blessed the entrance and the pink ribbon stretched across the steps. He then stepped aside to allow Benedictine Sister Esther Fangman, prioress of Mount St. Scholastica monastery, to cut the ribbon.

Sister Bridget and Sister Suzanne participated in the blessing and dedication ceremony by reading from Psalm 127 and St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians (3: 9 – 11), “For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.”

Sister Esther Fangman, OSB, smiles as she completes the cutting of the ribbon during the dedication. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

Sister Esther described Keeler as “a place of welcome for mind, body and soul.” She said she had heard from clients that the Center was a place of welcome and hospitality and she thanked them for “sharing their lives with us.” She hoped that Keeler would remain a welcoming place in the urban core.

The center serves an average of 3,323 clients yearly (both men and women); childcare is offered to about 514 children each year whose mothers are attending programs or receiving services at Keeler. The Women’s Center serves women from both Kansas and Missouri, and the new center is located about a 10 minute drive west from downtown Kansas City, Mo. All services and programs are free. Donations are accepted.

A reception and tour of the agency followed the dedication.

Keeler Women’s Center is now located at 759 Vermont Ave., Suite 100B, Kansas City, Kan. For more information about Keeler Women’s Center, visit www.keelerwomenscenter.org or call (913) 906-8990.

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Saturday
August 24, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph