Archive for September 2010
Most people that know me know that I am a practicing Catholic (or at least I try to be). My paternal grandfather was German Catholic and my grandmother is Irish Catholic. My dad was raised in a very Catholic household with a Catholic education. Despite the religious influences in my parents’ upbringing, they chose not to raise my siblings and me as Catholics. Instead, they tried to teach us the importance and meaning of the bible and prayer. I was baptized in a Protestant church and we spent our years “church hopping”….from Baptist, non-denominational, to no church at all, I never felt at home or totally comfortable in the three to four churches that I can remember attending although I made several friends.
On the flip side, I grew up having a close relationship with my dad’s mom and our extended family. I spent many school breaks and vacations with my grandma attending Mass and many Catholic weddings and funerals. When I went away to college, I naturally gravitated toward the Catholic campus center and then was later confirmed as an adult.
Although I don’t agree with 100% of the Church’s teachings and I am 100% accepting of all religions and have never tried to force my beliefs on others, there are several reasons why I love the Catholic church. The Church brings my family together through baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, etc. The Church is universal, so I know that no matter where I am, I can find a “home” in the Church.
Grandma’s sister, Ginger, has been a Sister of Saint Joseph of Concordia, KS for more than 50 years. She is pretty well known in the Church having taught and been involved in various capacities in several parishes and schools around the Midwest. She called me on Saturday morning and told me that one of the parishes where she taught 20-25 years ago was celebrating their 100 year anniversary. Sister Ginger taught at St. Joseph’s parish for six years and made a lot of friends there. She asked if I would attend the celebration at the Intercontinental hotel on the Plaza with her on Saturday evening. I’m so glad that I took her up on the invitation. I learned so much about our Church’s history that I didn’t even know existed.
St. Joseph’s was a parish in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, but merged with another parish in 1995 to form St. Monica Catholic Church. St. Monica was an African woman. According to history, because Christianity has its roots in the Mediterranean, it spread across Northern Africa. For instance, Ethiopia was Christianized before Western Europe. Because there were so many African Catholics, a lot of slaves that were brought to the United States were Catholic. However, the traditions were often lost because they were unable to practice or chose not to because their owners were Protestant-mostly Baptist.
In 1910, the Bishop of the Kansas City diocese decided that there needed to be an outreach effort to the 35,000 black people that lived in the city. There were about 35 black Catholics with no money that started a mission in East Kansas City, MO. The community grew and evolved into what is now St. Monica’s Catholic Church in the Jazz District at 16th & The Paseo. I learned all of this history at the centennial celebration that we attended. The evening started off with a social hour/mixer followed by a plated banquet style dinner, a keynote address given by a priest from Atlanta, and recognition of many of the parish volunteers .
I have to say that I was very surprised to be in a room with so many black people that were culturally so different from me who I shared the Catholic faith with. I can’t say that I’ve ever met any black people in my home parish. It was so interesting to see how my aunt, also culturally and physically unlike these people had formed such strong bonds with so many people in their community. I met so many interesting people who for the most part, were extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone was so excited to reunite with Sister Ginger and to meet one of her nieces. I met a man, the parish videographer who referred to Sister Ginger as his “angel”. One woman told me that 21 years ago, her son was two weeks old and he was so ill that the doctors said that he would not make it through the night. Their pastor was out of town, so Sister Ginger came, prayed with the family, and baptized the baby. The baby is now 21 years old in his sophomore year at Mizzou.
I was interested enough in the parish and its people that I decided to attend the celebration Mass the next morning. Throughout the entire 2 ½ hour Mass (yes, TWO AND A HALF HOURS!), I was in a state of utter confusion. I didn’t know if I was at a Catholic Mass, a Southern Baptist church service, or some sort of African celebration with drums and music. 9:00 Mass started at 9:10 with a full Gospel Choir, drums, guitar, organ, and keyboard, and liturgical dancers performing a dance that they call “praise dance”. The liturgy went on with few minor things that I am not really accustomed to. Then came the Homily given by the guest priest from Atlanta who had given the keynote address the evening before. The priest jumped around on the altar and yelled and ran around and broke out in song…there was a lot going on. He addressed us in the congregation several times as “Church”. Like, “Good Morning, Church.” And, “Can I get an Amen, Church?” There were several times where members of the congregation would stand up and clap in the middle of his homily or shout out “uh huh”, or “AMEN”, etc. At the end of the Homily, the preacher started to sing and the entire choir and band chimed in and played for about 10 minutes. I noticed several people wearing some sort of traditional African dress.
I’ve got my Catholic Mass traditions and rituals down pat. I know exactly what prayers to say when, when to respond, when to sit, stand, kneel, etc. Let’s just say none of that mattered today. If the music was good, or someone said something from the altar that someone liked or agreed with, everyone would stand up and clap. During the Lord’s Prayer, everyone holds hands throughout the entire church. I also noticed that a few of the words in the prayer that they recite is different from what I am used to. During the kiss of peace, the congregation turns into a mini social hour. People get out of there pews and walk around the entire church shaking hands, hugging, and greeting each other. Two of Sister Ginger’s friends came over to greet me. They just laughed and said that I looked like I was in a state of culture shock. They were right. I was experiencing culture shock and I was having a hard time processing everything around me. Then the Deacon read the intentions and then gave people an opportunity to call out their own intentions. This was something that I had never seen at Mass before.
Instead of the ushers passing the offering basket, everyone has to process up to the altar and drop their offering into a giant basket. I HATED that. I’ve seen it done in other non-Catholic churches before and it makes me very uncomfortable. Mass eventually ended with more music and the liturgical dancers danced to Amazing Grace. All and all this was a very interesting experience.
I would definitely like to go back and attend Mass on a day when they don’t have all of the added elements that they had in honor of the centennial celebration. I’d like to experience what it is like on a “normal” Sunday. I’m also surprised, impressed, and grateful for the Catholic presence on The Paseo.
I try to sign up for a local charity run about once a month. So far this year, I have done the Trolley Run (4miles) The Mothers Day Run, Jazz in the Woods Run, Rock the Crossroads, Head for the Cure, and the Royals Charities (all 5ks). The runs are always a lot of fun.
The Royals Charities Run benefited Autism Alliance and took place at The K this morning. This was the perfect day for a run. I woke up well rested and the weather was beautiful. By the time I made it out to the stadium (a little later than I had hoped) it was 55 degrees and sunny with a very light breeze. I woke up on time, but had a hard time finding my running tights, so was a bit delayed getting out to the stadium. I headed toward the end of the starting line and the gun went off at about 8:00.This morning’s race crowd was very laid back and easy going. I had no problem keeping a steady pace and staying out of the way of other runners. There were quite a few walkers as well. The course went around the K and all around Arrowhead. I was able to get some great views of the new Arrowhead. It looks really awesome. I’m really excited to check it out again at Opening Day on September 13th.
The finish line was inside the stadium at home plate. It was really cool. They had several photographers snapping pictures of the runners, and a view of the finish was on the jumbo tran. There were several supporters cheering people on in the stands. I ran alone, but was able to find someone to take a picture of me with the stadium seats in the back ground.
Several Royals partners sponsored the event. The after party was sponsored by Wells Fargo. HyVee did quite a bit of the catering. The food spread was the most amazing food spread that I have ever seen at a 5k run. They had freshly grilled hot dogs, chips, yogurt, sports drinks, smoothies, meat, cheese, and fruit trays, granola bars, fresh fruit, donuts, and probably more stuff that I can’t remember. I grabbed a bottle of water and a chilled, crisp gala apple and headed on a walk around the stadium.
There were several things that I saw while on the course that I wanted to take some pictures of, so I did a nice cool down walk and snapped a few photos.
This was definitely the most fun 5k race that I have participated in and I hope to run again next year. If I get everything accomplished today that I need to, I plan to head back out to the K to watch the Royals take on the Tigers. Everyone that participated in the 5K run or 1 Mile Fun walk/run received a free ticket to this evening’s game. There were also a lot of other really cool items in the race day packets two nice t-shirts, a baseball cap, a souvenir timing chip, and a few other things.