St. Patrick Parish, North, celebrates 75th anniversary
By Loretta Shea Kline
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY - The 75th anniversary of St. Patrick Parish, North, was an especially joyous occasion for Sister Rita Klarer. Besides being named Parishioner of the Year, the 73-year-old Ursuline sister reveled in the opportunity to celebrate with the parish community that helped in her recovery following a car accident just three months earlier.
Loretta Shea Kline/Key photo
Ursuline Sister Rita Klarer hugs Father Michael Roach, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Kansas City, North, upon receiving the Parishioner of the Year Award at the parish's 75th anniversary Mass June 5.
Sister Klarer, whose knees were broken and lungs severely bruised in the accident, told The Catholic Key following an anniversary Mass June 5, "The prayers, the cards, the letters, the visits - it was overwhelming. That's why I am well."
For Sister Klarer, a member of St. Patrick for more than three years, it was "like finding a treasure to find this parish."
"That welcoming spirit is there," she said. "Everybody from the youngest to the oldest matters."
In his homily before a packed church, Bishop Raymond J. Boland said a parish is "lots of different people, diverse in many ways, coming together to express their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." When people pray, sing, exchange the sign of peace and receive the Eucharist together at Mass, he said, "We cease to be individuals. We become a community."
And it is community that has sustained the parish through 75 years, said Bishop Boland, who noted that the parish's history is intertwined with that of St. Pius X High School, located across the street from the church.
The Bishop urged those gathered at the Mass, which celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, to become a little bit more like Christ each time they receive the Eucharist, and to carry that into their families, workplaces and communities. Christ, he said, welcomed all to his table without regard to differences.
As is his custom when he celebrates an anniversary, Bishop Boland noted some of the historical events of the year the parish was founded. In 1924 - when Bishop Francis Gilfillan established St. Patrick and appointed Father William Gott pastor, a role in which he would serve until 1955 - one former U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson, died while a future president, Jimmy Carter, was born. Adolph Hitler was released from jail and formed the Nazi Party, and the United States granted full citizenship to Native Americans. The Notre Dame football team enjoyed an undefeated season under legendary coach Knute Rockne, and the National Council of Catholic Women, which will hold its convention in Kansas City later this year, began a campaign to have women observe modesty in dress, Bishop Boland said.
When the parish was established, boundaries included the southern and eastern parts of Platte County to the Missouri River, and the southwest part of Clay County to the Missouri River. Five parishes were established from St. Patrick's original boundaries: St. Charles Borromeo in 1947, St. Therese, Parkville, in 1951, St. Gabriel Archangel in 1956, St. Raphael in 1963 and St. Andrew in 1964.
Masses in the early years of St. Patrick Parish were celebrated on alternate Sundays at a barracks-type hut in North Kansas City that the Knights of Columbus had built for World War I soldiers and a church at Diesters Settlement on N.W. 56th Street near Missouri Highway 3.
Rose and Jim Summers (Rose worked as a secretary for the parish and school for 20 years, and Jim is the brother of Msgr. Emmett Summers) have been members of the parish for all but a year of their 49 years of married life, and knew the founding pastor, Father Gott, and all nine pastors who followed him. The couple recalled in a Catholic Key interview how the parish pulled together in times of need.
One such time was when the roof of the old church (now the gymnasium at the parish complex at 1357 N.E. 42nd Terrace) sprung a leak during a severe rain storm. A priest who was filling in at one of the Masses said, as water dripped around him into five-gallon buckets on the altar, "I think we can get the money to fix the roof," Rose recalled. Parishioners contributed almost the entire amount needed for the repairs at that Mass.
"That's the spirit," Rose Summers said. "When they asked for anything, it was done."
Rose Summers said the present church, completed in 1995, was a dream come true for a parish that traces its roots to around 1915 when Father Edward Mallen came from Liberty to celebrate Mass for Northtown Catholics in one room of a building on the northwest corner of Armour and Swift.
At the anniversary Mass - concelebrated by Father Michael Roach, pastor since 1993; Msgr. Thomas O'Brien, pastor from 1964 to 1971; Father Franklin Lackamp, pastor from 1990 to 1993; and Msgr. Emmett Summers; with Deacon Michael Lewis, pastoral associate at St. Patrick, assisting - the parish recognized volunteers for outstanding service.
Sister Klarer was named Parishioner of the Year for her service as a Eucharistic minister, lector, leader of Communion services and founder of WAMOCA, which stands for Women and Men of a Certain Age. The group, geared for people in their 50s and older, has more than 70 "card-carrying members," Sister Klarer said. Members gather for fun, fellowship and spiritual growth.
Ernie Collins, director of liturgy and music, was given special recognition for his efforts in coordinating a parish presentation of the musical, "Godspell." Members of the parish council and inductees in the St. Patrick Hall of Fame were also recognized for their service.
Bishop Boland, who noted that Father Roach is leaving the parish to take over as pastor of St. Therese, Parkville, effective June 23, said moving to carry out ministry in new places is a way of life for priests and bishops. He praised Father Roach for his service to the parish and as vocations director for the Diocese, a post he will leave July 1 to take over as chairman of the Priest Personnel Board. Father Jerry Waris, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kansas City, will take over as pastor of St. Patrick.
Following the anniversary Mass, a parish picnic with food, music and children's games was held on the parish grounds.