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06/25/2004
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Life's problems can be helped by the Eucharist, prelate says
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Life's problems can be helped by the Eucharist, prelate says
By Albert de Zutter
Catholic Key Editor

0625conference.jpg
Albert de Zutter/Key photo
Coadjutor Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas celebrates Mass at Avila University June 13. At left are Coadjutor Bishop Robert Finn and Deacon Ken Greene of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.
KANSAS CITY - The presence of Christ in the Eucharist can draw people into the church, Coadjutor Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas told some 400 worshipers June 13 at the Kansas City Catholic Conference.

Archbishop Naumann was the presider at the Mass in Avila University's gymnasium at the conclusion of the June 11-13 conference presented by the Kansas City Catholic Network and KEXS Radio. Jim and Caroline O'Laughlin were the organizers of the conference. Jim O'Laughlin estimated that 800-1,000 people, including children, had attended sessions during the Friday evening to mid-Sunday conference.

Kansas City-St. Joseph Coadjutor Bishop Robert Finn, concelebrant, welcomed Archbishop Naumann and the assembly as the Mass was about to being.

In his homily, Archbishop Naumann told the story of a Baptist minister and his wife who joined the Catholic Church.

"He was led by church history," the archbishop said. "But his wife was led by the Eucharist." Upon entering a Catholic church she was "overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus," Archbishop Naumann said.

Lifelong Catholics are sometimes "too accustomed to the miracle of the Eucharist," he said, adding that he is impressed by the devotion that converts have to the Eucharist.

He said one of the purposes of Pope John Paul II"s encyclical on the Eucharist is "to rekindle Eucharistic amazement."

The Eucharist can help when people feel overwhelmed by life's problems, the archbishop said. In the Gospel story about the loaves and fishes, the apostles were overwhelmed by an impossible command from Jesus - feeding more than 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes.

"Jesus works a miracle as a prefiguration of how he intends to take care of his people through the Eucharist," he said.

Married couples and parents often feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Others feel the pressure of trying to keep a job in today's precarious climate, or dealing with serious health problems or the quest for a just and lasting peace, he said.

With the priests' sexual abuse scandal, pro-choice legislators, problems of health care coverage and the polarization in the Catholic community "it's easy to identify with the apostles' sense of being overwhelmed," he said.

"That should draw us more and more to Jesus in the Eucharist to nourish us for the challenges in our lives," he said. "In the Eucharist the Lord makes himself available to all of us."

Earlier that day, Deacon Justin McMenamy, who directs marriage preparation at Nativity Parish in Independence, said the Eucharist is an encounter with Christ that requires action.

"It should affect how I live, how I influence others and offer the salvation of Christ to others," he said in one of the many talks and seminars presented at the conference.

Jesus had the problem of how to go back to the Father and remain with us, "so he gave us the words of institution at the Last Supper," Deacon McMenamy said. "He went, but he stayed. He gave us his body and blood to be with us for all time."

In another workshop, Deacon Ken Greene, director of the Family Life Office for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said the way to bring others to Christ is to tell the story of how you encountered Christ.

Speaking on discipleship, he gave three examples of people in the Gospel who became disciples through their encounter with Christ: Bartimaeus, the blind man who cried out to Jesus; the woman at the well, and the centurion with a dying servant. All came away with a story to tell that could bring others to Jesus, Deacon Greene said.

"We all have a story to tell. We should become a story-teller to others," he said. "We must ground ourselves in Scripture, worship, and acts of spirituality, affirm what is good and challenge what is not. We must know the social teaching of the church regarding the poor, the environment, and solidarity with the oppressed."

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