I first came to this parish in 1994 - 30 years ago! When I came for an interview to teach in the school - I had to ask, like many others have to do - and where is St. Patrick? And was told, as we still say today - right across the street from St. Pius. . .
I was attending St. Anthony parish in the Northeast part of Kansas City, where I was living at the time - but once I started teaching, I joined St. Patrick – and worshiped in the gym like so many of you remember doing.
I found St. Patrick a welcoming parish. A strong parish under the leadership of Fr. Mike Roach, and Deacon Mike Lewis – who have been friends ever since.
I met some of you then who had kids in the school – the Guttermanns, the Jannings, the Gosoroskis, the Dunsings. [Sansone’s] I was fortunate to call Jim Flournoy and Mary Jo Fontana and Kay White my colleagues.
St. Patrick was a real white shoe parish – where, no matter what happened, people kept walking along singing their song, because it’s all good.
But, like any parish, St. Patrick encountered its rough spots. After Father Shawn Ratigan was your pastor – many people left – and did not return.
But many of you stayed.
Thank you for not judging all priests on the behavior of a few.
Even though we may have stepped in some blueberries and our white shoes became blue – we kept on walking and singing our song – because it’s all good.
After a pastor you just began to know and even love – Fr. Robert died – many people left - and did not return.
But many of you stayed.
Thank you for hoping in a time of darkness - when, by the way, hope is most important.
And even though we may have stepped in a puddle of mud and our white shoes became brown - We kept on walking and singing our song - because it’s all good.
And then covid hit and many people left – and have you noticed? Some have not returned yet. . .
But many of you stayed.
Thank you for believing that it is still very important that we gather together as the Body of Christ - that we see and interact and pray with each other face to face – week after week so as to support and encourage, to challenge and comfort one another.
Even though we may have stepped in a pile of freshly mowed grass and our white shoes became green – we kept on walking and singing our song - because it’s all good.
And as we kept walking and singing, and celebrating that all is good – we were able to achieve a remarkable thing – the reason for this story and for this homily – because we haven’t talked about — our red shoes yet. . .
We stepped into a large pile of strawberries 17 years ago – and our shoes turned red – with debt. . .
First a debt of $2.4 million on the remodeling of the school which included new windows and air conditioning for the first time.
Second a debt of $120,000 on a house you bought for your pastors in the Green Hills neighborhood - a house, by the way, that I find very comfortable and more than adequate to live in.
Look at the pillars that surround us – each of those red shamrocks equals $10,000 – so on this one pillar - that is what $120,000 looks like —
And on these seven pillars – that is what
$2.4 million looks like.
I got tired just putting the shamrocks up – how tired you must have become using your debt envelopes every week!
BUT today I am happy to announce that for the first time in 17 years – the parish of St. Patrick is free of debt — that’s the remarkable thing we have been able to achieve – throughout having our white shoes turned blue, and brown, and green.
Thank you for believing that together, we can achieve so much more than we can as individuals – which is the only explanation for our ability to pay off these debts – that, and the grace of God!!
Just one more thing to mention – and another pillar to talk about. When we stepped into a puddle of mud and our shoes turned brown after the death of Fr. Robert —
weekly collections plummeted – probably because people were trying to figure out that if the Bishop was going to keep this parish open – why wasn’t he sending a pastor??
Because of those low collections – we were unable to keep up with our payments to the diocese which covers such things as benefits and insurance for our employees, and insurance on our buildings and property.
As you can see on this pillar - that amounts to $300,000 that we still owe to the Diocese – but our finance council is not worried too much about it – because we pay no interest on it. We are obligated to pay back $25,000 a year – so we really don’t care how long it takes to pay it back.
Unless we come into a windfall of money, we will just continue to chip away at that $25,000 at a time.
Notice how those shamrocks are green - for the money will still owe the diocese – and they are smaller – because I don’t want us to be too worried about it. . .
What does the future hold for us? Well only God knows that. . . But we are sitting in the newest building of our parish – which is approaching 30 years old. Our school is almost 70 years old. And the parish offices are over 40 years old --
And you know with your own house – that the older things get – the more problems you have – so maintenance of our facilities is certainly in our future.
Which is why, if you noticed – you no longer have a debt reduction envelope every month – but a maintenance fund envelope - to help us build up a reserve to use when future problems arrive.
We’ve got our white shoes back on! I still believe, as I did 30 years ago –that St. Patrick is a welcoming parish, one where no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey – you are welcome.
A place where, like with Simon Peter’s mother-in-law – Christ will grasp our hands and always lift us up to bigger and better things - sometimes things we never even imagined!
And where no matter what happens – we will keep walking along and singing our song – because it is all good!
–Invite Finance Council up for burning ceremony. . .
Moments in time...