Sunday, January 29, 2006

Holy Family

Holy Family , the parish church at 274 Orchard Street in Kansas City, Kansas, is a beautiful building, inside and out. I was in it a couple of years ago. It's not "grand" like so many churches built (and now closed) on the Missouri side during the same decade, but it's a great parish church. The doors were locked on St. Martin Luther King's day, when I took this picture.

The sanctuary is rather small, but intact (the altar steps were, I recall, altered by a newfangled altar and a handrail (presumably an understandable necessity for an elderly priest, and easily removed), but the high altar and the communion rail remain. I remember going up to the communion rail before the Blessed Sacrament during my brief visit, and noticing that a groove was worn in the stone step [update July 14: actually, it's wooden. Faulty memory] where I knelt. (How many Holy Communions would that take? Talk about patina! I noticed the same thing at Old St. Mary's (almost a century older) when Mrs. Curmudgeon and I went to low Mass in Washington DC, but didn't expect it here). Anyways, the nave is also narrow and lower, in proportion to its length, that one usually sees. The sacred fixtures and furnishings were nice, and the carpets, pews, and other non-essentials were just a touch shabby, as I recall [Update July 14: actually, they aren't shabby. The place is in great shape. Faulty memory again]. The overwhelming feeling I remember from being I was in this church was one of coziness. Every small parish should have a church like this.

I can't remember which ethnic group built this church, and I can't find that information online. Was this the Czech church? Anyways, hopefully someday I'll find a history, get some inside shots, and show you what I mean.
[Update July 14: Slovenian]

UPDATE JANUARY 31:

Our friend Jovan fills in some of the gaps with some very interesting historical information. Apparently, this church was built during a little schism of sorts. Do click on the comments below.

UPDATE JULY 14:


Here are a few new photos. I took them some time ago, but as you know, I was too technically inept to get them posted until now. I'm still having trouble with maintaining aspect ratios. Forgive me if they're slightly distorted.

The light wasn't great, and I didn't have the skill or the tripod to do a really long exposure, so they're a tad grainy.


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When I went inside, I was surprised. I'd forgotten how simple the sanctuary was (relative to, say, St. Anthony's.St. Mary's or St. Joseph/St. Benedict or Blessed Sacrament). Nonetheless, this is still, in my mind, the perfect little parish church.

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Of course, Holy Family is presently subject to the "Pastoral Planning" church closing process. There's a good chance that the Meitler consultants and the chancery folks might convince the Archbishop to abolish the parish and sell the building to a protestant sect or turn it into a junkyard (as, you can see, the predecessor to the Missouri side bishop did to some of his parishes fifteen years ago). Do get in and see the church for yourself before they convince him to wipe them out.

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If you haven't done so already, you should click on the comments below and read Jovan's input on this church. Below are bad shots of the portraits of the only two pastors this great little church has ever had. Saintly men, I gather. The first must have had, as his initial task, the healing of a little schism, and the second has continued to serve the parish and care for souls into his 90s.

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I think the color--the contrast of the stone and brickwork, is really beautiful on this church, so I'm posting a color shot of the facade as well.


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If I had Bill Gates' money, I'd spend it all by going through small towns and suburbs across America, looking for ugly spaceship churches, burning them down (with due care for the safety of the parishioners and the preservation of the Blessed Sacrament and (truly) sacred objects, of course), and rebuilding each one with a church on this plan.

13 comments:

Jovan-Marya Weismiller, T.O.Carm. said...

Curmudgeon,

Holy Family was (is) the Slovenian Church. It was founded by Slovenes who refused to go to Mass with the Croatians at St John's. The Bishop wouldn't give them a Parish, so they built their own Church and sent to he Old Country for a priest. When he got here, he was very syrprised to find out that he was a schismatic! It took two or three years, I believe, to regularise the situation, but they were soon back in the bosom of Holy Church. I don't recall he first pastor's name, but Monsignor Heliodor Mejak, the current pastor, is only the second the parish has had. Maybe a record for a parish +/- 80 years old? Monsignor is about 95 years old, frail and almost blind, but still sharp as a tack. He was born a subject of the Emperor Franz-Joseph, but came across the pond as a child and has no accent. He is known for the fastest Mass in Christendom! He's not much for music and he can celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass in less than 45 minutes. I'm not saying this is necessarily a good thing, but it does pack Holy Family on Christmas Eve. BTW, not only is the altar rail intact, it is still used! I wept with joy (literally) the first time I attended Mass there and saw the people going up and kneeling across the rail.

Hope this is informative.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in this parish and can attest to its beauty. We always received communion at the altar rail and on the tongue. We had benediction on First Fridays and after Sunday Mass.

Dotte said...

The Altar was replaced in November of 1946. I am not sure why but I understand it was because of structural damage to the old one. At that time the church evidently went under a small renovation.

The relic’s of St Victoria and St Eumius are in the Altar.

Anonymous said...

I too and a product of Holy Family. Another jewel of the parish is the Social Club located under the school gym. I think the original plan was for a bowling alley, similar to what is found at St. Joseph/St. Benedict's several blocks away. Instead, it was used as a dance hall. I think everyone who ever attended there can still Polka thanks to Don Lipovac and I still know several songs that we sang in Slovenian and Latin.
Another great insight into Msgr. Mejak is that the small street that runs along the east side of the school was named Mejak Lane in his honor. Msgr. is also an avid train collector. Although I believe at one time someone broke into the parish and stole much of his probaly priceless collection.
Thank you for posting these pictures. I have been looking for these types of picture of this Church for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I grew up in the parish, was batpized there and had my first communion. I also went to grade school and middle school there. When I was in 2nd grade, both Holy Family and St. Johns joined as 1 school (using both buildings) but still kept seperate churches. I love the church, I think it is beautiful inside and out. Mon. Mejak is a wonderful man and your right! He is still sharp as a tack. I am getting married this year and want to have my wedding so badly at that church, but was told they do not do weddings there, I called St. Johns...expecting them to help me since they are about 2 blocks away and I attended both schools...but the preist rudely told me he would not help! Well a secratary at St. Peters later told me that Holy Family, St. Johns, and St. Anthonys are all affiliated so they should help me if my parish doesnt do weddings...St. Anthony is doing my wedding, which I am grateful for, but teared up when reading your article...I would much rather have Holy Family, its home. It makes me chuckle though because growing up there was always somewhat of a rivalry between Holy Family and St. Johns...and its still going on haha. But I will be sad to see the church close. It makes me want to cry when I read that Mon. Mejak's collection of trains was stolen. I remember being a little girl and going trick or treating on Halloween, we would always go to Mon. Mejaks door for candy and he would have his trains set up inside and you could see them, they always made him happy. He is a good man and that is his church...he has done a great job and everyone will miss him as much as the church.

Anonymous said...

I grew up a block away from the church and can recall going to school and mass at Holy Family. My parents married in the church and the video photographer started the tape with a shot of the outside of the church. I was able to have my son baptized there about 5 years ago. I have many memories of going to school at Holy Family and of Msgr. Mejak.
For Christmas Eve mass I took my son to St. Pat's and the entire time I was thinking about go to midnight mass at Holy Family. At a family party later that evening the news came that Msgr. Mejak was in the hospital. Yesterday as we were all celebrating the birth of Jesus, Msgr. Mejak left Earth to go meet him in Heaven. Since the school closed last year and with Msgr. Mejak no longer with us I'm sure that the church will also be closed.

Anonymous said...

The first pastor's name was Father Perse (the s is pronounced with an SH sound).

Anonymous said...

I think I saw mention of Meitler Consultants of Hales Corners, Wisconsin, involved here. They are destroyers of our faith and patrimony. An ex-Religious and a "nun" in lay clothes are among their numbers. Take my advice and show them no cooperation, no respect and make their working situation impossible. They are detroyers and cannot be trusted. Push your bishop to disassociate himself from them. Agree to nothing they suggest. Save your churches and schools; render Meitler ineffetive in your area.

Anonymous said...

The first comment in this thread reveals that Holy Family was the Slovenian parish. That settles it! Meitler closes all Slavic parishes and schools that they can. It's gone if Meitler is on the horizon. Do whatever you can to refusew to work with Meitler Associates. Ruin them if you can or they'll ruin you! Signed: A Broken-hearted Ruined Parish School Survisior

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! This parish is Slavic (in this case, Slovenian) and Meitler Consultants are coming to town! Good-bye! Forget about it, no matter how many parishioners you have or how much money you have in the bank. It's pure and simple: you are Slavic and Meitler is coming to town: YOUR PARISH IS DEAD. Start planning your parish closing ceremonies now, or your appeals to the Vatican against the bishop's decision to close this parish, or whatever you need to do. Start now, because Meitler is coming and whenever they come, in fancy language, nuns dressed like lawyers tell you that for thr goood of everyone, your parish should close! They weren't there to see the pride on the faces of our gerat-grandparents when those beautiful parishes and schools first opened at huge sacrifice form our poor families, but they;re here now, for a huge salary, to advise the bishop that he can save money if he closes lots of center city places (especially Slavic ones). Duh - we could have told him he could save money by closing our church homes without spending all that money on Meitler's fee; the fact is we want to save our holy places and continue to evangelize from them, not close them).
My advice is from sad experience. I advice you not to cooperate with Meitler at any stage or in any instance or in any way. Gather your friends and do whatever you need to do to block cooperation with their plans.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! This parish is Slavic (in this case, Slovenian) and Meitler Consultants are coming to town! Good-bye! Forget about it, no matter how many parishioners you have or how much money you have in the bank. It's pure and simple: you are Slavic and Meitler is coming to town: YOUR PARISH IS DEAD. Start planning your parish closing ceremonies now, or your appeals to the Vatican against the bishop's decision to close this parish, or whatever you need to do. Start now, because Meitler is coming and whenever they come, in fancy language, nuns dressed like lawyers tell you that for thr goood of everyone, your parish should close! They weren't there to see the pride on the faces of our gerat-grandparents when those beautiful parishes and schools first opened at huge sacrifice form our poor families, but they;re here now, for a huge salary, to advise the bishop that he can save money if he closes lots of center city places (especially Slavic ones). Duh - we could have told him he could save money by closing our church homes without spending all that money on Meitler's fee; the fact is we want to save our holy places and continue to evangelize from them, not close them).
My advice is from sad experience. I advice you not to cooperate with Meitler at any stage or in any instance or in any way. Gather your friends and do whatever you need to do to block cooperation with their plans.

Anonymous said...

I agree with these most recent posts. From experience I counsel you, do not cooperate with them on any score, even for a moment! Be obnoxious, uncooperative, disrespectful to them, ask the scandalous nuns in lay clothes where their proper relgious garb is - do whatever you can to show them no cooperation in any way. They are there to close your parish and your school if you are Slavic.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the anti-Meitler posts here that are now over a year old. They closed my Slavic-parish school and broke many hearts. That beloved school did not need to close. Pope Beneeict is right: we don't have to fear enemies outside of the Church; it's those inside we have to fear most. The gall of a Sister not wearing a habit and veil (always a sign of an enemy of the Church)coming to our very Catholic parish telling us to how to be a better Catholic presence in our town in the future.