Friday, December 30, 2005

A Kansas City "Ecumenical Parish?"

Inspired as I was after lunch today with a friend, I extended my lunch and ran over to the Kansas City Public Library Central Branch, where I flipped quickly through This Far by Faith once again, this time with the object of identifying additional Kansas City parishes that have closed and getting some addresses.

I wrote down about 20 candidates (not including those which I've already covered), and this evening compared my list to the diocesan parish list online. Seven were still listed as in use; 13 are closed. I'll try to sneak away this weekend with my camera (and probably at least one little Curmudgeon in tow) and get pictures to post. Then, when I have time, I'll go back and review the entries that Fr. Coleman compiled and add little snippets to the blog.

Once I've done these 13, I'll see what I can learn about closed churches on the Kansas side (I only know of two or three right now).

But here's the point of my post: One thing I did see in This Far by Faith, and I took time to skim, was an eye-opener from the days of Bishop Helmsing. You've heard about "ecumenical" parishes here and there--most recently in Germany--where Catholics and heretics share facilities and even have common services. You say "that would never happen here?" You're wrong! In 1966, Bishop Helmsing permitted St. Mark's inner city ecumenical parish to begin operating. The "community," shall we say, was a joint effort with the Episcopalians, the United Presbyterians, and the United Church of Christ. In 1967, Bishop Helmsing heard from Rome: the Holy Office objected. However, Helmsing let it continue over Rome's objections until sometime around 1973, when the "Catholic" involvement in the project finally dwindled to nothing.

This story makes me very curious about Bishop Helmsing. I wonder where one can get the unofficial history--i.e., the real scoop--about what was happening in the diocese in the late 60s and early 70s.

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