Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Finally getting it right in Tuscon

It took a bunch of lawyers' fees, and an ill-advised bankruptcy filing, but the Bishop of Tuscon is finally doing something right with respect to his administration of the temporal goods of the church there. He's separately incorporated parishes, and their property will be administered by 5-member boards of directors, with two independent laymen on each board. The result is that the parishes will be recognized in civil law and protected from diocesan creditors as separate legal entities--just as they are recognized in canon law as separate juridic persons (Can. 515). In each parish, the property is still under the ultimate control of the Bishop, who by membership on the board and appointment of two other members, controls the board (as is clear from the whining of progressives in this article), but with a minority of independent directors (as finance and bankruptcy folks'll tell you) the parishes get much more protection from a civil law perspective, and from a canonical perspective as well. So, Tuscon's Ordinary is finally fulfilling his obligations under Can 1284. It's not good that it took the Scandal and the fleecing of parishioners by scoundrel plaintiff's lawyers to get it done, but at least it's done.

There are some Catholics I know of who are appalled at the thought that an Ordinary would have anything less than autocratic powers with respect to parish property within his diocese, and can't imagine any layman or parishioner having any say whatsoever with respect to parish property. Among those Catholics we can number at least two Archbishops: Burke (reneging on the St. Stanislaus deal) and O'Malley (putting the Church out of business in Boston). I would disagree, as would some canonists I've read, whose work I'm going to grossly oversimply. In Europe, I understand, the separate ownership of parish property is, and always has been, much more clear (at least until the secular state intervened). Parishes were, while still being under the jurisdiction of the local ordinary, of course, given far more practical and legal/canonical protection and prerogatives in the administration of their property than in the United States. In Europe, historically, the Catholic principle of subsidiarity seems to have been followed in this respect. In the United States, however, Bishops started from scratch, so to speak, and with typically-American contempt for custom and the wisdom of the ages, from the Council of Baltimore on, generally kept that power in their own hands through the administration of their dioceses as corporations sole. They also practically eliminated any autonomy of parishes by making pastoral appointments for a limited term of a half-dozen years, or, practically (with the power of removal by almost-unappealable administative process) at the Bishop's pleasure. European pastorships were historically for life, with removal for cause by juridic process, of course. Pastors in the American system can't afford to represent their parish's interests properly, because they've got a conflict of interest--they depend on the Bishop for the next job.

Funny how the American Bishops, as a body, throw fits about collegiality and subsidiarity when Rome corrects them for forcing crappy Mass translations on us and whatnot, but they can't seem to apply that same principle of subsidiarity to their own local Churches, eh?

Well, hopefully other dioceses will follow suit and straighten out their own messes before the black-robed enemies of the Church get their vile hands in the basket as they have in Portland and Spokane.

I need to get on line and see how the local dioceses have their property titled. For articles on this and other topics, I do suggest you visit St. Joseph's Foundation online. This group has a number of very interesting articles on parish property issues which can be downloaded.

More On Eagles' Wings

OK, I'm flipping through my English translation of the old Office, and looking at I Vespers of Sunday, and Psalm 143. This is my favorite hour of the week--the best part of Saturday night.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war;
My refuge and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues peoples under me....

In "honor" of the recognition of On Eagles' Wings, I'll award a small prize to the first person who can rework Psalm 143 into that melody.

Monday, January 30, 2006

On Eagles Wings.

That's it. The most popular song? I know there are stupid American Catholics, but I lost sight of the fact that there were so many of them. It's enough to drive me to schism. Surely none of the antipopes have that in their congregation's repertoire?

I'm proud to say I haven't heard that insipid, repulsive ditty in many, many years now, and I fully intend to walk out if I do.

Now and then, I think about following career opportunities that present themselves in other parts of the country. This little thing reminds me how important it is to check a Latin Mass directory before I bother to inquire.

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]


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.


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.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Foreboding in Topeka

When I was at my parents' house this afternoon, I picked up this week's issue of the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Leaven, which contains an article on the suppression/merger of parishes in Topeka.

It seems that St. Joseph's parish, with its landmark, twin-spired German church just north of the capitol district downtown (near I-70), is slated for suppression/merger into Sacred Heart. The report is that the merged parish will continue at the Sacred Heart facilities, but that St. Joseph is to be maintained and available for use in the discretion of the folks at Sacred Heart. St. Joseph (at least up until I was last stopped by for a Rosary on my way to Home Depot one Saturday four years ago, when I lived in Lawrence) had perpetual adoration and hosted a noon Mass in the 1962 rite. The high altar was beautifully-carved wood, and a look at the confessionals alone was worth the drive to Topeka.

Likewise, Assumption, directly across the street from the Statehouse, is being suppressed/merged into Holy Name. Assumption was larger and plainer than St. Joseph, and it was where my dad, my aunts and uncles attended through grade school (it was also the home of Hayden High School, back in the day). In the 1970s or 1980s, the high school was moved out to a suburban neighborhood, and the building sold for offices. More recently, Assumption was the site of the
sacrilege of pro-abort Catholic governor Kathleen Sebelius's inaugural interfaith hootenany, which Abp. Kelleher refused to stop. The Leaven reports that Assumption will still be used for regularly scheduled Masses.

Without getting dragged back into the Sebelius story (which is tempting--as I was then subject to Abp. Kelleher's jurisdiction, I availed myself of Canon 212 (JCL 1983) and made sure he heard from me about it), I will move on. I've never been to Mass at St. Joseph's, and have only been once, on a Holy Day of Obligation, to Assumption. Assumption seemed pretty "progressive," suitable for its notorious parishioner Sebelius. Obviously, there's reason to keep Assumption open in some fashion for daily Mass and simply to maintain a Catholic presence so close to the statehouse, and ideally, they could get rid of the freestanding altar/table and keep the old Mass going at St. Joseph's (perhaps through the continued services of the FSSP priests at Maple Hill is just a few miles west of town).

But I'll give Naumann his due, at least on my first impression: frankly, central Topeka has been depopulating since the mid-1960s. My dad's old neighborhood just east of the statehouse was completely wiped out by the construction of I-70 long ago. Houses and apartment buildings have been leveled, year-by-year, for state parking lots, as the Kansas leviathan has grown, and even if those who remained were active and faithful Catholics in the same proportion that existed in the 1960s, and there were adequate priests to run both parishes full time, there probably wouldn't be enough parishioners to sustain both Assumption and St. Joseph's. Central Topeka is industrial and governmental--it's no longer a place where people live, with a few exceptions, so some change here is inevitable. If only, though, they could move St. Joseph's out the the suburbs instead of building some newfangled monstrosity named (questionably) after Mother Teresa.

What is foreboding, though, is the warning the articles carries to the folks elsewhere (especially in Kansas City, Kansas): consolidation is coming, and it would seem that at least some of the parishes I'm featuring on my little tour must be slated for closure.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Updates to all Kansas City, Kansas Churches

I took a moment and did a little internet research, and I ran across a 1911 history of Wyandotte County, which has a chapter on Catholic churches transcribed online. I've pasted the relevant entries in to each of the Kansas-side churches I've covered so far.

For those who are interested in looking at the whole chapter, you'll find it by CLICKING HERE.

I'll continue my practice of pasting in these entries where they are available.

Ss. Cyril & Methodius

This is one I found by accident about a year ago as I was looking at St. Joseph/St. Benedict: Saints Cyril and Methodius Church.

The church is supposed to have been built in 1906. I, with my limited knowledge (some would say my non-existent knowledge) of ecclesiastical architecture, find that hard to believe. Perhaps the exterior was rennovated or something? I dunno, it just has a 1940's look about the place, and the abandoned school building, which supposedly would have been built after the church, actually looks older.

I haven't seen inside. When I first found this church last year, and again when I took this picture last week, the doors were locked, and I couldn't see anything through the closed vestibule doors. Given that the vestibule doors themselves were clad in faux-marble formica, I'm not optimistic about what may have happened to the sanctuary, but I really ought to figure out the Mass schedule and get a peek inside.

Other than the excerpt for the 1911 Wyandotte County history which I'm pasting in below, and which indicates that this is a Slavic church, I don't have any further information.
If you do know something about it, please comment.

The following is taken from the History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its People ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]

The great influx of Slavs in Kansas City, Kansas, made it necessary to establish a parish and give them a priest who spoke their own language. The Rev. F. J. Kulisek, former pastor of St. Joseph's church, which made such rapid strides under his pastorate, is now pastor of the new parish. Father Kulisek speaks several languages, which makes him a very important priest in Kansas City, where so many foreign tongues are spoken.
The congregation has erected a two story brick building on the corner of Mill street and Ridge avenue, the first story of which is used for school rooms and the second, for a church. During the past five years improvements and property to the amount of about $18,000 have been added.
St. George's church (Servian), is at No. 37 North First street, and the Holy Family church (Slavic) is at No. 513 Ohio avenue.


On Good Friday, I stopped by Ss. Cyril and Methodius. Services were going on, and I parked next to a big American car--a Buick--that had the license plate JPKKCK. As I wandered in, I was trying to figure out whose car it was, but when I walked inside, the license plate made sense. The plate was for James P. Kelleher, of Kansas City, Kansas. Yes, His Excellency, the Archbishop Emeritus was celebrating Good Friday liturgy with about fifty or sixty people in attendence. I looked inside briefly, then went up the street to see if I could get into St. Joseph's, which I did.

After taking pictures at St. Josephs (with poor results), the liturgy had ended, and I could slip into Ss. Cyril and Methodius without much notice.

As noted in my original post, the church had been redone in the forties or fifties (I'd guess) with lots of faux-marble formica. I'd date the redo to sometime prior to any changes in the Mass, because it seems that the sanctuary was originally remodelled for the old Mass--the faux marble formica seemed to form a reredos of sorts. That's just speculation of course. Anyways, I didn't want to wander around and draw attention to myself, particularly the attention of the Archbishop or his MC who must have been unvesting in the sacristy, so I took a couple of quick pictures, smiled at the old ladies, and left with a compliment. The nave is pretty, with its stencilling and all, but it's a very small little church--much like you'd expect to find in a little mostly-protestant town of 5,000 or 10,000 people. It reminded me of a church I saw in the Texas panhandle once (although it was much smaller) built in the 1930s and kind of low-slung, like everything on the high plains.

Do share information about this church if you have it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

St. Joseph's, Kansas City, Kansas

wwAs I've indicated before, our tour of Kansas City, Kansas churches will include open churches, because (quite happily) most of the historic churches there are still in use (although few of them have their own resident priest--I think most are served by circuit-riders who have two or three parishes). We've looked at three that are closed so far: St. Mary's, St. Thomas, and St. Benedict, and I know of at least one more, Our Lady of _______, somewhere in the Quindaro area, but I don't know exactly where. I'll find it someday. For now, though, let's move on . . .

In yesterday's post on the former St. Benedict's, you saw the new sign for this church,
St. Joseph's, now titled St. Joseph/St. Benedict. Here are two photos of church, at Mill and Vermont. Couldn't get a straight-on shot of the facade, because it's surrounded by narrow streets and houses.

I've included a shot of the cornerstone for the current church, and also two shots of the cornerstone for what appears to be the previous church, now standing in front of the new sign. Apparently Polish.

The facade is symetrical, and the design seems to be
pretty contemporary for the period in which it was built, rather than a throwback to grand Gothic or Renaisance or Boroque styles like we see in Missouri churches of that era. The inside is nice--a pretty little parish church--as I recall from my visit there a couple of years ago (the church was locked on the morning I went by to take pictures). Although there's a newfangled altar table in the sanctuary, the old high altar and the side altars are intact. When I get around to doing some research, I'll update this, but I'm in a rush, this will have to do.

Feel free, anyone, to chime in with information.


I found more information on the web about the founding of St. Joseph's. This is taken from the History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its People ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]

The St. Joseph's Polish church, located at Vermont avenue and South Eighth street, may rightly be called the mother of several other churches in Kansas City, Kansas. Though organized originally for Polish people, its location causes it to be used by not only the Poles, but by the English, Slovaks, Croatians and other nationalities. As these people became more numerous, they withdrew from the St. Joseph's and built churches of their own elsewhere.
A congregation was organized by a few Poles and Slovaks in the community mentioned in 1887. The first pastor was Father Kloss. He bought four lots from Father Kuhls on which to build a church, but this was built later in the same year by Father Gajduzek. It was a frame structure and served until 1901, when it was destroyed by fire. Previous to the fire for several years the church was under the rectorship of Father Kulisek. After the fire the other nationalities withdrew from the church, leaving only the Poles. In 1902 the Rev. Alexander Simetana, the present pastor, took charge, and, with the wise council and advice of Bishop Lillis, settled the claims of the seceding races and built the present fine church which is now used exclusively by the Polish people.


On Good Friday, I stopped by St. Joseph's on my way through the area. I wish I had arrived about 10 minutes earlier, because they were just about to start the Spanish language liturgy when I arrived, and I couldn't take photographs from the nave without drawing attention to myself. (Usherette: "Sir, you don't speak Spanish?" Me: "Well, no. It's obvious?") Thus, I didn't get a picture of the interesting Madonna in the west transcept (liturgically, the south transcept), and I didn't get pictures of the murals in the clerestory. I thought I had at least obtained a decent picture of the sanctuary from the vestibule, but when I got home and blew it up (instead of just looking at it in my 1" LCD screen), I was disappointed. I'm posting it here, along with my resolution to go back some day and get better pictures of the beautiful interior which (but for the altar rail) appears to have been more or less preserved. On my way out, I took a picture of the old school building. That one is also included here.


I got back inside St. Joseph and took some (slightly) better photographs. See below.

Sanctuary. Beautiful High Altar. Shabby carpet, no altar rail.

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To the left, the simple Lady altar; to the right, the grotto of Lourdes. The grotto is lost, however, behind folding chairs, mike stands, and other paraphenalia that really has no business being at the front of the church.

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Nave. Note the murals in the clerestory.

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Window and a Station.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

St. Benedict's, Kansas City, Kansas

As we move back up the hill from the Argentine neighborhood, towards downtown Kansas City, Kansas, we pass an old hulk of an abandoned hospital, (St. Joseph's) and we see two spires. The spires (which we'll show tomorrow) are for St. Joseph/St. Benedict Catholic Church, which is located in the former St. Joseph church building. Tomorrow, we'll look at the exterior of that building, but right now, we'll just peer over to the next block to the old St. Benedict's school, at 220 South 9th Street. There is no church now standing at the St. Benedict's site, and I understand the old school is now a special-needs childcare center operated in connection with Catholic Charities.

Again, I don't have any history on St. Joseph's or St. Benedict's yet, but I'm hypothesizing from the clues around St. Joseph's church (i.e., Polish banners, Polish bars, Polish inscriptions on old cornerstones) that St. Joseph's was founded by Poles, and perhaps
(this is a totally unfounded guess) St. Benedict's was neighborhood's English church before consolidation. When I googled St. Benedict's, the only hint I could come up with was a note in the Notre Dame library catalogue suggesting that the consolidation might have happened sometime around 1952 (that's the date the parish history in the ND record ends). We'll see if my hypotheses hold once I get to check the history.


I found more information on the web about the founding of St. Benedict's. This is taken from the History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its People ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]

St. Benedict's parish was organized in 1903 by Father Philip William, who came to Kansas City, Kansas, from the Benedictine College at Atchison, where, for six years he held the professorship of oratory. During 1902 Father William built a frame school and church on Pacific avenue, near Boeke street, and later the structure was veneered with brick. Subsequently, a church edifice was erected on Boeke street. The school started seven years ago with sixty pupils and already has increased to three hundred and fifty, an indication of the growth of that city in sparsely settled districts.
Father William was born in Leavenworth in 1869. Early in life he determined to become a member of the teaching order of Benedictines, and joined the order when he was sixteen years old. He expected to devote his life to teaching but his talents in other directions are so great that his work has been changed.

Unsubstantiated rumors in the SSPX talks

Floating around the web is an unsubstantiated report, allegedly from Fr. Schmidberger of the SSPX, that reconciliation talks are going swimmingly well. The reports, however, are hard to believe because they're so positive--I won't even repeat them here. Barring an extraordinary working of Divine Grace, I find it hard to fathom that Rome is, all of a sudden, being so accommodating and open, and the SSPX is being so gracious and reasonable, after so many years of bad faith and neglect from one side and bitterness and mistrust from the other. But I certainly hope it's all true. Now is the time for extra prayer that the SSPX comes back into the regular structure of the Church, because the regularlized Society will be a watershed in the spread of the counterrevolution! The success that they'll have in drawing Catholics back to tradition in certain awful dioceses (I don't even have to name them) once folks don't have to worry about their status will do wonders for our momentum.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

St. Thomas, Kansas City, Kansas

St. Thomas Parish, at Shawnee & Pyle in the predominently Hispanic Argentine neighborhood, is no more. This church isn't located in the heart of old Kansas City, Kansas; instead, it's down in the Kaw (Kansas) River bottom quite a distance south of the neighborhoods built by the various Central and Eastern European immigrants we're about to tour.

As you can see, the church's cornerstone was laid in 1917.
Being without any history as of yet (I've got a few leads on it), I'm not sure when St. Thomas was surpressed, and I couldn't get inside, but judging from the signs for the "Cross-Lines" community service center and the fact that the stained glass has been removed throughout the building, it is apparent that the church interior has been stripped.

As I said as I was touring two closed churches in Missouri, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Holy Trinity, that are in neighborhoods populated predominantly by Mexican immigrants and their descendants, I'm amazed that a Catholic parish can't make it there.

Admittedly, the part of the Argentine area in which St. Thomas is tough--mostly industrial facilities in the Kaw (Kansas) River bottom, with the sense that the area has depopulated over the years, and I don't know how close the nearby churches are. When I do get ahold of a history, I'll share more information.

I found more information on the web about the founding of St. Thomas. This is taken from the History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its People ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]

The largest parish school in Kansas is that of the St. Thomas parish in Kansas City, Kansas, at No. 626 Pyle street. With one of the very best of school buildings under the direction of the Rev. A. W. Jennings, with nine Sisters of St. Joseph as teachers, the school now has an enrollment of more than five hundred pupils, teaching complete grammar and commercial courses.
The organization of the St. Thomas parish was effected in 1881. The Right Reverend Thomas C. Moore, who was administrator of the diocese of Leavenworth after the death of Bishop Pink, but at that time director from Covington, Kentucky. was the first rector. A two story building which he erected was used for church and school purposes. There were but sixteen Catholic families in the parish at that time.
Father Moore was succeeded by the Rev. John Lee, who was rector until 1895, when he was succeeded by the Very Rev. John Ward of the cathedral at Leavenworth, who is now bishop of the diocese. Under Father Lee the church grew and flourished, and it was during his pastorate that the Sisters of St. Joseph were introduced as teachers in the parish school. Father Lee built the convent for the use of the sisters, the priests' house and the basement for a fine church, which later was roofed over and used for church purposes until the flood of 1903, which carried away the roof. Church services have since been held in the auditorium of the parish school building.
The Rev. A. W. Jennings took charge of St. Thomas' parish in 1900 and is the present rector. In 1902 he began the erection of the present fine school building, which cost about $25,000 and is both model and modern in every way. It was first occupied in January, 1903. During the spring of that year came the great flood, completely covering the basement chapel and rising to the second floor of the residence, school and convent. But Father Jennings was not discouraged. He bravely stayed at his post, and already the parish has recovered from the catastrophe. The school is larger than ever, and about two hundred and seventy-five families are again numbered in the membership of the parish

Finally, my post on the SNAP Crowd

On October 13, 2005, I posted the first in my irregular and ongoing periodic rant series about the duplicity of the clergy abuse plaintiff's bar, specifically mentioning Kansas City attorney Becky Randles. To regular readers, my take on the whole mess is not news: whatever horrible things the shepherds have done, and whatever justice might be their due, there's no justification for ravishing the flock because of it. That's exactly what's happening as contingent-fee personal injury lawyers line up, claiming to "pursue justice and healing" for their victims by pocketing assets held in trust by the bishops, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole church. This is going on all around the country--probably in YOUR diocese, unless you live someplace like Lincoln--but of course, it's most evident in Spokane and Portland, where the foolish bishops there elected to file bankruptcy proceedings and voluntarily subject the temporal goods of Holy Mother Church to the ravages of the out-of-control secular federal court system and the anti-Catholic judges that populate it.

It's pretty clear when you think about it, instead of just "feel" about it, as the media would have us do. Justice may be served by the economic ruin of the individual priests and bishops who were diddling, or knowingly permitting the diddling of, teenage boys (or in the unusual case, prepubescent boys and girls), but it's a further injustice for the victim and his lawyer to direct such ruination against the whole Church, and to try to take for their own personal benefit the patrimony that our grandparents, parents, and we have given for the use and benefit of our parishes and the whole Church--not to Bishop Bigshot or Father Giggles--but to the whole church. While, to begin with, a victim of those reprehensible perverts and their facilitators has my utter sympathy (as such victim has also suffered physically and emotionally what we've all suffered spiritually under such men), that sympathy evaporates moment the victim, or his lawyer, claims a right to a payout, not from the men who did the wrong or tolerated it, but from innocents, many of whom suffered alongside. In an instant (or however long it takes to send a demand letter or write a court petition), the victim becomes just another enemy of the Church and her faithful.

Well, anyways, beginning on December 16, somebody from the enemy camp actually noticed my October 13 post. I was contacted, by email, by some guy claiming to be the local SNAP leader. He went on about the horrors of abuse (a given, and a serious thing of course, but not relevant to the narrow point of my post) and he described Ms. Randles as an "angel." The substantive paragraph of the email was as follows:

I spent years trying to find an attorney who would Handel these cases . She has spent uncounted hours and personal time when she could have devoted it to profitable cases ,yet she has made little or no money on any sex abuse victims.For you to consider her as a money hungry attorney is a travesty, she is an angel sent from god to help over come a hierarchy and help helpless people find some kind of justice. You should wake up to what real Christian values are.
My email response was that the horrible nature of what happened to a victim isn't at issue here--it's granted, but the real question now is "who should pay?" Then I made the point that the property they were trying to take from the church came, not from the bishop or his pederast priests, but from real and innocent people, and taking that property away from the people in the pews who suffered alongside them wasn't just, and that Christian values didn't include dispossessing the innocent of their property in such a manner.

Then it got even more interesting. Some woman from Lenexa who runs her own little mail list crusade sending clergy abuse clippings around the country (I've apparently been added to that mail list, and I get a dozen of them in a typical week) sent me an email damning me for not having my real name, address, and telephone number on my post (and then she gave me her name, address and telephone number, as if I wanted to go have coffee with her or something!). Here are a couple of excerpts:

I have often wondered why the fine Knights of Columbus have not come to the aid of survivors. I have often wondered why the sheeple close their eyes and ears to the horrors that have been inflicted by your "church" for centuries. I would love to meet with you because I am interested in your convoluted thinking: how do you justify rape as a 'good' thing? Do you sleep nights, or do you stay up all night fighting windmills?


You appear to be a member of the Corporate Roman Catholic Church, yet, you have absolutely no concept of the message brought by Christ. You are a coward.

My reaction? Um, yeah. I don't think you're building credibility, ma'am, by broadening this from the present scandal to the gratuitous "horrors over the centuries." Like I suggested of that clueless law professor, Marci Hamilton, you appear to be getting too much of your information from Dan Brown novels. And I don't suppose I have to explain why I think "rape is a good thing" until some point after I make such an assertion. No ma'am, you are right that I don't sleep much at night. I ought to give up blogging and give up breeding, too. This little hobby, and my newborn, do make it hard to sleep. I hate to disappoint you, though, because as a traditionalist, I'm shunted far, far to the margins of the "Corporate Roman Catholic Church." The Corporate Roman Catholic Church, such as it is or may be, has been run in this country these last decades by the various spiritual successors of Cardinal Bernardin--the great liberalizers that are trying to make the Church precisely the progressive vehicle you think it should be, and you have those men to thank for the current situation, not traditional lay work-a-day Catholics like me. As for your allusion to the message taught by Christ, I will point out that he drove the money changers out of the temple, which may have some bearing on this topic, and he didn't think much of the Pharisees as a body (i.e., the lawyers). As for my cowardice, I'd rather think myself prudent, or even sly, rather than cowardly. Remaining anonymous lets me get far, far closer to the enemy than I otherwise would. Heh, heh, heh.

Well, I answer her, in so many words, along the general lines above. So then, the Lenexa crusader circulates my post among her fellow enemies of the Church, and I get this from someone else [names and specific locations redacted, as these people aren't "public figures" in my book]:

Dear _______ and the person to whom your letter is directed (curmudgeon)..
I have to say that i have never felt prouder to know you (_________) than i am right now. Confronting Catholics who are delusional is something that mirrors what christ did in his day to the religious authorities and political authorities he called hypocrits and a brood of vipers..
Mr or Ms curmudgeon.. is a pathetic example of the slime of the catholic church.. the insane thinking of them and their refusal to accept responsibility and accountability for the crimes against humanity and the planet inflicted by THEIR church, religion and relgious authorities.. it is this very laity who i see as co rapists and co molestors of the millions of children and adults abused by catholic teaching and clergy through out history...
i applaud you _____________.. you are truly a fine, honest person..
from another ex catholic and survivior of abuse of jesuits priests
_________, Hawaii

Hmm. A co-rapist and a co-molester. That's pretty far out there. Again, I don't see much of a call for justice and healing here, just a lot of anti-Catholic frothing at the mouth, directed at me ( suppose I should feel ashamed, rather than fortunate, that none of the three priests now removed from ministry that I used to serve Mass for never tried anything on me).

Another one was from a person using the moniker "Davince" who was not so brave as the Lenexa crusader (no name or address, which I don't care to have anyways) and who appears, from the choice of moniker, to have been rather even more influenced in her views by reading Dan Brown novels. She says my diatribe smacked of "ignorance of the law, especially of civil law and the history of sexual abuse against children."

OK, perhaps I'm ignorant of the civil law. I'll let others judge whether I am or not. But I find it rather shocking to be accused of being ignorant of the history of sexual abuse of children from the very camp which, while making so much noise about the scandal, denounces the Church for rather plainly addressing, in one 5-page instruction, the sexual disorder that is associated with about 80% of the claims (i.e., the charges of inappropriate conduct between priests and post-pubescent boys, i.e., homosexuality in the priesthood).

It's interesting that "Davince" uses the same coined word, "sheeple" to describe the faithful in the pews, as did the Lenexa crusader. If this person knew her enemy, she'd realize that faithful Catholics aren't offended by being called sheep. If you want to tick us off, call us "lemmings" or somesuch thing. Anyways, Davince tells me in bold letters that the bishops and priests are making us pay for this (which of course, is obvious, but not responsive to the issue at hand--i.e., why, at a temporal and practical level (which is the only level most would acknowledge) is it just that the cost fall on us "sheeple"?) , and Davince ends with a poem of about 50 lines called "Who Stained the Collar," the literary merits of which I do not presume to judge.

Since then Davince's message (which I never got around to responding to) I've receive over forty additional emails (mostly forwards of news articles) from the Lenexa crusader. I emailed the Lenexa crusader my comments on Prof. Marci a couple of days ago, and her response to me was that she didn't want to correspond with someone who wouldn't give his real name. Naturally, I didn't figure she had such a standard, given the fact that she has sent me over 40 emails.

What's my objective in posting on these excepts and raising this issue once again? Why am I batting at a hornet's nest? Well, partly because I said I would do so long ago and in my new year's blog resolutions, but mostly to make a point: when looking at complex issues like the Scandal, one must think them through, reflectively and rationally, rather than respond to one's feelings out of hand. Anger at the cause of an injustice clouds our ability to reason towards a just resolution.

Of course, we've all suffered spiritually because of the chaos the Church has been immersed in for the last few decades, and naturally, our hearts go out in a special way to those who were singled out for particular physical and mental suffering at the hands of the predators in the priesthood. We all must recognize the magnitude of the problem, and we must all recognize that this chastisement, is just on a theological level (see St. Robert Bellarmine on this, or maybe it's St. Alphonsus Ligouri--I'll find the quote and update this)

On the other hand, at a temporal level, we can't let our feelings override our reason, and our compassion must be balanced with judgment. When a legitimate or purported victim wins a court judgment that is paid out of assets that we or our ancestors gave in trust to the Bishop of the Pastor for the use and benefit of the whole Church, that victim is taking something he has no moral right to take (and, if we had a system that worked on natural justice, rather than devilish emotions, he would have no legal right to). The victim, when he comes in need of charity, should be treated with utmost Christian charity. But the victim, when he takes, by force, money from Church coffers, is not receiving charity. Nor is he receiving justice. He is doing a new injustice, and as painful and unpopular as it may be, for the good of those that come after us, we must stand up against him. Charity involves giving of ourselves, but charity does not require--nay, it does not permit--us to let others be taken.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

St. Mary's Church, Kansas City, Kansas

"St. Mary's Church is [or was] the oldest Catholic Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. Established in 1858 as the Mother of God Parish at Ninth and Ann Avenue,. A second church was built in 1865 on Land Bought from Mathias Splitlog. The present church was begun in 1890 and dedicated June 21, 1903."

How do I know all this? I read it on the brass plaque next to the cornerstone. I also found a note on a google search indicating that St. Mary's was founded by Father Anton Kuhls, who was also pastor for nearly fifty years and who also established St. Margaret's hospital in Kansas City.

St. Mary's, at some point, was surpressed and absorbed into St. Anthony's (a few blocks to the west, across from the Wyandotte County Courthouse on 7th Street) and that parish is now known as "St Mary's/St. Anthony's".

The Church is on 5th Street, a stone's throw from St. John the Baptist, the Croatian parish on Strawberry Hill, where the old timers still greet each other
and curse each other in Croatian. I don't know if St. Mary's was maintained as a Croatian parish or whether it was a parish for English-speaking residents (this is a point that only mattered, happily, in the old days, when it came time to preach the sermon or have after-Mass coffee). At some point not long ago (I saw it in the Kansas City Star, but don't remember exactly when) the diocese turned the building over to the Strawberry Hill Land Trust.

The stained glass remains in the building, but it is in obvious disrepair and will be lost if it is not removed or attended to soon. The building is rough quarried limestone, and like several churches we'll look at, it has an irregular facade with towers of different masses and heighths (I'm not sure it works so well on all these churches as it does at Chartres or Amiens). The building was locked--I couldn't see what, if anything, was left inside, but as you'll note, the niche above the entrance was empty. I assume the church was probably stripped. I'm including here a little detail I took of a weather-worn relief of the Sacred Heart over the main doors, which I thought was interesting as well.


I found more information on the web about the founding of St. Mary's. This is taken from the History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its People ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]

The Rev. Father Anton Kuhls arrived in Wyandotte the first week in October, 1864, leaving his first parish, St. Joseph's in Leavenworth, in care of the Carmelites. This was during the so called Price's raid. Father Kuhls's first experience was when the stage driver being unable to find the little church in the timber, dumped the good priest's trunk out of the stage with a bad prayer, and left trunk and priest on the wayside. A charitable woman, Mrs. Jas. Hennessy, helped carry the trunk to the church. It was she, also, who gave him the first loan of a broom to sweep the church and sacristy, and also furnished him with a blanket to sleep under.
The church was a one story brick, twenty by forty feet, which had been built amidst untold difficulties and had yet a debt of one hundred dollars, which had been advanced by a dear old friend, Mr. Henry Deister of Parkville, Missouri. The sacristy served all possible purposes - parlor, dining room, kitchen, dormitory and infirmary. By the kindness of a neighbor, John Kane, an Englishman, Father Kuhls was asked to report as a soldier next morning, but he got a passport of a friend Charles Glick (a brother of George W. Glick afterwards governor) who had been appointed provost marshal, to visit the camps as chaplain. The second day after his arrival Father Kuhls made a sick call to Mrs. Bright, living at the old mission house six miles west of town, afterwards the farm of Mrs. E. Burgard, at Muncie. Having no horse he made the trip on foot and met a band of militia under Captain Hall, who halted him, but by the interference of Mr. James Collins he was allowed to pass on unmolested.

The number of Catholic families in Wyandotte was about seven; the rest lived in Muncie, in all about forty families. Owing to the great poverty of the people the priest kept bachelor's hall for nearly two years, living on a very simple diet of bread and coffee. On Sundays after last mass, he used to ride out to Martin Stewart's, a gardner, who lived at what is now the corner of Tenth street and Quindaro boulevard, for a square meal.

The town of Wyandotte at this time had about three hundred families or less, and scarcely any streets. In muddy weather the church could hardly be reached; so it was decided to sell the old place and get nearer to town. Hiram Northrup gave a deed in fee simple, so that Father Kuhls could sell the old church. He had donated the ground on condition that it should always be used for church purposes. He kindly cancelled this condition, and Father Kuhls then made a resolution never to accept a church building site, as a donation, except it should be in a place where the majority of Catholics live.

The ground for the new church, consisting of three acres, was bought of Mathias Splitlog, an Indian, for eight hundred dollars in gold, and was the first piece of his allotted land sold. The new church was commenced at the close of 1865, at the southwest corner of Fifth street and Ann avenue. At the corner stone laying, the Rev. Father Hennessy, of St. Joseph, Missouri, - who died as archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa - preached an eloquent sermon. The year after, Father Kuhls sold one of those three acres for one thousand four hundred dollars, so that the two acres now owned by the church cost nothing. In 1866, during the building of the church, and while the priest was away at Leavenworth, a thief entered the study and stole one thousand seven hundred dollars, all of which had been collected in the east for the building of the church. Great was the priest's consternation and grief. On the following Sunday his poor congregation subscribed eight hundred dollars, and he netted one thousand dollars at a picnic held in the timber where the Fowler packing house now stands. During the meeting, at which the eight hundred dollars were subscribed, Mr. Patrick Doran, an old neighbor, headed the list with a twenty dollar gold piece, a whole month's wages, and his all at the time. The new church was dedicated in September, 1866, by the good Bishop Miege, the first bishop of Kansas and the territory east of the Rocky mountains. The Rev. Aloysius Meyer, of Eudora, preached, and the Rev. Father Linnekamp chanted high mass.

In October, one week after the dedication, Father Kuhl commenced school, putting a partition behind the altar and thus making a room for the purpose. The three rooms upstairs served as pastoral residence. He started with thirty-five pupils, and Miss Kate Dietz, of Fryburg, Pennsylvania, was the first teacher. She kept the school three years, afterwards joined the sisters at Leavenworth, and received the name of Sister Mary Aloysia. At this period four sisters came from Leavenworth to take charge of the school. They were sent by the saintly Mother Xavier. The parish priest gave them his new house, built in the meantime on the northwest corner of Fifth street and Ann avenue, and he moved into the basement of the church. Thus he had moved from garret to cellar for sixteen years, without having a permanent residence, The school flourished from the start, and a great number of Protestant children even sought it.

On May 2, 1888, Father Kuhls celebrated his silver jubilee. Bishop Matz, of Denver, preached an eloquent sermon on the priesthood. The event was a joyful one. The presents were numerous and amounted to over $2,500. The cash was used to build the cottage on the south side of St. Margaret's hospital - now to be used as a doctors' home - and to help the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Missouri. During that year, Father Kuhls broke a leg when returning from a sick call at St. Margaret's Hospital late in the evening the day before Christmas. He went to California for a few months' rest, and while there sent his written resignation as rector of St. Mary's church, to Bishop Fink. The Very Rev. John J. Cunningham, vicar general, was asked to be his successor. He declined, however wisely, and the bishop returned Father Kuhls's resignation after a six weeks' consideration.

On the first day of March, 1890, the grading commenced for the new stone church on the northwest corner of Fifth street: and Ann avenue, and the sisters' residence was torn down. On May 8th the basement was commenced. Mr. James Stanley had the contract for the mason work, and Mr. James Clark the contract for the new parsonage. The latter was ready for occupancy in September, and the church basement was dedicated and moved into on October 12, 1890. The Very Rev. John J. Cunningham, performed the ceremonies. The sermon was preached by Rev. Father Neidhart, S. S. R. There was a great crowd of people and plenty of rain throughout the day. The Blessed Sacrament was carried out from the old church in solemn procession, after nearly every member of the congregation had received Holy Communion for the last time in dear old St. Mary's. It was a sad leaving to many. Mr. Michael Gorman and Mr. James Healey, the two oldest residents, carried the old mission cross of 1870. Since then seven missions have been held at St. Mary's church by the Redemptorists.
The great St. Mary's church, as it stands today at the corner of Fifth street and Ann avenue, was completed in 1903 and dedicated on June 21st of that year with the most impressive services held on any like occasion in the city's history. The great church was crowded beyond its seating capacity, which is about 1,200. The ceremonies began about 10:30 A. M., and lasted until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
The services began with the blessing of the exterior and interior walls by the Right Rev. Bishop Fink. Then the altars were blessed, while the Litany of the Saints was chanted. This service lasted until 11 o'clock, when pontifical high mass was celebrated by the Right Rev. Bishop Cunningham, of Concordia, Kansas, a schoolmate of Father Kuhls, with the Rev. Father Redecker, of Westphalia, as deacon; the Rev. Father Kinsella, of Leavenworth, as sub-deacon; the Rev. Father Ward, of Leavenworth as assistant priest, and the Rev. Father Jennings of Armourdale and Rev. Father Ildephonse, O. S. B., of Leavenworth, as masters of ceremonies.
The sermon of the Right Rev. Bishop Matz, of Denver, followed the celebration of mass, and the music, an orchestra, was furnished by Carl Bush and a choir of thirty voices. A large number of visiting priests from various parts of the country witnessed the dedication, among whom were Bishop Hogan of Kansas City, Missouri. and twenty other priests.

Bishop Matz spoke for more than an hour. His subject was "Christianity and Progress," and his text, "Be ye perfect as my Heavenly Father is perfect," was taken from Matthew iv: 48. He reviewed the entire history of Christianity, and never was a subject more ably handled from a local pulpit.
St. Mary's has the most beautiful interior of any church in either Kansas City, and not one has a more commanding exterior. The structure was under construction for twelve years, and the building represents the power and strength of its founder. the Rev. Father Kuhls. A large pipe organ that cost $2,500 was constructed at Pekin, Illinois, and with this the furnishing of the church is complete.
The dedication of the church came near being forestalled by the delay of two freight ears, containing the three altars of the church which were on their way from Louisville, Kentucky, when the floods occurred. For two weeks the cars were lost. Finally Mr. Frank Donovan located them at Randolph, Missouri, where they had been sidetracked. Mr. John Phelan and Dr. W. Z. Wright took the matter in hand and had the altars brought over to Kansas City, Kansas. In order to reach them it was necessary to move eighty other cars and this was done by special permission from Chicago. It took all night to accomplish this task. The altars arrived Saturday morning. At noon twenty-five men began the work of installing the altars, and labored incessantly until midnight Saturday, when the task was completed. This is considered one of the greatest feats ever performed in a Catholic church in Kansas, and may be in the United States. The altars are the finest that could be obtained, and are made of white oak artistically carved and trimmed in gold.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Redemption Rappers Back in the News!

The Journal-World, that oddly centrist paper in the leftist, heathen town of Lawrence, Kansas (Where's a William Quantrill when you need him?), is picking up coverage of the redemption rapping tour, the first performance of which I covered here, as it continues west. The article does what it can to demonize the FSSP chaplain and his backward congregation (proudly including me). I just couldn't help but comment there (reprinted here in case the LJWorld staff takes it down).

Posted by curmudgeonkc (anonymous) on January 20, 2006 at 10:15 p.m.
Suggest removal)
1. It wasn't a protest. They didn't block the entrance. There were no signs. They didn't try to stop anyone from entering. They didn't say anything to the attenees or the press. They simply prayed publicly in reparation for sacrilege and blasphemy occuring inside.

2. There weren't just 50 people. There were 100 to 110 outside (my count was 102).

3. The people weren't just from [the chaplain's] congregation; they were from at least two others as well.

4. You missed the point that [the chaplain's] congregation actually worships at that same Church, in the traditional way (old Latin Mass), so there was good reason for his particular concern.

5. Be fair: the other point of view that you're neglecting is some things are inherently vulgar and unsuitable for sacred places. Rap music, born of urban gang culture, is one of those things (unfortunately, much other music sung in Catholic churches is, as well, but rap is truly "beyond the pale"). The idea that all things, such as rap music, are to be judged on a relative basis--that
there are no objective standards by which to weigh things--is un-Catholic, and after all, this is a Catholic church they performed in. I understand why mainline Protestants don't have a problem with vulgar music in their churches; those people should, in turn, should understand why Catholics do.

6. The selection of quotations in this article obscured the point that the "protesters"
did not object to the fact that prisoners were singing--they objected to the music itself. Bring in prisoners to sing Greorian chant and early polyphony, and those "protesters will be inside with them every Sunday.

I was particularly proud of the last sentence in comment 5, until Mrs. Curmudgeon pointed out that I had stolen and paraphrased it, perhaps from something Evelyn Waugh had written.

Our drive across the state line . . . .

We now, finally, cross the state line, and the canonical frontier, into the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas. It may be hard to believe it possible for me to be more ill-informed, but I have even less information about churches in Kansas than I do about Missouri churches (at this point, I know of no published history for the diocese as a whole, but I may call the KCKS chancery office and the rectories of selected parishes at some juncture to see what they have). Right now, I know of only three supressed parishes on the Kansas side--St. Thomas, St. Mary's, and Our Lady of Something-or-Other, now combined with St. Rose of Lima--and I know the location of only the first two of these, so please feed me information on these or other closed churches if you have it.

What we'll do, in addition to visiting St. Mary's and St. Thomas's, is take a peek at some of the other still-open parishes around town. This should be fun, and won't require a lot of miles in the Curmudgeon car, because Kansas City, Kansas was at one time very compact and predominantly Catholic, so there's an old, interesting neighborhood Church every few blocks. As immigrants came from central and eastern Europe to work in the stockyards, trainyards, packing plants, distilleries and factories that filled the "West Bottoms"

area at the confluence of the Kaw (Kansas) and the Missouri Rivers (the bottoms being pictured here from the steps of St. John the Baptist, looking east into Missouri), they all established their own neighborhoods in Kansas (the well-to-do, mostly Prot bosses lived on the bluffs overlooking the bottoms from the east, in Kansas City Missouri (many near where the shamefully wrecknovated Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is located), while the immigrants lived cheap on the Kansas side in tiny houses, on tiny lots, in very linguistically- and culturally- segregated neighborhoods.

The Croats had their own parish, St. John the Baptist, the Slovenians had theirs, and so did the Czechs and the Poles and the Lithuanians and the Germans and the Russians (the Russians, of course, having their own schismatic church, complete with an onion dome, as pictured in the distance here, from the steps of Holy Family). We'll check Mass schedules and try to get inside and snap a shot of the high altars (most of them are intact) and a few details of the Catholic churches, such as dedication plaques and captions for stations of the cross written in various western languages I cannot identify, much less understand. We'll also invite another cantakerous soul I know to join the blog as a contributor, at least for a time, so he can share his collection of interior photographs (taken on a tour a few years ago), among other things.

It will be fun (or so I hope--it would be more fun if we had someone along who could provide insightful commentary instead of just "Oooh, look at this!").

So here we go...

Who's reading my blog?

I installed some tracker script a two weeks ago as I was rebuilding my template, because I was curious to see where, in general, my readers were coming from (don't worry folks, it only tells me the location and address of the ISP servers and the source from which my blog was referred, not any detail about you in particular. I can't use it to access your bank accounts or go on an LL Bean shopping spree at your expense).

Very interesting. Of course, most hits are local in the greater Kansas City area, with a smattering of them thoughout the United States and Kanada (and even a handful from other places around the globe). I've received several hits over time from Sweden (no explanation, except that perhaps some word or acronym I use is a popular search term in Sweden). No hits so far from Vatican City proper, and only one or two from Rome, so I can't put on airs of being read in Rome like Rocco de Palmo in Philadelphia does.

Perhaps the most curious thing, though, is that over the last couple of days, I've receive three unique hits from the Ninth Circuit library servers from the US Courts system. Interesting. The Ninth Circuit, of course, is on the West Coast.

Now, I can't believe that some federal or bankruptcy judge in the Ninth Circuit(perhaps one of Satan's little helpers who are doing their part to destroy Holy Mother Church in the Spokane or Portland cases) cares to read my opinions on their participation in the Scandal (such as
this one or this one or this one or this one or this one ), but it's intriguing to think they might be. It's nice to imagine that the bankruptcy judge (who isn't really a judge in the constitutional sense, BTW, but that's another post) in the Portland case being so vain as to be Googling herself.

It's rather ominous to wonder if the reprehensible theives among the SNAP crowd have sicked the government on me, so that some federal marshall on duty in the Ninth Circuit is keeping tabs on me, getting ready to subpeona Blogspot for information so his buddies here in Kansas City can track me down and send me to be tortured at Guantanamo Bay (or perhaps have me quietly liquidated) because I haven't been sufficiently flattering of the bankruptcy bench on the West Coast.

More likely, though, it's probably some bored clerk or secretary killing time over a lunch hour, in which case, WELCOME TO THE CAVE!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Finale: St. Augustine's, KCMO

St. Augustine's church was built in 1948 in what must have then been the countryside (79th and the Paseo). As you can tell, it's built on a big scale, and it's a far cry better (inside and out) than anything built in the diocese after that date, but it lacks the attention to detail that make so many of the churches we've looked at so beautiful, and it's not just that ominous minimalism from the decades before the Council--there's something a little off about the proportions as well. The windows in the clerestory just seem too small and too few, even for a modern church in the romanesque style . That being said, I'd trade it for just about anything built in Johnson County.

I'm sure someone whose knowledge of ecclesiastical architecture is deeper than what I got in my high school humanities course can go in to great detail about what's wrong with this church.
I could peer in and see the altarpiece in the apse. It was still intact, and very nice. It wasn't something I could get a decent photo of, through two sets of glass doors and all, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Again, I have little history here. I do know that the geographic parish was suppressed in the early 1990s, I believe; however, ithe buildings quickly found a suitable new life as the Church of the Holy Martyrs, the personal parish for Vietnamese speaking Catholics in Kansas City. The school building is now some sort of residential facility--perhaps an assisted living center?

And, with a whimper, instead of a bang, my tour of closed Kansas City, Missouri churches ends (although, you could argue that it ended yesterday because this church itself isn't really closed, right?).
Tomorrow, I'll start a new tour featuring two closed parish churches, and several ones still open, across the Kaw River in Kansas City, Kansas.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

St. John's Seminary, KCMO

St. John's Seminary was opened in 1904, and closed in before the fall term in 1983. I don't know when the facilities were built, as I saw no cornerstones on the chapel or the other buildings when I was there with the little Curmudgeons this weekend. Admittedly, I didn't look that hard. Much of the grounds were behind a fence, and although the gates were open, they were all posted with more than one "no trespassing" sign by the new occupant, so the Academy of Kansas City, seemed fairly adamant that I not enter (and of course, trespassing on posted grounds is a Class B misdemeanor. I don't want the little Curmudgeons to have a record just yet).

The facilities are nice. Very nice. Do note the decorative brickwork in the detail from the chapel below.. If I had bags of money and wanted to open a traditional school, I'd use my evil traditionalist powers to try to wrest the property from the seculars who are using it now.

I'm sure there's much more to know about St. John's, but I don't know it. Heck, until a reader clued me in via email, I didn't know that there ever was a diocesan seminary here (I thought that the Conception Seminary had always served the diocese as the college seminary).
Therefore I invite whomever might be inclined to give me their information on the place, either in my comment boxes or via email.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

St. Mary's / Immaculate Heart, KCMO

St. Mary's, retitled Immaculate Heart at some point when the Bishop (I forget which one) required all the "St. Mary's" parishes in the diocese except for the first one to rename themselves under one of the Blessed Mother's titles, sits along Brush Creek, at 2416 Swope Parkway.

St. Mary's was no architectural exemplar of "Catholic Triumphalism" that purportedly worried some of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. The plant was modest: the church (built in 1939) was small, the rectory and school were pretty common-looking, much as you might find in a small town. Even pictures are hard to get because the buildings are so tight on the lots and an iron fence surrounds the church.

Now, the church and rectory are the Emmanuel Family & Child Care Center, and the School is the Kansas City Job Corps office.

In my last race through This Far by Faith, didn't pick up any information about when, how and why St. Mary's was supressed, but I'll update this when I do.

When it's permissible to kill a disabled man...

Der Tommisar, a fellow evil trad from New Mexico (Santa Fe, I believe) as a great post on the Eurotrash's response to most recent California execution. Not that I'm big on the way we do executions these days (offing felons doesn't bother me in principle--my qualms have to do with the quality of our present criminal justice system, among other things, and it would be a long post in itself), but the irony of the Dutch having anything to say about this one is certainly worth noting, and he and his sources note it well.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ss. Peter & Paul, St. Mark's, and St. Joseph, KCMO

We'll start our last trip (for now) around Kansas City, Missouri by covering three sites where churches no longer stand. We'll do so in one post so we can move on to some more interesting things for tomorrow.

First, where there is now a heavily secured surface parking lot for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City at the southwest corner of 9th & McGee downtown, a few blocks from where Old St. Patrick's Oratory stands, and not far from the Church (eventually the Cathedral) of the Immaculate Conception, there once stood Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. The columned building you see in the picture isn't Ss Peter & Paul: it's the Grand Avenue Temple, a methodist church building which may, or may not, still be in use. I'd guess it isn't.

I still don't have the checkout copy of This Far by Faith, so I can't offer much in the way of detail (I'll update this when I do), but from what I understand on a cursory reading, Ss. Peter & Paul wasn't so much suppressed as it was relocated south and split into various other parishes as Kansas City and its Catholic population grew. I read somewhere that Our Lady of Hallmar, er, Our Lady of Sorrows, on Gillham Road, is the canonical successor parish to what was Ss. Peter & Paul (which may explain the great statues of these two apostles standing watch over the altar at Sorrows).

St. Mark's was the "ecumenical parish" I mentioned in this previous post. No new information, except that it was located at the physical site of an episcopalian "ecclesial community," at East 12th Terrace & Vine. I didn't get a picture of the site (there was no convenient place to park, and it wasn't interesting enough to warrant getting all the little Curmudgeons out of the car), but there is a community center in the middle of a low income housing development at that location now.

At 1001 East 19th Street once stood St. Joseph's Church. This is a block east of the Tension Envelope Building, at the base of Hospital Hill. As you can see, this address is now a bridge abutment. The site was cleared to make room for Bruce R. Watkins Drive, which was built only in the last five years or so. I don't know if the church building was razed for highway construction, or if it had been pulled down before then for construction of the industrial buildings on either side of the highway. I do have a note, barely legible, that I made on St. Joseph's: in 1940, the parish, which then boasted 17 members, was folded into St. Monica's.

That's it for the vacant lots, kids. Next up will be St. Mary's/Immaculate Heart, followed by St. John's Seminary and St. Augustine's. Then we're done with KCMO, unless someone gets me some new leads.