Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Divine Diversity at St. James

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Divine Diversity at St. James

Article excerpt

If you're in Kansas City, Mo., sometime on a Sunday morning, I hope you'll stop at my church. We have one Mass at 10 o'clock. So you'll get to see the whole congregation. And we are a sight to behold.

Lots of skin colors. Lots of hair types. A variety of accents. Young and old.

Of course the young ones are the cute ones. And we put that on display the first Sunday of each month. The kids are part of the offertory procession, carrying baskets crammed with stuff for the pantry. Even toddlers want to get into the act, toting Easter baskets holding a box of macaroni and cheese or a can of peaches. The pride the kids take in the toting, and the pleasure we get from their efforts spurs our generosity and helps us remember Pantry Sunday.

To celebrate our diversity, we bought flags to hang across the front of the choir loft to recall our birth-lands. Sunday we displayed them for the first time and blessed them. We have a flag for the United States, of course, and one for Canada, China, Germany, Granada, Haiti, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Micronesia, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam. The one on the left, leading the parade, shows the Earth as seen from a space ship. It floats on a dark blue background.

The flag idea came up as part of our 100th anniversary, which we are celebrating all year long. The first Masses were held in a dance hall above a drug store. A packing crate served as the altar, covered by some woman's linen tablecloth. A young Fr. (later Msgr.) John Keyes was the priest. He served us 44 years, grew old and died in our midst. Our church was built in 1912, using plans copied from a small Gothic-style church in London. The limestone stood for years in the Missouri River as pilings for a bridge for a railway company that changed its mind, when the enterprising Fr. …

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