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Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., led a short eucharistic procession on an overlook at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City on May 4, for Behold KC.
Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., led a short eucharistic procession on an overlook at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City on May 4, for Behold KC.
Photo Credit: Kathryn White | The Leaven

Crowd at Kansas City Eucharistic event urged to proclaim ‘Christ is king’ to ‘the heights’

Behold KC - Eucharistic Celebration drew several thousand to downtown Kansas City for Mass and adoration

KANSAS CITY. — The question in the minds of many was this: Will the faithful respond?

On May 4, 1941, thousands of Catholics in the Kansas City area gathered on the north lawn of what is now the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City for the Holy Name Rally and Closing First Diocesan Eucharistic Congress.

Inspired by the discovery of an old photograph of this event, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas issued the same invitation 83 years later.

The two ordinaries wanted the Behold KC - Eucharistic Celebration on May 4 to be the regional centerpiece of the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival.

But would the faithful respond?

The day was overcast, breezy and chilly. Individuals and families were only arriving in dribs and drabs when the event began at 4 p.m. Priests from Kansas and Missouri walked down from the memorial in pairs to the plywood confessionals at the north end of the lawn, overlooking Union Station.

Priests from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., and the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., offered the sacrament of reconciliation along the edges of the lawn at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.
Photo Credit: Mora Cullings | The Leaven
Musician Steve Angrisano, as master of ceremonies, offered welcome and music. Choirs sang and individuals gave witness talks.

Groups began arriving then, led by individuals with banners announcing their parish or organization.

And by the time women religious from various orders began to lead the Rosary, the lawn was nearly covered.

Traffic continued to rush down nearby highways, and occasionally a wailing siren from a police or emergency vehicle bounced off surrounding buildings.

The site of Behold KC, however, resounded with prayers, hymns and songs.

Like lighthouses, the golden bell tower of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception could be seen to the north, and the ornate red-brick bell tower of Our Lady of Sorrows Church was visible in the east.

The grace of Behold KC was like a healing balm in a place that had less than three months earlier witnessed horror. The Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade shooting took place Feb. 14 just downhill and across West Pershing Road, next to Union Station.

Those who gathered were diverse in heritage, ethnicity and age, but united in purpose. Many parents brought their children, including Dan and Josie Werkowitch, members of Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park.

“I thought it was a unique experience I didn’t want to pass up, and I wanted to give the kids a chance to see it as well,” he said. “We have five — and one on the way.”

While Josie Werkowitch wanted her family to benefit from the experience, she also wanted to support the whole Catholic community.

“It’s a community event to support the community,” she said. “(The kids) are very excited. They’re excited to be on the hill and see everybody.”

The Werkowitches said Behold KC seemed well organized and “parking was not an issue.”

Mass was celebrated around an altar that had been set up above the Great Frieze. Archbishop Naumann was the homilist and Bishop Johnston was the main celebrant, with more than 100 priests concelebrating.

Following the Mass, Bishop Johnston carried a monstrance containing the Eucharist down the steps for a short procession. This was followed by adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

“Each week from Sunday Mass,” said Archbishop Naumann in his homily, “you and I — we are sent on a mission to bring God’s love to the world, to transform the world — not with power or military arms or money or things money can buy, but with servant love. We are called to transform the world with the love of the one who died on the cross.”

As eucharistic adoration ended, the thousands of faithful gathered their things and filtered out into the city to do just what Archbishop Naumann had asked — to go out on their mission to transform the world with the “love of the one who died on the cross,” the Lord Jesus Christ.

From the Archive Module

Crowd at Kansas City Eucharistic event urged to proclaim Christ is king to the heights 9623

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