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With this letter my thoughts go to the value each of you represent to our Club, Seminarians, Priests and Religious. Sometimes we go about our responsibilities without fully appreciating the extent to which we are accomplishing objectives including growing in spirituality. We influence by actions, words and just being there for seminarians. We are examples to the men as they discern their futures, commitments to faith, themselves and God.

 There are many examples of the responsibilities we make in time, dollars and achievements. A recent example is the Al Bukaty Golf Outing and Famous George Gorman Dinner. For those of you who played, fun was the operative word for the day. Stories followed and developed and drives got longer and putts straighter as the day wore on. These embellishments carried on to the Dinner.

 The dinner consisted of huge portions of meat, baked potato, salad and bread with all the condiments. The steak alone is worth the price of admission!

 With the addition of the 17 men who were ordained by Archbishop Naumann in June 2017, we now have 40 permanent deacons in active ministry serving the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

 We have at least one deacon serving in 30 of our parishes, and even more our deacons are making their presence—and in a deeper sense the Church’s presence—felt in prisons and jails, hospitals and nursing homes, and really anywhere the mercy of God is most needed. We are proud of the growth of the diaconate in the Archdiocese, and I’ve frequently heard the Archbishop praise our formation program.

 As I reflect on all this, I truly believe that the growth of the diaconate in our Archdiocese is a singular grace given to us at this time. It also reflects the gifts of our Archdiocese at this moment in our local Church’s history.

Their eyes were opened and they recognized him. (Luke 24:31).

 It had been a long day of walking, but Cleopas and his friend wanted more time with their traveling companion. The mysterious stranger seemed ignorant of the turmoil of the past few days, but he could explain the Scriptures like no one they had ever heard before. Wanting to hear more, they urged, “Stay with us” (Luke 24:29). So he stayed and shared a meal. Then, with a simple gesture and a simple prayer, he broke bread and gave it to them. And suddenly, their eyes were opened: they recognized their broken Lord, their risen Lord.

 Fellow Serrans,

What a wonderful time of the year. Spring is upon us and there is a beautiful array of colors in the trees and green, plush lawns. What a welcome sight. Likewise, we have finished the journey into Easter, and now celebrate the most beautiful and meaningful part of our faith; the resurrection, and the promise of forgiveness, hope, and love. And we get to share these gifts with our family, friends, and with everyone. Hope you all have a great Easter season.

As you know, May is when we transition to our new officers and board members. For this upcoming year, we are blessed to have a complete slate of board members, very capable of directing our club into the future. We welcome incoming President Ed Connolly and President-Elect Lee Crutchfield, as well as new trustees Pat McAnany, John Gillcrist, Dave Jones, and Rich Leyden. We extend our best wishes and support for them for this coming year.

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,”Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

Many of us pray The Our Father almost daily. Yet do we really forgive those that hurt us in some way?

I am familiar with something that occurred many years ago. A woman and her accomplice took money from an old man who could not afford that theft. For awhile the theft went unnoticed. When the theft became public years later the woman pleaded for forgiveness. She had developed cancer and her survival was doubtful. In spite of her repeated efforts she was not forgiven by the family. She eventually died and the family prayed for her.

But she was gone and forgiving her could only be done after the fact of her passing.

Regular visitors to our website will notice some changes.  There are some things that will look familiar to you and some that will look or act a bit differently. 

Our club is indebted to Dr. Bob Luchi for his tireless efforts to develop and maintain such a great website.  He set a very high bar for us to achieve.  Thanks Dr. Bob.

SPRING! Ahhh Spring! How sweet it is to see some sunshine, warmer temps,the trees budding and plants sprouting after a long and cold winter. We can watch the transformation of buds into leaves, sprouts into colorful flowers, grass turning greener, and finally get to hang up those heavy coats. This is a visible sign for us during Lent, to go from our ordinary lives into a short 40 day journey of self evaluation to make personal commitments and changes that strengthen our character and deepen our faith. The joy comes from watching spring grow into something beautiful, but also allowing Lent to grow into the joy of the Risen Lord. Easter is thholiest and most incredibly season of our year and well worth the journey.

Fellow Serrans,

Well as the old saying says, “if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.” Let’s hope so, but so far the lion has arrived. The good thing is that the Lamb has also arrived in the form of Lent. We begin the holiest season of the liturgical year, a Lenten journey of reflections, prayer, renewal, and a deepened spiritual change.

Lenten Retreat for all Serrans and GuestsMonsignor Michael Mullen will be leading our Serran Lenten Retreat at Savior Pastoral Center on Saturday March 23, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Retreat Topic will be on the Beatitudes. Mass will be at 11:15. AM.  Continental Breakfast and Lunch are included in the fee of $30 for the Retreat.  All Serrans and their guests are encouraged to attend.  See the calendar for registration.

BLESSED IS THE ONE WHO TRUSTS IN THE LORD, WHOSE HOPE IS IN THE LORD.  HE IS LIKE A TREE PLANTED BESIDE THE WATERS THAT STRETCHES OUT ITS ROOTS TO THE STREAM. JEREMIAH 17:7-8

 Jeremiah was known as the Prophet among Prophets because he praised God’s word. He did not back off. As Bishop Robert Barron says, he was known for his upbraiding of the people for their idolatry. They worshipped the gods of the land rather than Yahweh. Jeremiah was a great conduit of God’s passion to set things right.

Jeremiah was humiliated and imprisoned because he continuously called out the Israelites for worshipping false gods.  In effect they left God behind. God realized when human beings worship something less than Him we lessen our own dignity.

We fit God in when it is convenient. We look at God as an inconvenience when we want to focus on something else. It may be our career, money or something else we choose to elevate.

 Can you remember a time in your lives when God was inconvenient?

 Fellow Serrans,

Here’s hoping you all survived the arctic blast we experienced recently. Burr !!   We can be thankful it didn’t last long and that it has warmed back up. It’s still winter in the Midwest and anything can happen.

February is a reminder that life goes on, a sense of ordinary time, to keep things going, hang in there, and to anticipate exciting things to come.

Late afternoon and evenings are the worst. There is something about the coming of darkness that produces a bit more sadness and anxiety. We are called to live in the light of Christ, not in the darkness that encompasses much of our world. Sometimes the light of Christ seems dimmed and far away while shadows creep in from all sides.

Fellow Serrans,HAPPY NEW YEAR !! As we close out 2018 and look forward to the year to come, we all have thoughts and hopes of good things to happen and to continue our good work as Serrans. A year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, a continuation of all the wisdom that experience has instilled in us.

Click here to see upcoming USAC Events and the current world-wide Serra membership

Thanks to people like the Pilgrims, Abraham Lincoln, and our mothers and fathers, I believe the America I was born into is worth fighting and dying for. But how do you do that? There is no one answer. But as Catholics we believe where sin abounds Grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20) and this is where we can start.

I didn't retire until age 80 so my horizon for planning my post-retirement was not a great as some. The biggest decision was to cut off any formal relationship with medicine, not to teach from time to time in a Medical School and to cancel my subscriptions to my medical journals.

That decision was the result of prayer and seeing what other physicians had done post-retirement. Their path was not a path with which I was comfortable. That was the extent of my discernment.

I was on my own to start on a different discernment, a different career.

While I was still in practice my wife Jean was diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer type. Also she was quite functional in many ways it fell to me to be more of a "house husband", especially in food shopping and cooking, doing some cleaning and providing more companionship to her, more than I was able to do while active in medicine.

I also had a desire to do more for our Church and now had time to do so. Daily Mass was nearby and I had the opportunity to serve as Eucharistic Minister, Lector and Presider of Communion Services, all of which was fulfilling.

In the course of time I was invited to join the Serra Club of Kansas City in Kansas. I knew little about Serra Clubs, and, while in Houston, the Serra Club there had only a tangential, if any, effect on our son's discernment for the priesthood. So I demurred for several months, then accepted the invitation to attend a Wednesday meeting and with some hesitation agreed to join Serra KCK.

After a month or so I wasn't sure this was the place for me to serve the Church and I was thinking seriously of resigning. As a trustee, a bit at sea, I requested a meeting over coffee with Bob Vohs, then president of the Club. He suggested that I fill a pressing need by helping out with the Nun's Appreciation Day Event.

That involvement was critical to me remaining in the Club and led to other assignments the Newsletter editor;, VP, Communications Committee; President of the Club and eventually the website development and maintenance.

None of these duties has yet detracted from my essential post-retirement responsibilities as caregiver to Jean, the person most important in my life, although that may change with time. I am a better Catholic layman as a result of my association with Serra KCK and I feel that I have, in some small way, contributed to their holy ministry.

Robert Luchi

I dreaded it, explored ways to avoid it but found that I had not real choice. Sometimes the things that we dread the most turn our to be wonderful "God Moments". 

On May 21st, my wife Jean and I will travel to Philadelphia where she and 3 friends from the first grade at St. Rita's Catholic School in Philadelphia will attend Mass at the Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia on her feast day. Jean and her friends have been faithfully doing this for 81 years. It is a prayerful and joyous occasion, one that we hope to continue for as long as we can.

St. Rita and the Blessed Mother have been at the root of Jean's Catholic faith. They have brought her deep into the mystery of Jesus. When asked, how do you cope with Alzheimer's disease, Jean answers: “I put one hand in the hand of St. Rita, the other hand in the hand of Mary and with their help walk the path that Jesus has chosen for me.”

To the medical profession, Jeans ability to function, her happy, joyful days interacting with her family and friends after having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease more than 20 - 25 years ago is quite remarkable. She is competent in all the activities of daily living (dressing, washing, eating, cleaning, etc.), continues to write checks, handles telephone calls and still makes the homemade pizza that her family enjoys every Friday night.

The hallmark of dementia of the Alzheimer type of course is loss of recent memory. And Jean's memory has not escaped the effects of her disease.

Dealing with memory loss in many patients can become stressful to them and their caregivers. Does memory loss have an upside? Perhaps. Small tiffs between husband and wife are quickly forgotten as if they never occurred.

Another is the sweet goodnight kiss that Jean never fails to give me. Sometimes it is only one goodnight kiss; sometimes she forgets and I get two and, at other times, even three.

I never refuse the second or the third. I cherish each.

Grace and Love bursting through, unconquered by the veil of Alzheimer's disease.

Robert Luchi

On May 21st, 2016 my wife Jean and I traveled to Philadelphia where she and 2 friends from the first grade at St. Rita's Catholic School in Philadelphia attended Mass at the Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia on her feast day, May 22.  A third friend, unable to make the Mass at the Shrine, was able to join us at a restaurant for lunch.

These 4 friends have communicated with each other over the years, despite distance, illness, deaths or personal misfortune, by mail or phone calls and by visits to each other's homes.

Jean and her friends have been faithfully visiting the Shrine for 81 years. When one of the group cannot join the others at the Shrine (as when Jean was overseas) the others send her a packet of dried leaves of the St. Rita roses blessed at the Shrine on her feast day. It is a prayerful and joyous occasion, one that we hope to continue for as long as we can, despite Jean's Alzheimer's disease.

Long trips like this are not easy on people with Alzheimer's disease, because just getting out of the house presents a host of new sights, sounds and images that are unfamiliar and disorienting.  Deciding what to wear, packing, going through airport security and navigating the new environment of a hotel room present challenges.   But Jean is determined to see these long-standing friends and she has a bit of trust in me to handle the details.  Yet it is a struggle for her to place these unfamiliar things in their proper context. However, once at the Shrine on Broad Street in Philadelphia and the site of her elementary school, Jean was in familiar territory and was able to, at least partially, feel in charge of the situation.

What was new on this trip was a short interview with a local newspaper complete with a photograph of the four friends, arranged by the daughter of one of the 4.  After all, 81 years of continued friendship undisturbed by serious, lasting disagreements is worthy of note.

The article appeared in the Daily News in Philadelphia a day or so after we left Philadelphia. Jean loved the photo and the comments the reporter made but felt the reporter had missed an essential point. The reporter commented on the marvel of such a long-lasting and untroubled friendship and wondered if this tight bond of friendship had anything to do with allowing these women to live into their late eighties.

What Jean thought was lacking was an appreciation of what had been taught to these women from the first grade at St. Rita's Catholic School. Jean and the others had grasped early on that there is a loving God revealed by Jesus and witnessed by St. Rita and other saints throughout the centuries. That this faith required them to acknowledge God's love for each other by offering their praise to Him and loving their neighbors, their friends, indeed everyone, in the way that God loves them. Perfect charity means that we will the good of the other regardless of any cost to us. That is what Jesus did for us.

There were some uncomfortable moments when one of Jean's friends offered some resistance to have an article written about them because of her strong sense of humility. "Our long-standing friendship need not be touted as something extraordinary". There were discussions among the 4 friends, and quietly and beautifully, the resistance was dropped, and interview and photograph embraced.

This admirable friendship has lasted because these four women understand that Christian charity means “willing the good of the other regardless of personal cost”.

Robert Luchi

Our annual neighborhood summer potluck party was held in early June this year. Jean now has little interest in preparing food for an event like this but welcomes the opportunity for her to engage in what she likes so much to do—socialize with other people. Late afternoon passed pleasantly enough into early evening and Jean was ready to go home after being at the party for about two hours.

The usual practice is for the people who prepared food to take home what is left, but since the party was still going strong when Jean and I left we took nothing with us. Later that evening one of organizers of the party came to bring Jean samples of food for her to enjoy the next day and to sit with her and chat. I was in the basement working when she arrived and came up sometime later to find Jean in serious conversation with this younger woman who was weeping quietly. She greeted me with a smile, dabbed tears from her eyes and said, "Jean has given me the grace I was looking for and needed so much". She thanked Jean warmly and departed, thanking Jean again.

The remarkable thing is that Jean has no memory of the content of the conversation. She only knows that this woman was anxious over something and that she, Jean, probably said something supportive. But just what that something was we may never know.

It seems that nothing, not even Alzheimer dementia, can suppress the Christian love for neighbor so deeply embedded in Jean. Whatever Jean said came from some deep source within her, an inexhaustible source of living water that Jesus promised the woman at the well in the gospel of John. A disease such as the dementia of Alzheimer type has the power to strip us of many things, but it has no power over the essential graces God gives us.

Robert Luchi