KC: Bp. Finn’s sermon for the consecration of Old St. Patrick

Here is the sermon of His Excellency Most Rev. Robert Finn, Bishop of Kansas City for the consecration of Old St. Patrick and a Pontifical Mass.

It is slightly edited, and with my emphases and comments.

Sermon for the Consecration of Old St. Patrick Church

October 25, 2008

Most Reverend Robert W. Finn

Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Then came a loud voice from the heavenly throne, “Behold the dwelling place of God with men. … Behold, I make all things new.”

Dear friends, I greet you with great joy on this day of Solemn Consecration. This is the dwelling place of God with men. This is the place where heaven meets earth, where the mystery of salvation touches the human heart. Here, even sadness and death are given flight – so full of hope, so full of grace and light are the truths and supernatural actions that unfold in this place, where God dwells with man.  [Indeed!  Well said.  This is a sacred space wherein people are to have a transforming encounter with mystery.  The introit for the Mass is "This place demands reverence… Terribilis est locus iste…"  William James calls this sense of mystery, this feeling of holy reverential dread at the fearful, almost terrifying experience, "awe at transcendence".   The bishop got it in one.  And he starts with this!]

In the Gospel account of the meeting between the Lord Jesus Christ and the tax collector, Zachaeus, we see the power of conversion in the encounter with God. When the human heart receives the Lord, a saving change can transform us. Here in this magnificent church such miracles have been occurring for more than 130 years. Now, again we have set it apart as the House of God. What a happy and historic day this is in our Diocese.  [It is "set apart".  It is sacred.  And within the sacred precinct there is an even more sacred place, leading to a place most sacred of all.   Our places of worship should not look like seafood restaurants or municipal airport terminals.]

It was on August 14, 2005, that I had the privilege of being able to announce to our little Latin Mass community the impending arrival of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the establishment of the Oratory of Old St. Patrick, and the beginning of a plan to provide a fitting home for the faithful in this historic church – the oldest Catholic church building in Kansas City. At that meeting in the hall at Our Lady of Sorrows, I told those gathered about this place. I called it “a diamond in the rough,” and acknowledged that the work of restoration “would be demanding and costly.” With enthusiasm and hope they accepted the challenge.

Out of a motive of true love for God and dedication to the Church you have done something great in the history of the Diocese. You have renewed this holy temple in a way that is equal to the sacrifice and commitment of those who first built it, and which may indeed surpass its original beauty. Deo Gratias!

Now, dear friends, what will God accomplish in this place? His love and grace, alive in the Church, will be a source of supernatural aid to many individuals and, we pray, He will kindle something blessed in this neighborhood and throughout the Diocese. [This is very good.  This is a spark for the whole diocese!]

I pray that this church will be a center of reverent and obedient worship in spirit and truth for all who come here. Here you will bring your babies to be baptized. Here your sins will be forgiven. Here holy matrimony will be solemnly ratified. All the sacraments will give God glory, perhaps none more than the re-presentation of Calvary at this altar.

Dear friends, may this place also be a home of reconciliation for Catholics who, within the praxis of these venerable rites, still long for a more perfect communion with the Vicar of Christ and me his unworthy servant. I welcome you. Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest Himself seeks you out. [Excellent.] He who came to seek and save the lost looks, searches, to see us. “Make haste and come down, Zachaeus.” And we must humbly invite him to the house of our soul as did the tax collector in whom already the transformation was beginning to take place.   [Notice how the theme of "transformation" threads itself through the whole sermon.]

Today, Dear friends, Let salvation come to this house! Let salvation be found here in the ineffable mysteries of which the Church is the one faithful and prudent steward.

[Watch this…]

There is one more precious intercession I wish to lift today. In collaboration with the Catholic bishops of Missouri, and in anticipation of a significant election, [the election…] I ask all to pray; to pray and sacrifice, so that our country will be renewed in the love of human life, and that we may be spared the continuing spiral and decline of our moral sense. Let us take advantage of the singular grace of this Solemn Consecration to beg the Merciful God; to implore Mary the Lady of the Rosary, St. Patrick and St. Bridget, St. Joseph and all our heavenly patrons, to keep our country from evil and sustain on a new path of life[This was a point I made to people during Forty Hours Prayer at Mater Ecclesiae in New Jersey a few days ago.   The point of Forty Hours was to beg God to avert disaster and to protect us in time of need.  The bishop ties this consecration of this church together with this theme of transformation for the diocese and now change of hearts and minds for the country.]

In this month of Angels I ask you to join me in calling upon the Guardian Angels of 47 million babies lost to the crime of abortion in our country, to carry the cry of these Holy Innocents before the throne of Mercy: not to condemn us, but to fortify and inspire us to be the Guardians of life.

On this happy day Lord, let us not forget the responsibility that is forever ours to give back to you the obedience of our faith, to seek holiness with a pure heart, and to spend ourselves in apostolic charity. Let the faith and good will of the many find a new start here. “For this is the dwelling place of God with men.” Let the voice from heaven resound in our joyful and thankful hearts, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Well done!


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  1. Austin says:

    Ecce sacerdos magnus.

  2. Larry says:

    Bishop Finn is a great bishop and he has a formidable job to do in KC. He is a man of faith adn courage and with GOD’s help he will accomplish a great deal.

    I notice that Bishop Finn called for Prayer and Sacrifice (not fasting). I find this intriguing. It seems almost like the Lord has allowed the perfect storm if you will. We have an election and we can support life or not. But then comes the economic collapse and all of a sudden it is about dollars and cents. Now the LORD challenges us: Will you choose life or are you too worried about your bank account? I dread the consequences if we allow self interest to trump life.

  3. Matt Q says:

    What a great bishop! I hope there is a Cardinalature in his future. He certainly deserves such a recognition. He’s a young bishop also. Many great years ahead ( Lord willing ) for all of us to enjoy. Being he’s new to KC, would it be too much to hope he gets a change of climate in 2011? :-)

    Larry, fasting is a part of sacrificing, so when Bishop Finn mentioned that, it was inclusive of the act among many others. :) In whatever form of self-denial we can do for the sake of this election, let’s get a bloody move on. There is so much as stake with it, guaranteed, if the wrong man gets in, life in the country will not just carry on as usual after the Inauguration. This is a literal turning point with America. God help us all!!

  4. Roseberry says:

    Bishop Finn has truly done wonderful work in his time in Kansas City. I was particularly impressed with his approach to Old St Patrick’s. Not only did he stop plans for the church’s destruction and invite the Institute in to help restore and serve the church, he called on every parish in his diocese to assist in restoration of the church. He understood that the potential loss of this treasure would diminish all Catholics in the diocese, as its restoration would be an inspiration to all Catholics in Kansas City, even those whose regular Sunday worship takes place in a seafood restaurant, airport terminal, or multiplex cinema.

  5. joe says:

    Thanks for this encouraging story. After 16 months of trying to bring the TLM to St. Mary’s in New Trier ,Minnesota , I am learning the many facets of the virtue hope.

  6. TJM says:

    And to think this marvelous Church is in the very backyard of the National Anti-Catholic Reporter. They must be going bonkers. Tom

  7. Curmudgeon says:

    Yes it was great. I’m glad you posted the sermon, because I didn’t get to hear it. I’m sure no one outside of Kansas City will feel sorry for me, but I had to leave after the consecreation, but BEFORE the pontifical high Mass to . . . to go to a sloppy newfangled wedding in a burned-out church. A heartbreaker. But the consecreation was beautiful. The Oratory was beautiful. The guys who make up the core of the Missouri-side traditional congregation did much of the “dirty work” themselves and kept the cost down: stuff like knocking out the old rickety pews and tearing up floor joists and digging out footings for the heavy altar with shovels and wheelbarrows. That all got done for “free” so that there would be money for the craftsmen.

    Someone who didn’t know better would have thought the stencilling was original Dante Cosentino (Fr. Z, that’s the original Italian immigrant painter who decorated most of the Missouri side churches in the 20s and 30s.

    Fr. Z, it was a pleasure to see you (I took you to the sacristy, but it wasn’t appropriate to introduce myself at the time, and I wasn’t around afterwards.

  8. Curmudgeon says:

    I mean “consecration.” Oops.

  9. Christopher says:

    I made the same typo!


  10. George says:

    Church isn’t honestly very pretty. There a several far better in KC.

  11. Mike B. says:

    Absolutely wonderful! I will show this to some fellow Catholics (and some who think they are Catholics) here in the hills of Tennessee.


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