Remembering a Moment of Beginnings

Associate Patrick Hannan, a founding member of KC Association.

As we experience “something new” during these days of chapters and fruitful gatherings, we are also invited to celebrate past movements of grace.

Forty years ago in Kansas City, CSJ Association was sparked by Patrick Hannan’s spirituality and his experience of living in God's presence. He asked, “Why couldn’t we have community together?” Pat, his wife Beryl, and Ed and Carole Stephens, had participated in the St. Elizabeth Parish House of Prayer. They came to prayer times with the CSJ sisters and laity, and attended various events. Now there was the hope for more.

On December 8, 1977, the five of us met over pizza questioning what we were anticipating. We decided to meet weekly to pray together. Months later, I said, “I already belong to a community. Would you be interested in connecting with the CSJs?” Before I completed reading pertinent parts of directives for Medaille communities, Beryl was first to respond, “Isn’t that what we’re talking about?”

After a year of discernment, on November 26, 1978, during a Mass at Avila College with the KC sisters, our first KC associates committed to each other to live in unity, and when not in unity, to reconcile.

By January 1980, the Stephens moved to Wisconsin due to Ed’s work. After the painful parting, the remaining three of us continued to pray and plan together as others became interested in the possibility of “community.”

On May 2, 1980, three couples—the Binggelis, Wasdykes, and Deisters—met with the Hannans. Beryl told them, “Don’t jump into it. Live it for a year. Only then, if you wish, make your commitment.” After more discussion, the couples left with the decision to “try it.” They, along with S. Helen Miljour, joined us for our June meeting. However, we were without our founding member, Pat, who had died during surgery on May 22. His spirit remains with us.

A few months later, in September, two more couples—the Hancocks and Munozs— joined the eight of us. Shortly after, Margaret Giblin and the Selfs joined the group.

The community continued to grow and soon included sisters from the area as well as other laity who were searching for more.

We held yearly

retreats together addressing the questions: Where have we been? Where are we now? Where do we wish to go? It was a time for praying, listening to one another and discerning. Our present community includes Medaille sessions (monthly meetings) and a seasonal gathering for extended periods of silent reflection and sharing.

Throughout the years, we have lost several community members through death, some have moved away, and we continue to have others join. Those who choose individual association stay connected with the larger community. When our aging members can no longer attend our Medaille sessions, we hold a special service to bless their continued prayer and presence.

Members of this community have/had worked and/or volunteered in several different ministries, including: parish/administration, prison, teaching, nursing, interfaith gatherings, and province associate boards and committees. Community members as a team have also presented retreats for couples and the KC/CSJ community.

After 40 years, we continue to grow in a faith community that inspires and empowers us. We discover that through living consciously to “be more” we experience the truth that “together we are more."