By Sara Wiercinski
On February 5, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced the closing of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, with St. Thomas More incorporating the parish boundaries. St. Catherine is located at 4101 E 105th Terrace in Kansas City and will operate until its final Mass on April 29, the Feast Day of St. Catherine of Siena.
The closing is part of the diocese’s pastoral planning process, which assesses church resources in light of population needs in south Kansas City. In 2020, St. Catherine was “given up to two more years as a stand-alone parish in order to build greater vitality,” according to the diocesan report.
The diocesan plan resulted in recent closures of two other south Kansas City-area parishes, St. Matthew the Apostle (8001 Longview Road) and Our Lady of Lourdes (7049 Blue Ridge Blvd, Raytown). Parish boundaries were absorbed into neighboring churches.
Fr. Justin Hoye serves as co-pastor at St. Catherine of Siena and St. Thomas More.
“To the community, this stings,” he says. “Some parishioners expected the closure, while others had held out hope.”
Hoye points out that St. Thomas More parish boundaries have essentially doubled, and his job is to make sure St. Catherine parishioners feel welcome. Some may find homes at other Catholic churches in the area.
The future of the St. Catherine campus, which includes a school that closed in 2009, is still undecided. The diocese is in talks with other groups, including an Eastern rite Catholic community that worships there.
Some St. Catherine staff will move to St. Thomas More, and the diocese is working to find placements in other parishes as well.
St. Catherine of Sienna Parish opened in 1925, and in its heyday was considered the “Mother Church” of south Kansas City. As the Catholic population swelled in the mid-century, many new parishes opened within St. Catherine’s original boundaries.
According to the 1959 diocesan census, those boundaries included 2,272 children alone. In contrast, in 2020, St. Catherine had 325 registered families.
The church is named for St. Catherine of Siena, one of four women who are considered doctors of the Catholic church. St. Catherine lived in 14th century Italy, experienced mystical visions and served as advisor to Pope Gregory XI.
Back in the 21st century, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph continues its mission to serve amidst shifting demographics. Fr. Hoye assures, “The Catholic church will still be present to care for the community of south Kansas City.”
For more information, visit https://saintcatherine.com/.