In the summer of 1972, Archbishop Ignatius Strecker and Fr. Brendan Malloy, Capuchin Provincial, met to discuss the establishment of a new parish in the Shawnee-Lenexa area which would develop new forms of a post-Vatican II parish ministry. As a result of this meeting, Capuchin Fathers Finian Meis and Marvin Justi were assigned to this ministry. They arrived on September 6, 1972 and moved temporarily into the rectory at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Overland Park. Over time, these two studied the area, met with the pastors of St. Joseph and Holy Trinity and then wrote a “Proposal for the Church between 67th and 83rd Sts, West of I-35.”
The Archbishop approved the proposal which suggested that since most of the parishes in the city and suburbs were too large to form a community of people who truly cared about one another, who taught and learned together and who reached out to their suffering brothers, many smaller communities, called “mini-parishes”, should be formed within the context of the total parish. The Archbishop also suggested that a study of apartment ministry be conducted since 28% of the people within our parish boundaries lived in apartments. Together with the Shawnee Ministerial Alliance, area apartment managers met with the two priests and approved the idea of having services in their complexes. The first Mass was December 3, 1972 in Fox Run Complex with thirty-five Catholics from four apartment complexes attending. As mass attendees grew, Masses were said at the Arrowhead and the Trailridge complexes as well.
The new parish, named Good Shepherd Catholic Church, was canonically established on August 15, 1973. At that time Fr. Edward Judy, OFM was assigned as co-pastor with Frs. Finian and Marvin. Also joining the pastoral team were two Benedictine Sisters, Sisters Susan Holmes and Therese Elias. This pastoral team of five began individual home visitations on November 11, 1973. After 40 families had been visited, they were invited to the Parish Center for a series of meetings discussing the mini-parish concept, a process that continued until the entire parish had been visited and the mini-parishes were formed.
In September 1974 the Fathers purchased a residence at 10814 W 72nd Terrace and the Sisters moved into the former Sacred Heart rectory in Kansas City, KS. The former priests’ residence at 7307 Ballantine became the parish center and morning Mass was said in the garage here in a chapel designed and built by Ed Humphrey of Overland Park.
The faith community grew rapidly from the original 350 families and a permanent gathering place was needed. Following a successful fund drive in 1975, the parish purchased nine acres on the corner of 71st Terrace and Bond Street. Ground breaking for the Good Shepherd multi-purpose center was held on October 4, 1975 and construction completed on April 3, 1976. Dedication was June 13, 1976. The first service held was the ordination to the priesthood of Brother James Moster, a Capuchin Deacon, who had served his diaconate program at Good Shepherd for the prior eight months.
The additional Capuchin priests who served at Good Shepherd included Fathers Dave Gottschalk, Simeon Gallagher, John Lager, Frank Grinko and Duane Reinert. The Capuchins served the faith community until July, 1986, when they left to focus on other ministries. The archdiocese then appointed a diocesan priest, Fr. George Seuferling, pastor. The parish grew and expanded to include over 1000 families.
Beginning in these years, the community became greatly involved with various social justice issues and in 1987 entered a sistering relationship with Tres Ceibas, a community in El Salvador, later named El Buen Pastor, in addition to its tradition of strong faith formation, meaningful liturgies and community.
In 1988, the parish bought the duplex at 7124-26 Bond St to relive overcrowded office and meeting space. The duplex served the community as an office annex and rectory. We continued to grow and expand to include over 1350 families. By 1994, when more space was again needed, the community purchased 15 acres on 75th Street at Westgate. Using the theme “Expanding the Vision…Continuing the Legacy”, Good Shepherd developed a master plan and embarked on a three-phase building project. After much discussion and in response to the need for Catholic education in the area, Good Shepherd’s first school was incorporated into building plans. Construction of Phase One, including the education center, social hall and pastoral and administrative offices, began in the spring of 1998.
The first kindergarten class was held at Holy Trinity School in Lenexa, beginning in August 1997. In October 1998, the parish moved to its new 60,000 sq. ft. building at 12800 W 75th Street, the present location. The school, with grades K-5 opened for the 1998-99 school year. Within that year, weekend worship in the social hall heightened and plans a dedicated worship center got underway. Phase Two construction was begun on the 15,000 sq. ft. worship center in September 1999. It was dedicated May 27, 2000.
In July, 2001, Good Shepherd faith community welcomed Father Francis Hund who served as pastor during Phase Three of construction, a parish community center including a gym, meeting rooms and stage was completed in August 2008. In July 2009, Father James Ludwikoski was appointed as pastor. In response to many young families, our first preschool opened in August 2012 with 35 students in its 3 levels for 3 and 4 year olds and pre-K.
Today Good Shepherd serves 1775 families. A dedicated pastoral team and school staff, a Finance Council, a Pastoral Advisory Council with seven pastoral councils, a School Advisory Board and lay ministers and generous volunteers continue to meet the various needs of a vital Good Shepherd Faith Community.
Its highly-acclaimed school has 380 students in preschool – 8th grade. Our rich tradition of hospitality and formation continue to this day with innovative religious formation programs, inspiring adult formation including days of reflection, missions and a variety of classes and socials i.e. picnics, festivals and fish frys. The parish legacy of small faith communities has evolved from the original mini-parishes and an active outreach program to the poor and vulnerable is a hallmark of the community as is its outreach to our brothers and sisters in the Kansas City urban core and at El Buen Pastor, our sister parish in El Salvador.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, in consultation with the priests of the archdiocese, approved a comprehensive plan for ministering to the growing Hispanic community in the Johnson County area. A demographic survey showed that a large number of Hispanics lived within the Good Shepherd boundaries, and so, Good Shepherd was identified as the third of three Hispanic Ministry centers in Johnson County. In July of 2015, Fr. Oswaldo Sandoval was assigned to the parish as a half-time Associate Pastor and as the Director of Hispanic Ministries in Johnson County. As a Hispanic Ministry Center, Good Shepherd provides a faith community for Hispanics in this area of Johnson County. Good Shepherd has provided an open and welcoming community for our new members. This new endeavor will be a journey full of surprises as we grow together in meeting the needs of our growing church. As we look to the future of our parish, we look forward to working, praying, and growing together as one church.
1976 = 350 families
1982 = 860 families
1985 = 1,000 families
1999 = 1,400 families
2008 = 1,700 families
2012 = 1,775 families
2017 = 1,775 families