Fr Michael Roach - Pastor
Fr. Mike Roach was appointed pastor of St. James, on November 1, 2011. He is a native of the Kansas City area—born and raised in Liberty, Missouri, where he currently serves as Pastor of St. James Church, Liberty.
Fr. Mike was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 1981, and has served in several parishes throughout the diocese, including St. James on 39th and Troost and now St. James of Liberty.
Fr. Mike welcomes all to this vibrant community of St. James, and know that your gifts and talents are welcome to help us continue to spread the message of the Gospel.
Fr. Michael Volkmer - Senior Priest in Residence
Fr. Michael Volkmer, C.PP.S. was appointed Senior Priest in Residence of St. James on July 1, 2019. He was born Dec. 10, 1939 in Nebraska City, NE. He studied theology at St. Charles Seminary in Carthagena, Ohio, and was ordained a priest of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood on June 1, 1968, at St. Charles by Auxiliary Bishop Edward McCarthy. After ordination, Fr. Michael taught at Precious Blood Seminary in Liberty, Mo., for eight years.
He then moved into pastoral ministry, serving at St. Mary Parish in Centerville from 1976-82. He served at parishes in Wisconsin and Missouri before returning to the diocese in 2007 to serve as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Albia Iowa. When he turned 75 in 2015, he was relieved of this assignment in accord with diocesan policy for priests serving beyond their 75th birthdays. He then served as administrator of the Albia parish with all the rights and duties of pastor.
In July 2019, Fr. Michael moved to Liberty MO where he resides at the Missionaries of the Precious Blood Provincial Center.
Asked about his ministry, Fr. Michael said “I would say that I love my priesthood and parochial ministry. The best part of my priesthood has been interacting with the people of the five parishes that I have served, celebrating the sacraments, and working with the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).”
Deacon Charles "Chuck" Koesterer - Deacon
Deacon Charles Koesterer and his family have been members of St. James since 1988. Deacon Chuck was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 2011.
Deacon Chuck has served the St. James Community since his Ordination. As a permanent Deacon, he is able to baptize, witness weddings, preside at funerals and public prayer. He leads a faith sharing group on Saturday mornings in the school library.
Let’s Meet Deacon Chuck
Jim Newell - Operations Manager
Jim Newell is Operations Manager of St. James. He began his career with The Shell Oil company working for them 20 years, primarily in procurement, at 7 operating locations across the country. He then went on to Diamond Shamrock in Cleveland as raw materials Manager, then became Vice President of Operations for Fermenta Animal Health Co in Painsville, Ohio and then became Regional Vice President of Operations of Novacare in Kansas City until his retirement in 2000.
Seven years later in 2008, Fr. Tom asked Jim to help finish the last school expansion at St. James. 7 years later, he is still faithfully serving now under Fr. Mike. Jim handles business activities, procurement, facilities, maintenance and custodial efforts, and security. He also handles coordination of St. James' capital campaign in conjunction with the Master Plan for St. James and any construction activities.
Jim says, "The opportunity to give back a bit to my church makes this job something special." Mary and Jim have a daughter and 3 sons who they are very proud of and they have blessed with 8 very hungry grandchildren.
Give Jim a call if we in any way can make St. James a more welcoming experience for you and your family.
To Contact Jim Newell 781-4343 x204 firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny Baker - Director of Music and Liturgy
Daniel A. Baker joined the St. James Parish staff in July of 2007, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. Danny grew up just south of Liberty in Raytown. Following high school, he studied music at Northwest Missouri State University. There, his primary focus was vocal performance and piano. During his time at NWMSU Danny served as a student accompanist in 5 voice studios giving him wonderful exposure to a wide variety of styles and methods of teaching voice.
In the summer of 2001 Danny was hired as a staff accompanist at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, MI. There he accompanied for private vocal studies, musical theatre performance classes and the concerto festival. Upon his return home, Danny accepted a position at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Maryville, MO as K-8 General Music Teacher. The following year he became the Music Director for the church. When learning of his father’s cancer diagnoses, Danny returned home and became the staff accompanist at his alma mater, Raytown South High School from 2006-2007. It only took one year for Danny to truly miss and realize his call to music ministry.
As a singer and pianist, Danny has performed numerous concerts, recitals, fundraisers and musical theatre shows. For the past 4 years Danny has been the accompanist for the Liberty Community Chorus, a mixed non-auditioned chorus of 60-80 singers here in Liberty, MO. Danny also maintains a private voice and piano studio where he teaches students of all ages!
Since his time at St. James, we’ve seen our Music Ministry flourish. He directs the Parish Choir, Youth Choir, The Music Group, Contemporary Youth Ensemble, The Handbell Choir, and our Youth String Orchestra. Danny also over see’s and coordinates every Mass at St. James and those ministries involved. Danny is humbled to be a member of this amazing parish time and is honored to serve the St. James community.
As the Director of Music and Liturgy, Danny’s job encompasses more than the Music Ministries, he also oversees Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Sacristans, Lectors, Ushers and Art & Environment.
Lori Tajchman - Director of Religious Education
The children of St. James families know her as Miss Lori, and recognize her best when she is singing and dancing with them at VBS and at weekly Religious Education gatherings. Miss Lori grew up in Liberty, grew to love a cappella hymn singing at church, and once upon a time sang in Liberty's High School Concert Choir. As an adult, she has cantored and sung with the choirs of both Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Shawnee, Kansas, and St. James.
As a mother of three children, she pulled from her own mother's repertoire of lullabies and nursery rhymes to soothe and inspire her own children with the love of music. Miss Lori enjoyed three years teaching Kindermusik prior to joining the St. James staff. Blessed with God's musical gifts and a love for children, she combined her talents with sacred music, lullabies and nursery rhymes to create and offer our PB&J program, a Catholic faith formation program taught through song and dance for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and their caregivers.
She has taught this wonderfully successful program since 2012! Miss Lori feels most blessed to have first shared her love of music with her own children, and now even more so to share that love with the children of St. James! Music has truly blessed Miss Lori's life, and she wishes the same for you and your children!
To Contact Lori Tajchman 781-4343 x 208
Jennifer Scanlon-Smith - School Principal
Jennifer Scanlon-Smith became the principal of St. James Catholic School in July of 2015. She has lived in the Kansas City metro area her entire life and attended Notre Dame de Sion High School. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelors of Science degree in Education and received a Masters degree in School Leadership from Baker University.
Jennifer began her educational career nineteen years ago as a 2nd grade teacher in the Kansas City Missouri Public Schools; then taught at a local charter school and have experience teaching children ages 6 weeks - through fifth grade. Prior to coming to St. James School, she was the principal at Christ the King and St. Regis Schools for the past nine years.
Jennifer is married to Adrian and they have a four year old daughter Kennedy who is excited to start Pre-K here at St. James in August.
To Contact Jennifer Scanlon-Smith - 816-781-4428 x213.
Daryl Sweetland - Office Manager
Daryl Ann Sweetland, a St. James parishioner since moving to Liberty in 1980, has been a part of the parish office staff since 1991, beginning in the fall when her three daughters were all in grade school. It has been a wonderful position for Daryl as it gave her the opportunity to put her daughters first while growing up and still be committed to her job, which also is a passion for her.
You may well know Daryl as the person you greet when entering the parish office or answering the office phone; her love for St. James carries over into the people of St. James. She has been part of the original Stephen Ministry Leadership Team as well as Office Secretary, Receptionist, Calendar Scheduler, and anything else that may come into the busy day of our parish. She presently serves as Office Manager, is part of the Hope Gift Card Team and is a member of the Leadership Team for our present Capitol Campaign.
Daryl's love for church, family and life carry over into her work. Because she considers the support of St. James as a tremendous life-changing blessing, it is only natural that she strives to give back and pay forward God's goodness.
Katie Klassen - Finance Manager
Katie Klassen grew up in a large Catholic family – a home full of lots of love, family and faith. Along with strong Catholic family and community, she had wonderful pastors growing up and had 13 years of Catholic education. She is a graduate of NWMSU.
She is from the Kansas City metro area and has been active in parishes throughout her life. She was born into Holy Trinity Parish in the Northeast area of Kansas City. When it closed, she and her family became members of St. Raphael’s Parish in Gracemore. When that parish closed they became members of St. James - Liberty.
Over the years, she has served her parishes through many ministries: Parish Council, Finance, and Stewardship committees; Lector, Eucharistic Minister, sacristan, choir; Fund raisers, clothing drives, food pantry, food kitchen, Youth and Prayer Shawl ministries; Mission trips to Guatemala.
Katie joined the St. James staff as Finance Manager. in fall of 2011. She was a Buyer with Mercantile Stores for 14 years and a General Manager /Buyer for a Hallmark chain for 9 years. She took time to be with her Mom for a few years before stepping into her role at St. James.
Katie has been married 27 years and they have two children who have 15 years of Catholic education and are both currently attending her alma mater NWMSU.
Contact Katie - 816-781-4343 x220
Cecilia Richardson - Pastoral Associate
Cecilia Richardson has been involved in catechetical ministry here at St James since 1997, when Fran Riley, the previous DRE, asked her to be a hall monitor for the Sunday morning RE program. That one day of hall duty segued into co-teaching a 4th grade class. After a few years of teaching 4th grade, Fran asked her to take over the RE program so that Fran could concentrate on evangelization. When Fran became ill, Fr. Joe Miller asked Cecilia to step in as DRE in 2004.
In the 17 years since she first started as a volunteer, St James has grown and changed tremendously. The RE program has more than doubled in size, has expanded to 2 sessions and has dramatically increased the number of adult and teen volunteers involved in this very rewarding ministry. In addition to the RE program, Cecilia also directs our sacrament preparation program for Baptism, First Reconciliation and First Communion, and along with Miss Lori, develops programs for parents and their young children.
Cecilia grew up all over the world as an Army brat, but primarily lived in Springfield. She attended Catholic elementary, high school and college. She is thrilled that her youngest daughter is now attending Rockhurst, the university that she once attended. (Go Hawks!) She’s been married to her husband, Jim, for 30 years this year, and together they have 5 children—James, Cynthia, Sarah, Lisa & Emily.
While her primary work experience was in the financial industry, she left the work force to be a stay-at-home Mom to Sarah, Lisa & Emily. During that time, she became highly involved in Mommy & Me, the PTA at Alexander Doniphan, and the PTAs at South Valley Middle, Junior High, and the Liberty PTA Council. For many years, she was a substitute teacher for the Liberty Public School system. The knowledge and experience gained in working with young children and their families was a good preparation for working with the families of St James. She loves the time spent here in working with the children, their families and our wonderfully gifted group of volunteers.
Denise Whelan - Youth Director
Denise Whelan joined our staff in January 2017. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Columbia where she had her youth ministry internship. She has extensive experience in youth ministry and has worked with different youth groups over the past several years, most recently at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Palmyra, MO.
She has been on and led many different mission trips, including living in Guatemala for four months. She also has an in-depth background in theater.
Denise loves working with teens and brings her energy and enthusiasm for youth ministry into everything she does. Her favorite quote is, "One person may not be able to change the world, but YOU can change the world for one person".
Contact Denise Whelan - 781-4343 x210
Sandra Gagnon - Director of Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
Sandra Gagnon became a Catholic and Parishioner of St. James in 1995. Prior to joining the St. James family, Sandy attended Liberty Christian Church. She began volunteering with the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), that same year, under the leadership of Ann Tucker. She became the director of RCIA in 1997 and continues in that position to the present. She says that for her, St. James is home. Her children, grandchildren, and she have celebrated both joy and sorrow with our St James family. There have been baptisms, confirmations, funerals, weddings, reconciliation, ordinations, anointing of the sick, sharing the Eucharist, and one very special wedding. She met and married her beloved Gene at St. James, and although their earthly life together was brief, he remains very much a part of her and her ministry. Together they had the privilege of journeying with many catechumens and candidates, and witnessing their joy upon reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. They also witnessed many of their weddings, birth of their children, and continuing growth in the faith. Gene’s spirit continues to keep her focused on opening her heart, and saying “Yes” to Jesus, wherever that yes leads her.
Sandy holds a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from the University of Loyola – New Orleans. She taught in the Life and Physical Science Departments, at Penn Valley Community College, for nearly 30 years. She also did research and taught at Kansas University Medical Center and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. However, she confesses she has been a loyal MU Tiger since she was very young, and finally fulfilled a long time goal when she attended MU-Columbia and received her doctorate in 1990. She says, “I was a bit slower than many people in reaching this goal, but I postponed my education to live in Germany, and to raise three children, Julie, Kurt, and Ross. And as a Gagnon I am blessed with three additional children, Jim, John, and David, and together Gene and I shared 12 beautiful grandchildren.”
Sandy lived in Liberty from 1974 until 2011, when she and her husband built and settled into their new home, on a small acreage two miles east of Paradise, MO.
Contact Sandy Gagnon - 781-4343 x200 email@example.com