The Rockhurst High School National Alumni Association Executive Committee will honor Dr. Kevin J. Cummings ’73 as its 2023 Alumnus of the Year. Cummings will accept the award during the school’s Homecoming Mass on September 26, 2023. He will also be recognized at the Alumni Reunion celebration on September 8, and at the Fr. Mario Puricelli, SJ, Alumni Spaghetti Dinner on Nov. 2.
Cummings is described as a husband, father, dentist, and deacon who exemplifies Jesuit ideals through his service to others and strong moral and ethical values.
He was fifth of seven sons to Rosemarie and Robert E. Cummings '41, who instilled in them a commitment to God, a fierce loyalty to family, and to help others whenever possible.
Cummings and his wife of 46 years, Mary, raised their five children (Dr. Matthew '99, Dr. Chris '02, Sean '04, Scott '04, and Jenny, a St. Teresa's Academy alumna) to be respectful, serve others, and to put faith into action every day.
Dr. Cummings does this by example. He has been practicing as a dentist for the last 37 years and was the team dentist for the Kansas City Chiefs for 25 years. But he also wanted to give back to the community and make dental care available for all. Dr. Cummings founded a dental clinic at Operation Breakthrough and scheduled himself as the solo dental provider there monthly for over ten years. He believed that dental care was a vital health service, and the on-site dental clinic continues to thrive after he was able to solidify permanent dental coverage.
He has also used his dental profession to assist on multiple mission trips, providing dental care to communities in Guatemala, Panama City, Jamaica, Nepal, and Madagascar. Dr. Cummings' instinct to help others with no intention of receiving recognition directly shifted the next phase of his life, as his heart was leading him from dentistry to walking a closer path with God.
He was ordained a deacon in the Catholic Church in 2011, and has selflessly cared for others, including through baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Cummings also provides communion service to incarcerated individuals at the Kansas City Correctional Center.
He was also called to start The Gabriel Project KC, a ministry aiding pregnant women in need, and then St. Mary's Home for Mothers. This serves as a residence for up to 15 pregnant, homeless adult women and their children in the Greater Kansas City Metro Area. Cummings identified a support system of benefactors and organizied volunteers and staff, while raising more than $3 million to complete renovations of the St. Mary's property, which is able to offer a staff of a licensed therapist, social workers, and three religious sisters.
"This honor might allow me to gain support for my most challenging ministry - that of providing housing for women who are pregnant and homeless. With the help of some Rockhurst classmates, we opened St. Mary's Home for Mothers," remarked Cummings. "Rockhurst instilled not only the importance of serving others, but having a preferential desire to walk with the most vulnerable."
Cummings' actions have a profound effect on those around him.
"Our father embodies a 'man for others', and his best lessons were not his words, but his countless lessons of love, service, and respect of others," wrote his children. "His passion is 'what's next' and how can I help more people and labor for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam - for the greater glory of God."
The Alumnus of the Year Award is named for the Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, who was Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983. Fr. Arrupe coined the phrase “men for others” as a challenge to alumni of Jesuit institutions to change the world with devotion and service to mankind. Award recipients serve as role models for the entire Rockhurst High School community, particularly its students.
Past honorees include:
2022 - Peter B. Browne '85
2021 – Ray D. Evans ’78
2020 – Allen K. Roberson ’84
2019 – M. James Van Dyke ’72
2018 – Jonathan R. Haden ’75
2017 – Thomas A. McDonnell ’62
2016 – Michael J. Brown ’75
2015 – William H. Dunn ’40
2014 – John G. Houlehan ’60
2013 – Rev. Jeffrey P. Putthoff, SJ ’83
2012 – David M. Knopke ’66
2011 – M. Rev. Geo. K. Fitzsimons, DD ’45
2010 – Thomas H. Norman ’59
2009 – Timothy P. O’Connor, PharmaD. ’74
2008 – James C. Wirken ’62
2007 – Raymond W. Sonnenberg ’65
2006 – Timothy M. Trabon ’69
2005 – Michael J. Van Dyke ’66
2004 – Robert E. Miller ’46
2003 – Mark J. Henke ’72
2002 – William J. McGraw ’44