You are a priest forever...

10 to be ordained to the priesthood; 10 to the transitional diaconate
Bishop Carl A. Kemme will ordain 10 men to the priesthood and 10 to the transitional diaconate in the next two weeks. It is one of the largest classes of ordinandi in decades for the Diocese of Wichita.
Ten seminarians will be ordained to the transitional diaconate at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20, at Church of the Magdalen in Wichita. The venue was changed to Magdalen from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception because of the number to be ordained and its larger capacity.
The ordination to the priesthood of the 10 deacons will take place at 10 a.m. the next week, Saturday, May 27.
Here are the responses to questions emailed by the Catholic Advance to the 20 men to be ordained.

Deacon Andrew Bergkamp
The Rev. Mr. Andrew Bergkamp said he is surprised as how quickly his seminary formation has gone.
“But at the same time I am very excited that ordination is finally just around the corner,” he said. “I am most looking forward to being able to offer the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Mass to the people of our diocese.”
He is the son of Ned and Teresa Bergkamp, of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Garden Plain.

Deacon J.D. Betzen
Deacon J.D. Betzen answered that while priestly formation never really ends, he will be happy to return to the people of the diocese.
Betzen, the son of John and Barbara Betzen, members of St. Mary Parish in Derby, said he was excited to find out where Bishop Kemme would send him for his first assignment because of how much he enjoyed his assignment as a deacon at Holy Name Parish in Coffeyville.
“I most look forward to celebrating the sacraments regularly for the people of my new parish assignment,” he said. “The Sacrament of Confession has played a significant role in my spiritual life, so I am excited to be able to offer its graces to others as a priest, as well. It will also be great to learn from my new pastor and to engage in the priestly fraternity in the diocese.”

Deacon Jacob Carlin
Deacon Jacob Carlin, the son of Keith and Ann Carlin of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Wichita, said he is humbled and grateful that God has called him to serve as a priest.
“When I first entered seminary I thought about priesthood primarily in regards to the ‘no’ – the things I would be giving up,” he wrote. “But now, I think of priesthood and this call in terms of a ‘yes.’ I look at it as saying yes to serving God with an undivided heart, yes to radical availability to his people, and yes to an intentional prayer life on behalf of those I serve.”
Deacon Carlin said he is excited to be ordained with nine classmates who are also his friends. “We have been through this journey together and I think that we will work well together for years to come.”
He also expressed a deep gratitude for his parents, siblings, family, friends, mentors, and all those who have supported him and helped him to realize God’s plan for him.
“God has blessed me in so many ways, I now give my life back to him,” he added.

Deacon Kyle Dugan
Deacon Kyle Dugan, the son of Glenn and Kelly Dugan of Holy Spirit Parish in Goddard, said the thought of gratefulness fills him as he ponders his priestly ordination.
He is grateful for his education, for the friendships that have developed, with the support his family, and “most importantly I feel grateful to God who continues to bestow his grace and gifts on me in so many ways,” he said.
“We’re about to experience a big change in our lives,” Deacon Dugan said. “The more we trust that whatever happens next is God’s gift to us, the better we will be.”
He added that he is looking forward to being accepted into a loving parish community. “The seminary has taught me all they can about how to be a priest, now I look forward to the parish teaching me what school can never teach.”

Deacon Adam Grelinger
The Rev. Mr. Adam Grelinger said he is excited about his ordination, and that although one can never be fully prepared for the priesthood, he believes the seminary has prepared him as much as it can.
“As for the rest, we will have to trust in the Lord,” he said.
Deacon Grelinger, the son of Bart and Melissa Grelinger, members of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Wichita, said he is looking forward to being ordained with nine friends, “Who I know will be there for me when I need advice and with whom it will be a joy to serve the diocese with.”
He added that seminarians do get some “field experience” as seminarians and deacons, “but we are still very limited and it can feel like running on a hamster wheel.”
Deacon Grelinger said he is looking forward to getting out of school and settling into the life of a parish, getting to know families, and helping out in whatever ways he can. “What that entails, I don’t fully know yet. I do know that it will be a true joy to be able to celebrate the sacraments for the people of the diocese.”

Deacon Ed Herzog
The Rev. Mr. Ed Herzog, the son of Michael and Michaleen Herzog, of St. Anne Parish in Wichita, said he finds it hard to believe that his six years of seminary formation is coming to an end.
“Back in 2011, when I entered the seminary, ordination seemed like it was so far off, almost like it would never come. And now here I am in the final weeks of preparation for the priesthood,” he wrote.
“Needless to say I am very excited to be ordained, but most of all I am grateful to be a part of the Diocese of Wichita being that I am originally from outside the diocese.”
Deacon Herzog said he is excited to be a part of the historic ordination of 10 men to the priesthood and 10 men to the diaconate. “The fact that I get to be a part of such a great diocese with so much opportunity and promise on the horizon is exciting and humbling to say the least!”
In addition to celebrating the sacraments, he is looking forward to getting to work in a parish and engaging in pastoral ministry.
“For the last six years the people of the diocese have invested a lot of time and money into my formation, and for that I will be forever grateful,” Deacon Herzog said, “but now I am eager to share what I have learned and help bring the people of our great diocese closer to our Lord. I feel like I am finally able to do what the Lord put me on this planet to do, and that is to serve the people of God as a priest that continues to make Jesus Christ present in the world today.”

Deacon Drew Hoffman
The Rev. Mr. Drew Hoffman said as his ordination nears, he is “tremendously grateful” for the love, support and prayers of the many people who assisted him during his seminary studies.
“For the past six years I have received letters from students, notes of support from Serrans, and promises of prayers from people throughout the diocese. We are so blessed in Wichita to have this community, and I will always be grateful for that,” he said.
That support was an impetus to work and study hard in the seminary, Deacon Hoffman said.
“Now, on the verge of returning to the diocese as a priest, I am ecstatic about the opportunity to return the blessings that have been poured out on me by the people of God.” He added that he is looking forward to celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.
“The powerful experience of confession with so many of the priests of the Diocese of Wichita was a big reason I joined the seminary, and I am thrilled to be able to take up that mantle and be a mediator of God’s mercy and grace for people.”
Deacon Hoffman, the son of Mark and Sue Hoffman, of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita, said he will be happy to be back in the Diocese of Wichita after six years of seminary study.
“I cannot wait to serve the people who raised me up in Wichita – now as a priest of God,” he said. “One of the most enticing parts about the priesthood for me is the opportunity to be in peoples’ lives, during good times and bad, at the beginning of life, and at the end. The priest as a spiritual father to the faithful is a tremendous gift in our church, and I am so excited about the possibility of taking up that responsibility!”

Deacon Clay Kimbro
The Rev. Mr. Clay Kimbro said he was grateful for the support of the people of the diocese during the last seven years and that he understood many sacrifices have been made for him to be able to receive the best formation possible in the seminary.
“Now comes the investment so many have made as 10 new priests will be at the service of the people in the Diocese of Wichita,” he said. “I am filled with gratitude and joy for the many people who have helped me along this journey. There is truly no place like home, and I cannot wait to return home to serve the people of God.”
Deacon Kimbro, the son of Kim and Kari Kimbro, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Colwich, said even after so many years of seminary training he understands that nothing can completely prepare him for the priesthood.
“The fact that when I wake up one morning in May I will not be able to forgive sins, or celebrate the Mass – and at the end of that day I will be able to do those things, and people will call me “Father,” and place all their trust in me, fills me awe and wonder.”
He said he is eager to learn about his first assignment so that he can finally put faces and names to the people for whom he has prayed so much during his preparation.
“I am simply excited to finally be who I was made to be,” he said.

Deacon Andrew Labenz
The Rev. Mr. Andrew Labenz, the son of Tyler and Valerie Labenz of Church of the Holy Cross in Hutchinson, said as he nears his ordination he is thankful to Almighty God for his vocation.
“How truly humbling and awe-inspiring it is to be called to be a priest of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Deacon Labenz said he is also grateful for the support he has received from Bishop Carl A. Kemme, the priests of the diocese, his family, his parish, and the diocese as a whole.
“Please continue to pray for me that I will be a holy priest who is daily conformed to the priestly heart of Jesus Christ!” he said.
“Words cannot capture how excited I am to celebrate the Holy Mass where I will be united with Christ as both priest and victim,” Deacon Labenz said. “I am also looking forward to being a part of a parish community where I can both learn from my future pastor and become a spiritual father to the people God has called me to serve.”

Deacon Jorge Lopez
The Rev. Mr. Jorge Lopez said as his ordination to the priesthood nears, he is filled with gratitude to God for his vocation, and to his family for their unconditional love, prayers, and support.
Deacon Lopez, the son of Jesus and Maria (del Carmen) Lopez, said, “I have relished the reassurance that I am not alone on this journey. God has gifted me by introducing many great people to me throughout the diocese, for whom I am so thankful for their support. I know that I will have the same support as a priest.”
He is looking forward to celebrating the sacraments and working with the people of the diocese “by putting to practice everything I have learned in seminary, most importantly by loving, serving, and walking with them in our journey of faith.”

Michael Brungardt
Michael Brungardt, the son of Jerry and Cas Brungardt, members of Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, said after all the years of seminary study his first thought as his ordination to the transitional diaconate nears is “gratitude.”
“Everything that I have received during these years preparing for ordained ministry in the Diocese of Wichita has been a gift,” he said. “Call me unoriginal, but I think it is the result of the stewardship way of life we lead. It’s about the grateful response we make in response to the recognition of all that we have been given.”
Brungardt said his second thought is “wonder.”
“Looking back on the five years I have spent in seminary, the many years before that I spent discerning whether or not to go to seminary, and even the years before that, I constantly find myself in a state of wonder and awe about how the Lord was able to get me where I am today,” he said.
Brungardt added that he has come to realize that he is only at the beginning of many years of service to the good people of the Diocese of Wichita.
“That he has placed such a joyful path before me, such a beautiful pilgrimage to walk, is indeed something that fills me with wonder,” he said.
Brungardt said he is looking forward to sharing all he has received. “As a deacon I look forward most to preaching, baptizing, preparing couples for marriage, witnessing marriages, and visiting the sick…I look forward to be able to spend my first three months as a deacon.”
Although being in a seminary has often kept Jim away from the diocese for almost eight months out of the year, he said, “I never tire of longing for the day I will return to Wichita for full time ministry.”

Garrett Burns
Garrett Burns, the son of Pat and Jackie Burns, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said he is humbled and grateful to God for his vocation.
Looking back, he said, he is in awe and full of gratitude for the love, prayers, and support of his family, friends, and everyone across the diocese.
“I have a burning desire to lay down my life for the Church in love, but I realize that I have this love for the people of God only because you loved me first,” he said.
Burns said he is looking forward to celebrating baptisms and delivering homilies.
“Oftentimes, I catch myself daydreaming in class as I ponder creative ways to share the Gospel through my preaching,” he said. “Hopefully my professors do not notice!”
Burns said he is looking forward to becoming a part of the lives of the people of the diocese. “When at seminary, I often feel distant and disconnected from the daily lives of those that I am called to serve. My ministry as deacon will provide unique chances to learn from you, to pray with you, and to walk next to you on the journey of faith.”

Isaac Coulter
Isaac Coulter, the son of Bryan and Jodi Coulter of Church of the Resurrection in Wichita, said a lyric by the rock band Foo Fighters kept coming to mind as he pondered his ordination: “Mine is yours and yours is mine/ I will sacrifice/ In your honor/ I would die tonight/ For you to feel alive.”
He said seminary is long and he has yearned to give himself completely to the sacramental commitment of ordination.
“By ordination to the diaconate, I will go deeper into that mystery,” Coulter said. “A new outpouring of the Holy Spirit by Bishop Kemme’s prayer sounds pretty cool too.”
He is eager to serve the people of the Diocese of Wichita as a deacon, he said, quoting 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “I have longed to give you the Gospel, and more than that, to give you my very life; you have become very dear to me.”

Matt Davied
Matt Davied said his immediate thought as he looks ahead is: “Finally, it’s here!”
Davied, the son of Resurrection parishioners Greg and Kelly Davied, said he will finally be able to fulfill the reason he left for the seminary, to promise to give himself to the people of the diocese in celibacy, prayer, and obedience.
“Yet, I also look back at all this formation, and am grateful for all the formation I’ve been through, because not only is ordination finally here, but I feel ready to take it on. I am not in seminary to be here forever, but to be out in the parish, and that begins this summer.”
He said a deacon is ordained to serve, to help the pastor in various capacities.
“But this particularly includes celebrating the sacraments of baptism and marriage, and I am looking forward to this, certainly,” Davied said. “These are very joyful sacraments to celebrate, and it is a blessing for a deacon to have the ability to take part in the beginning of a Christian’s sacramental life, and the beginning of a man and woman’s vocation together.”
Davied said he is most excited to become a minister of the Word. “A deacon proclaims the Gospel and is able to preach the homily. In these duties, the deacon does not simply facilitate bringing Christ into the world, but speaks Him to the people,” he said. “It is very humbling to be a minister of the Word, and very exciting.”

Nic Jurgensmeyer
Nic Jurgensmeyer, the son of Terry and Debbie Jurgensmeyer, members of St. Joseph Parish in Baxter Springs, said he is excited to serve the people of the diocese. “I know this is what God is calling me to do and that gives me a great peace.”
He added that he is looking forward to serving the people as a transitional deacon. “I am also excited to see the different ways in which God will work through me after ordination.”

Michael Kerschen
Michael Kerschen, the son of Martin and Lila Kerschen, members of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Garden Plain, said his upcoming ordination feels like the culminating moment of everything he has been doing.
“Prayer, study, relationships, parish assignments, and all the rest being offered in promises and consecration to a lifelong commitment to ordained ministry of the church,” he said. “It’s exciting and fearful!”
Kerschen added that he is a little nervous about the idea of giving a homily, “but it excites me more than any other official function of a deacon,” he said.

Christopher Martin
Christopher Martin, the son of Don and Shirley Grimm, members of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Goddard, said he is humbled and honored to be considered for ordination.
“The gifts that I have been given by God will now be put to a better use than anything that I would have done with them before entering the seminary,” he said. “It is a great joy to believe in God’s plan for you. I fully trust that whatever task God will give me, he will be with me along the way.”
He said he is looking forward to serving the people of God to a greater extent after his ordination.
“I have always been a person who loves to be ‘in the trenches’ with the people,” Martin said. “Giving homilies, serving at Mass as a deacon, and teaching others about how much Christ loves them as his children are just a few of the things that I will be able to do more fully after ordination. I trust that God will make me an instrument that will bring others closer to himself.”

James Schibi
James Schibi, the son of Vince and Mary Schibi of St. Patrick Parish in Parsons, said after five and a half years of seminary he’s excited about his ordination and happy that God called him to his sacred vocation.
“Throughout these years I have reflected on my own unworthiness and inadequacies in regards to this calling, but through my experience of trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit I have gained a certain peace in these last few weeks before my ordination,” he said. “I know that it is only through Jesus Christ that I am able to be in this position and am eternally grateful for His and His mother’s guidance and intercession along the way.”
Schibi said he is looking forward to giving back to the people as a deacon and in the future as a priest.
“I know I have much more to learn and this is a great learning opportunity for my future priesthood God willing. I am filled with excitement and joy as I begin this part of my life and especially to help people become closer to Christ and his church,” he said.

Todd Shepherd
Todd Shepherd said he is ready, after seven years of preparation, to officially give himself to Christ and his people to build up the church.
“All vocations are geared towards gift of self. As St. Francis of Assisi says, ‘In giving we receive,’” he said. “It is precisely in giving ourselves to God and others that we find true fulfillment. My life is a gift from God and I firmly believe this is the most fulfilling way I am supposed to live my life in gratitude for that gift.”
Shepherd, the son of Thomas and Sheila Shepherd, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said he is looking forward to serving in a parish this summer.
“All of the aspects of seminary formation are geared towards parish ministry,” he said.
“Throughout my years of seminary I have experienced little tastes of parish ministry that have only made me hunger for more. After seven years of these little tastes – learning, discussing and dreaming about parish ministry, I’m excited to finally jump in and be at a parish full-time in order to apply, in a more real way, everything I have learned so as to impact others and hopefully get them closer to life’s goal: heaven.”

Derek Thome
Derek Thome, the son of Howard and Jean Thome, members of St. John Parish in Clonmel, said the closer he gets to ordination the more he realizes his inadequacies.
“Ordination, then, is that recognition of God’s grace to configure my life, even with its imperfections, towards its ultimate beauty, my given vocation,” he said. “Ordination is not the completion, but the beginning of a more perfect configuration to the life of Christ, in service as a deacon, and as priest and victim in the priesthood.”
He said his ordination is a great moment of anticipation, as he is completing his tenth year of college.
“It is with great joy that God’s will is manifested in such a permanent way,” Thome said. “It is this moment in my life where true peace, knowledge that I belong entirely to God, is not only confirmed, but is sealed by the sacramental character of the sacrament.”
He is looking forward to giving himself, he said.
“For a priest, or even a deacon, this is visible in his commitment to prayer for the people, his availability to the faithful through his living out of celibacy, and his exercise of sacramental responsibilities and privileges,” Thome said. “I look forward to proclaiming the Word of God, preaching the Gospel message and inviting people to a deeper relationship with Christ, baptizing children, and witnessing marriages.”