Seven priests celebrating jubilee milestones were honored at the Mass of Chrism Tuesday, March 27, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
They were asked by email to respond to the question: “How has the priesthood made me who I am?” Here are their replies.

Father Michael J. Schemm
Father Michael J. Schemm, pastor of St. James Parish in Augusta, said he is filled with gratitude in the 25th year of the priesthood.
“As I was told in the seminary, and as I have realized over the years, a man does not choose the priesthood for himself,” he said. “God the Father calls a man to the vocation and fills him with the grace necessary to live out that call.”
Fr. Schemm said he senses that grace every day as he plans his work. “I wonder how it will all get done. Many days there is even more work as the phone rings with someone in the hospital, or someone dying, or another couple that needs to be prepared for the Sacrament of Matrimony. It is only by the grace of God that the work that he wants me to accomplish is brought to completion.”
He said he is grateful for God’s trust in him to minister as a priest of the church united to the High Priest, Jesus Christ. “The priesthood is a pure gift and as I unite myself to the gift ‘in persona Christi,’ as St. Paul says, it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me.”

Father Paul Oborny
Father Paul Oborny, who retired in 2006, said it was by the grace of the Holy Spirit he became a priest in 1963 through the “sacred hands” of Bishop Leo Byrne.
“At my first assignment to St. Anne’s Church in Wichita I started learning what it means to be a parish priest,” he said. “The people of the church helped to mold me into being a parish priest – a pastor. I thank God, my family and everyone else who helped form me into who I am today.”

Father Jerry Beat
Father Jerry Beat, who retired in 2010, looked back to the early 1970s for his defining moment in his priesthood.
“The experience that has had the greatest impact on my priestly ministry is the dozen years serving in our diocesan mission in Venezuela,” he said.
“That has expanded my vision and heart to serve the wider church and our immigrants with greater compassion. My facility with the Spanish language and participation with the Cursillo Movement in Barquisimeto has greatly directed my ministry since returning to the diocese. It continues to be a glorious life journey.”

Father Andy Kuykendall
While pondering and praying about how he would answer a question posed by the Catholic Advance, Father Andy Kuykendall said he believes God suggested: “Show them your heart.”
In addition to that, he said, he would also mention how generous, loving, and gracious God has been to him.
Since his ordination 40 years ago, any good word or action on his part, Father Kuykendall said, has not been because of him but because of God’s generosity.
“As most know, I usually get up early in the morning to pray. I want to give God the best time of my day, when I am least distracted and most focused – if I am not too exhausted from the previous day,” he said.
“Each morning I sit and pray this prayer of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests: ‘I love you Lord, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely loveable God, and I would rather die loving you, than without loving you. I love you Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally. My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.’”
Fr. Kuykendall, chaplain of the Catholic Care Center and Priest Retirement Center, says he prays the prayer throughout the day “because I know how frail I can be at times, how selfish I can feel and act towards others, and how unlike the ‘foot washer priest’ I have been called to and desire to be.”
He adds that he prays frequently because it’s easy to forget that he is to model his life on the cross. “When I remember to keep the cross central, I discover its sweetness and its joy. I thank the people of God for the gift of their lives for touching and transforming mine.”
Fr. Kuykendall said he is thankful to the faithful for allowing him to celebrate Mass, to give them Holy Communion, and to hear their confessions.
“I thank you for allowing me to serve you!” he said. “And most of all, I thank the people of God for allowing me to fall in love with them.”
He closed by adding: “I always sign off with ‘I Love You!’”

Father Wayne L. Schmid
Father Wayne L. Schmid said his 50 years of ministry is one of affirmation to the statement: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
As early as he can remember, he said, the idea of the priesthood was always present in his mind, likely because of parish priests he knew.
“I was always involved in parish functions,” he said. “In those days we walked everywhere and so every time I passed our parish church, I would stop for a visit with God.”
Fr. Schmid, who retired in 2011, added that he and his sister would attend a 6:30 a.m. Mass most days.
“However, I must say that the reality of my becoming a priest and my journey to the present is a God thing,” he wrote.
“In each step of my life’s journey I have personally experienced the hand and gift of God. The numerous events in my life during those years can only be explained as grace-filled moments.”
He said the priesthood is the vehicle with which he was able to experience God’s grace – and his need to give back. “The journey continues,” Fr. Schmid said.

Father John Hotze
Father John Hotze, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Mulvane and a canon lawyer, said he hopes the priesthood has made him a better person.
“I know the priesthood has allowed me to see Christ,” he said. “As Christians we all seek to be holy, to be Christ-like.”
Father Hotze said the priesthood has allowed him to witness God’s plan of salvation in many different ways. “It has allowed me to witness so many holy people, Christ-like people participating in God’s plan. You can truly see Christ in them. They inspire me to be a better person and a better priest.”
He thanked God for the gift of his vocation and allowing him to “see God in the faithful and in the not so faithful.”