Bishop Kemme explains priest assignments

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings of Easter peace and new life! In this edition of the Catholic Advance, you will find the list of priests who will be receiving new assignments from me this summer, excluding the assignments of the ten men to be ordained on May 27. Those assignments will be published in the June 2 edition. I write this brief pastoral letter to a diocese in a time of transition.
Over the past four weeks, I have been in numerous conversations with a number of priests about welcoming a new assignment. I have found these dialogues most edifying and inspiring. Without exception, every priest has received their new assignment with joy, enthusiasm, and a willing spirit. I could not have asked for a more fruitful dialogue. While no assignment is perfect, I believe these appointments will bring much fruit, for the priests, for the people they will be serving and for our diocese.
Often I hear from our people the sentiment that they want their priest to remain in their parish forever. I smile when I hear this from our people because I recognize that our priests are doing great work and are much loved by our people.
However, it is important from time to time to reassign our priests so that they can expand their pastoral skills and give others a chance to receive them. Our priests were not ordained for one or two parishes, but for an entire diocese. It is also good for our parishes from time to time to receive new leadership, with a different vision so that the parishes can grow and develop. All of this, I am convinced, is according to God’s plan.
In these conversations, I often remember my own journey from one assignment to another. Most of them I left, deeply moved by the love of the people I served. I would have gladly continued to remain there in service. In leaving, however, new doors were opened to me, greater pastoral experiences were in store, and more friendships were formed.
Now looking back over 31 years since my own ordination to the priesthood and the many moves I was asked to make, including this past one to Wichita, I realize how much God was at work through it all. All of it and so much more was a blessing, often in disguise.
I share these thoughts with the diocese since I know that transitions are sometimes challenging both for the priests and the people they leave. To the priests in transition, I say pray for the grace to go to your next assignment with a joyful heart; go with great anticipation of the pastoral surprises that will no doubt await you; give the people a loving and faithful service.
To the people of the diocese who will be receiving a new pastor or priest, welcome them also with a joyful heart; try not to compare them to the previous pastor, which though tempting is not an entirely Christian response, for each priest has his own unique gifts and talents and support them with your daily prayers as they enter into a new community and endeavor to share their priestly gifts.
Please know of my thoughts and prayers for our priests and people in this holy time.
+ Bishop Carl Kemme