Bishop Kemme is the son of Donald and Marita (Kortte) Kemme. He has four brothers and one sister and grew up on a small family farm in rural Shumway, Ill. His family attended and his parents are still members of the Church of the Annunciation Parish there.
He was a student at Shumway Elementary School and Beecher City High School and then attended St. Henry’s Preparatory Seminary in Belleville where he received his high school diploma. He entered the diocesan seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield in 1978, and then graduated from Cardinal Glennon College and Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., where he earned a bachelor of arts and a master of divinity degree.
He was ordained to the priesthood on May 10, 1986, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Ill.
After his ordination, he served as parochial vicar at St. Patrick, Decatur; Ss. Peter and Paul, Collinsville; and Blessed Sacrament, Springfield. He has served as pastor of St. Mary, Brussels, St. Joseph, Meppen, and St. Barbara, Batchtown (1992-1996); Holy Family, Decatur (1996-2002); St. Peter, Petersburg (2002-2005); and St. John Vianney, Sherman (2005-2012).
In 2002, he was appointed vicar general/moderator of the curia by then-Bishop George J. Lucas, and additionally served as diocesan chancellor from January to June 2005. When Bishop Lucas was named head of the Archdiocese of Omaha in June 2009, Msgr. Kemme served as diocesan administrator until June 2010 when Bishop Paprocki was installed for the Springfield see. Msgr. Kemme has continued to serve as vicar general/moderator of the curia for Bishop Paprocki.
On Aug. 23, 2002, he was named a Prelate of Honor with the title Monsignor by Blessed John Paul II. Msgr. Kemme is a fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher. He is chaplain for the Courage Apostolate in the diocese.