Following his ordination on May 30, 1970, until his retirement on June 11, 2014, Msgr. Robert Hemberger served the Diocese of Wichita in many pastoral and administrative roles. In Diocesan roles he was officially involved in the development of stewardship, the healthcare ministry, the Catholic Care Center, the Spiritual Life Center, The Lord’s Diner, Newman University, the synod and the Cathedral renovation.
Msgr. Robert Hemberger, son of Herman and Marjorie (Youngers) is a native of Conway Springs, where he was born on August 26, 1944, the second of seven children. Msgr. Hemberger attended Conception Seminary and Theological College of the Catholic University of America and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wichita on May 30, 1970, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wichita. From 1983 to 1985 he studied at the Catholic University, Washington, DC, where he obtained his Licentiate in Canon Law.
He served as Assistant Pastor in the Wichita parishes of St. Anne and All Saints until August of 1973. On August 16, 1973, he was appointed Chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita. In 1978, Msgr. Hemberger assumed the same position at Halstead Hospital, and was also appointed Diocesan Director of Marriage Encounter, and to the Priests’ Council for a three year term. Two years later, while continuing as Director of Marriage Encounter, he became Assistant Chancellor and Master of Ceremonies to Bishop Maloney, with residence at St. Mary Cathedral.
In 1982 he was appointed Chaplain of St. Francis Regional Medical Center. A year later Bishop Gerber appointed him to pursue “A Licentiate in Canon Law” at Catholic University which he completed successfully in 1985. On his return to Wichita, Msgr. Hemberger was appointed on June 20, 1985, Judicial Vicar (Officialis) of the Diocesan Tribunal, Diocesan Liaison for Health Affairs, and part-time Associate Pastor in residence at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. On October 16, 1986, he was assigned as temporary Administrator to Holy Cross Parish, Hutchinson.
On April 9, 1987, he was named Synodal Promoter and Moderator, part-time associate pastor in residence, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Wichita, while continuing as Judicial Vicar of the Diocesan Tribunal and Diocesan Liaison for Health Affairs.
On June 22, 1988, Msgr. Hemberger was appointed Chancellor and Chaplain to the Sisters of St. Joseph at Mt. St. Mary Convent while continuing to serve as Officialis of the Tribunal and as Liaison for Health Affairs. Ten years later, on July 16, 1998, while officiating as Chancellor, Judicial Vicar and Chaplain, he was named Director of Diocesan Planning. This task would draw on his considerable talent for planning, consultation and building consensus.
On May 16, 2001, he was named Prelate of Honor (Msgr.) to His Holiness Pope John Paul II. This honor was celebrated at a public reception on July 27, 2001.
Msgr. Hemberger was appointed as Chair of the Diocesan Review Board for the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002. He held this position and with the assistance of lay experts from a variety of legal, medical, and social service disciplines created policies to protect children and investigate complaints of child abuse with compassion and clarity of vision until 2014.
From 1995 until 2014, Msgr. Hemberger served ex officio three five-year terms on the Priests’ Council. From 1998 to 2013 he was elected chair of the council numerous times.
Between the transfer of Bishop Olmsted to Phoenix and the ordination of Bishop Jackels the College of Consultors elected Msgr. Hemberger as Diocesan Administrator, a position he held from December 22, 2003, to April 2005. On April 7, 2005, he was appointed Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia at the Chancery. During Bishop Jackels tenure the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception underwent an extensive remodel which involved shoring up the old to maintain the beautiful architectural integrity of Masqueray, and enhancing the interior for prayerful reflection with fresh inspirational art and sculpture. Great care was taken at every step and his outstanding talent for engaging the right people for numerous monumental and diverse tasks, each demanding different skill sets was evident.
In June 2013 following Bishop Jackels appointment and installation as Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa, Msgr. Hemberger was once again elected by the College of Consultors as Diocesan Administrator. He held this position until April 30, 2014, when the Vatican appointed Bishop Carl Kemme to the Diocese of Wichita.
Msgr. Hemberger retired on June 11, 2014, and now resides in St. Augustine, Florida.