Bishop celebrates opening Mass at St. Joseph House of Formation

Bishop Carl A. Kemme, the priests of the St. Joseph House of Formation, and the seminarians gathered for a photo after a Mass at St. Joseph Church, Wichita, marking the opening of the school year. (Advance photo)



Bishop Carl A. Kemme told the 21 college seminarians scattered around the front of St. Joseph Church in Wichita Thursday, Aug. 22, that two years ago, while celebrating the first Mass for the St. Joseph House of Formation in the Borromeo House, he couldn’t have imagined he would have so many seminarians residing in two newly-renovated residences who would very soon worship in the sacred space of a new seminary chapel.

“All of this, I do not hesitate to proclaim, is the result first of God’s inspiring Holy Spirit, who brings about the development of God’s plan for salvation and the abundant life Jesus desired for all God’s children,” Bishop Kemme said in his homily. “It is also the result of the generosity of so many people in this diocese, who have and continue to share heroically and generously from their resources so that all of this and so much more is possible. None of us should ever forget just who is bringing this all about.”

The church and the faithful of the diocese deserve from their bishop, her priests, and seminarians some very important things, the bishop said, because a seminarian’s education is provided free of charge so that the men can be unencumbered financially to pursue their discernment and vocation.

In exchange, he added, “we owe God and our people the following: To be men of gratitude. I encourage you and request that you thank God everyday while you are here for the many people, most of whom you will not likely meet or know, who are providing generously for your needs. Stewardship is a response first of gratitude. Let’s be good stewards of these blessings entrusted to us by being always grateful to those who provide them to us.”

Bishop Kemme asked they be men of dedication. “Be men who are serious about prayer, study, and formation, in all its aspects,” he said. “Do not be afraid, to be such committed men to apply yourselves with all your heart to the tasks at hand. Do not be afraid to ask the serious questions of discernment as to whether God has given you a vocation to the priesthood or not.”

He told them to be courageous and to learn from their mistakes and to allow the priests of the House to help them grow in wisdom and knowledge. “This is a way you can pay forward for all that is offered to you here at the House of Formation.”

Be men of clean hearts, Bishop Kemme continued. “I have experienced in my years that when God is doing some amazing things with us, through us and in us, our ancient enemy, the devil is not far away, seeking to undo or thwart God’s plans.

“Often, he will do this by tempting us to impurity and I’m not only speaking of the sexual impurity that quite honestly is a great challenge for us, especially when we are young, but also a spiritual impurity, the impurity that sullies the mind, makes the heart cold and indifferent and darkens the will.”

Pray the Lord makes you clean of heart, Bishop Kemme implored. “This can truly distinguish you from among your peers, your classmates at the university, and the many who will interact with you along the way. To be clean of heart will draw out from you, right living, good moral choices, and an innocence and basic human goodness that is, quite frankly, missing in too many people’s lives.”

Finally, be men of charity, he said, repeating his desire that the St. Joseph House of Formation be a home of charity, harmony, and brotherly love – a happy and joy-filled home.

“This won’t happen simply because I or we simply want it; it will take work and intention to create this kind of house of charity. The work is worth it, for it signals the dignity of each member. So I encourage you to do all you can to foster this charity among yourselves.”

He encouraged the seminarians to assist a struggling brother seminarian, to offer more compliments than criticisms, and to ask for and to extend forgiveness.

“Be men of charity, joy, and peace,” Bishop Kemme said. “Should we be these kind men, then we will be glorifying God and winning the hearts of those who are watching us from near and far with great anticipation and support.”