Bishop implores Newman grads to discern
Bishop Carl A. Kemme emphasized in his homily to this year’s Newman University graduates that “the faithful and serious Christian is in the world as one who discerns.”
“To discern, which is a part of being human, is the ability to distinguish, to separate, to reflect, and ponder on things that are not immediately obvious and through this process to choose a right course of action,” he said May 6 during the 2021 NU Baccalaureate Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. “While we must all do this from a purely human perspective, the Christian also does it from a spiritual perspective.”
The bishop said priests, religious, and the four graduating seminarians are familiar with the process. “We encourage and accompany them in the ever-important process of discerning God’s will for them in their lives and whether or not they might have a vocation or calling to serve the Church as priests. We also hope that young men and women contemplating marriage and other vocational chooses do the same. This is discernment.”
The four St. Joseph House of Formation seminarians who were graduated are Peter Bergkamp, Grant Huslig, Joseph Mick, and Nicholas Samsel. They will continue their studies as a major seminary in the fall.
Christians must discern every moment, Bishop Kemme said, asking ourselves: “In this moment, what is God saying to me and how is God leading me?”
Bishop Kemme related discernment to the crisis referred to in the first reading of the day regarding requirements for Gentiles to join the early church.
“Would Gentiles be required to observe Jewish customs, particularly that of circumcision, if they came to faith in Jesus Christ? It seems odd to us these many centuries later, but this crisis could have devastated the early church – that is until the Apostles used the gift of the Holy Spirit given to them at Pentecost to discern what is God’s will and how is God leading them through this crisis.”
It was a watershed moment, Bishop Kemme said, “brought to a happy conclusion through the important human but spiritual process we call discernment.”
Discernment is necessary
Discernment is necessary in every age and in every circumstance, no matter how great or how small, he said, for all are in this world as ones who discern.
“My dear graduates of Newman University, from now on, you bring to the discernment in your lives the gift of a Newman University formation, a formation steeped in the Roman Catholic tradition; you bring to this vitally important and life-long task the gift of what we are confident is a well-formed intellect, a heart that has been touched by a passion to transform society, and most especially a soul that is set well on its way to find God throughout your lives.”
Bishop Kemme then asked rhetorically: How can we best discern as Christians imbued with the Holy Spirit alive with us?
“Here I turn to today’s Gospel passage when we hear the profound admonish of Jesus when he said: remain in my love. Allow these words to ring in your heart and soul and take them with you beyond the present moment: Remain in my love.”
Love as St. Thomas Aquinas taught hundreds of years ago, the bishop said, is to will the good of the other.
“That is why God first loved us. Because he always wills the good for us, not always the easy or comfortable or safe, but always the good and he calls us to love one another in the same way. Remain in my love, he says. In our individual discernment, we must above all will the good for ourselves and for others.”
We must also keep God’s commandments, Bishop Kemme said, adding that in doing so we live in “existential freedom, not the laissez-faire kind of freedom to do whatever we want – which isn’t freedom at all, but license. … If we keep the commandments and keep a right relationship with God, then ours will be a discernment that is always founded on such freedom.”
Doing so will result in joy that will be complete, he said. “Now that is something I think we can all use more of in this world.”
In closing Bishop Kemme encouraged the graduates to build on what they have learned at Newman but most of all to be serious and faithful Christians, those who discern.
Newman University had 121 December graduates and 341 spring/summer degree candidates eligible for year’s commencement ceremonies.