Bishop Kemme lifts up St. Philip Neri as an example for his priests, seminarians

Seminarians of the Diocese of Wichita sat together on the east side of the altar during a vespers service Wednesday, May 26, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Advance photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme offered praise to God Wednesday, May 26, that the annual Evening with Seminarians could take place this year.

Last year’s evening was canceled and the ordinations conducted that week were restricted because of the pandemic.

The bishop led a vespers service before a reception at the annual Evening with Seminarians in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

Bishop Kemme said in his homily that the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney, is often considered as one of the church’s holiest priests. In the span of about 40 years after the French Revolution, the bishop said, St. John Vianney set the world on fire with his priestly zeal and holiness.

“We might also think of Padre Pio, who in the 20th century drew numerous souls to Christ through the Sacrament of Penance and by the formation of prayer groups that exist today all over the world,” he said.

St. Philip Neri

“Out of the 16th century came one whose memory we honor today in the Church, St. Philip Neri. It seems about every 200 or 300 years, God provides a bright star among the priests to point the way for us, which is what shepherds do best, point the way for people who have lost their way – and that way is the way of Christ.”

Bishop Kemme explained that St. Philip Neri served the poor and sick of Rome during a time of many worldwide plagues.

“He was creative, alive, ever active, seeking ways to draw his people closer to Christ,” he said. “It is said that Philip was also well known for his uncommonly good humor, his cheerfulness, and his infectious joy of life. Could this have been what people most needed from him at the time? To find joy and good cheer in the midst of trials and tribulations, of which there were plenty?”

As the result of his work, Bishop Kemme said, he is known as the Second Apostle to Rome, St. Peter being the first.

“And so now, we who live over 500 years after his birth, come to remember this pious, zealous, and most effective priest of the church, St. Philip Neri, and we ask that through his intercession the qualities that he displayed in his fruitful and long ministry will be showered upon all the priests now serving the church and those who are discerning and preparing for that ministry as seminarians.”

Bishop Kemme petitioned St. Philip to ask the Holy Spirit to impart upon the seminarians of today and the future St. Philip Neri’s dedication to the care of souls, his love for the Eucharist and confession, his pastoral zeal for the sick and the poor, and his cheerful disposition and good humor.

“For with these qualities, those of whom are already priests and those soon to be by God’s divine providence can also ignite the souls of our people in this new Apostolic Age,” Bishop Kemme said.