Bishop Kemme ordains three to the priesthood
The three seminarians ordained to the priesthood Saturday, May 28, gave the same answer to Bishop Carl A. Kemme when he asked them before their ordination what they were looking forward to as priests: hearing confessions.
“I was edified by your desire to be good confessors, to be instruments in the work of restoring God’s people to the life of grace,” he said to the trio seated at the front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. “I have always enjoyed these moments when as bishop and soon to be priest, we can speak from the heart in a way that we will hopefully be able to for many years to come.”
The bishop addressed Fathers Seth Arnold, Ty Taylor, and Jon Tolberd who were sitting in the sanctuary but also recognized their parents “who have supported you, encouraged you and helped you all along the way.”
Hearing confessions a privilege
Being ministers of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the greatest privileges of a priest, Bishop Kemme said, because they “receive with love those who have allowed sin to wound their souls and to share with them words of encouragement and wisdom, but most of all to impart to them the endless mercy of God.”
After the pre-ordination meeting with the three men, Bishop Kemme said he began thinking how wonderful it would be if the newly ordained priests would become known as good confessors who are untiringly patient, kind, understanding and gentle with sinners.
“Why? Because we ourselves, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, in no uncertain terms are ourselves beset with weakness. It is from this place of our own need for God’s mercy that we can authentically and patiently deal with the ignorant and the erring,” he said.
“It is a travesty and devastation of our mission when priests lose their patience with penitents or who relate to them in a condescending way or who embarrass or shame them because of their repeated sins.”
Priest must never administer this sacrament mechanically or hurried, the bishop said, but with deep emotion and love as Jesus received the sinner, the sick and the downtrodden.
Ordained in the Year of the Eucharist
Bishop Kemme reminded the trio that they are being ordained in a special year for the diocese: The Year of the Eucharist.
“I need not remind you and our people that we are most conformed to Christ the priest when we stand in his person at the altar and offer bread and wine to God on behalf of the people. Neither you nor I take this honor upon ourselves. We can only do this because we have been called and chosen by God, weak and unworthy as we are, to do so.”
The priest offers himself as an instrument of God’s grace in the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he said.
“Here, it is not you or me, but Christ who sacramentally speaks through us, who offers himself again and again through us, who shares himself as the Bread of Life for his people, always and until the end of time, through us, his priests. Remember my brothers, that the words of absolution and the words of institution are entrusted to us as stewards, pronounce them carefully over the penitents and over the offerings for Christ obeys us whenever we say these words.”
Bishop: Always be humble
He urged the three about to be ordained to always be humble and obedient to God’s work, to celebrate the sacraments correctly and with a deep spiritual intimacy and union with Christ “so that when the faithful approach us for confession and attend the Mass offered by us, they would see less and less of us and more and more of Christ.”
Bishop Kemme closed his homily by telling the three men that he would happily and joyfully ordain them “to always hear in your heart the echo of the Lord’s words to Peter in today’s Gospel, words that can and must be the foundation of your life. The Lord is asking you, Seth, Ty and Jon and each of you and me: Do you love me? Yes, Lord, you know that we love you! Feed my lambs.”