Bishop Kemme praises new transitional deacons for their Apostolic Courage

Bishop Carl A. Kemme ordained three men to the transitional diaconate Thursday, May 23, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. From left, are the Rev. Mssrs. Grant Husslig, Joseph Mick, and Nicholas Samsel. (Advance photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme praised the newly-ordained transitional deacons for their hearts of Apostolic Courage at their ordination Thursday, May 23, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

Speaking from his cathedra, the bishop quoted Msgr. James Shea, who wrote that today, “the operative Christian virtue is not only faith or hope or even love, as essential as these are, but courage.”

To live the life of discipleship more fully, Bishop Kemme said, Msgr. Shea suggests one needs more than courage, not just courage to be brave or willing to take risks, but Apostolic Courage: “It is a supernatural divine gift given to ordinary men, women, and children – like you and me – so that we can do extraordinary things.”

The bishop said that kind of courage was given to Simon Peter who, while on a boat amid a storm, was invited to step out of the boat and walk on the water to Jesus.

“One word evoked such a step: Come! Simon did that not because he was naturally brave or daring, but because he had his eyes fixed on Jesus who filled him with Apostolic Courage. However, the second he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on himself and the stormy seas, he began to sink.”

Simon Peter and the other apostles would eventually leave the security they knew and step out toward Jesus, Bishop Kemme said. “Later, after Pentecost, Peter and the other apostles would put into practice apostolic courage by bold and decisive action during storms of a different kind.”

Those taking part in the ordination Mass have witnessed something similar, he said.

“We have seen three young men take a bold and courageous step. As they heard their names called, they stood and announced that they were present. Then they moved toward us in the sanctuary. Let me suggest that they have done this because of Apostolic Courage, not because of any natural bravery on their part, but because they have their eyes fixed on Jesus.”

Jesus is calling the seminarians to leave the security of their family, friends, and predictable and comfortable lives, the bishop said, to be conformed to Jesus who calls them to be his servants.

“Like the apostles, like their successors, like our priests, and like those first deacons, these, too, through the imposition of hands and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, these chosen men, will be called to live a servant’s discipleship with bold determination.”

If this were not enough, he added, we will witness more evidence of supernatural courage these men have already shown us.

“As their bishop, I will ask them, among other commitments, if they are resolved to remain perpetually celibate as a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven and in service to God and others. Imagine the courage, to make this commitment to remain chaste and celibate for the remainder of their lives in a time in which so many are intent on unrestricted sexual pleasures. Who is inclined to do something so daring, but one who has been given Apostolic Courage?”

Will pray for the faithful

Bishop Kemme said he would also ask them to faithfully celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours with and for the people of God and the whole world.

“From this day onward, they are bound, under penalty of sin, to pray five times a day for you, for me, and for the whole world. No one would naturally agree to such a promise, but one who is in love with those he serves. And so dear sons, pray faithfully, perseveringly, and lovingly for the people of God.”

Finally, those to be ordained will kneel in front of me with their hands in mine, the bishop said, and vow to obey and respect me and my successors. “Courage of the apostolic kind is on full display here, for no one would agree to such a thing, to surrender one’s dreams, hopes, and plans into the hands of another, except one whose eyes are intently and lovingly on the Lord.”

The candidates will answer, “I do,” to each of the questions, Bishop Kemme said.

A courageous step

“This response is what Jesus and the church desire to hear. Each of those ‘I do’s’ is one more bold and courageous step that Jesus calls them to take and plans to bring to fulfillment after a life of loving service and dedication, but it all starts in this solemn moment.”

The bishop closed his homily by entreating the seminarians to keep the Father’s commandments “remaining in his love and desiring to live in a manner worthy of your calling and with apostolic courage, as the selfless servants you are being ordained to be: to love one another as Christ loves us.”

(The book Bishop Kemme referred to is From Christendom to Apostolic Mission, written by the faculty of the University of Mary. The writers explain that the church needs to recognize that much of the culture has regressed to embrace paganism, much like the era in which the apostles lived, and presents a path forward for the church.)