Bishop Kemme talks to youth about vocations at annual Serra Club Mass

Bishop Carl A. Kemme asked youth of the diocese to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life at a March 4 Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Advance photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme talked about the many homeless men and women who congregate around the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita during the annual Serra Mass for vocations Thursday, March 4. He related the Christian obligation to serve them to a vocation of the priesthood, the religious life, or in marriage.

“The Gospel reading for our Mass today…leaves me feeling a little disturbed,” he said to those students and others watching the streamed Mass. “The reason for that is that very near here at the cathedral there are men and women – perhaps even children – who last night slept on the streets, or who walk around this neighborhood in downtown Wichita, wondering where the next meal will come from and how they will take care of themselves.”

Encountering the homeless brings home the story of Lazarus and the rich man, Bishop Kemme said, and helps us understand that the same is true in this part of the city.

“Just as the rich man didn’t see Lazarus, walked by him, perhaps ignored him, so, too, it’s tempting for us to ignore the poor.”

The poor are our responsibility

Pope Francis has reminded us, the bishop said, that we can’t reject or ignore the poor, that they are our responsibility as Christians.
The Gospel story is a powerful reminder of our responsibility to the poor, he said.

“Sometimes I feel – and I’m sure others feel – what can we do to help them or their needs are so great and we can’t do everything for them? But we can do something for them,” Bishop Kemme said.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said everybody can give something. “Even if you have nothing in your pockets you can give a kind word or a smile because these people are human beings just like us,” the bishop said. “They need that encouragement, they need that relationship with other human beings to remind them that they are worthy – as every person on the earth is worthy – to be treated compassionately and to be retrieved to be treated respectfully.”

Bishop Kemme invited those watching the Mass to reflect upon the gospel story of Lazarus and the rich man and to do something for the next person who needs help.

“Every little gesture of kindness and charity changes people’s lives. That’s what we’re called to do. We are called to help. We can’t do everything but we can all do something.”

Children can give what they have

Bishop Kemme said even the grade school children watching can do something. “A note or a kind word or a compliment or a smile, or perhaps some of your allowance, that could be given to charity to help feed the hungry or clothe the poor to help someone in some way have a better life.”

With the Gospel message in mind, Bishop Kemme invited those watching to consider if God may be calling them to the priesthood or religious life. Religious vocations and marriage are all vocations the church needs, he said.

“The church needs these vocations to build the church up to promote the gospel, to proclaim the gospel and to live the gospel.”

Bishop Kemme said he distinctly remembers at his First Holy Communion in the second grade that call “that Jesus chose me to do what Father was doing at the altar.”

He encouraged those hearing that call to give themselves generously to that service as a priest, a religious sister, or married life.

“I’m praying for all of our grade school children throughout this diocese that the Lord will raise up among us many, many more priests, and many, many more consecrated women to the service of the church. And of course, many holy and faithful husbands and wives, fathers or mothers, to bring families closer to the Lord and closer to the kingdom of heaven.”