Bishop proclaims diocesan Year of St. Joseph

Bishop Kemme talked about Jesus’ foster father during his homily opening the Year of St. Joseph for the Diocese of Wichita. (Advance photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme invited the faithful of the Diocese of Wichita to join him in intense prayer and frequent fasting in a petition to God to send the Holy Spirit during the Year of St. Joseph for determination, compassion, wisdom, courage, and understanding to put diocesan efforts at the service of the Lord and for rescuing lost and lapsed brothers and sisters in the faith.

“Together and throughout this year, let us call upon St. Joseph to help us in this critical mission,” he said during his homily Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. “With his guidance and intercession, I am confident we will witness many returning to the Eucharistic banquet of the Lord and strengthening the church, over which he serves as patron and protector.”

150th anniversary of the declaration

Speaking from the ambo in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Kemme said although the day marked a great feast for the diocese and the nation, he was focusing on St. Joseph because of his declaration to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as the Patron and Protector of the Universal Church, declared by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1870.

St. Joseph, like Mary, was chosen to play a significant role in the history of salvation, the bishop said. “Like Mary, the plan of God was revealed to him by an angel. Like Mary, he too was asked to give his fiat, his assent to that plan and trust in the providence of God.”

St. Joseph was obedient

St. Joseph is mentioned only fleetingly in the Gospels, he said, but that does not diminish his importance.

“Without his obedience to God’s will, the Advent of Jesus in history would not have happened. He said yes to God, to take Mary as his wife, to name their child Jesus, to flee to Egypt in order to protect the child from the forces of evil intent on destroying him, to return to Nazareth and there to provide a home, a livelihood, a religious tradition, and the guidance and support Jesus needed in his humanity to accept the mission of Messiah and Lord. As Mary did, so too Joseph did all of this with obedience, fidelity and steadfast love.”

The church looks to St. Joseph as a protector and patron because of his obedience, Bishop Kemme said.

“From his place in heaven, Joseph now looks upon each of us as his spiritual children, who form the family of the church on our pilgrim way to the Kingdom. We very much need his protection and his intercession in our dark and wayward times.”

Imitate St. Joseph

Bishop Kemme added that he hopes the faithful will strive to imitate St. Joseph’s humility, obedience, and love.
“But I am particularly hopeful that Joseph will inspire the men of our diocese, me its bishop, all our priests and deacons, our seminarians, all the husbands and fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, uncles, and all single men to accept their role in the families entrusted to their care and the communities to which they belong.”

St. Joseph is also an example of chastity for men, he said.

“I also lift up St. Joseph for our younger men, those in high school and college, and those just beginning to live a young adult life, that St. Joseph will inspire them to be men of integrity, chastity, and courage in a time that tempts them to throw away their virtues and live life solely on their own terms.”
Bishop Kemme said he is also praying that St. Joseph will inspire the diocese in the implementation of the diocesan Pastoral Plan: Fully Alive as Missionary Disciples. “We can look to no better examples than Joseph and Mary, who accepted the mission entrusted to them and fulfilled it so perfectly as Jesus’ first and best disciples.”

A focus on fallen-away Catholics

The bishop said the diocese will not be able to fully implement its Pastoral Plan unless it can bring back to Sunday worship those who are no longer active and who for various reasons no longer feel the need to worship and receive the Eucharist.

The darkness of our times, the secular culture which fosters hostility toward religious liberty and practice is causing anxiety among priests and the faithful, he said.

“And so, on this great day in which we acknowledge God’s transformative grace in the very being of the humble virgin and on which we dedicate this year to the patronage and protection of her obedient spouse, St. Joseph, I call all of us to an urgent period of prayer and discernment on all levels of diocesan life, curia, parishes, schools, hospitals, college campuses, families, indeed wherever our people are to be found, in order to execute a diocesan-wide search and rescue mission: to bring back the lost, the wayward and the wandering souls to Christ, the Bread of Life.”

The future of the diocese depends on success

Bishop Kemme said the goals will not be easy to attain but that if it is not accepted it “will have devastating consequences for the future dynamism of the faith, for evangelization, discipleship, and stewardship.”

Therefore, he said he is committing the resources and the energy of our diocese to forming all “as missionary disciples who will go out to invite back and accompany our brothers and sisters who no longer join us at the altar of the Lord at Holy Mass.

“As your bishop and successor of the apostles, let me be the first to call all those in our diocese, in our parishes, and in our families, who no longer share with us the Holy Eucharist, to return now or as soon as possible to be one with us at the Lord’s banquet.”