Bishop shares his blessings at Galena blessing

Bishop Carl A. Kemme pours sacred Chrism while consecrating the altar of St. Patrick Church in Galena Saturday, Dec. 9. The entire church was renovated. (Courtesy photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme’s homily at an altar dedication on Saturday, Dec. 9, in the newly renovated St. Patrick Church in Galena was one of thanksgiving.

He shared how blessed he feels for having ordained 40 priests and consecrated 15 altars in the 10 years since being named the shepherd of the Diocese of Wichita in an era when many bishops are forced to close small parishes for lack of priests.

“Yes, we have churches and parishes that are relatively small, but with the service of our wonderful priests and dedicated lay people such as yourselves, most of them are flourishing and if anything, far from going out of existence,” he said.

A grateful bishop

Bishop Kemme added that he was grateful for the parish’s incentive to renovate the church and install a new altar.

“Although your parish is the farthest from the See City of Wichita, you are nevertheless close to my heart and I cherish each opportunity the distance between us is crossed so that you will know your bishop cares for you deeply and hopes you have all the graces you need to grow spiritually and to live out your faith.”

That is the reason we have altars and churches, he said. “Because in God’s wisdom, the people need them – for they need a sacrifice to offer God each day, and the perfect sacrifice as we know is the Mass, the offering of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ for our salvation and life.”

That happens daily at the altar and that’s why it is anointed with sacred chrism, the bishop said.

An altar has one use

“To set it apart for nothing but its purpose from now on, the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass. We would never use the altar for anything but that. We dare not use it for profane purposes, only for holy things, for on it – as we will do in just a few moments – will be placed the offering of bread and wine that through the act of consecration will be transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ.”

The altar makes a church Catholic, Bishop Kemme said.

“No other church – even if they have tables or would-be altars – can make such a claim, for those are not consecrated, as I will do in a few moments, by anointing it with the sacred Chrism,” he said. “I hope you will smell the pleasant and sweet fragrance of the oil, for it is a sacred sign of the sweetness of the Risen Christ, whose very death and resurrection have transformed the whole world. It is the same oil used on the day of our baptism and confirmation, configuring us to Christ, and the same oil used for the ordination of the priest and bishop, consecrating them for sacred office and ministry, configuring them to Christ.”

God is love

All of this points to God’s love for us, the bishop said. “A love that feeds us, a love that helps us day by day, a love that transforms us, ever so gradually, into a holy priesthood, that offers the sacrifice that is acceptable to the Lord.”

He closed the homily by saying he joined the parishioners in giving thanks for the renovation. “I pray through these sacred signs and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, St. Patrick Parish in Galena, Kansas, will continue to be a sign in this part of God’s kingdom of his love for us and his desire to show us the way to heaven.”