Bishop Kemme reflects on the vision of pastoral plan
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently, I promulgated a new Pastoral Vision, Mission and three overarching Priorities for the Diocese of Wichita, which will represent our common approach in living the Catholic faith more deeply in the next several years. I hope you have taken an opportunity to read and reflect on this document. I encourage you to pray about how you can take a vital part in making it a reality. In this column and in future ones, I want to share a few of my own reflections. Today, I will be concentrating on our vision.
The Vision of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita is that all God’s children will respond to Christ’s call to become fully alive as missionary disciples.
Since arriving as your bishop a little more than four years ago, many have asked me what my vision is for the diocese, where do I see the diocese heading or what do I see the diocese becoming. The time since then has been a time of prayerful discernment.
What I see already is a diocese rich in blessings. For this, we thank God and the many that have come before us: bishops, priests, and laity who have responded so well to the invitation to stewardship. We are beneficiaries of this spiritual and pastoral legacy.
While I have every hope and expectation to continue the important work of stewardship, which has made us who we are today, I also think that we stand at a crossroads, one which will require us to deepen our commitment and to respond even more generously to the Lord’s invitation to become his disciples.
It is my desire, and I hope yours as well, that we will go deeper into living the Catholic faith through evangelization, renewed stewardship, and parish and family life. To describe this deeper life, we have chosen the expression “fully alive,” as a way to proclaim what we hope to achieve, a diocese, parishes, families and all hearts and souls fully alive in Christ.
Jesus said long ago, but I am certain he is clearly saying to us today in this turbulent time of the 21st century, “I have come that they might have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10). Life in abundance can only truly come from knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ, who stands on the horizon of our future as the way, the truth and the life. Our faith is a response to his invitation to be fully alive as missionary disciples.
I encourage all of us to ask ourselves: are we fully alive in Christ? Is Jesus the very center and source of the life we live, in our relationships with others, in family, in our professional lives, in our parishes, in this diocese and in the whole church? The vision of our diocese is in reality a call to deeper conversion to Christ in every aspect of how we live. Only by such a radical conversion of mind, heart and soul, will we become “fully alive,” a call I have heard and sensed in my own heart. I hope you too will hear that call and respond with courage, trust and perseverance.
Once we experience this deeper, fuller life in Christ, we then go forth as missionary disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of Life. This expression, “missionary disciple,” is close to the mind and heart of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, calls all of us to embrace a missionary spirit, to go out and beyond the familiar and the comfortable and to bring the Good News we have heard and by which we endeavor to live in order to share it joyfully with everyone. This happens when others see the joy in our hearts, the smiles on our faces, the love we show as outward signs of an interior conversion.
The joy of being “fully alive” in Christ will captivate those whose hearts are all too overcome with deep sadness, distress, and anxiety. It is this missionary spirit I envision for us, so that many more will become “fully alive” with faith, hope and love in Christ Jesus.
May God bring this vision into reality and help us grow to be “fully alive” as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. God bless you all.
+The Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme, D.D.
Bishop of Wichita