Hundreds welcomed at the Rite of Election
Bishop Carl A. Kemme strongly encouraged those who will be joining the church this spring to embrace the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life.
“Without the Eucharist we would all wither up and die,” he said from the altar of St. James the Greater Church in Augusta. Surrounded in a semi-circle by over 1,000 catechumens, candidates, and sponsors, he continued, “But with it, we are nourished and flourish in the spiritual life. I urge you to make the Eucharist the center of your life, to receive it often, if not even daily, for with it, you will be able to reach otherwise insurmountable heights of holiness and grace.”
Forty-two parishes took part in the Rite of Election and Continuing Conversion Sunday afternoon, March 6, at St. James.
Entering the church in the Year of the Eucharist
Speaking from the ambo wearing a white miter, Bishop Kemme said it was significant that those entering the church were doing so during the Year of the Eucharist, a year designed to deepen love and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
“Ponder the mystery of the Mass often and especially as you make your preparations in the next weeks to take your rightful place with us at the table of the Lord’s banquet. Recognize how much you hunger for the Bread of Life and long for it as you make your way to the Easter Vigil.”
Bishop Kemme told the catechumens (those who will be baptized) and the candidates (those already validly baptized) that they are joining a diocese that is on a mission to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those around us.
“Our vision is that all God’s children will respond to Christ’s call so as to become fully alive as missionary disciples,” he said. “Our mission is to go forth faithfully to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all God’s children and to evangelize today’s culture. Will you, catechumens and candidates, join us in bringing about this vision and fulfilling this mission? I am confident that if you do so, you will find the joy of the Gospel come alive in your heart.”
The rite a joy for the bishop
After initially welcoming those attending the annual rite, Bishop Kemme said one of the great joys of being a successor of the Apostles is presiding over events such as the Rite of Election. “When I look out upon you this day, I see a church on fire, on a mission, a church fully alive, bringing others to the knowledge of the truth and to being received as members of the Body of Christ. This event fills me and I hope it fills you with a spirit of hope and enthusiasm for the faith we hold so dear.”
The bishop gave a brief biography about himself, growing up on a farm in central Illinois, always wanting to be a priest, and the shock he felt when the papal nuncio called him telling him the pope wanted him to be the bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.
In addition, he shared several details about the diocese and explained that it is a stewardship diocese that recognizes how it is blessed and how it is called to share those blessings.
“We also have the desire to become a diocese that evangelizes today’s culture and reclaims Sunday as the Day of the Lord, helping our parishes and families to be renewed in spirit,” he said. “We are missionary disciples with the mission of making other disciples that share our vision, mission, and passion for evangelization, stewardship, and discipleship.”
A church full of sinners
Bishop Kemme then shared a truth about the church: “I am a sinner, a great sinner. The person or persons who brought you to this moment are also sinners. So are the priests and each and every other person in the church. We are all sinners. We are not perfect, so if you think you are joining a perfect utopian society, think again. We are all dependent on God’s mercy. We all are tempted, as even Jesus was in today’s Gospel, but we have found the source of the mercy we so desperately need, Jesus Christ. He too wants to share that mercy with you and we can’t wait for you to taste it and drink it in.”
He closed his homily by telling those attending they are a blessing to him, to their parishes, and to the universal church. “We pray that each of us, in spite of our sinfulness will be a blessing to you.”