Bishop Kemme and priests assisting in the diocesan seminary formation program pose with the 16 seminarians living and studying in Wichita. Vested with the bishop, from left, are Father Gabriel Greer, Father Michael Simone, Father Chad Arnold, Father Michael Baldwin, and seminarian Thomas Timmermeyer. (Advance photo)

16 men are studying for the diocese in the St. Joseph House of Formation program
Bishop Carl A. Kemme thanked the seminarians worshipping in the chapel of the Hennessy House Sunday, Aug. 26, for “pitching their tents” with the Diocese of Wichita to discern the possibility that one day they might serve as a priest of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Kemme walks down the hall while blessing the Hennessy House. It is one of two seminarian residences that are used by the diocesan St. Joseph House of Formation program.

Bishop Kemme pointed out in his homily that the altar and ambo in the Hennessy House chapel once graced the chapel of the bishop’s residence.
“I must say I do miss this (ambo). I looked at this many, many days as I was beginning my ministry here. And now you get the opportunity to gaze upon this image of a great catch of fish, to become a fisher of men as Jesus called Peter and Andrew, James and John to abandon their nets and their boats and to come follow him.”
Bishop Kemme looked out upon the 16 seminarians dressed in black suits and ties and asked if the Lord was inviting them as well. “Time will tell and the Holy Spirit will reveal that to both you and to all of us,” he said.
The Mass was part of a blessing of the Hennessy House, which with the Borromeo House, is used by the diocesan St. Joseph House of Formation program to prepare college seminarians. The two residences are located on the St. Joseph Parish Campus in Wichita.
The entire diocese is watching, praying for, and enthusiastically supporting the seminarians, Bishop Kemme said, adding that he and the faithful hope this year “will be a year of great fruit, of great learning, of growing and maturing in the Holy Spirit and coming ever closer to taking your place – whatever that place might be – in the community of the church. Perhaps for many of you, we hope that might be sharing with that ministry, with us at the altar.”
At the opening Mass last year Bishop Kemme said he wanted the St. Joseph House of Formation to be a home of true charity and peace.
“I want us to communicate that, to exude that wherever we go, that in this place, we care for one another. We do so as Christ taught us, loving one another and supporting each other, challenging each other, calling each other to greater witness, but also doing it with just a deep sense of fraternity and having an enjoyable time doing it.”
Reflecting upon the readings of the day, Bishop Kemme said Joshua chose to live in harmony and in cooperation with God’s will stating: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Responding to that, Bishop Kemme said, “Each of you must decide in the depths of your own heart to be a contributing member of this House of Formation.”
Everything about the house is in service to the Lord, he said. “It’s not just receiving, it’s giving out and being the minister in service to the Lord. I hope and pray that God will reign in this house and in the house of your heart.”
Commenting on the second reading of St. Paul to the Ephesians in which the relationship between a husband and wife is explained and compared to the church, Bishop Kemme said the idea of subordinating one’s self to one another is not all that popular.
“To speak of this in our Christian faith, we know that this is not slavery, but this is a humble submission to another out of reverence, first of all, for God and Christ Jesus, and then for the presence of Christ and another,” Bishop Kemme said. “We must all subordinate ourselves to others, to those in authority over us, and even to our equals in authority because of Christian charity, and ultimately brothers we must subordinate ourselves to God in all things in Christ Jesus.”
Bishop Kemme urged the seminarians to make the Eucharist the center of their lives and the core of their house of formation.
“When you are sad, when you are in doubt, when you were happy, when you have questions and concerns, when you are lonely, when you are afraid, whatever the circumstances in your life, come often into this place, to this place of prayer and presence to be with Jesus who has the words of eternal life for you.”
Bishop Kemme told the seminarians that they are in his daily prayers and that he hopes to visit them regularly – especially because he found out they are good cooks.
“Work hard, study hard, live well, live fully, become fully alive in Christ Jesus,” he said.
“Be honest and true. That’s all I ask of you...be true to yourself and to what you propose to do. And if you do all of this, and we’re confident that you will, you will do exceedingly well here.”
Father Chad Arnold, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Wichita, said he is especially excited this year about the diocesan House of Formation, now in its second year.
The diocesan seminarian program commenced last year with seven men who lived in the Borromeo House, next to St. Joseph Church in Wichita. This year the program has 16 men in two residences. The second residence, the Hennessy House, located behind the Borromeo House, was recently renovated and blessed Sunday, Aug. 26, by Bishop Carl A. Kemme.
“We’ve only been in for a week now,” Fr. Arnold said last week from his office in the Chancery. “Guys are out in the front yard playing Ultimate Frisbee. They’re up at 5:30 in the morning praying in the chapel together before we have our community prayer.”
The quiet of contemplation is counterbalanced, though, Fr. Arnold said.
“The dining room is a little bit noisier than it has been in the past. Sometimes it’s hard to hear the person across the table!”
He said there is a great spirit among the men who are excited to be a part of the formation program.
“It’s really beautiful to watch unfold. I wish I had a firmer plan of where some of the aspects are going, but the Holy Spirit seems to have both hands on the situation,” Fr. Arnold said.
“It really is beautiful and heartwarming to watch as these guys come together and help make this program a success at the house, at Newman University, and with one another. It’s really a privilege to be able to be there with them.”

About the St. Joseph House of Formation
The Diocese of Wichita has 16 men in its St. Joseph House of Formation seminary program, 11 in their first year of preparation and five returnees.
All are enrolled at Newman University and live in one of two residences on the St. Joseph Parish campus in Wichita. Six men live in the Borromeo House, located between the church and school; and 10 live in the just-blessed Hennessy House, located behind the Borromeo House on Vine Street.
Father Chad Arnold is director of Vocations and assistant director of the house of formation. Father Michael Baldwin is director of Field Apostolates, assisting the seminarians in their various ministries.
The house names were chosen to signify the work of the universal (Borromeo) and local (Hennessy) church in seminarian formation.
Cardinal Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), is the patron saint of seminarians. Bishop John Joseph Hennessy (1847-1920) was the first Bishop of Wichita, who served from 1888 to 1920.

Bishop Carl A. Kemme blesses the chapel of the Hennessy House Sunday, Aug. 26. (Advance photos)