Seminarians installed as acolytes

Installed as acolytes Monday, March 26, were, from left, Miles Swigart, Caleb Kuestersteffen, Matthew Cooke, and Jesus Banuelos. (Advance photo)

Bishop Kemme installs four first-year seminarians

Four seminarians of the Diocese of Wichita were installed as acolytes by Bishop Carl A. Kemme Tuesday, March 29, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

Installed were Jesus Banuelos, Matthew Cooke, Caleb Kuestersteffen, and Miles Swigart. Acolytes assist deacons and priests in liturgical celebrations, especially the Eucharistic liturgy.

Bishop Kemme shares childhood story

Bishop Kemme told the four men in his homily how excited he was in his youth to train and serve as an altar boy. “As many of you perhaps know, having heard my own vocation story, I am more than certain that God revealed my vocation to me at the Mass of my First Holy Communion.”

The bishop said he loved serving Mass, found it exciting to be near the priest and to take part in all of the duties of an altar boy: assisting at the altar, lighting the candles, ringing the bells at the consecration, attending to the water and wine, and washing the priest’s hands.

“These seemingly mundane and simple things altar boys did were part of the ministry of what we were sometimes referred to: acolytes, one of the formal steps or orders leading to the priesthood. The church has retained this step, this moment in the journey to what will hopefully be ordained ministry.”

Bishop Kemme explained that the ministry binds acolytes to the sanctuary, a sacred place. “What they perhaps have done informally before, they now do officially for the church: assist at the altar as a way to prepare themselves for their eventual service as deacons and priests.”

Bishop: undertake duties with prayerfulness

He asked the four men to undertake their duties with prayerfulness, dedication, and loving attentiveness while not drawing undue attention to themselves.

“Theirs must now be a ministry supported by a deep love for the Mass. In the distribution of Holy Communion, especially, they must perform this duty with extra caution and reverence, never giving the impression to the communicant that they are rushed or distracted, but that they know who it is they are offering and why, looking upon those who approach the sacrament with a sincere love for the Mystical Body of Christ, who yearns to give himself to us as food for the journey.”

Referring to the Gospel of the day, Bishop Kemme said Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, is a marvelous example of one whose sole attention was on Jesus. “She spared no expense, apparently 300 day’s wages worth, to anoint his feet in preparation for the passion. She also dried his feet with her hair, a gesture of extraordinary intimacy. In doing this, Mary showed her deepest love for Christ.”

That same love should be shown by those who assist at the altar of sacrifice, Bishop Kemme said. “All of us who are entrusted with these sacred ministries would do well to pattern our service after hers, making all we do here in service to the Master, expressions of our love and care for him.”

He implored the four men to make their lives worthy of their service at the table of the Lord and of his church.

“If you do so, you will find in these simple but deeply profound acts of service a source of holiness and happiness in life. May the Eucharist, for which we hunger and which directs the service of our hearts and hands, be for all of us a strength and a joy.”