Two ordained to the diaconate
The stewardship way of life and vocations to the priesthood are the two most common traits Bishop Carl A. Kemme hears about regarding the Diocese of Wichita.
“The two are very interconnected, for we define stewardship as a grateful response of a Christian disciple, who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.”
He reflected on the two topics at the ordination to the transitional diaconate Thursday evening, May 27, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
A priest is a steward
What could be more fundamental regarding stewardship than a young man giving his life in service to God and his church as an ordained priest? he asked. “For just one young man to give his life as a response in this way is amazing, but we have witnessed this numerous times over the past several years.” Tonight we can add two more deacons, Seth Arnold and Jon Tolberd, Bishop Kemme said, and on Saturday four new priests, Matt Glazier, Andrew Meng, Chris Rumback, and Will Stuever.
The faithful of the diocese have a part in caring for the priests, he said, because priests provide the “ministries of word and sacrament” vital for the diocese to flourish.
“These past 15 months have made it abundantly clear to me that exercising ordained ministry is growing more and more challenging, but not only because of the pandemic, more so because of the age in which we are entering. Times are changing for the church and for the world and we must open our eyes to see, discern, and act, as Pope Francis urges all of us.”
Quoting Msgr. James P. Shea’s book, From Christendom to Apostolic Mission, the bishop said society has left a period of Christendom and entered into a new period of Apostolic Mission.
Msgr. Shea is president of the University of Mary in Bismark, North Dakota.
“This new apostolic period, like those preceding it, will require of bishops, priests, and deacons – and indeed all the baptized – to reorder our lives, to prioritize our ministry and the way we live as Catholics and to transform ourselves into mission spirit-driven shepherds and sheep for the church in which Christ has called us to live in this complex 21st century.”
Msgr. Shea on preaching
Bishop Kemme quoted Msgr. Shea about the ministry of preaching and witnessing:
“In an apostolic age the bishop, priest, and deacon ‘needs to live in and be animated by a Christian vision and a pattern of practices that touch every aspect of life: a pattern ordered to loving obedience to counter the perennial idol of pride; ordered to chastity to counter the aggressive eroticization in the wider culture; ordered to poverty to counter rampant greed and debasing consumerism; ordered to fraternity and common life to counter isolation and fragmentation endemic to modern life and to provide a witness of brotherly love; ordered to prayer, liturgy, and the unseen world to stay in touch with the most important aspects of reality; ordered to austerity to fight the enervating push toward comfort and to maintain missionary zeal; ordered to charity and to effective preaching to reach hearts with the Gospel; ordered to love of the scriptures and to theological study to be able to catechize and teach the faith and to meet the intellectual challenges of a highly sophisticated age; and ordered to common initiatives to spearhead a new evangelistic mission. And running through all is a vision ordered to the deep joy of a life given for love of Christ and in imitation of him, configured to him in the priesthood, consecrated to him and to his service.”
Bishop Kemme apologized for the long quote saying he couldn’t express it any better.
“Our preaching will need to be transformed if we hope to effectively share the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Referring to the parable of the Sower and the Seed, the bishop said priests sow the Word of God: the definitive answer to all the questions of the human mind and all the longings of the human heart.
“We cannot be deterred from generously sowing the divine Word to each person within our ministry; nor can we be reticent to do so when we encounter the soul that, like the footpath, is worn down from all that has been tried and borne little fruit; or be discouraged when we encounter the soul that is hardened like a rock or thorny and difficult to reach. No, we must sow the seed in every place and to everyone, if we hope to preach and teach as Jesus did.”
Bishop makes suggestions about preaching
Bishop Kemme said he and his priests’ preaching must not be overly moralistic, political, banal, or entertaining.
“This type of preaching, if you can even call it preaching, will fail to win hearts and minds for Christ. No, our preaching now more than ever, must be based in Truth, as revealed in the scriptures; it must be real and relatable, helping our people connect the dots and it must be dynamically evangelistic, stirring the hearts of our listeners to greater faith, to a more faithful discipleship and to a greater love for God in the midst of this passing world.”
The ordained have great challenges ahead, he said, if for no other reason than it will require a heroic witness no one could have imagined a few years ago.
“We, therefore, need your prayers, your encouragement, your bold witness for with these we will be filled with courage, which will be the required virtue in these times. Please pray for our newly ordained deacons and priests as they offer their lives now in service, joining us as servants and sowers of the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ in this New Apostolic Age.”