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New Wichita bishop warned

Don’t face ‘daunting’ challenges ahead alone


By Christopher M. Riggs
Editor, Catholic Advance, Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (CNS) -- Bishop Carl A. Kemme began his service as the 11th bishop of Wichita May 1 with a warning from a fellow bishop.

“The responsibilities of a bishop can be daunting, especially if you operate on the illusion that you can do it on your own,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City. “If this sounds overwhelming and intimidating, it’s because it is.”

Archbishop Naumann, the principal ordaining bishop for the service held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, said it was auspicious that Bishop Kemme was ordained on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and recommended he “call upon St. Joseph” for his intercession, when needed.

Co-ordaining bishops included Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska; Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois; and retired Bishop Eugene J. Gerber of Wichita.

In remarks after his ordination, Bishop Kemme referenced Psalm 23 in saying: “Indeed my cup overflows with gratitude to God for all that he has done for this lowly servant of his. The many blessings that have come my way because of God’s particular generosity to me fill me with deep humility and devotion.”

He thanked family, friends, the many dignitaries, and others who filled the cathedral to capacity, saying that he will serve the diocese where he will “live, grow in faith, and God willing eventually die, having fought the good fight, having completed the race, whenever it will be God’s desire to call me into eternal life.”

After commenting on the presence of the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Carlo M. Vigano, and Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, he thanked Archbishop Naumann for serving as the ordaining prelate and Msgr. Robert Hemberger for his service in the transition between bishops.

“I am very grateful for the kindnesses that you have shown to me in helping me over these past two months to know as much as I can about the Diocese of Wichita,” Bishop Kemme said. “I will look forward to calling upon you in the future for your wise counsel and prayerful advice.”

In closing, the newly ordained bishop again recalled Psalm 23: “’You have anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.’ I hope you will also echo those same words in your life,” he said.

“Seen through the eyes of faith, so much of our lives is a blessing, even those realities that do not at first appear so. Gratitude will lead us to humble service and expanding generosity; service and generosity will deepen faith, and faith will open for us the door to eternal life. I pray that today and always, we will all say that our cup is overflowing.”

Bishop Kemme, 53, served for 18 years as a pastor and in the chancery of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, before his episcopal appointment in February.

In a message to the Diocese of Springfield, Archbishop Naumann said, “Our gain is your loss, we feel badly about that, but not too badly.”

Others attending the ordination included Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa; Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City; Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Salina, Kansas; Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City, Kansas; and Bishop Emeritus Ronald M. Gilmore of Dodge City.

Riggs is editor of the Catholic Advance, newspaper of the Diocese of Wichita.

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