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This week an Illinois man was ordained bishop for the Diocese of Wichita.  We had been without a bishop for more than a year.  On February 20 of this year, Pope Frances named Karl Kemme, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, as the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.  On May 1st, Bishop-elect Kemme was ordained a bishop and took possession of the Diocese of Wichita.

During our time without a bishop, sede vacante, Msgr. Bob Hemberger served as the diocesan administrator  The priests of the diocese have been very pleased with Msgr.'s governance of the diocese over these past twelve months  Some even wondered how much we really needed a bishop.  It seemed like the diocese was doing well.

Although the diocese continued its mission after the transfer of Bishop Jackels, in the hearts of many, including myself, something was missing.  I believe that intuition of incompleteness corresponded to the nature of the Church as a community of the faithful shepherded by Christ in the person of the bishop--Remember that priests function to assist the bishop in his pastoral care of the diocese.  In other words, for a full year, we were without the visible presence of Christ the Good Shepherd.  Although many of the functions of the Good Shepherd were being carried out by Msgr. Hemberger, the priests of the diocese and certain members of the faithful, ther personal and visible presence of the shepherd has been absent.  I compare it to a family without a father.  The other members of the family can survive and fulfill the work of the family, but something is certainly amiss.   

With the arrival of Bishop Kemme, an intrinsic and interior wholeness has been restored to the People of God in the Diocese of Wichita.  Just like a family that rejoices when its father arrives home and again experiences wholeness and unity, so our diocese rejoices as the bishop takes his pastoral role as "teacher of doctrine, priest of sacred worship and minister of governance" (Code of Canon Law, Canon 375).  It is for this reason that Bishop Kemme designated this past Friday as a day of rejoicing and thanksgiing for the the diocese. Accordingly, all Catholic schools had the day off and most diocese and parish staff, the same.  The school kids already like him. :-)

It is truly a time of thanksgiving and rejoicing as we celebrate our wholeness as a portion of the People of God entrusted to Bishop Kemme as shepherd (Canon 369),  As Bishop Kemme begins his office as ordinary for the Diocese of Wichita, we pray that he may possess and grow in those attributes mentioned by St. Paul to Timothy, "Therefore, a bishop may be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money" (1 Tim. 2-3).

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor
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