WICHITA, Kan. —
As he stood before a packed cathedral in Wichita, Kansas, the ordination of bishop was far beyond the childhood aspirations of Shumway native Carl Kemme.
“I only wanted to be a priest for as long as I can remember,” said Kemme. “I never planned on being a bishop, but God willed that I was chosen to do this.”
Many of Kemme’s family attended the ordination Thursday, including three brothers, sister, parents and several nieces and nephews.
“Thursday was quite a big day for me and my family,” said Kemme. “Being ordained was a memorable experience, and one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
Kemme began his religious path following his freshman year at Beecher City High School after which he attended several seminary schools around the state. For the past 28 years, he has served in the Springfield Diocese working in larger cities, such as Decatur and Collinsville, along with many small towns in between. The 53-year-old was vicar general of the diocese when Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Wichita in February. Kemme succeeds Michael Jackels, who was appointed archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa, last year.
The Wichita Diocese, which encompasses 90-plus churches, reminds Kemme of his time in Illinois.
“Wichita is a nice city, and the people are very nice,” he said. “There are a lot of little rural farming communities around it.”
Along with “the large amount of business in the diocese,” and holding a daily Mass, Kemme will guide the priests that serve the area.
“We have 100 priests here in Wichita,” said Kemme. “I will interact with them very closely. I will appoint priests, help encourage, and sometimes challenge them. It is my job to make sure they are performing their ministry effectively.”
Kemme will start confirming young Catholics this weekend and be in his office Monday morning.
“It was a great event,” said Kemme. “Now it’s time to get to work.”
Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 138 email@example.com or on Twitter@Ednthuffman.