Reprinted from the Catholic Advance:
Bishop Carl A. Kemme heard about the desires and the expectations of a group of young Wichita area adults during a listening session Monday night at a Theology on Tap event in Loft 150 in Old Town.
It was the fourth since the opening session Sunday, Aug. 27, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita. A listening session was held Thursday, Sept. 7, in Spanish at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
Bishop Kemme announced the listening sessions after returning from The Joy in the Gospel in America Convocation held July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida. The gatherings of the faithful, held throughout the diocese, are a way “for us to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking through the entire community of faith,” he said last month.
After visiting with about 125 young men and women during a social hour, Bishop Kemme sat on a stage in the corner of the room next to Father David Lies, vicar general of the Diocese of Wichita, who welcomed those attending and opened the listening session by asking: What does the Diocese of Wichita do well?
One of the first to answer, David, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said the diocese offers young adults opportunities to be a part of the church and to meet each other.
Bryan, a member of the Church of the Resurrection, said the diocese does a lot of things well, in general, but praised the diocese for its dedication to Catholic education. He attributed the large number of seminarians studying for the diocese to the emphasis on Catholic education.
One young adult commended the diocese’s promotion of the stewardship way of life and emphasized the connection of stewardship to providing a Catholic education to children of all demographics.
Adam, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said the diocese does Eucharistic adoration well, something he didn’t understand until he didn’t live in the diocese.
One young woman said she appreciated the availability of the Sacrament of Confession across the parishes in Wichita and wished it was more readily available in the smaller towns.
Jessica said she was awed by the women religious in the diocese and the priests. “They are really amazing people,” she said.
Kristin, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Wichita, said she misses the reverence of the Mass when she is outside the Diocese of Wichita. “Wichita takes pride in liturgy done right,” she said.
Another Kristin, a member of St. Jude Parish in Wichita, said the diocese does an excellent job of nurturing young priests. “It’s exciting to see the life of the church is vibrant here…it’s very encouraging.”
A young man appreciated the strong pro-life movement in the diocese. Daniel was amazed by the number who participate in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. “It’s a great witness,” he said.
Jarrod, formerly of the Diocese of Dodge City, said he was impressed with the number of Masses available on Saturday evenings and Sunday. An employee of Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, he added that he especially appreciated the 9 o’clock Mass Sunday nights at Wichita State’s St. Paul University Parish when he had to work on Sundays.
There was also a variety of answers to the second question: What can the diocese do better?
One young woman who said she had attended public schools her entire life felt the catechists in her PSR needed better formation. She also said she would like more support for young adults at the parish level.
Another young woman said it seemed that when someone questioned the Catholic faith in high school she felt they were “shut down’ instead of being allowed to express themselves.
Several men and women suggested more focus be placed on small towns, and to make more resources available to parishes there.
One woman said she didn’t believe religious vocations for women were emphasized as much as vocations to the priesthood.
A diocesan employee said she would like to see more education for our priests about persons with disabilities and how to involve people with disabilities in the parish. “Mental illness has a huge stigma…how can we work to involve these people into the parish, into the church,” she said.
Several attending said they felt single young adults weren’t valued by their parishes.
Father Lies also asked participants what priorities they believe Bishop Kemme should have in the future.
Bryan, a recent graduate of Wichita State, said the church needs to be a place of community. “What I love about St. Paul’s was that the church wasn’t just a place on Sunday, it was a place where you gathered and did everything.”
A woman said confirmation should be a priority across the diocese.
Another young woman who recently moved into the diocese said evangelization should be a priority. “Focus on going out to those who don’t know Christ,” she said.
Bishop Kemme, closed the listening session by thanking everyone for being a part of the evening. He said he was impressed by the way they articulated their thoughts. “I’m not sure (at their age) that I would have been able to express myself as well as you did,” he said.
He added that he had great expectations of a future together.
“We have a lot of challenges,” Bishop Kemme said. “We are blessed – but we can’t take that for granted. We can’t assume we’ll always have wonderful blessings.”
He said he looks forward to many years of service as bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.
“We need to work to deepen our faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “We can have all the finest resources…but it doesn’t mean anything unless we are deepening our faith in Jesus Christ. If we’re working on that, we are working on something truly worthwhile.”
Bishop Kemme said he is always open to hearing from the faithful. “I really value your input and your participation in the life of our diocese.”
Although the dioceses has challenges, it also has hope, he said.
“We can’t do it on our own, but together. I want Christ to reign in our diocese and in our homes and in our streets,” he said.
Bishop’s listening session schedule
Here are the dates, times, and locations for the remainder of Bishop Kemme’s listening sessions:
• Oct. 1: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 3 p.m.
• Oct. 7: Holy Cross Parish, Hutchinson, 10 a.m
• Oct. 27: Session for Diocesan Curia only
• Oct. 29: St. Patrick Parish, Parsons, 1 p.m.
• Nov. 5: St. Mary Parish, Derby, 1:30 p.m.
• Nov. 18: 10 a.m., Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Pittsburg
• Nov. 30: Priests only