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February 20, 2014

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 Pope Francis Appoints Springfield Priest to Head Diocese of Wichita, Kansas

Statement of Bishop-elect Carl A. Kemme pdfPDF | Video
Statement of Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki pdfPDF | Video

Kemme CarlSPRINGFIELD, Illinois – His Holiness, Pope Francis, has named Msgr. Carl A. Kemme, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, to be the 11th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas. The appointment was announced today in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-elect Kemme, age 53, will succeed now-Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, who in April 2013 was named head of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa.

Bishop-elect Kemme said he was “deeply humbled and honored by the appointment of Pope Francis as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.”

“To be a bishop in the church has never been something I have sought or dreamed possible,” he said. “I have accepted this assignment relying solely on God’s grace and mercy to help me fulfill the lofty responsibilities of this office. The confidence our beloved Holy Father has shown in me is a source of humility and peace in knowing that God chooses the weak and sinful to accomplish his great mission in the world.”

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki said that he believes Pope Francis has made wise choice in selecting the new bishop.

“Pope Francis has recognized the gifts and talents of Monsignor Carl Kemme and has chosen wisely in selecting him to be Bishop of Wichita,” the bishop said. “His parents, family, friends, fellow clergy and I have known for many years that Bishop-elect Kemme is a man of deep faith and love for the Lord and the people of God. We will all be sorry to see him leave our diocese, but we congratulate him on his appointment and rejoice that he will share his abundant abilities with the wider church as a successor of the apostles. I am personally very grateful to Bishop-elect Kemme for his devoted dedication as vicar general and moderator of the curia, as well as for his skillful service as diocesan administrator prior to my appointment as bishop of Springfield in Illinois.

“May God bless Bishop-elect Kemme and the people of the Diocese of Wichita!” he said.

Bishop-elect Kemme is the son of Donald and Marita (Kortte) Kemme. He has four brothers and one sister and grew up on a small family farm in rural Shumway. His family attended and his parents are still members of the Church of the Annunciation Parish there.

He was a student at Shumway Elementary School and Beecher City High School and then attended St. Henry’s Preparatory Seminary in Belleville where he received his high school diploma. He entered the Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield in 1978, and then graduated from Cardinal Glennon College and Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, where he earned the bachelor of arts and the master of divinity degrees.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 10, 1986 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Illinois.

After his ordination, he served as parochial vicar at St. Patrick, Decatur; Ss. Peter and Paul, Collinsville; and Blessed Sacrament, Springfield. He has served as pastor of St. Mary, Brussels, St. Joseph, Meppen, and St. Barbara, Batchtown (1992-1996); Holy Family, Decatur (1996-2002); St. Peter, Petersburg (2002-2005); and St. John Vianney, Sherman (2005-2012).

In 2002, he was appointed vicar general/moderator of the curia by then-Bishop George J. Lucas, and additionally served as diocesan chancellor from January to June 2005. When Bishop Lucas was named head of the Archdiocese of Omaha in June 2009, Msgr. Kemme served as diocesan administrator until June 2010 when Bishop Paprocki was installed for the Springfield see. Msgr. Kemme has continued to serve as vicar general/moderator of the curia for Bishop Paprocki.

On Aug. 23, 2002, he was named a Prelate of Honor with the title Monsignor by Blessed John Paul II. Msgr. Kemme is a fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher. He is chaplain for the Courage Apostolate in the diocese.

Bishop-elect Kemme will be introduced to his new diocese today during a news conference at 9 a.m. at the offices of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, 424 N. Broadway in Wichita. His episcopal ordination will be held on May 1.

“Of course, I will miss my family, my friends, my bishop, my brother priests, and co-workers in our diocesan curia in the Diocese of Springfield, but at the same time look forward to making my home now in the State of Kansas and in the Diocese of Wichita,” Bishop-elect Kemme said.

The Diocese of Wichita was erected in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII. According to the diocesan website, the diocese covers 20,021 square miles and includes 25 counties in the southeast corner of the state. It is home to 114,195 Catholics in 90 parishes.

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois was erected in 1853 by Pope Pius IX. The diocese serves over 140,000 Catholics in 130 parishes and covers 15,139 square miles in 28 counties in central Illinois.

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