Why the Wichita Diocese has so Many Priests

Why the Wichita Diocese has so Many Priests

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, Bishop Carl A. Kemme of the Wichita Diocese ordained ten men to the transitional diaconate. God willing, those men, next May, will be ordained priests.

Just one week later, on Saturday, May 20, 2017, Bishop Kemme ordained ten men to the priesthood.


Twenty men have decided to follow Jesus no matter where He leads.

Which kind of begs the question,

what the heck is going on in the Wichita Diocese?

Why have so many men made this decision?

As I have watched and studied our priests, I have to tell you some things.

We have remarkable priests, each and every one with different personalities and gifts.

Some are crazy intelligent.

Some are deeply, deeply spiritual.

Some are fantastic with other cultures.

Some are bilingual.

Some are incredible preachers; their homilies resonate for days, weeks and even years, changing me from the inside out.

Some are super considerate and kind; as I talk to them I feel like I am in the presence of Jesus Himself.

Some are wonderful confessors.

I have priests that have given ME back to me, when I was lost in my own wilderness. They listened and then guided in tremendously life-giving ways.

They are real men, manly men.

Some drive big pick-up trucks; some have motorcycles.

Some are super athletic.

Some smoke and some are “smokin’ hot.”

Yep, I am married but I do have eyes in my head. We have some incredibly good-looking priests.

What I am trying to say is this:

Wichita Priests aren’t the Bottom of the Barrel types.

These are cream of the crop, fantastic men.


They love people and good whiskey and a good laugh. They love Our Lady and they embrace eternal truths.

They believe, deeply, in the sixth chapter of John. They believe every word. They have given their life for the hard truths in that chapter.

They are evangelists, living out that truth.

They give us that truth, that incredibly hard-to-believe truth, that Manna from Heaven truth, every single day.

They are devout. They are humble. When they struggle, they work on it. I have seen it in person, as they have made mistakes and asked for forgiveness publicly as well as privately.

They love what they do.

One time I went to confession on a Saturday evening at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.

After the priest heard my confession, I had this big feeling of, “I feel sorry for him.” I mean, it was a SATURDAY NIGHT and he was sitting in a confessional, praying his evening prayers and hearing an occasional confession.

I felt like I should give him something, to make amends for his crappy life. On a whim, I ran to the liquor store, grabbed my favorite six pack of beer and brought it back to the church.

No one else was in the church, the confessional door was open and the green light (indicating no one was talking with the priest) was shining; I walked in.

I went past the little divider, sat in the chair provided for those going face-to-face, smiled at my priest and said, “I brought you a gift.”

He took the bag, opened it, saw the beer and he gave me this quizzical look.

I said, “You like beer, right?”

“Yes, but why?”

I explained, “I cannot imagine how you must feel, stuck here on a Saturday night and all.”

He said, “Lori, no gifts needed. This is my vocation and I love it.”

I will never forget the look on his face as he spoke those words to me. He meant every word. He loved his life.

So I took the beer home and drank it.

Just kidding. But the truth is: we have crazy wonderful priests in our Wichita Diocese.

We have strong, intelligent, good-looking, witty, joyful, selfless and charismatic priests.

They love Jesus and they want to bring Jesus to His People. They want to serve. They want to lay down their lives for others. Literally.

Why the Wichita Diocese has so many priests

Good priests attract good priests.

And that, more than anything, is why we have so many men being ordained.

Ask any priest why he felt called and he will, most likely, tell you the name of another priest.

If you ask my son Mitchell, just finishing his second year of seminary, why he feels called to the priesthood and he will tell you, “Fr. Ben Sawyer.”

If you ask him to be more specific he’ll tell you, “I have never been around someone with that much joy.”

(Letting go of Mitch has not been easy. Read more about that in this post, Taking My Child to Seminary.)

SO, there you have it. That’s our secret here in the Wichita Diocese. It’s not the parents or the families or the Bishop or even the water.

Like attracts like.

Fabulous priests attract fabulous men to the priesthood.

Lori Doerneman

Lori Doerneman

I love my marriage consummated and my Jesus consecrated. I also love seeing the eternal in the ordinary tasks of every day life. That's why I write.
Lori Doerneman

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18 thoughts on “Why the Wichita Diocese has so Many Priests

  1. Great article! I chuckled when you said you took the beer home and drank it yourself. Keep doing what you do, Lori!

  2. Take alcohol to the church? Any biblical justification in the NT for that?
    Confess then go get drunk??

    1. Bill,
      I admit, fully, that taking alcohol into a church was not the brightest thing to do. I look back on that, fifteen years later, and cringe. But if you get stuck on that then I am sorry that my crazy got in the way of the real message!

    2. Jesus shared wine at the Last Supper, we bring alcohol into the church at the beginning of every holy sacrifice of the Mass, alcohol is not evil but in fact necessary for us to fulfill the Savior’s command, “Do this in memory of me”.

      1. True. I just do NOT want something that I wrote on my blog to be a reason that someone has another reason to hate my beloved Church. I love, love, love being Catholic. Thanks for your comment, Jeff.

  3. I think that another of the main reasons that we have so many vocations in our diocese is that we make Stewardship A Way of Life. It is not a program, but a way to live our everyday lives, sharing our lives and God-given gifts with others. We are the only diocese in the US that practices it the way it was taught by Msgr. McGread while he was Pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish over 35 years ago in Wichita, KS. A good Catholic education is part of that stewardship, and that is why that education is considered one of the missions of the parish. With a good educational foundation in the faith, in addition to the other important areas of academics, more vocations tend to follow. We are now seeing the fruits of the seeds he planted so many years ago.

    1. Bill, I was talking to a priest this weekend and he mentioned that many young people, enjoying the fruits of stewardship, aren’t actually being great stewards. Their parents were, though. If that is true, then we, the “OLDER” folks, need to do a better job at educating our kids on truly entering into the stewardship way of life. Thanks for your comment! Lots to be grateful for…

  4. I would add one more reason, Lori, and that would be our diocesan-wide practice of Perpetual Adoration. As one of many who have spent an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament for around 30 years or so, I can attest to its impact on me, others and our diocese.

  5. Enjoyed your article. We do have fabulous priests! We also have several Adoration Chapels! I believe that is why we have so many vocations! You must be overjoyed to have your son in the seminary. We have a daughter who is a Dominican sister. We all miss her, my husband and I and all of her many siblings. It was hard, especially for her sisters, at first! And we have much less contact with her than parents with diocesan priests. But I am closer than ever to her. That is spiritually! We are both praying together. And I am overjoyed that Our Lord called her and enabled her to answer. She is right where Jesus wants her!
    We continue to remember our priests and seminarians in our prayers. God bless you!

    1. Beth, how wonderful that your daughter answered the call.
      I cannot imagine how much you must miss her. We see Mitchell once a month during the school year and talk once a week. I may be a private smother mother. I love my babies so much.
      Thank you for your prayers.

  6. I think there’s more to it. In particular, our school system. It was probably abused at first, but as time went on, it started to produce fruit. A lot more kids grew up in this environment, and became adults who wouldn’t have made that choice if they didn’t grow up in this environment.

  7. Shall we count the priest who had an affair with my niece last year, and barely got his hand smacked and is now back in his church as if nothing happened, while she is still dealing with the fall-out and scandal?

    1. Debra, I am so sorry to hear this about your niece. I can only imagine her hurt and feelings of betrayal. I am a staunch supporter of priests, as you can tell from my article, but I also am not afraid to call people out when they are wrong. That priest was wrong, totally and completely. Please accept my apology, for what it’s worth. And may those in position to make this right, do so, not only for your niece, but for all of us.

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