Pope Francis has appointed the vicar general of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., to be bishop of Wichita, Kan., and also named a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami.
In Kansas, Msgr. Carl A. Kemme, 53, vicar general and moderator of the curia in Springfield, will succeed Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, who was named to head the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, in April 2013.
Miami’s newly named auxiliary is Msgr. Peter Baldacchino, also 53, who since 1999 has been chancellor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a juridical mission of the New Jersey archdiocese.
The appointments were announced Feb. 20 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-designate Kemme’s episcopal ordination and installation as the 11th bishop of Wichita is scheduled for May 1. Bishop-designate Baldacchino’s episcopal ordination will take place in March, but the date has not yet been announced.
Wichita’s newly named bishop is a native of Illinois. He grew up on a small family farm in rural Shumway, Ill. His family attended of Annunciation Church there and his parents are still members of the parish. Bishop-designate Baldacchino was born in Malta; he holds dual citizenship in his home country and the United States.
Msgr. Robert E. Hemberger, Wichita’s diocesan administrator, said Bishop-designate Kemme will find in his new diocese “a people who are resourceful and faith-filled … who know about the great love of God for each and all human beings. … who are ready to roll up their sleeves and make a difference in this part of the world.”
“He will find a people who will welcome and work, who will pray and hope, who will create beauty and community,” added the priest in a statement introducing Bishop-designate Kemme at a morning news conference.
“Pope Francis has reached into the heart of Illinois, to the diocese of Springfield, to call forth a pastor. God has heard our prayers for a wise and loving bishop to guide us in building up the body of Christ and the reign of God,” said Msgr. Hemberger.
Bishop-designate Kemme was ordained a priest for the Springfield Diocese in 1986, and named a monsignor in 2002. He has been parochial vicar, pastor or administrator at a number of parishes. He has had two tenures as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the diocese, from 2002 to 2009, then from 2010 to the present.
In between those assignments, he was pastor of St. John Vianney Church in Sherman, Ill., and from 2009 to 2010 served as administrator of the diocese, after then-Bishop George J. Lucas was named archbishop of Omaha, Neb., and before Springfield’s current bishop, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, was installed.
Bishop-designate Kemme, the son of Donald and Marita Kemme, has four brothers and one sister and. He studied at the Springfield’s diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Glennon College in St. Louis and Kenrick Seminary, also in St. Louis.
“As time unfolds, we’ll get to know each other very well, perhaps and hopefully for me to know you by name,” said Bishop-designate Kemme in a statement at the Wichita news conference. “I look forward to that discovery and I hope you do as well.
“For today, it is enough to acknowledge that now we are in this together, writing together the next chapter, a glorious, hope filled and exciting chapter in the history of the Diocese of Wichita,” he continued. “This is the joy of the Gospel about which Pope Francis has recently written to the church. It is your joy and mine to follow the Lord together, as brothers and sisters and to leave no one behind. … The fact that our journeys have now intersected by God’s providence and from now on we will journey together makes me very happy, very happy indeed.”
Bishop Paprocki said in a statement Bishop-designate 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.”
The Wichita Diocese covers more than 20,000 square miles. Catholics number about 113,000 out of a total population of close to 1 million.
In Miami, Bishop-designate Baldacchino will assist Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, who welcomed the appointment of an auxiliary bishop, the first for the archdiocese in about three years.
Peter Baldacchino was born Dec. 5, 1960, in Sliema, Malta, and holds citizenship in both the United States and Malta. He studied for the priesthood at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark, 1990-1996, and was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1996. He was named a monsignor in 2009.
After his priestly ordination, he was parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, N.J., for three years. Then in 1999 he was named chancellor of the Turks and Caicos Islands. By the end of 1998 the chain of islands, about 90 miles north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, had been put under the jurisdiction of the Newark Archdiocese at the request of the Vatican.
Since 2002, Bishop-designate Baldacchino also has been pastor of Our Lady of Providence Church on Providenciales Island.
He holds a diploma in sciences from the University of Malta; electrical installation licenses from Umberto Calosso Trade School, Malta; a bachelor of arts from Thomas A. Edison State College in Trenton, N.J., and a master’s of divinity degree in pastoral ministry from the School of Theology at Seton Hall University in Orange, N.J.
He speaks English, Italian, Maltese, Spanish and Creole.
The Miami Archdiocese, which covers three counties in South Florida, has a Catholic population of more than 1.3 million out of a total population of 4.4 million. Mass is celebrated in 17 languages; there are 108 churches and missions and 57 schools.