by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A pastor with a deep love for the Mass and the traditions of the church played an important role in the vocational journey of Father David J. Kemna, who was ordained a priest Oct. 2 at St. Mary-St. Anthony Parish here.
“Father Albert Schmaltz maintained a love for all the tradition of the liturgy,” said Father David. “We had 40 Hours devotions, eucharistic adoration and processions.”
His parents also set an example for him, said Father David, with their commitment to Catholic education and by nurturing a strong prayer life in the family with family rosaries, nightly and meal prayers, and faithful Mass attendance.
The witness of Father Schmaltz, now deceased, and the faithful lives of his own parents planted the seed of the vocation that would lead him to become a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
He was ordained to the priesthood for that fraternity according to the Extraordinary Form, or traditional Roman Rite, a ritual has not been celebrated in the archdiocese for a number of years. The music at the solemn pontifical Mass featured Gregorian chant by the St. Philippine Duchesne choir of Kansas City, Kan., and the Schola of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary of Denton, Neb.
Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher was the ordaining minister and homilist. Father Charles Van Vliet, FSSP, was the assistant priest for the archbishop. Father James Gordon, FSSP, Maple Hill, served as deacon. Father John Fongemie, FSSP, Kansas City, Kan., served as subdeacon. Father Eric Flood, FSSP, North American district supervisor of the Society of St. Peter, and Father John Riley, archdiocesan chancellor, served as archdeacons.
In his homily, Archbishop Keleher spoke of the rich gifts that come from the cross of Jesus.
“You will receive that same Holy Spirit who will change your life forever by burning into your heart and soul an image of Christ the priest,” said the archbishop. “He will do it with his unquenchable fire, so that its precious image and character is indestructible. We priests pray that the Spirit of Jesus will inspire us to lead worthy lives, so that the beautiful image we received on our ordination day will remain forever untarnished.”
Father David, 36, is the son of Joseph and Arlene (now deceased) David of St. Charles, Mo. He has five brothers (one deceased) and two sisters. He graduated from Orchard Farm High School in 1992, and attended Maryville University in St. Louis and Lindenwood University in St. Charles.
Father David held a variety of jobs after that, including working in a program for troubled youths in Alaska and in a program that helped disabled people live independently. These two jobs, in particular, led the future priest to think of what significant things he could do with his life that would serve others.
But perhaps it was his mother’s advice that provided the true catalyst to his discernment. She encouraged him to watch EWTN, a Catholic television network.
“I took her advice, and my eyes were opened to the richness of the Catholic faith, especially the holy Eucharist,” said Father David. “I really delved into the teachings of the church and experienced a strong desire to attend daily Mass.”
Father David entered the St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Lincoln, Neb., in 2000. After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2003, he investigated a monastic calling at Carmelite monasteries in Minnesota and Wyoming.
Further discernment led him to study theology at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Neb.
The Society of St. Peter operates the seminary and Father David joined the society. He was ordained a transitional deacon in the seminary chapel in March, and was assigned to St. John Vianney Chapel, served by the society, in Maple Hill.
Father David celebrated his first solemn high Mass on Oct. 3 at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kan. His first assignment has not yet been determined.
Father David recommended three things for young men who want to consider a vocation to the priesthood.
“The first thing is prayer,” he said. “Without prayer and a very strong love and relationship with God, you won’t hear his call. Another thing is to seek a good spiritual director. And [finally] visit a seminary or a religious community.”