Father Kemberling to receive 2012 Serra Salute award for fostering vocations
By Julie Filby
Photo courtesy St. Thomas More Parish
The 2012 Serra Salute dinner, sponsored by the Serra Trust Fund for Vocations, is set for Sept. 14 at Pinehurst Country Club in Denver. This year’s honoree for his work in fostering vocations is Father Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Thomas More Church in Centennial.
“Father Kemberling is a priest first, who loves his vocation and therefore has directed a great number of young people to theirs,” said past Trust chair, Lucy Kane.
According to the parish, three parishioners have recently been ordained to the priesthood, plus two from the church’s Neocatechumenal Way communities; two to the diaconate, and three women have professed vows as religious sisters. In addition, 10 parishioners are in formation for the priesthood, one for the diaconate, and five more have applied for diaconate formation.
“We really take seriously that a vocation is a gift,” explained Father Kemberling. “It’s a gift from God, from families and from a community. My job as a pastor is to take care of that gift … it needs to be nurtured and fostered.”
The parish employs a multi-layered system of supporting vocational calls, with the clearest being eucharistic adoration.
“Any parish that has eucharistic adoration fosters vocations,” said Father Kemberling. “I believe since we have been doing that it’s been an important factor in our stewardship of vocation.”
The annual Called By Name program allows parishioners to nominate someone they recognize as being called to religious life by listing them on a form collected during Mass. Father Kemberling then follows up with each individual.
“When you hear a vocation call, it may be for you, your son, daughter, niece, nephew,” he said. “Once you have it, don’t lose it … take care of it, as with any gift from God.”
The parish has two traveling chalices to encourage praying for vocations: one that circulates in the school, and one available for parish families to have in their homes.
DID YOU KNOW?
On April 14, Father Andrew Kemberling, pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, was invited to lead the opening prayer at the 2012 Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention in the Magness Arena at the University of Denver. There he said the moral challenges facing the country are not caused by political affiliation, but rather by attacks on religious freedom; and he encouraged all people of conscience to uphold religious freedom. The invocation has garnered significant national attention including more than 1 million views online and recognition on the Glenn Beck radio program July 17. To watch the video, visit http://stthomasmore.org/parish-clergy/video/invocation
“It really institutionalizes how important it is to pray for vocations,” he said.
Another layer involves the mission, goals and objectives in the pastoral plans of the parish.
“Each commission needs to report how they accomplished the objective of vocation awareness,” he said.
The parish hires high school interns during the summer in the youth department, to give teens a chance to see what youth ministry is “really like.” In addition, they hire at least two sacristans, and these individuals are required to have a vocational interest.
“I joke: ‘If you enjoy sausage, you’ve got to find out how sausage is made,’” he said with a laugh. “You might not want to eat it when you find out how it’s made.”
For additional saturation, prayers for vocations are said at Mass, and are included in the parish newsletter and bulletin.
Father Kemberling was selected from several nominees provided by Serra Clubs throughout the Denver Archdiocese. The Arizona native has served at St. Thomas More since 2000. A former Benedictine priest, he was incardinated into the archdiocese in 2002. He attended the University of Arizona where he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s in art education. He received a master of divinity degree at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and was ordained in 1988.
The Serra Trust exists to provide financial assistance to men and women in formation for the priesthood, diaconate or religious life. The Serra Salute begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased by calling 303-671-3012 by Sept. 7. Pinehurst Country Club is located at 6255 W. Quincy Ave. in Denver.