Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - Bishop James Conley will celebrate the annual Chrism Mass Monday, April 14, at 5 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.
Bishop Conley will bless the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick and will consecrate the Sacred Chrism for use in parishes throughout the Diocese of Lincoln in the coming year. All are invited to attend.
Also, at the Chrism Mass, there will be a solemn renewal of priestly promises made by all the priests. Several priests of the diocese will celebrate milestone anniversaries of their ordination at the Chrism Mass.
Msgr. James Dawson - 60 Years
Msgr. James Dawson was born in Fairmont, and attended St. Patrick Parish in McCool Junction.
At the age of 16, Msgr. Dawson, said, he wanted to be a teacher, a banker or a priest. After meeting with Bishop Louis B. Kucera, he settled on the priesthood.
Once ordained, Msgr. Dawson first served at Holy Family Parish in Lincoln, which later became the Cathedral of the Risen Christ. His five siblings all moved to the parish, so the family lived within blocks of each other. Through the years, Msgr. Dawson served as a teacher, school administrator, vicar general – overseeing diocesan finances among other duties – and parish priest. So, in the long run, he was a teacher, a banker and a priest.
“Sixty years has gone so fast. It’s just been wonderful,” Msgr. Dawson said. “The priesthood is just an unbelievable life. To think that you could spend so much time with God before you go to heaven and help other people so much!”
Msgr. Ivan Vap - 60 Years
Born in Hastings, Msgr. Ivan Vap grew up at St. Cecilia Parish, where the pastor and assistants were a great influence on his own vocation.
“Just being in their classrooms and serving at their liturgies, moved me toward the priesthood,” he said.
Msgr. Vap’s first assignment was St. Michael Parish in Fairbury. He next taught at Pius X High School in Lincoln, oversaw the building of Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, and then returned to Pius X.
“There is no bigger blessing and no more humbling a blessing than offering the Sacrifice of the Mass and coming into the lives of the people as a teacher, or a superintendent of schools or a pastor, or the rector of the Cathedral,” Msgr. Vap said.
He continued, “I was really blessed in being given a vocation to the priesthood. We just follow through on what the good Lord has intended for us, and that’s what gives us fulfillment and happiness.”
Msgr. Adrian Herbek - 55 Years
Growing up on a farm near Deweese, Msgr. Adrian Herbek’s family was very involved in Assumption Parish. Two out of the five children had priestly or religious vocations (Msgr. Herbek’s youngest sister is Sister Rosaline Herbek of the Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln).
“I had wonderful parents and grandparents,” he said. “They lived their faith.”
Msgr. Herbek was first assigned to Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, where he had his first of many experiences with Catholic education.
He taught religion, coached sports teams, conducted the marching band and drove the bus. He also launched a campaign that led to the purchase of a new bus with 3,000 Gold Bond Stamps booklets.
His described his joy in the priesthood by quoting a slogan he heard recently, “Bringing Christ to people and bringing people to Christ.”
“A lot of people may know about Christ, but they don’t know Him,” he said. “You’ve got to have a relationship with Him. Then go out and live the faith.”
Father William Kalin - 55 Years
Father William Kalin is a life-long member of St. Mary Parish in Lincoln. It is where he was baptized, confirmed and ordained. He made his first penance and first Communion there, and attended the parish school all 12 years.
His oldest brother, Father Gene Kalin, was a priest at his school; another brother was Msgr. Leonard Kalin. His uncle was Father Lawrence Kalin.
Father Kalin attributes this abundance of vocations to his godly parents.
“My dad went to daily Mass on a bicycle,” Father Kalin recalled. “He didn’t have a car because he had 10 kids.”
Father Kalin decided to become a priest in the fourth grade. Beginning with Holy Trinity Parish in Brainard, he had many wonderful assignments.
He is honored to have been chosen by God.
“My biggest blessing was that He would pick somebody like me to change bread and wine to God… and then to forgive sin,” he said. “It’s awesome to think about it.”
Father Philip Rauth - 55 Years
A strong friendship led Father Philip Rauth to consider a priestly vocation.
He grew up on a farm near York, attending St. Joseph Parish. Throughout his school years, he had a great friend, Father Thomas McCormick.
When the two were seniors in high school, Father McCormick had decided on seminary, while Father Rauth was considering a couple different professions.
In the long run, he decided to try the seminary as well, so the pair completed eight years of seminary together (Father McCormick later transferred to the Archdiocese of Denver when Bishop Casey was made archbishop there.)
Father Rauth’s first assignment was at St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln. He had many other fruitful experiences in various parishes throughout the Diocese of Lincoln.
“Being a priest is the biggest blessing there is,” he said.
He encouraged more young men to consider this wonderful vocation. “I’d just say, if one feels called to be sure to give it a try,” Father Rauth said.
Father Gary Brethour - 25 Years
Born in Scottsbluff, Father Brethour was first assigned to St. Patrick Parish in McCook. He in now back in McCook, where he is pastor to St. Patrick, St. Ann, and Sacred Heart in Hayes Center.
Father Brian Connor - 25 Years
A Kansas City native, Father Connor’s first assignment was Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Falls City. He is now pastor of North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln.
Father Matthew Eickhoff - 25 Years
Father Eickhoff was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa and grew up mostly in Omaha. His first assignment was St. Cecelia parish in Hastings. Today, in addition to serving as pastor for Holy Trinity parish in Brainard, Father Eickhoff directs the diocesan Family Life Office and the Office for Evangelization.
Bishop John T. Folda - 25 Years
Bishop Folda was born and raised in Omaha. His first assignment was the Cathedral of the Risen Christ Parish in Lincoln. While serving as rector of St. Gregory the Great seminary in Seward, he was named Bishop of Fargo (North Dakota) and ordained in June 2013.
Msgr. Thomas Fucinaro - 25 Years
Also an Omaha native, Msgr. Fucinaro was first assigned to St. Mary Parish in Lincoln. He is currently an official for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican.
Father Rayappa Konka - 25 Years
Born in Bhimavaram, India, Father Konka studied for his home diocese of Andhra Pradesh. He served as a priest there for 20 years before coming to the Diocese of Lincoln at the request of his bishop, using his salary to support priests back home. He currently serves as administrator of St. John Parish in Cambridge and St. Germanus Parish in Arapahoe.
Father Thomas Kuffel - 25 Years
Originally from Brookfield, Wisc., Father Kuffel was ordained in Rome to serve for an apostolic union of priests. He has had several assignments since transferring to the Diocese of Lincoln and currently is pastor of St. Stephen Parish in Exeter and St. Patrick Parish in McCool Junction. He is also director of Camp Kateri Tekakwitha in McCool Juncion.
Father Michael McCabe - 25 Years
A Lincolnite by birth, Father McCabe’s first assignment was at St. Mary Parish there. Now living in Nebraska City, he is pastor of St. Mary Parish, chaplain at St. Mary Hospital and superintendent of Lourdes Central Catholic Schools.
Father James Meysenburg - 25 Years
Father Meysenburg was raised near David City. His first assignment was at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Wahoo. He is now superintendent of Pius X High School in Lincoln, and in residence at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ.
Father Casey Porada - 25 Years
Born in England and raised on the south side of Milwaukee, Father Porada was ordained in Rome and worked as a missionary in the Caribbean for four years with an order of priests. He then transferred to the Diocese of Lincoln to serve in parishes. He is in residence at Blessed Sacrament in Lincoln, and is a chaplain at BryanLGH Hospital’s west campus.
Father John Rooney - 25 Years
Father Rooney comes from Kansas City. His first assignment was at St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln. He is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Shelby and teaches at St. Gregory the Great Seminary.
Msgr. Robert Tucker - 25 Years
Originally from North Platte, Msgr. Tucker was first assigned to St. Michael Parish in Hastings. He now serves as rector of the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.
Father Bradley Zitek - 25 Years
A Lincoln native, Father Zitek was sent to St. Mary Parish in David City for his first assignment. He is pastor of St. Joseph Church in Superior, and Sacred Heart in Nelson.