Diocesan News

Who takes care of the caretaker?

Profile: Vicar for Clergy ministers to Lincoln Diocese priests

Story by Tess Wahlmeier

(SNR) - Father Randall Langhorst, or “Father Rand,” as he’s known in his role as pastor of St. Leo Church in Palmyra and St. Martin Church in Douglas, has served the priests of Lincoln for the past three years as Vicar for Clergy.

Under this title, Father Langhorst addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of priests in the diocese and acts as a liaison between priests and the bishop, and vice versa. 

In June, Father Langhorst will be moving to Lincoln in order to take on his role as Vicar for Clergy full-time. He also has been appointed director for ministry in nursing homes and assisted living, and will begin working in those areas, as well.

Bishop Conley discerned after he was appointed to serve as Bishop of Lincoln, a need for a Vicar for Clergy to take care of Lincoln diocesan priests, especially the retired, including those living at Bonacum Home.However, as Father Langhorst began his journey as vicar, more and more parish priests started coming to him with questions, suggestions, or just looking for advice.

His job description is ever changing, he said, and his work has become more focused on serving the active priests of the diocese: visiting new pastors, checking in with others, assisting with questions or directing priests where to go for answers, making sure priests are taking care of their health, and being a resource and avenue for priests in the diocese.

“They’re my parish, so I’m checking in and networking and seeing how people are doing,” Father Langhorst said.

One of Father Langhorst’s major roles is making sure priests are taking care of their health. At one of the priest study days, he organized a health fair, which he said was received very well. He encourages priests to take their health seriously, as well as to take their days off and vacations.

 “We have a tendency to work ourselves to death. The workload can be heavy, so we encourage taking vacation,” Father Langhorst said. “It’s important, and it maintains your health in all senses.”

Father Langhorst’s love for his brother priests is evident in his work.

“I didn’t have a lot of experience growing up with priests because I was a convert to the Church,” Father Langhorst said, “so when I entered and I started to meet priests, I had the advantage that I didn’t come with the baggage of preconceived expectations that a lot of people have growing up.”

“I was a little bit older,” he added, “so I had a life experience behind me to realize priests were just human beings, with strengths and weaknesses.”

Father Langhorst does still work with the priests at Bonacum House, visiting them, facilitating rides to their doctor and dentist appointments, and networking with others to help assist the retired priests in various ways, such as computer work.

Although Father Langhorst is sad to leave his parishes, he said it will be better for himself and the parish, alike. The parishes will have a pastor who can serve them with their entire attention, he said, and he will no longer have to choose between his parish and his priests. 

“They’re both important, they’re both valued, they’re both good, who do you choose?” he said. “I’ve had several experiences before of very important critical things in both, happening at once, and with God’s help you always get through it, but it’s a matter of justice and fairness to each assignment or part of the assignment.”

With his new assignment, Father Langhorst will be expanding his role as Vicar for Clergy. He is excited to do more visiting and traveling to meet priests’ needs.

“I love parish work, I’ve loved the parishes I’ve had, I’ve loved all the people I’ve had, and really, it’s through my experience with them that I’m helping the clergy.  It’s a building block, so I deeply appreciate that.”

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