Diocesan, religious order priests celebrate Jubilees

Pictured with Bishop James Johnston, Jr. in front of Our Lady of Ephesus Chapel in the Catholic Center are Redemptorist Father Gary Ziuraitis, Father Gregory Haskamp, Father Michael Gillgannon, Father Lloyd Opoka, Father Chuck Tobin and Vincentian Father Michael Mulhearn. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — Each year during the month of May, diocesan and religious order priests living and working in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, gather for dinner to honor their brother priests celebrating 25, 40, 50, 60 or more years as a priest.

The 2018 Priests Jubilee was held May 16 in the Cardinal Baum Room of the Catholic Center. During the social hour, the sounds of laughter and conversation filled the room as the priests greeted friends, told stories and jokes and shared memories of the early days of their priesthood.

Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., and about 60 priests, ranging from Father Brian Amthor, ordained in 2015, to Msgr. William Blacet, ordained in 1946, attended the Jubilee, with Father Justin Hoye, current Chair of the Presbyteral Council, acting as Master of Ceremonies. Twelve priests, both diocesan and religious order, celebrating significant anniversaries were honored, although only six of the jubilarians could attend.

Celebrating 60 years: Father Robert Deming; Father Michael Gillgannon and Father Donald Sturm.

Celebrating 50 years: Msgr. William Caldwell; Vincentian Father Michael Mulhearn; Father Lloyd Opo ka and Father Charles Tobin.

Celebrating 40 years: Precious Blood Father Joseph Bathke; Father George Ssebadduka and Redemptorist Father Gary Ziuraitis.

Celebrating 25 years: Father Gregory Haskamp and Father Vincent Rogers.

Msgr. Caldwell, Fathers Deming, Sturm, Bathke, Ssebadduka, currently in Uganda, and Rogers, on sabbatical, were unable to attend.

As dinner was served, the conversations quieted a little. The priests enjoyed beef tenderloin medallions, mixed vegetables, horseradish mashed potatoes and dessert, prepared and served by Classic Catering staff.

Representatives of the jubilarian years spoke to the assembly of their call to the priesthood and exciting times to come in the Church.

Bishop Johnston, congratulated the jubilarians, saying it was a great day for him, sharing in their celebration. Earlier that day, there had been a priest’s listening session, facilitated by the Catholic Leadership Institute and the KCSJ Leadership Visioning Team as part of a pastoral planning process for the diocese.

Toward the end of the evening, Father Hoye remembered in prayer the priests who died in the last year: Father Bernard Branson, Father Charles Jones, Father Robert Stewart, Father Ambrose Karels and Benedictine Fathers Joel Dierks and Denis Dougherty.

As the priests dispersed, many handshakes were exchanged. Next year, priests ordained in 1959, 1969, 1979 and 1994 will celebrate Jubilee anniversaries.

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June 21, 2018
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph