After decades of service to the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud, four priests will retire at the end of June.
Fathers Tim Baltes, Ralph Zimmerman, David Maciej and Eugene Doyle say they are looking forward to the well-deserved break, but they will miss their ministry to the people in their parishes and celebrating the liturgy with them.
“I will miss regular contact with people in parish life,” said Father Doyle, who was ordained in 1976 at his home parish in Shullsburg, Wisconsin. “I was blessed to be with them during some of the more significant events in their faith journeys — the celebrations of baptizing their children, first Communions, witnessing marriages, burying their loved ones, weekend and weekday liturgies, as well as the everyday, ordinary routine of parish life.”
Celebrating the sacraments with people and interacting with them at important moments of their lives is what Father Baltes, who was ordained in 1976 at St. Mary Church in Alexandria, said he will miss most. “Simply celebrating everyday accomplishments and facing everyday challenges,” he said
Something they all agree they will not miss are the many meetings involved in running a parish.
“I look forward to no more daily commitments to parish life, no more meetings, no more appointments, no more regular schedules,” Father Doyle said.
Father Zimmerman said he is looking forward to a less strict schedule. He has a bucket list of things he would like to do that includes new hobbies and travel. “I will not miss the meetings,” he said.
Father Zimmerman was also ordained in 1976, at St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud.
“I’m looking forward to having more time to devote to Koinonia and to reading many half-read books,” Father Maciej said.
With fewer set plans on their calendars, they will be available to assist pastors in parishes whenever there is a need.
“Like most retired priests, I will make myself available for weekend help where the bishop or the diocese might ask me to serve,” Father Doyle said.
As they move into the next chapter of their ministry, they were asked by The Central Minnesota Catholic what advice they might have for the diocese’s most recently ordained priests.
Father Maciej, who has been a priest since 1980 when he was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud, stressed the importance of keeping time with the Lord in prayer as a top priority.
Father Doyle suggests that they seek the advice and insights of the people whom they are sent to serve. “A very wise person told me a long time ago, ‘God gave the world one Savior, and it isn’t you!’” he said.
Father Baltes agreed, saying, “Be humble enough to know you need the grace of the Holy Spirit and be open to accepting the wisdom of the people you are called to serve.”
Father Zimmerman said, “Share your priesthood with God’s people, love them, pray with them, work with them, listen to them, be with them.”
“It is very important for me to keep in mind that I must ‘pass the baton’ on to those who follow,” Father Doyle said. “Forty-four years ago, the wonder of priesthood and its ministry was given to me by the bishop and the community of believers. That ministry is the mission of Christ’s presence in the world.”
Above: Cars line up to pass by Father Tim Baltes and wish him a happy retirement during a parade a St. Francis Xavier in Sartell June 23.