Jubilarians reflect on years of priestly vocation


Father Steven Binsfeld

“People ask, ‘When did you receive “the call” to priesthood?’ No red phone rang. Several factors that influenced my discernment: ministering in my local parish in various ways, the strong faith of my parents, hanging out with the good priests assigned to Sauk Rapids, and my love of liturgy. Christ has called me through the People of God to use my gifts, aware of my fears and sinfulness. The priesthood is not ‘mine’; it is a gift from Christ and the community. It is my conviction that the faith of the people and my own must be nurtured by good scriptural preaching with good liturgy and music.

“People are hungry for the Word of God and for meaningful worship. As a pastor, I must know my ‘tools of the trade’ well and do my best to make Sunday worship the primary source of faith formation. Some highlights of my 40 years of ministry: planning diocesan liturgies (especially the Diocesan Centennial, Bishop Hanus’ ordination, Bishop Kinney’s installation), special liturgies (e.g. the ecumenical prayer on 9/11 at the Cathedral), Holy Week and the sacraments in every parish I have served, my parents’ funerals and those of people whom I have come to love greatly in my life in every assignment. God is good.” 



Father Robert Kieffer

“I am grateful to God for my 50 years as a priest. My adventure enjoyed the support of my family and parishioners and friends. Celebrating the sacraments, praying the liturgy, preaching the Word, these are high points. My hope is our communal prayer has been a vehicle for grace in the daily life of the people. I have crossed paths with very good people in my ministry, been edified by their faith, and blessed with their friendship.

“Certainly, ministry does not all happen in church. A moment’s reflection tells that God is present and at work in the world — I trust I played a part. I was given a corner of the kingdom to pastor, and I have tried to be faithful. Even now, there is nothing better in my week than preparing and celebrating sacraments and visiting with God’s people.”



Father Gerald Dalseth

“As a dedicated bicyclist, I can truly say that the priesthood has been the greatest ride in my life! I did not start college with the priesthood in mind, but the thought came to me that I would never be happy in life unless I gave it a try. So I did and knew right away that I had made the right choice. I was relaxed and felt so good about my decision. It was smooth sailing all through the seminary and very few bumps in my priesthood.

“As I celebrate 55 years as a priest, this decision has been confirmed so many times. I have been the right person at the right time to assist and be with people through major hurdles and decisions in their lives. From preparation for marriage to the birth of their first child, I have been with parishioners. From sickness and even in death it has been a great honor as well as a privilege for me to accompany them. As I reflect back on those years I am so grateful for that call. I have been truly blessed and happy. I thank the Lord each day for the call he has given me to share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.”



Father William Vos

“Servant leadership — for me a personal work in progress. I’m so pleased that we have Pope Francis modeling this approach to ministry in both word and deed. After 55 years of trying, it becomes clearer every day that Jesus was really serious about ‘being the last’ and ‘servant’ if you wish to be a member of his community. I have been blessed with great opportunities to ‘try,’ many years in campus ministry and in overseas mission, roles with Catholic Relief Services and our Mission Office and a lot of pastoral ministry in between.

“As I journey along, I already have my epitaph on my gravestone: ‘Act Justly, Love Tenderly and Walk Humbly with Your God (Micah 6:8) … I tried.’”



Father Gerald Mischke

“The priesthood is both gift and mystery, according to St. John Paul II. On my desk I have a copy of the memorial card from my first Mass, May 31, 1964, which continues to sum up my joy and praise these 55 years: ‘How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up and I will call on the name of the Lord!’ (Psalm 116). Thanking God for everything increases our awareness of God’s goodness, allows us to trust in him more totally and surrender to his will more completely. I have the opportunity to offer spiritual direction to a number of people and have found that this way of life leads toward an incredible peace and joy.”



Father Kenneth Riedemann

“The ministry of every ordained priest is unique, mine maybe more than some. Early in my priesthood, I spent most of my time teaching high school religion. Spending that much time with teenagers gave me some pretty good insights into what it was like to be teenagers in the modern world. 

“During this same time, I lived at the Cathedral rectory in St. Cloud. Since most of my ministry was in the classroom, I only celebrated one Mass each weekend. But I was also a member of the adult choir. Sitting with the rest of the choir each weekend, I got a good idea of their response to whatever the priest celebrant said or did. I learned what worked and what did not. I wonder how many priests attended as many Masses as a member of the congregation as I did! 

“In 1981, I made a TEC retreat at Belle Prairie and became very involved in the program for over 30 years, working more than 50 weekends. This gave me an opportunity to teach, preach and celebrate the sacraments in a special setting. But it also gave me the opportunity to sit and listen to the nine talks given by lay youth and adults every weekend. 

“In 1982, I became involved in the Marriage Encounter movement. I never worked a weekend, but I have been a part of a very small group of Marriage Encounter people who meet regularly since that time. All this time talking and listening has given me a good picture of what marriage is really like. 

“I thank God often for these unique experiences in my priestly life. They have molded me and formed me into who I am. Much of what I have passed on to others is what I have been given from each of these experiences.” 



Father Eberhard Schefers

“Growing up on a farm, we lived life close to the land and earth, surrounded with a family and the community of the Church, where God was very much a part of daily life. Choosing to become a priest brought me into the life of the people of the Church, and Christ was the center. This introduced me into the goodness and beauty and challenges of daily living, where I came to live life more fully, deeply and intensely with many wonderful people and great priests. This life as a priest has challenged me to be more than I could have dreamed possible. Looking back these 55 years I realize what a gift priesthood has been for me. I am grateful to God and the Church.” 





Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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