Cathedral chaplain gets bus driver’s license to ease driver shortage

Father Doug Liebsch, chaplain at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud, learned last fall that there was a shortage of bus drivers for student activities.

He thought driving a bus was something he could do to help, since he attends many of the school’s activities already.

“I think it’s a way to connect with the kids more,” he said. “It’s a little bit more on their turf.”

Father Doug, who also serves as the vocation director for the Diocese of St. Cloud, contacted Voigt’s School Bus Services, Inc., to see about getting his bus driver’s license. Because Father Doug’s situation is unique — he is only available for Cathedral events and activities — they had to work something out. He agreed to be available 16 times a year.

“They were cool with that, and they helped provide the training I needed,” he said.

The training was a little more than he was expecting.

“There was a decently thick binder they gave me to study and four written tests,” he said. “There were at least a few hours of study before each test. That was more than I anticipated, but it makes sense to know what’s going on and be safe.”

Voigt’s also provided the behind-the-wheel training Father Doug needed for certification, as well as training on the pre-trip inspections that bus drivers do each time they go on the road.

“I want to eliminate any mechanical failure before it happens,” he said. “It’s really for the safety of all the students you’re transporting.”

Father Doug ventured out with students for the first time May 19. The trip was a short one, taking the track team to a meet in Foley.

“It is a special blessing to have Father Doug transporting our students,” said Emmett Keenan, athletic and activities director at Cathedral. “Not only does it help with the acute bus driver shortage, but it is tremendous to have him as an example for our students — not only on the bus but at the events. He is a living example of a true and humble servant.”

Father Doug said he’s grateful to be able to do this for the students and for the opportunity to connect with them outside of the school day.

“I’d say my most profound encounters with students have happened outside the school building,” he said. “I guess this is another way to facilitate those encounters. It’s just kind of cool to be more present at their event, whatever it is.”


Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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