It was standing room only June 18 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud as Bishop Donald Kettler ordained two new priests for the Diocese of St. Cloud — Father Matthew Langager and Father Douglas Liebsch.
In front of nearly all the priests and many deacons of the diocese, as well as visiting clergy, religious brothers and sisters and hundreds of lay people, Fathers Langager and Liebsch expressed their readiness and willingness to accept the call to the priesthood.
Following the Gospel reading, Bishop Kettler offered words of advice to the men but not before instructing them to think of themselves as his “collaborator” and “brother.”
“As priests, you are co-servants and collaborators with the bishop and your brother priests in a service ministry like Jesus Christ’s service ministry,” Bishop Kettler said in his homily. “I remind you and our priests that you are not employees of the bishop or the diocese, but truly collaborators and brothers.”
He said that, as they enter into lifelong ministry, they have the role of teachers “by imparting the Word of God to others;” of priests by enabling others “to walk in the newness of life through baptism, forgiveness, comforting and healing the sick, nourishing and uniting the people with the Eucharist;” and of shepherds by becoming “instruments of unity and healing … especially among the poor and marginalized.”
Bishop Kettler also offered the following guidance:
• Know the Scriptures well.
• Sustain your people through the sacraments and daily prayer.
• Celebrate liturgies well and prayerfully.
• Teach and preach the Word of God effectively, with timely preparation and practice.
• Celebrate the Eucharist daily and give a short reflection at each Mass.
• Visit the sick and shut-ins regularly. Be caring and committed healers in all you do.
• Offer the sacrament of penance frequently.
• Bring your people together for faith formation, bible study and fun.
• Find and encourage lay people and religious to step forward as church leaders.
• Be priests of joy and love.
As ordained priests, Father Langager has been assigned to serve as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Mary parishes in Little Falls as well as Holy Family in Belle Prairie. Father Liebsch will serve as parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Augustine Church in St. Cloud. Their assignments are effective June 30.
Father Langager, who studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, is from Alexandria; Father Liebsch, a graduate of St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, is from Long Prairie.
After thanking the Langager and Liebsch families for the gift of their sons to the priesthood, Bishop Kettler offered a final thought to the newly ordained.
“So I say to you, my brothers, hear again the words of the Good Shepherd, ‘Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.’ God bless you and your priesthood.”