What are your plans for your birthday?
Well, I’m just getting together with a few people and we’re going to have a pizza party, I guess. It’s always fun to eat pizza.
You recently celebrated 75 years as a priest — what do you remember about your ordination day?
I was ordained by Moses Elias Kiley on June 7, 1947, a Saturday. It was quite a day. It was the old-fashioned ordination, all in Latin.
You’re a beloved member of the Holy Family Parish community — what did they do to celebrate these two big milestones in your life?
They had a very good setup. Bishop (James T.) Schuerman was there, and he had the Mass and he had the sermon, and he did real well. It was all a big surprise to me. Bishop Schuerman is a real talented man, and I’m glad they made him a bishop. It was certainly an honor to have him come up, and he stayed and met a lot of people.
Looking back on your years as a priest, what has brought you the greatest joy?
I think it was the knowledge that there is only one priesthood, and that’s the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ. And, according to the sacramental system, Christ wanted human participation, and so we are able to participate in the one great priesthood. That indeed was a privilege, no doubt about that.
What has been the most difficult part of the priesthood?
I guess everything is difficult, don’t you think so? There’s nothing that isn’t. A lot of people think, well, if priests marry that would be a little different. It would not only be a little different, but it would be a little difficult. If a priest had a family, I think he would have a hard time. I think it’s pretty good the way it is.
It sounds like you still keep pretty busy.
Yeah, I live at St. Francis Terrace, but I have some friends, and they get me out of here, and we go out and have Sunday brunch once in a while.
You used to have a great passion for gardening — are you still able to get out and work in the garden?
I had to quit about three years ago. I miss it — it kept me limber and kept my muscles in use.
Can you tell me a little about your childhood growing up in Fond du Lac?
Fond du Lac was a very stable place at the time. I graduated from St. Joe’s Parochial School in ninth grade. They had the Agnesian nuns, and they were very dedicated, good teachers. It was a happy childhood. I know my brother, before he died, he said the best years we had were the years we had at St. Joe’s School as kids. I think he was correct. Those were the best years we ever had in our life.
Did you ever think you would become a priest?
Well, it seemed like I had a little idea about that. When I got to eighth grade, it sort of solidified in the idea that when I graduated I would be a freshman in high school and instead of going to Fond du lac High School, I’d go to Mount Calvary (at St. Lawrence Seminary), more or less with the idea of becoming a priest, and it all worked out.
What advice do you have to younger people who want to be holy?
Well, my hope is that more young men and women will decide that they want to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. We’re losing our young people. We have families who send their kids to Catholic school and Catholic colleges, but they no longer go to church. People join Bible churches because they’re not going to tell you what’s right and wrong. If you do what’s wrong, they say, “Jesus will forgive you, you can do whatever you want.” That’s the common definition of freedom today — you can do whatever you please.
What do you think the true definition of freedom is?
The true definition of freedom is you have free will so that you can choose to do what’s right, no matter what the difficulty. But nobody wants that definition — it’s much too Catholic.
Well, we are grateful that you said “yes” to God’s call 75 years ago and became a priest.
I thank God for that blessing. I thank God for all the blessings to come, and the blessings that I hope for are men and women who are truly dedicating themselves as firm disciples of Jesus Christ.