MILWAUKEE — Fr. Thomas Neitzke was one of six Jesuits ordained to the priesthood Friday, June 11 at Gesu Church where Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., also ordained three men from the Chicago province and two from the Detroit province.
Jesuits James C. Ackerman, Cincinnati; Mark W. Luedtke, Hinsdale, Ill.; Paul C. O’Connor, Cleveland; Richard E. Ross, Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Michael S. Christiana, Rochester, Minn., were also ordained during the first celebration where Jesuits from the three Midwest provinces that encompass 12 states joined together in one service.
Fr. Neitzke, a Port Washington native and son of Theodore and Julie Neitzke, members of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Random Lake, graduated from St. Mary Grade School, Port Washington, and spent four years in the college seminary program for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee before entering the Jesuit community in 1999. In an article he wrote in the spring 2010 issue of “Callings,” a Jesuit newsletter about vocations, Fr. Neitzke said that his call to the Jesuit ministry has been manifested through life experiences. He has served in homeless drop-in shelters in St. Paul, Minn., worked to find housing for poor and homeless families in Minneapolis, cared for mentally handicapped people in Clinton, Iowa, served as assistant dean and a teacher at Creighton Prep High School in Omaha, Neb., ministered with and to lepers in China and worked with women inmates at a federal prison in California.
“This call for me as a Jesuit priest, is to imitate Christ as one who is both pilgrim and laborer,” he said in the newsletter article. Fr. Neitzke celebrated his first Mass at St. Mary Parish in Port Washington Saturday, June 12. He will work in administration at the Jesuit middle school in Omaha, Neb., and do pastoral work in Omaha.
In addition to his parents who reside in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Fr. Nietzke has several other family members in the area. His older brother Ted, sister-in-law Megan and their children, Charlie and Grace attend St. Mary Parish, Port Washington as does his younger brother, Jon.