Priests in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will join Bishop Thomas John Paprocki for the annual Priests Jubilee Day on Tuesday, May 8 at Villa Maria Catholic Life Center on Lake Springfield.Priests in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will join Bishop Thomas John Paprocki for the annual Priests Jubilee Day on Tuesday, May 8 at Villa Maria Catholic Life Center on Lake Springfield.
Bishop Kevin Vann, a priest of the Springfield diocese who was consecrated a bishop on July 13, 2005, will give two talks to the priests, says Father Tom Meyer, who has been coordinating the day. “We are asking him to speak anecdotally on his experiences as a bishop. (He was Bishop of Fort Worth from 2005-2012 and since then has been Bishop of Orange.) And we are also asking him to give one talk on Intentional Presbyterates,” says Father Meyer.
Following Bishop Vann’s talk, the priests will have Evening Prayer together, followed by a social hour and a dinner. “After dinner, Bishop Paprocki will invite each of the Jubilarians to give a very brief reflection to all of the priests in attendance on their life as a priest,” Father Meyer says.
The silver Jubilarian this year is Father Thomas Hagstrom. The golden Jubilarian is Father George Radosevich. Celebrating 60 years in 2018 are Bishop Victor Balke, Father Thomas Gallenbach, Msgr. David Peters and Father John Sohm.
Celebrating 60 Years
Bishp Victor H. Balke
Celebrating 60 years since ordination is Bishop Victor H. Balke, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, who has for decades been living in Minnesota where he served as Bishop of the Diocese of Crookston for over 30 years.
A native of Meppen, he was ordained a priest by Bishop William A. O’Connor on May 24, 1958 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His first assignment was associate pastor of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Parish and chaplain at St. Joseph’s Home. He was procurator of the diocesan seminary on Lake Springfield from 1964 to 1970 and then rector of the seminary from 1970 to 1976.
He was appointed sixth bishop of Crookston on July 3, 1976 and ordained and installed on Sept. 2, 1976. During his tenure, Bishop Balke encouraged the evangelization movements of Teens Encounter Christ, Cursillo, Koinonia and Marriage Encounter. He reorganized the central administration of the diocese, implemented the 1983 Code of Canon Law and codified diocesan policies, encouraged renovation and building improvements in parishes, established an improved retirement program for elderly clergy and established a benefit program for all clergy and laity employed by the church in the Crookston diocese.
Bishop Balke has returned to Springfield to ordain several men over the years — in May 1983 when Bishop Joseph A. McNicholas died unexpectedly shortly before the scheduled ordination of priests, and again in September 2009 (because the diocese was in-between bishops) for the transitional diaconate ordination of now-Father Stephen Thompson.
“Since my retirement 10 years ago, I’ve helped out in a number of parishes,” says Bishop Balke. “Now, because of failing vision, I stay near home in the rectory at Sacred Heart Parish in East Grand Forks, Minn., about 25 miles from Crookston, where I was a bishop for 31 years. Lately, with the help of a driver, I have been offering Mass at Mount St. Benedict in Crookston on Saturday evening and at the Villa, a nursing home in Crookston, on Sunday morning. During the week, I either preside or concelebrate Mass here at Sacred Heart.”
Bishop Balke is looking forward to attending the Jubilee celebration in Springfield. While he is in Illinois he will spend a few days with his niece in Jerseyville and visit relatives and friends in the area with the help of Father Ben Meyer, ordained for the Springfield diocese in 1959, who is also coming back to Illinois for the celebration.
“I thank God for these 60 years of priesthood,” says Bishop Balke. “While there have been challenges along the way, these years have been wonderful, whether as a parish priest, a teacher in the seminary or a Bishop of Crookston.”
Father Thomas Gallenbach
Decatur native Father Thomas Gallenbach was ordained May 24, 1958 by Bishop William A. O’Connor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Father Gallenbach initially served as assistant at St. Mary Parish in Alton and then Sacred Heart Parish in Springfield. From there he hoped to volunteer to assist with the clergy shortage in central and South America. However, at the request of his bishop, Father Gallenbach began to serve as a military chaplain, beginning in 1963.
Father Gallenbach remembers, “Bishop O’Connor said, ‘If you like the ministry, stay. Come back if it disagrees with you.’” As it turns out Father Gallenbach was in the United States Air Force for 30 years, serving in places like Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand, in the Pacific and in different parts of the United States. His rank at retirement was Colonel.
When Father Gallenbach retired from the military, he chose with permission and for health reasons, to live in the dry climate of Nevada. There he was associate pastor of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Parish in Las Vegas for several decades.
“I remain today a proud member of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois,” he says, adding that he annually sets up a conference call on May 24, so the remaining priests of the Class of 1958 can catch up with one another. “I have initiated the calls ever since the sudden death of the youngest and most robust member of our class, Father Dave Munn, from a heart attack in 1972,” he says. “His death awakened me to the brevity of life and (the worry that) my classmates would quickly become strangers.”
Father Gallenbach is retired, but he occasionally helps out at his parish. He whole-heartedly believes in the brotherhood of the priesthood and the importance of prayer. “Pray every day for priests, permanent deacons, vowed religious and for vocations. Pray especially for the pope. The secular culture grows stronger and more pervasive every day.”
Monsignor David Peters
On May 24, Msgr. David Peters will have good reason to give thanks. That day is not only his 60th anniversary as a priest of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, but he will also be celebrating his 86th birthday.
Msgr. Peters was among eight men ordained by Bishop William A. O’Connor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on May 24, 1958. “Six of the eight of us were from Decatur and five of us were from the St. Teresa Class of 1950,” he says, adding that the late Father William Kekeisen was in their ordination class and was a few years older, but also graduated from St. Teresa.
Msgr. Peters’ first assignment was at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield. He was assistant there from 1958 to 1962 and then at St. Patrick Parish, Alton from 1962 to 1966. From 1966 to 1972 he was a chaplain at St. John’s Hospital and for St. John’s School of Nursing, in Springfield.
He was co-administrator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham from 1972 to 1976. As a pastor, Msgr. Peters served at St. Michael Parish in Staunton; St. Bernard Parish in Wood River; St. James Parish in St. Jacob and then spent the last 20 years of his active priesthood as pastor of St. Paul Parish in Highland. He retired in 2007 but came out of retirement for six months in 2011 to act as parochial administrator for St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham and Annunciation Parish in Shumway. From 2004 to 2012 he was associate vicar for retired priests and then in 2012 was named diocesan delegate for senior priests.
Msgr. Peters is pastor emeritus for St. Paul in Highland and lives not far away from the parish. He was given the papal honor Chaplain to His Holiness (Monsignor) on Dec. 18, 2015.
He remembers that when he was a new priest and assistant at Blessed Sacrament, there were five priests at the parish. Now of course, he says, that isn’t the case with diocesan parishes — and that’s why he is happy to help out where he is needed. As pastor emeritus Msgr. Peters says he is “on call” at St. Paul Parish and also at the nursing home. He celebrates Mass and is sometimes called on to perform annointings. “You don’t retire as a priest,” he says. “Father Pat (Jakel) is the only priest at St. Paul, so he sometimes needs assistance. I understand that my position here is valuable.”
In fact, a recent announcement of his upcoming jubilee in the St. Paul bulletin noted, “As active as he continues to be, many in this parish and others are surprised to find out that he is actually retired.” The announcement also said: “Of his 60 years as a priest, Msgr. Peters has blessed St. Paul Parish with 31 of those years … over half of his priestly ministry.”
Msgr. Peters will celebrate Mass at St. Paul Church at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 19 with a reception immediately following. There will also be a meal held in his honor.
Father John Sohm
Another Decatur native, Father John Sohm was also ordained on May 24, 1958 by Bishop William A. O’Connor at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Father Sohm’s first assignment in 1958 was as an assistant at St. Joseph Parish in Granite City. He went on to serve as an assistant at St. Agnes Parish, Springfield; St. Raymond Parish, Raymond; and St. Patrick Parish, Alton. After his early years in ministry as an assistant, Father Sohm alternately held the titles pastor/parochial administrator/sacramental priest, but no matter what title he held he has always been a dedicated priest who, for the most part, spent many years serving in a handful of parishes.
In 1970 he was named parochial administrator and then pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Shelbyville and at St. Columcille in Sullivan. He has lived and served at St. Columcille for over 40 years and is now pastor emeritus and resides at the parish. He also served for decades at Shelbyville. Additionally, he served St. Isidore Parish in Bethany for many years and for shorter period of times at Holy Family Parish in Mount Sterling and Sacred Heart Parish in Dalton City. He has also been a chaplain at a state prison.
Father Sohm feels blessed that he is able to get together with his remaining classmates, but remembers those who have died. “Celebrating 60 years as priests, we are mindful of our four deceased classmates: Fathers David Munn, William Kekeisen, Donald Meehling and Robert Rebert. May they rest in peace,” he says.
“Meanwhile give thanks to the Lord for he is good,” he concludes. “His love is everlasting. It is expressed in the people of the parishes, where we have served.”
Celebrating 50 Years
Father George Radosevich
Celebrating his golden jubilee in 2018 is Collinsville native Father George Radosevich, who was ordained June 1, 1968 by Bishop Henry A. Pinger, OFM, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. At the time, Bishop William A. O’Connor was confined to his home while recovering from an illness and asked Bishop Pinger to step in.
Father Radosevich had what he calls a “delayed vocation — seven years out of high school” and entered the Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield in 1960. He continued his studies at St. John’s Seminary in Little Rock, Ark., from 1962 to 1967 and completed his training at the School of Divinity of St. Louis University.
“My entire family, parents, siblings and (their) spouses were extremely supportive of my decision to enter the seminary and eventual priestly vocation,” he remembers. “I am thankful for my vocation, but I can’t believe how 50 years, plus eight in the seminary have flown by — gimme a break!”
Father Radosevich first served as assistant at Little Flower Parish in Springfield, followed by Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Alton and then Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville. In 1980 he was named parochial administrator and later pastor of St. Alexius Parish in Beardstown and St. Fidelis Parish in Arenzville. In 1985 he was named pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Staunton, where has remained for over 30 years. He has been parochial administer, then pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Livingston since 1994. He was also parochial administrator and then pastor of St. Ubaldus Parish in New Douglas from 1994 until 2004.
After spending so many years at his present parishes, Father Radosevich is naturally at ease with his parishioners. He says it is all about “being comfortable with and knowing the parishioners in a special way, enjoying and being thankful for their friendship, support and help — knowing which ones can be asked and relied upon to use their gifts for a particular event or situation.” He will celebrate with his parishioners and friends on June 3 beginning with 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Michael Church in Staunton.
If he had the opportunity to talk to men who are in the seminary or considering the priesthood, Father Radosevich says he would tell them, “There will always be challenges in life but in the priesthood there will always be support groups or individuals to help, within the parish as well as in Springfield. Be not afraid!”
Celebrating 25 Years
Father Thomas Hagstrom
Father Tom Hagstrom is celebrating his silver Jubilee as a priest of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois this year. He was ordained at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop Daniel Ryan on May 29, 1993. It was just a few weeks before his 36th birthday.
“I remember how happy I was on the day I was ordained and that joy continues,” he says. “I wouldn’t trade these years for anything and I’m happy to continue for as many more years as God chooses to allow me.” He notes that all of his assignments have been memorable.
Father Hagstrom was initially appointed parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Springfield, where he served from 1993 to 1997. “In my first assignment I had the privilege of serving with Father Patrick Wright, one of the finest priests I have ever known,” he says. During the last part of his assignment at St. Agnes, he was also acting director of the Pastoral Care Department at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield.
Next, he moved on to his first multiple parish assignment and was parochial vicar at Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville from 1997 to 1998 and was parochial vicar and then sacramental priest at St. Luke Parish in Virginia from 1997 to 1999.
Then, in 1999, Father Hagstrom found himself parochial administrator to Catholics in Calhoun County. “I served in seven parishes in Calhoun County and really learned — hands on — what is means to pastor parishes,” he says. “I still tell people that I ‘earned my doctorate’ at the ‘Catholic University of Calhoun County.’ I was given the challenge of forming seven parishes into two parishes. The best part of the ‘lesson’ was the importance of listening to parishioners as part of God’s People: people whose opinions need to be heard and respected.
“From there I went to Quincy with the charge to form two parishes (St. Dominic and St. Anthony of Padua) into one (St. Anthony of Padua) and later to begin the task of introducing the stewardship model of discipleship to the parish,” he says.
“I then had what some might consider a bit of a ‘hiccup’ in spending eight months at a place called Guest House, an addiction treatment facility for clergy and religious. Who would have known that food could be addicting and that I was — and still am — a food addict,” he says, noting that he is now over a hundred pounds lighter.
“I came back to parish ministry in four parishes (Holy Ghost and St. Francis Xavier in Jerseyville, St. Mary in Fieldon, and St. Patrick in Grafton) where I was parochial vicar assisting Father Pat Gibbons,” he says. “I took it as an opportunity to enjoy parish ministry and to have fun being with wonderful people and helping minister to their needs.”
In 2017, Father Hagstrom was named pastor of St. John Paul II Parish in Mt. Olive, a place he describes as “yet another wonderful place with wonderful people.” He says the people in Mt. Olive are planning a silver anniversary celebration for him and he hopes to celebrate in Quincy as well however, “Nothing is finalized as yet.”
Father Hagstrom says throughout his ministry he has been grateful for being a priest in the Springfield diocese and he appreciates how his family supported him. “The road to this point has been longer than it has for some, but the story has to include my parents, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, a few aunts and uncles and several cousins …,” he says, adding that his mother, Veronica is deceased, but his father Verne still lives in Quincy and is a member of St. Peter Parish.
“There is a lot about being a priest in this diocese that I find gratifying. I still marvel at how welcoming our people are to my ministry and the ministry of my brother priests and our deacons. I am impressed at the devoted service of my fellow priests and those who went before me,” he says. “I find it personally gratifying to hear stories about my predecessors and how they have touched the lives of so many.
“I like to think that they will be talking about me someday,” he says. “Gee, after 25 years and 17 parishes, they may be telling stories about