Priests in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will join Bishop Thomas John Paprocki for the annual priests’ jubilee celebration on Tuesday, May 9 at Villa Maria Catholic Life Center at Lake Springfield.
Silver jubilarians this year are Father Rodney Schwartz and Father Donald Patrick Gibbons. The golden jubilarian this year is Msgr. Michael Kuse. Celebrating 55 years of service this year are Father Philip Kraft, Father Ronald Trojcak, Father Jerry Wickenhauser, MM, and Father Joseph Zimmerman, OFM. Celebrating 60 years of service are Father Louis Schlangen, Father Henry Schmidt and Father Kenneth Rosswog, OFM. Celebrating 65 years is Father Sylvano Pera, OFM. And finally, celebrating 70 years is Father Vincent Elsen, OFM.
This year’s presenter is Father James Mason, a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., and president-rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and worked as a prosecutor in Minneapolis. He later attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome and received a degree from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas-Angelicum, Rome. He has a certificate in spiritual direction and retreat ministry at the Institute of Priestly Formation in Omaha, Neb., where he served on the board and taught a course on the spirituality of the diocesan priesthood.
Celebrating 70 Years
Father Vincent Robert Elsen, OFM
Father Vincent Elsen, OFM, has been a priest longer than any other Catholic priest currently living in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. He was ordained just a few days after his 26th birthday on Dec. 14, 1947. He spent his first decades as a priest advancing his education and then serving as an assistant or pastor in parishes in Nebraska, Illinois, Louisiana and Tennessee.
Beginning in 1991 he served in Texas as a senior parochial vicar or vicar at several parishes in San Antonio. He was chaplain at St. Francis Village in Crowley, Texas from 1994 to 1998 and then was a hospital chaplain in Fort Worth from 1998 to 2010. He also served in supply ministry in Fort Worth from 2004 to 2010. He remained serving the people of God in Texas until he was nearly 90 years old.
Father Vincent moved to Alton in 2010 and resides in St. Clare’s Villa there. He is now 95 years old.
Celebrating 65 Years
Father Sylvano Pera, OFM
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Father Sylvano Pera, OFM, grew up in a parish where both the religious sisters who taught at the school and the parish priests were Franciscans. For high school he entered St. Joseph Seminary in Westmont, which was the Franciscans’ minor seminary. He studied at St. Francis in Quincy and in Rome.
Father Sylvano was ordained by Bishop William A. O’Connor on June 24, 1952. He served some years outside the Springfield diocese and also in many Springfield diocesan parishes including St. Rose of Lima, Montrose; St. Aloysius, Bishop Creek; Immaculate Conception, Dieterich; St. Elizabeth, Marine; St. Gertrude, Grantfork; St. James, St. Jacob; St. Norbert, Hardin; St. Michael, Michael: St. Anselm, Kampsville; St. Agnes, Belleview; Our Lady of Lourdes, Decatur; St. Mary Help of Christians, Effingham (Green Creek); Sacred Heart, Lillyville; and Sacred Heart, Effingham.
Just before his 60th year anniversary he told Catholic Times, “Studying for the priesthood as Franciscans, we understood our responsibility would be to help the diocesan priests. When a bishop does not have enough priests in his diocese, we would fill in at parishes where we were needed.”
He has always said his task has been “to bring Jesus to the people … young people, old people, the sick and others.” He has strived to “tell them how merciful, loving and compassionate God is, and to help them in their struggles in life to stay close to Jesus.”
For many years, Father Sylvano served as a beloved chaplain for Family Camp, which is held every year in late summer and is a project of Pro-Life Activities and Special Ministries.
Father Sylvano retired in 2005 but continued to serve in supply ministry for quite some time, residing at St. Francis of Assisi in Teutopolis from 2007 to 2013. He moved to St. Clare’s Friary in Alton in 2013 but has recently moved again, this time to Dutchtown Care Center in St. Louis.
Celebrating 60 Years
Father Louis Schlangen
Quincy native Father Louis Schlangen was ordained on May Day in 1957 by Bishop William A. O’Connor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield.
After ordination, his first assignment was at Ss. Peter and Paul in Collinsville. He went on to serve as assistant at several parishes including St. John, Carrollton; Ss. Peter and Paul, Springfield; St. Thomas, Newton; St. Margaret Mary, Granite City; and at St. Anthony of Padua in Effingham. Over the next two decades he was either pastor or parochial administer at St. Mary, Brussels; St. Joseph, Meppen; St. Barbara, Batchtown; St. Mary, Pittsfield; Holy Redeemer, Barry; and Holy Family in Griggsville. He also served as a hospital chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield.
He spent about the last 18 years in active ministry serving as pastor, then parochial administrator at St. Edward Parish in Mendon. Additionally, during his last years before retirement he served for several years at St. Joseph in Quincy. He also has volunteered many weekends celebrating Sunday Mass at the fairgrounds during the Adams County Fair.
His favorite memories include, of course, serving in parishes, but also organizing community functions for seniors, starting a library in Brussels and producing a book on cemeteries in Calhoun County. He also arranged bus trips for students and adults to places like Chicago and the Smokey Mountains.
Father Schlangen retired in 2007. Now at age 86, he is living in retirement in Loraine.
Father Henry Schmidt
Father Henry Schmidt was raised on a farm outside of Carrollton with his sister (who became a Dominican sister) and five brothers. It was the night before his high school graduation when he decided to become a priest. At age 25, he was ordained on May 1, 1957 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop William A. O’Connor.
From the late 1950s until 1970 he served two- to four-year assignments in a number of parishes around the diocese: St. Patrick, Alton: St. Aloysius, Springfield; Immaculate Conception, Pittsfield; Holy Redeemer, Barry; Holy Family, Griggsville; and Ss. Peter and Paul, Collinsville.
He then began serving as pastor in a variety of places: St. Elizabeth, Marine; St. Gertrude, Grantfork; St. Elizabeth, Granite City; St. Francis Xavier, Jerseyville; and Little Flower, Springfield. His last assignments began in 2002, when he was pastor and then parochial administrator in three parishes: St. John the Evangelist in Carrollton, All Saints in White Hall and St. Michael in Greenfield. Since 2016, Father Schmidt has been pastor emeritus of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Carrollton and lives at St. Michael in Greenfield.
Seven years ago, Father Schmidt — who is known for wearing comfortable sandals — published a book appropriately titled The Pastor’s Sandal Path, which is a collection of weekly letters he has written to his parishioners. The book focuses on seeing God in nature and in daily events. Some of those letters have been reprinted in Catholic Times.
Father Schmidt, who is now 85, has said that God has filled his life with many blessings and that “all of the parishes I’ve been in have been wonderful.”
Father Kenneth Rosswog, OFM
Born and raised in Quincy, Father Kenneth Rosswog of the Order of the Friars Minor is celebrating 60 years in the priesthood early this summer and will be turning 87 years old just days before his jubilee day. He entered the minor seminary in Oak Brook right after eighth grade.
Father Ken has his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Quincy College (now Quincy University) and his master’s from DePaul University. On June 24, 1957 he was ordained in Teutopolis by Bishop Henry Ambrose Pinger, OFM. He recalls that 17 men were ordained that day.
Early on Father Ken spent about 14 years teaching at St. Joseph Seminary in Westmont. He was then a chaplain to the American Embassy in Bonn, Germany for a year. He returned to teaching, this time at St. Joseph Seminary in Oak Brook from 1974 to 1976. He was then named vocation director in Oak Brook from 1976 to 1979.
He began his work as a parochial vicar in 1979 and spent over 10 years serving in Omaha, Neb., St. Louis and in Cleveland. From 1990 to 1992, he was provincial secretary. He then returned to St. Louis as a parochial vicar (for a second time) at St. Anthony in St. Louis. Since 2000, Father Ken has been parochial vicar/senior associate at St. Francis of Assisi in Teutopolis. He has also served at St. Rose of Lima in Montrose.
Father Ken calls the folks from his parishes “good people to be working with.” Over the years there he has been doing sacramental work, visiting religion classes and visiting people in the hospitals.
“My years in the priesthood have been a great blessing and I am more and more grateful as the years pass,” he says. “As I look back I am filled with awe when I realize how wonderfully God has been with me these 60 years.”
Father Ken believes he has had the opportunity to learn and to grow as a priest and appreciates even the challenges he’s met. “It has been good for me to have those different kinds of ministries,” he concludes.
On June 25, Father Ken will celebrate his decades as a priest with a Mass at 10:30 a.m. at St. Francis Parish, followed by an open house that afternoon.
Celebrating 55 Years
Father Philip Kraft
Father Philip Kraft is celebrating 55 years as a priest of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. He was born in Ambridge, Pa., and entered the priesthood from St. Thomas Parish in Decatur. He was ordained May 26, 1962 by Bishop William A. O’Connor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Father Kraft’s first assignment was as an assistant at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield. From there he was assistant at St. Joseph Parish in Granite City, Ss. Peter and Paul in Springfield and St. Matthew in Alton.
He took a leave to continue his studies in psychology and health science and then returned to ministry at Ss. Peter and Paul in Alton from 1979-1980 before being named pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Oconee (1980-1986) and parochial administer of St. Joseph in Ramsey (1982 to 1986).
Father Kraft is a certified addiction counselor and spiritual director. He has gone to 40 different hospitals in five states speaking to nurses and counselors about dealing with alcoholism. Additionally, he has been interviewed on NBC’s Today Show about working with the elderly experiencing alcoholism and drug dependency.
His background also includes serving as a counselor at Libertas at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield; as program director of Hopedale Hall near Peoria; three years at the Department and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse; and three years at the Department of Public Aid. He spent 10 years in ministry of spiritual direction and although he retired as a diocesan priest in 2006, he served as a spiritual director for several more years.
He has also filled in at several parishes, celebrating Sunday and weekday Masses. His last official assignment was as chaplain of St. Joseph’s Home, where he served from 2012 to 2014.
Five years ago, Father Kraft told Catholic Times, “I really am thoroughly amazed that God chose me and continues to keep me here. That really shows God’s grace. There’s really nothing I did to deserve this!”
Father Kraft just celebrated his 81st birthday on April 26 and lives in Springfield.
Father Ronald Trojcak
A native of Taylorville, Father Ronald Trojcak was ordained on May 26, 1962 by Bishop William A. O’Connor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Following ordination his first assignment was an assistant at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham, where he served from 1962 to 1965. From there he moved to become assistant as St. Patrick Parish in Decatur until 1968. While in Decatur he was involved in social justice issues.
In the late 1960s, Father Trojcak returned to his studies and went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto (Canada). Since obtaining his doctorate degree, he has spent most of his priesthood teaching in Canada. He is also a musician and collects art.
He is a professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and an adjunct professor in the Program in Social Justice, in a Catholic college, King’s University College in London, Ontario. He was chaplain at the college for almost three decades. He has also been chaplain at two other colleges in London.
Father Trojcak also spent a year teaching at the major seminary, St. Dominic’s in Lusaka, Zambia; a year at Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss.; and one year (2003-2004) in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois at Quincy University.
At the time of his golden jubilee, Father Trojcak told Catholic Times that he “takes the image of Jesus’ foot-washing very seriously” and said, “The priesthood, as I see it is the professional effort to advance the vision of life embodied in Jesus.”
Father Jerry Wickenhauser, MM
Maryknoll Father Jerry Wickenhauser spent 42 years in the Maryknolls, the United States-based mission movement. Born in 1934, the fifth of six boys, he lived with his family on a small farm on the outskirts of Alton. He credits the Ursuline nuns at Marquette High School in Alton as being an influence on his vocation. Moreover, while in high school he heard visiting priests give talks about missionary work, which left a lasting impression on him.
After graduating from Marquette, he went on to complete two years at Marquette University in Milwaukee before transferring to Maryknoll College in Glen Ellyn, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He earned his master’s degree in religious education from Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, N.Y., and was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1962.
In later years, Father Wickenhauser continued with his education, earning a master’s degree in spirituality from St. Louis University, a master’s degree in sacred theology from Gregorian University in Rome and studied for his doctorate at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Father Wickenhauser celebrated his first Mass at St. Ambrose in Godfrey. Very soon, he began mission work in the Philippines and served there until 1976. He worked in administration in the United States from 1976 until 1980, when we went to serve in Indonesia for two years. From 1984-1993, he took part in U.S. development work. His final assignment as a missionary was in Brazil, beginning in 1993 and lasting 11 years.
A few years back he told Catholic Times, “I think that God loves the poor because their lives are more interesting. They have to struggle to survive day by day.”
Father Wickenhauser officially retired from his missionary ministry in 2004 and returned home to live in Alton. He now resides in Godfrey.
Father Joseph Zimmerman, OFM
In June, Father Joseph Zimmerman of the Order of Friars Minor will be celebrating 55 years as a priest. He was ordained June 13, 1962 by Bishop Henry Ambrose Pinger, OFM, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Teutopolis.
Decatur native Father Joseph attended St. James School and after he graduated from the eighth grade went on to St. Joseph Franciscan Seminary in Westmont for high school and his first two years of college. He spent a year at the Franciscan novitiate in Teutopolis and studied philosophy for three years at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Cleveland. He then returned to Teutopolis for four years of theology.
In 1964 Father Joseph was sent to graduate school in Boston, where he was awarded a doctorate in sociology from Harvard University. He was a professor of sociology at Quincy College (now Quincy University) from 1970-2003. He served as the chair of the Division of History and Social Science, and as president of the Faculty Senate. He was guardian of the Franciscan community from 1978 to 1984. He was in administration at QU from 1999 to 2007. He has been involved with racial justice at the diocesan level and in the Quincy area.
Father Joseph is now serving in supply ministry and lives at Holy Cross Friary in Quincy.
Celebrating 50 Years
Msgr. Michael Kuse
Quincy native Msgr. Michael Kuse will celebrate his upcoming golden jubilee the weekend of May 20-21 with parishioners and his family and friends at Blessed Sacrament Parish in his hometown. He was ordained May 20, 1967 by Bishop William A. O’Connor. He was named a monsignor (with the papal honor of Chaplain to His Holiness) on Aug. 23, 2002.
During his first 14 years as a priest Msgr. Kuse was associate pastor at five different parishes in several areas of the diocese serving at Christ the King Parish in Springfield, Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville, St. Patrick Parish in Decatur, St. Thomas in Decatur, and at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham.
He then became a pastor, serving at Sacred Heart Parish in Villa Grove, St. Michael Parish in Hume and St. Thomas Parish in Brocton; St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham; and Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville. He was also parochial administrator of St. Luke Parish in Virginia from 1992 to 1995.
He was pastor Immaculate Conception Parish in Quincy from 1996 to 2006. He served as priest moderator of St. Anthony and St. Joseph in Quincy from 2004-2005. The dean of the Quincy deanery since 2004, he was the priest who formed — and became pastor of — Blessed Sacrament in Quincy in 2006 when All Saints, St. Boniface and Immaculate Conception (St. Mary) were merged to form one parish.
Msgr. Kuse’s diocesan appointments have included serving on the Commission for the Liturgy and the Diocesan Board of Catholic Education, as director of the Office for Vocations, and on the Presbyteral Council, also serving as the chairperson. He was also dean of the Jacksonville deanery from 1989 to 1995.
“I have enjoyed every moment of my priesthood,” he says. “Challenging and sharing the faith of others through the sacraments and stewardship have been most rewarding. Two moments of my priesthood, which I had not planned on, were starting the Ministry to Priests process in 1987. This led to the joy of becoming vocation director for our diocese. Journeying with men who were being called by God was awesome. While enjoying that ministry, I had the privilege of serving as president of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors. This enabled me to see the Catholic Church from an unbelievable vision.
“Parish life is the dream I enjoyed. My family, my brother priests and parishioners in all of the parishes in which I served enriched my priesthood day by day,” he says.
“Coming back to Quincy was a surprise! It was a rich blessing. All parishes are unique, but the people are the same. From serving in each deanery in our diocese and some more than once, it opened my eyes to grasp the vision of a diocesan church. I enjoyed each assignment and met wonderful people.
“My greatest challenge in the priesthood has been to unify the schools and churches in Quincy,” he says. “The end result has been a blessing to see what can happen when people work together. I never thought I would be invited to close the parish of my baptism and the parish in which I celebrated my first Mass.”
While he has been in Quincy, Msgr. Kuse has been close to his family. “My brother (Greg Kuse) and his family live in Quincy. It has been a joy to have all of them in Blessed Sacrament Parish to spend more time with them.” Although his parents, Maurice and Shirley Kuse, have passed away in the past few years, Msgr. Kuse will never stop appreciating what they did for their family. “My brother and I were blessed with fantastic parents, a Catholic formation and a joy to live life to the fullest.”
Looking back on his 50-year journey as a priest and as one who was director of the Office for Vocations from 1988 to 2000, he says, “Every vocation is a mystery. When I welcomed men to begin their formation process, I would want to meet their families and also to make sure they are open to what God is asking of them,” he says. “The same would be true for marriage. Priesthood is wonderful gift, if you are called to that lifestyle. Like all walks of life, some days are challenging and others take you to the mountaintop.”
Msgr. Kuse says he is looking forward to retirement this summer, when his life will slow down quite a bit and he will be appointed pastor emeritus on July 1. “When I retire on June 30, I will continue to live in Quincy in my parent’s home. I hope to assist my brother priests in their time of need. A few vacations are in the process. It will be a joy to do something on the spur of the moment. I still intend to live my priesthood to the fullest, but without the stress-related moments. Life is what you make of it. I intend to make the most of that gift.”
Celebrating 25 Years
Father Donald Patrick Gibbons
Father Patrick Gibbons marked the Silver Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois a few months ago. He celebrated with his many parishioners, family and friends on Dec. 4 with a Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church in Jerseyville.
Father Gibbons was 36 years old when he was ordained a priest. He was born in Gillespie and raised in Benld at St. Joseph Parish. He credits his father, Donald Gibbons, for recognizing his vocation. “He was the man of the household and so rightly the spiritual head of our household. He planted the seed in me when I was very young.”
After graduating from Gillespie High School in 1973, Father Gibbons attended Southern Illinois University and Illinois State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine art with an emphasis on photography.
He joined the Navy and served on three flag ships under five admirals as a Navy photographer, until Type 1 diabetes caused him to be medically discharged after five years. He has visited 27 countries, and crossed the equator twice, giving him the designation of a “Navy Shellback.” He was stationed in Italy for three years and speaks Italian — and has a great appreciation for Japanese food as he was stationed in Japan for two years.
Before answering the call to become a priest, Father Gibbons tried a wide variety of jobs, including commercial and newspaper photography, custom color lab work, buying steel in Chicago, pumping gas, driving a forklift and a truck, as an employee for the Secretary of State, laboring on a road crew, as well as working on home and public construction. He also ministered on an Indian reservation in North Dakota. Still, God was calling, he says.
Father Gibbons began his pre-theological studies at Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio earning a minor degree in philosophy. He attended Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis and was ordained Dec. 7, 1991 by Bishop Daniel L. Ryan at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Following his ordination, Father Gibbons was parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham from 1991 to 1993; Blessed Sacrament Parish in Springfield from 1993 to 1996; and at St. Mary Parish in Edwardsville from 1996 to 1998. He was then named parochial administrator of St. Francis Xavier in Jerseyville in 1998 and of St. Patrick in Grafton in 2005. He has been pastor of both of those parishes since 2011. He is also parochial administrator of Holy Ghost Parish, Jerseyville and St. Mary Parish, Fieldon; assignments he took over following the death of long-time pastor Father William Hembrow last September.
All of his life experiences helped ready him for the priesthood, he says. “I can see where all of these experiences led me to grow as a man and — in the future — as a priest.” His favorite aspects of the priesthood have been bringing people into the church through the RCIA program and teaching the students. “I like to teach the kids, read Bible stories to them and interact with them.”
Beginning July 1, Father Gibbons will have a new assignment as pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Glen Carbon and associate chaplain at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He admits that leaving will be “very difficult” because he has been at those parishes for so many years and is naturally very fond of his parishioners. However, he adds, “I know I will be fine once I get there.”
Although he doesn’t have a lot of free time, Father Gibbons enjoys golfing, gardening, bicycling, hunting, fishing and reading. He is especially interested in learning more about the Civil War period. He has made pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Rome, Fatima, Lourdes, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and was in San Giovani Rotunda in Italy during St. Padre Pio’s canonization.
“Twenty five years went by fast,” he says, adding that there were some surprises along the way. “It’s just like marriage — there are certain experiences that come up that you didn’t expect. You really don’t know what’s going to happen. Still, if it’s God will for you, then it’s a good way to spend your life. Priests can do a lot of good to further God’s kingdom.”
Father Rodney Schwartz
A native of Witt, Father Rodney Schwartz was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Daniel L. Ryan at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield on May 23, 1992.
He is the first child born to the late Louis Schwartz who was a Caterpillar UAW member and son of a coal miner, and Mary Boehler Schwartz, a homemaker and daughter of a farmer.
He graduated from Witt Public High School in 1983 and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1987. He went on to study pre-theology and theology at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary.
Father Schwartz has one sister, Trisha, who is married to Brad Cachera and they have two daughters: Kacie, who is a student at Eastern Illinois University and Laurel, who is a student at Lincoln Land Community College.
“My vocation began at home with the Boehler and the Schwartz families. My grandparents, Florence, Bill, and Minnie, played an important role in my vocation as well as my Uncle Larry, who was a priest in the diocese,” he says. “While growing up I had a lot of positive influences. I received a Catholic education by the parishioners of St. Barbara (patroness of miners) in Witt, with the help of the Springfield Dominicans.
“In college my vocation was strengthened by friends at Newman Hall and staff — Father Angel Sierra — at the University of Illinois. My vocation was formed at Mundelein Seminary — by Father Gus Belauskas, in pre-theology.”
His first assignment was parochial vicar at St. Paul Parish, Highland. After one year he was named parochial administrator of St. Agnes Parish in Hillsboro, where he served from 1993-1994. In 1994, he was named parochial vicar at Little Flower Parish in Springfield, where he served until 1997. From 1997 to 2000 he was parochial vicar at two other parishes in Springfield; St. Aloysius and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Father Schwartz stayed on at St. Cabrini as parochial administrator from 2000 to 2004.
From 2004 to 2010, he was pastor of St. Mary Parish in Pittsfield and St. Mark in Winchester. In 2010, he moved to Pana, where he is pastor of St. Patrick Parish and also of Sacred Heart in Oconee.
Father Schwartz says his 25 years have been a broad and diverse experience of ministry. “My previous pastors and parishioners have showed me a lot about the priesthood. Father David Peters (St. Paul) taught me the ministry of parish management. Father Hank Schmidt (Little Flower), the ministry of compassion. Father Steve Janoski (St. Jerome) taught me the joys of liturgy. Father John Titus (St. Aloysius/St. Cabrini) helped me understand how to deal with the difficult demands of ministry.
“St. Mark’s and St. Mary’s schooled me on what it means to be an itinerant priest, with travel. St. Pat’s and Sacred Heart have taught me how to be a priest who balances the demands of parish, school and ministry. While I was at St. Agnes, I was able to source as a transition between pastors.”
If he were to give advice to men discerning the priesthood, he would tell them to “take time out to seriously think about it.” He adds, “Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before his public ministry; what do they have to lose?”
A loyal Illini fan, Father Schwartz says he “bleeds orange and blue” and he also cheers for the Chicago Cubs.
“Each and every parish I have served has always had families who have adopted and taken care of me, and they have taught me more than they realize on how to be their priest,” he says. “To them and my family I owe my greatest gratitude.”
On June 3, Father Schwartz will celebrate his anniversary with Mass at St. Patrick Parish in Pana at 4 p.m., with a meal to follow for family, friends and Oconee Sacred Heart and Pana St. Patrick’s parishioners.