Sunday, June 21, 2009

Siebenaler brothers to mark 50 years each in the priesthood; younger brother has two more years to wait for his 50th

Between them, the Revs. Martin and Leonard Siebenaler have spent a century in priesthood. Ordained as part of St. Paul Seminary's Class of 1959, they will be honored next weekend at a pair of masses -- one in their honor and one of their own making.

Their kid brother, the Rev. John Siebenaler, also will take part in the festivities, but the "youngster" isn't old enough to reach his golden anniversary yet. He's been a priest for only 48 years.

"He's got to wait a couple of years," Father Leonard said.

The older Siebenalers will start things off June 28 by concelebrating the 8:30 a.m. mass at their boyhood church, St. Mary's in New Trier. They grew up on a farm near the small town in southern Dakota County.

That mass "is not officially part of the anniversary celebration," Father Leonard said. They organized it on their own as a fitting way to kick off the day.

At 1:30 p.m., they will be joined by their brother for a mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 2035 W. 15th St., Hastings. A reception will follow.

At 76, Father Martin is a year older than Father Leonard. There were so few kids in town that they ended up in a combined class at school, which is why they have the same graduation date.

"We get asked a lot if we're twins," Father Leonard said. "I don't think we look all that much alike."

They attended Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary before enrolling in what was known then as the St. Paul Major Seminary. Having a brother in the class provided a built-in support group. Even after they were ordained, they regularly compared notes about life at their respective parishes.

Sibling rivalry? "On the golf course," Father Leonard said, "but never about our work."

Father Martin served at parishes in Minneapolis (Visitation and Saints Cyril and Methodius), St. Paul (St. Agnes), Loretto (Saints Peter and Paul) and Waconia (St. Joseph's). He's retired and living in Hastings.

Father Leonard served in Minneapolis (St. Anne's), St. Paul (St. Columba), White Bear Lake (St. Mary's of the Lake), Zumbrota (St. Paul's), St. Louis Park (Most Holy Trinity) and St. Michael (St. Michael's), where he still helps out, even though he has officially retired. He lives in Cannon Falls, Minn. Star Tribune

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