Ten priests of the Diocese of Sioux City – two who retired in March and another eight to retire this July – give their reflections on the priesthood.
Father Laurence Burns
Father Laurence Burns, a native of Emmetsburg, attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and Mt. St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque. He was ordained by Bishop Mueller on May 30, 1964, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
People were overwhelmingly Father Burns’ greatest blessings of priesthood. He said he is truly grateful for the many wonderful people he has been blessed to know throughout his 45 years of priesthood.
“I have experienced the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, ‘I give you my word, there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children or property, for me and for the gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many homes, brothers and sisters, mothers, children and property….and persecution besides – and in the age to come, everlasting life,’” he said, quoting Mark 19:29-30.
Father Burns said there have been many moments during his priesthood where he felt God’s presence. In fact, he said, in order to be a faithful priest a man must have many of those moments.
“St. Ignatius of Loyola says that to mature spiritually we build on those experiences of God’s felt presence, calling them to mind often in prayer and mining the treasure that God is trying to share with us,” he said. “For me, people who I was privileged to minister to more often than not ministered God’s presence to me.”
In his retirement, Father Burns said he plans to enjoy time off and help out wherever he is needed, adding that it will be good to do some form of pastoral work in the diocese.
To young men considering the priesthood, Father Burns said he would give the same advice he’d give anyone, that the only way to be truly happy is to do God’s will.
“My advice to the young man would be, ‘Pray to know what God want me to do,’” he said. “What he wants is a better bet than what I think I might want. Jesus did say, ‘It was not you who chose me but I who chose you. ( John 15:16)’ The wise person prays to know what God wants rather than ignoring him and doing only what ‘I’ might want to do.”
Father Burns has served at St. Joseph Parish, Sioux City; St. Patrick Parish, Estherville; St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Sioux City; Sacred Heart Parish, Templeton; Blessed Sacrament Parish, Sioux City; St. Lawrence Parish, Carroll, and was a member of the Webster Country Team Ministry in Fort Dodge. Most recently he has been the pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Early and St. Joseph Parish in Schaller.
Father Emmet Farrell
Father Emmet L. Farrell, pastor of Saint Jude’s Shrine of the West in San Diego, Calif., in the Diocese of San Diego, is a native of Ayshire. He attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and Mount St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque. He was ordained June 5, 1965, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
He found being able to work with so many “fine people” to be one of the blessings of priesthood and felt the presence of God many times through the years.
Father Farrell pointed out that he only worked three years in the diocese before he volunteered to serve in the foreign missions. Besides providing a real cultural and language change for the priest, his time there provided an opportunity for personal conversion.
“At the end of eight years, there was one particular moment when I realized that I had turned a corner. I was no longer there as a savior, I was being evangelized by the people,” he said. “I was actually being converted by the simple faith of the people. They brought the Gospel into a whole different perspective.”
Later in his ministry, he noted that experience taught him to spot when he really was a spiritual help to people. Others have thanked him for his pastoral presence. He cited a recent visit to a parishioner who wasn’t answering the phone.
“I went to his house, knocked on the door. It took a while for him to come and when he finally did, we sat and talked for quite a while. He was depressed,” Father Farrell said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but when I knocked on the door, he was ready to commit suicide. He told me that later and I just happened to be at the right place, at the right time.”
He plans to continue to reside in San Diego in retirement and will help out in the parishes there on weekends and for special events such as weddings and quinceaneras. He also wants to devote part of his time to develop a retreat for the Hispanic community leaders.
In the diocese, he served at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Fonda; St. Lawrence Parish and Kuemper High School, Carroll; and St. Joseph Parish, Le Mars. He has had assignments outside of the diocese since 1968, including director of the Sanctuary Program for the Maryknoll/Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America in Marknoll, N.Y.; and served in parishes in Peru, California, Illinois and Texas.
Father Merle Kollasch
Father Merle F. Kollasch, a native of Whittemore, attended Loras College in Dubuque and American College – Catholic University of Louvain in Louvain, Belgium. He also attended and earned an M.S. Ed. Degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Father Kollasch was ordained May 30, 1964, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
Father Kollasch said he has been blessed by the people, diversity of ministry and the great priests and others he has worked with.
“God has blessed me beyond measure,” he said. “I am so grateful for my life as a priest and thankful that God has forgiven me my weaknesses and mistakes. It has been a wonderful life.”
There have been many moments, Father Kollasch said, when he’s felt close to God. One of the most rewarding of those moments is helping people die. He said he has an inner voice that tells him to “Go and see so-and-so.” Then, when the person dies shortly after his visit, he knows it had to have been the Holy Spirit.
His retirement plans are to live quietly and have time to pray.
“A priest friend told me God takes everything away, your family, your friends, your health,” Father Kollasch said. “But, he said, this is so that we can pray. God takes everything except the one most important thing – relationship, which grows with prayer.”
Father Kollasch said he’s always encouraging young men to consider the priesthood.
“In this era of erosion of faith, we need, the church needs, those would live counter-culturally,” he said. “Last Sunday I told the people at St. Margaret’s that two of their second graders who made first communion this year were going to communion at Mass and were looking forward to it. Maybe they’ll become priests. It would be a better life than any other one anyone could think of.”
Father Kollasch has served at Bishop Heelan High School, Sioux City; St. Joseph Parish, Granville; Spalding High School, Granville; Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, West Bend; and St. Casmir and St. Francis of Assisi Parishes, Sioux City. He also served as vocations director for the diocese. Outside of the diocese, he served as vice rector/spiritual director at American College – Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain, Belgium, and spiritual director at St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Most recently he was pastor at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Pocahontas and Saint Margaret Parish in Rolfe.
Father Lawrence L. McCarty
Father Lawrence L. McCarty, pastor of Saint Mary Parish in Sac City and Saint Mary Parish in Auburn, is a native of Perry, Iowa. He attended Iowa State University in Ames and Loras College and Mount St. Bernard Seminary both in Dubuque. He was ordained on June 1, 1963, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
He said being the minister of the sacraments, and especially celebrating the Mass with the people has been one of the blessings of priesthood.
“One hopes that you have been helpful in people growing in their faith. The people themselves are among the greatest blessings I have experienced in the priesthood. No matter what parish you are in, the people are great,” Father McCarty said.
He said he realizes the presence of God every time he celebrates Mass and found Cursillo to be a powerful experience that ignited his own faith, as it did for many people who made it.
In retirement, he plans to stay active and to be available to help out in parishes when asked.
“The priesthood has been a rewarding and fulfilling life for me, and I would encourage any interested man to go through a discerning process to decide if the priesthood is his call,” Father McCarty said.
He has served at Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City; Blessed Sacrament Parish, Sioux City; St. Mary Parish, Pomeroy; St. Michael Parish, Whittemore; St. Lawrence Parish, Carroll; Sacred Heart Parish, Fort Dodge; and St. Michael Parish, Sioux City.
Father Ed Murray
Father Ed Murray, a native of Storm Lake, attended Loras College and Mount St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque. He was ordained May 24, 1969, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
Father Murray’s greatest blessings have come from serving people in their most trying and happier times of their lives, he said.
“There is always a memory bond that is attached to those events that seems to last a lifetime,” the priest said. “Sometimes it is people that I have hardly met that amaze me the most. I am startled by their gratitude many years later.”
He said he feels the presence of God quite often, especially when there’s a situation he can’t deal with himself.
“I just have to turn it over to the Lord and he takes care of me,” Father Murray said. “Now that I have cancer, those special times come quite often.”
Father Murray said his primary goal during retirement is to fight his cancer the best he can and hope for remission. Right now it’s a day to day battle.
To young men considering the priesthood, Father Murray said he’d tell them to be open to the call and take time in discernment. They should visit with their parish priest or with whoever attracted them to the priesthood.
“Realize that it is a wonderful life if they are committed to it,” he said. “It takes someone who is committed to their faith and who wants to serve others in a special way. They certainly need that calling from the Spirit.”
Father Murray said he is grateful God called him to the priesthood and can’t believe how quickly 40 years passed by. He mentioned that he was surprised at how many people responded to a note in The Catholic Globe regarding his illness.
“I am sorry that I am unable to respond to all of them but I do want to say thanks for their goodness and their generosity,” he said. “People have been so good to me and I suppose goodness goes both ways.”
Father Murray has served at Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City; Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish and High School, Fonda; St. Columbkille Parish, Varina; Corpus Christi Parish, Fort Dodge; St. Edmond High School, Fort Dodge; Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorland; Holy Angels Parish, Roselle; St. Michael Parish, Whittemore and St. Rose of Lima Parish, Denison. He also served as a director of the Cursillo movement for the diocese. Father Murray’s most recent assignment was at Sacred Heart Parish, Spencer.
Father Gene Murray
Father Eugene Murray, a native of Storm Lake, attended Loras College and Mount St. Bernard Seminary, both in Dubuque. He also attended and earned an M.S. Ed. Degree from Creighton University in Omaha. Father Murray was ordained June 5, 1965, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
Ordained a priest for 44 years, he has ministered in a variety of ways in the diocese. Father Murray’s first 20 years were spent as a teacher and administrator in diocesan Catholic schools. The last 24 years he was a pastor at various parishes.
“I have enjoyed the camaraderie of the Sioux City diocesan priests and have found it a great support in good times and bad,” Father Murray said. “I believe it is one of the strongest assets of our diocesan presbyterate.”
Father Murray said he believes Catholic schools and the Cursillo movement are the two things that have had the greatest impact on the diocese during his priesthood.
“In general I have enjoyed being a priest in the Diocese of Sioux City and look back with fondness on the 44 years,” he said.
Father Murray has served at Sacred Heart Parish and Pocahontas Catholic School, Pocahontas; Holy Spirit Parish and Kuemper High School, Carroll; Gehlen Catholic High School, Le Mars; St. John the Baptist Parish, Bancroft; St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Maple River; St. Columbkille Parish, Varina; Holy Rosary Parish, Fort Dodge; Holy Family Parish, Emmetsburg; St. Mary Parish, Rock Valley; Sacred Heart Parish, Alvord; and Christ the King Parish, Sioux Center. His most recent assignment was pastor of Holy Name Parish in Marcus and Saint Catherine Parish in Oyens.
Msgr. Kenneth Seifried
Msgr. Kenneth A. Seifried, V.F., a native of Manson, graduated from Loras College and Mount St. Bernard Seminary, both in Dubuque. He also attended and earned graduate degrees from the following institutions: M.S.Ed. at Creighton, Omaha; M.A. at Azusa Pacific University, Los Angeles, Calif.; M.Div. at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Long Island, N.Y.
He was ordained by Bishop Mueller on June 1, 1963, at Cathedral of the Epiphany. He was awarded the prelate of honor in 1997, receiving the title of monsignor.
Msgr. Seifried has been blessed throughout his priesthood by meeting and working with many wonderful people.
“People are so accepting of priests, including the non-Catholics,” he said.
He said he has also been blessed with time to pray and learn more about Christ on a daily basis.
Msgr. Seifried said there have been some moments in his life where he’s felt the presence of God.
“It may sound strange, but a couple times while in intense prayer, I’ve felt an overwhelming presence of God, almost as if He were physically present,” he said.
His plans for retirement are to move into the rectory at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Holstein and be available to help Father David Hemann whenever he needs assistance. He also plans to help other brother priests whenever the need arises.
To men considering the priesthood, Msgr. Seifried said he’d tell them it is a life filled with people, as well as a life with quiet and private time. They’ll encounter many supportive and affirming people in what he describes as a “truly wonderful life.” Also, men can live the priesthood beyond diocesan life, he said.
“There are a variety of ministries in the priesthood from parish life, to school work, to hospital, military, prison and others,” he said. “I served a number of years teaching full time in high school, a number of years as a pastor and a number of years in the military.”
Msgr. Seifried has served at Kuemper High School, Carroll; Emmetsburg Catholic Schools and St. Joseph Parish in Granville. He also served for a number of years as a U.S. military chaplain. Most recently he has been pastor of Saint Joseph Parish in Milford and Vicar Forane of the Northwest Deanery.
Father Don Slaven
Father Donald Slaven, a native of Laurens, attended St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn., Loras College in Dubuque and Mount St. Bernard Seminary, Dubuque. He also earned an M.S. Ed. at Creighton in Omaha and a J.C.L. from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was ordained June 3, 1967, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
“Being with people on their spiritual travels has been one of the greatest blessings of the priesthood,” Father Slaven said, who added that he would find inspiration in the faith of the people when they came to a point of putting things in the hands of God.
In retirement, he plans to reside in Sioux City at Marian Hall and have time to seek the truths of the faith in order to help him and others continue to grow in the faith.
If someone was considering the priesthood, Father Slaven said he would tell them that it was a chance to have an enriched life, a spiritual life.
“I have always appreciated the direction our church gives all of us,” he said.
Father Slaven has served at St. Mary Parish and High School, Remsen; Bishop Heelan High School, Sioux City; St. Joseph Parish, Neptune; Gehlen Catholic High School, Le Mars; St. Joseph Parish, Dedham; St. Columbkille Parish, Churdan (attending Grand Junction, Paton and Cedar); Sacred Heart Parish, Ruthven (attending Ayrshire) and St. Joseph Parish, Salix. He also served as chaplain for Sioux City nursing homes and as a judge in the tribunal. Father Slaven was most recently assigned to St. Mary Parish, Dow City; St. Boniface parish, Charter Oak and St. Mary Parish, Ute.
Father John Thomas
Father John M. Thomas, pastor of Saint Ann Parish in Vail and Saint John Parish in Arcadia, will retire.
A native of Rock Rapids, he attended Jordan Seminary in Menominee, Mich.; Holy Cross Seminary in LaCrosse, Wis.; and Mt. St. Bernard Seminary in Dubuque. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1966, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
The greatest blessing of the priesthood for Father Thomas has been the opportunity “to be a part of many families and experiencing with them God’s grace coming through their faith. This means sharing with them their pain and sorrow, their joy and happiness, and successes and failures.”
He said he feels God’s presence most when he administers the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the sick – when he experiences the faith and response of the people he is ministering to.
“It is wonderful to see the gift of faith of God alive in the people I have worked with,” Father Thomas said. “Their faith has strengthened my faith.”
He will reside in Algona and plans to help out the area pastors with weekend Mass coverage when needed. Father Thomas also plans to play more golf, work in his garden and do some traveling.
If a young man asked him about the priesthood, he would tell them that “it offers many challenges and at times difficulties to deal with, but I cannot think of any other way of life that I could have chosen that could be as rewarding and fulfilling as the priesthood. I can honestly say that in my 43 years I have never looked back or questioned whether I made the right choice in answering God’s call to be a priest.”
Father Thomas has served at Holy Spirit Parish, Carroll; St. Joseph Parish, Sioux City; Christ the King Parish, Dayton; St. Mary Parish, Dow City; St. Mary Parish, Rock Valley; St. Joseph Parish in Kossuth County; St. Joseph Parish, Sioux City and St. John the Baptist Parish, Bancroft.
Father Edmund H. Tiedeman, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Lidderdale and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish of Glidden, is a native of Fonda. He attended Loras College and Mount St. Bernard Seminary, both in Dubuque. He also attended and earned an M.A. degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
He was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1966, at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.
The greatest blessings of priesthood for Father Tiedeman have been offering the holy sacrifice of Mass, hearing confessions and celebrating other sacraments.
“Many blessings have also come in the parishes,” he said. “I was very fortunate to have served in a number of parishes. There were blessings in meeting so many people.” Through the years he has had the chance to meet and serve thousands of parishioners in Northwest Iowa. He always found them to be very welcoming and they made him feel a part of their families.
He pointed out that he always found the Mass with “the real presence” of Christ to be awe-inspiring.
“When you are offering Mass, to think that at the consecration you are holding the creator of the entire world in your hand, that’s very humbling,” said Father Tiedeman, who added that he always tried to emphasize to the communicants that “they become a temple of God’s glory.”
If someone was considering the priesthood, he said he would tell them that it was a wonderful life.
“I’d do it again. It’s been a privilege,” said Father Tiedeman, who called himself unworthy. “It’s been a gift.”
In retirement, he plans to reside in his hometown of Fonda and will help priests when needed.
Father Tiedeman has served at St. Mary Parish, Danbury; St. Mary High School, Danbury; St. Thomas Parish, Emmetsburg; Emmetsburg Catholic High School, Emmetsburg; St. Mary Parish, Alton; Spalding High School, Granville; Holy Spirit Parish, Carroll; Kuemper High School, Carroll; Corpus Christi Parish, Fort Dodge; St. Edmond High School, Fort Dodge; Christ the King Parish, Dayton; St. Mary Parish, Willey; Kuemper High School, Carroll; St. Malachy Parish, Madrid; Holy Rosary Parish, Fort Dodge; St. Paul Parish, Scranton; St. Mary Parish, Mapleton; St. Mary Parish in Mallard and Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in West Bend. Catholic Globe