Diocesan priests celebrate ordination anniversaries with gratitude, joy
FORT WORTH — Priests don’t always know the impact they have had in the lives of others this side of heaven, but they can be grateful for the opportunities to serve and celebrate what God has done and is doing.
That was the message from Bishop Michael Olson to priests from across the Diocese of Fort Worth who gathered November 4 for a celebratory luncheon at the Fort Worth Club to honor more than two dozen priests celebrating ordination anniversaries from 5 years to 60 years.
“Anything we do regularly can become mundane,” Bishop Olson said. “But moments like this where we can come together as priests renews a sense of gratitude for what the Lord has done for us.”
Bishop Olson reminded them that the Lord’s calling to make them an instrument should “engender in us a great sense of gratitude to humbly serve.”
Helping others draw close to God
Monsignor Raymund Mullan was celebrating 60 years in the priesthood, with much of that time coming as pastor at St. Mary in Graham and St. Theresa in Olney.
Msgr. Mullan said, “At the age of 17, I knew with certainty that this was what I was meant to do.”
He said that presiding at Mass and hearing confessions were some of the most meaningful moments for him as a priest.
Father Tim Thompson, who was celebrating 40 years since his ordination, said, “All ministry is good and can be a great experience.”
Fr. Thompson has spent much of his ministry in Denton at St. Mark Parish and Immaculate Conception Parish. He said he sensed God’s calling while in high school.
Some of the most powerful moments in his ministry have been meeting with people facing death and being there to comfort them and their families in those final moments.
Father Ken Robinson, celebrating 30 years of priestly service, grew up in a Baptist home and converted to Catholicism while a student at Baylor University. After graduation, he sensed God calling him to the priesthood while a parishioner at St. Rita Church in Fort Worth.
Pastoral care and all it entails is Fr. Robinson’s favorite part of being in the priesthood. Most of his years of serving were spent as pastor of Sacred Heart in Muenster and St. Francis of Assisi in Grapevine.
Although he is now retired, he serves as chaplain at St. Francis Village in Benbrook, a senior living community.
“You never really retire as a priest,” he said.
Father Thu Nguyen also was celebrating 30 years as a priest, with pastoral assignments at St. George in Fort Worth, St. Jude in Mansfield, and St. Paul the Apostle in Fort Worth, and a special diocesan assignment as director of liturgy and worship.
Fr. Nguyen said that much of his focus has been on the Eucharist, which can “bring us closer to God.”
He discerned his calling right after high school.
“I asked myself, ‘what’s the meaning of life?’ and ‘why am I here?’” he said. The answer was clear: become a priest and help others draw closer to God.
Bringing life, love, and joy
Father Kyle Walterscheid, who was celebrating 20 years since his ordination, for the past several years has been pastor at St. John Paul II in Denton serving primarily college students, strengthening them in their faith. What has been true in his own life can be true for others, too.
“When you follow the calling of what God wants you to do, it transforms your life,” Fr. Walterscheid said. “You do a lot of things you never thought possible that bring a lot of life and love and joy.”
Father Wilson Lucka, TOR, also celebrated 20 years in the priesthood. Where he grew up in southern India, he lived close to a Franciscan monastery. His interactions with the clergy there inspired him to become a priest.
He said he enjoys serving as the first pastor at Holy Trinity in Azle, which was established as a parish in 2019.
Also celebrating 20 years was Father Emmet O’Hara, SAC, who serves at St. Stephen Parish in Weatherford. As a young man attending the ordination of a friend, he felt the Holy Spirit drawing him to the priesthood. He most appreciates Mass, preaching, and visiting the sick.
Father Matthew Sanka, SAC, said he discerned his calling while attending a Catholic high school in Tanzania.
Celebrating Mass, visiting the sick, and ministering to college students have been the most meaningful to him as a priest. He serves as pastor at St. Brendan Parish in Stephenville where he works with students from Tarleton State University.
Father Stephen Hauck, pastor at St. Martin de Porres in Prosper, served as emcee at the event where he celebrated five years in the priesthood.
He grew up in St. Maria Goretti Parish in Arlington, where he discerned his calling. He said he appreciated guidance from Fr. Walterscheid while he was a seminarian.
“I very much love being a diocesan priest and the day-to-day living out of our priesthood,” Fr. Hauck said.