Leaving a mark: Fr. Michael Holmberg retires
On April 28, 1973, Father J. Michael Holmberg was ordained at Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth.
On Aug. 1 Fr. Holmberg will retire as pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington. He plans to move closer to family and to have more time to read, one of his favorite pastimes.
Fr. Holmberg, born Oct. 14, 1947 in Austin, said he knew as a teenager that he was interested in entering the priesthood.
“I probably didn’t think about it until the latter years of high school,” Fr. Holmberg remembered. He entered seminary immediately after high school.
As a priest, he focused on community building.
“I think a big thing for me in my ministry has been working with individuals and communities and developing them into a Christian community, gratefully realizing what God has given us — we need to build up the Christian community,” the pastor said.
As a parish priest, Fr. Holmberg said the pastoral role has been integral to his life.
“In my opinion the only role for a priest is their pastoral role — working to build up the community of God, and that’s all pastoral,” he said.
“Whether it’s at Mass on Sunday or helping someone go through a great trial in life, it’s something that people recognize the presence of God in their midst.”
Fr. Holmberg said that while he plans to move closer to family and enjoy his retirement, “on weekends, I hope to help out with some parishes.”
And, he’ll find time to kick back and enjoy a good book.
“I’m sort of a voracious reader of all kinds of things. I’m big on history and how something historical relates to today,” Fr. Holmberg said. “I pretty much read anything.”
Fr. Holmberg said it was important for him to stay current, even as the world changed around him.
“Communication has changed and the Church exists in the real world, that’s the reality,” Fr. Holmberg said. “We have to communicate in the language of the day, whatever that language may be.
“And, technology, there are different ways to communicate with people than there were 20 years ago,” he continued. “We have to embrace all of that just to communicate and get people together.”
He hasn’t decided what the message will be in his final homily before Aug. 1.
“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” Fr. Holmberg said.
And despite his impending retirement, he’s busy tending to the business of St. Vincent de Paul.
“I’m still in the throes of planning for next year, that I won’t be here for. The new year begins July 1,” Fr. Holmberg explained.
“The day starts pretty early, often before 4 or 5, and ends at about 10,” he said.
Staying busy is just fine with him, though. “I don’t do well just sitting around,” he said.
Fr. Holmberg said he would encourage young men interested in the priesthood to pursue that vocation if their gifts lead them in that direction.
“I think people really have to recognize what their gifts are, and then develop those gifts that God gave them to help in the Christian community, even if they have to do some things they’re not really gifted at,” Fr. Holmberg said.
“They really need to recognize what their special giftedness is and develop that.”
Fr. Holmberg’s gift of communication has been clear.
In 2013, for example, he gave the invocation before the State Legislature, invited to do so by a parishioner who was a member of the House of Representatives at the time. It was a simple message of service, faith, and devotion to duty.
“Empower each member of this assembly with your Spirit so that as free people of your creation, they may always display truth and personal integrity in their actions,” he told the legislators.
The priest has left his mark at several parishes in North Texas.
At the beginning of his career, Fr. Holmberg served as associate pastor at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Arlington in 1973 and held the same post the following year at Holy Family. He also served at St. Michael Parish in Bedford, St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth, and was pastor at Holy Cross Parish in The Colony before being assigned to St. Vincent de Paul in 2016.