Gratitude for faithful service
The Diocese of Bismarck offers sincere thanks and congratulations to those celebrating significant anniversaries of their faithful ministry. A special Mass will be held
Friday, May 30 at 3pm at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
. All are welcome to attend.
Monsignor James Braaten – 25 years
Church of the Ascension, Bismarck
Born in Valdosta, Ga., Msgr. Braaten attended Bishop Ryan High School (Minot) and the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) before entering seminary in 1984. He was ordained a priest for the Bismarck Diocese by Bishop John Kinney in 1989. Braaten served two 10-year periods at the Churches of St. Jerome (Mohall, 1991-2001) and St. Wenceslaus (Dickinson, 2001-2011) before his current assignment as pastor at the Church of the Ascension (Bismarck). He has also served as vicar for presbyters in the Bismarck Diocese since 2011 and was given the honorary title of Monsignor (Chaplain of His Holiness) by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
"It has been, and continues to be for me, a marvelous joy and privilege to serve the people of God. How quickly these past 25 years have gone. Amidst the tears shed, the crosses carried, and the sacrifices made as a priest, God has offered me many blessings, for which I am most grateful. I have witnessed first-hand the God of faithfulness and surprises. Continue to remember me in your prayers. Blessings to you!"
Fr. Phillip Brown – 25 years
Catholic University of America Theological College, Washington, D.C.
Fr. Brown, a member of the Society of St. Sulpice, was born and raised in Bismarck and served as both a parochial vicar and pastor of several parishes following his ordination in 1989 and before being released for work at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore in 2001. He is both a civil and canon lawyer—he practiced law in Bismarck for six years before entering seminary—and was appointed rector of Theological College, the national seminary of Catholic University of America, in 2011.
“Twenty five years of priesthood have shown me how much people need priests: to educate them in the faith, certainly, but not to tell them what to do; to walk with them, rather; to provide the sacraments for them; to celebrate the important moments of their lives with them; to grieve their losses with them; to share their sorrows; to rejoice with them, to give them hope, to assure them of God's love. It all began for me as a pastor and high school chaplain in the Diocese of Bismarck, where I learned what it means to be a priest, and I will be forever grateful for all that I have been able to bring with me from my days there.”
Fr. David Morman – 25 years
Churches of St. Charles (Bowman), St. Mel (Rhame), St. Mary (Marmarth)
Fr. Morman was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, yet considers the Church of Sacred Heart in Glen Ullin his home parish. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1989, he served as parochial vicar at several parishes before being named pastor of the Church of St. John the Baptist (Beach) in 1995. From 1995-2002, he also served as chaplain at Home on the Range in Sentinel Butte. He has been pastor of the Church of St. Charles (Bowman) since 2004.
“Service as a priest in the Diocese of Bismarck has been a privilege because of the goodness, faith, and love of the people. As a pastor, I am among the people, sometimes leading, sometimes in the middle giving encouragement and consolation, and sometimes at the rear and off to the sides seeking to gather people to keep them close to the parish. Despite my own flaws and failings, my own weaknesses and limitations, I stand with the people, leading them on the pilgrim journey through this life to the destiny given us in baptism.”
Fr. Dennis R. Schafer – 25 years
Churches of St. Lawrence (Flasher), St. Theresa (Carson), St. Gertrude (Raleigh)
Fr. Dennis Schafer was ordained a priest in 1989 by Bishop John Kinney and has rendered his service in all corners of the Diocese of Bismarck. He spent eight years as pastor of the Church of St. Vincent (Mott) from 1990-1998 and worked as director of the office of vocations for the diocese from 2000-2002. He was chaplain of Trinity High School (Dickinson) from 2006-2008 and has also led the parishes of St. Joseph (Dickinson), St. Anthony (St. Anthony) and St. Joseph (Williston). He is currently pastor of the Church of St. Lawrence (Flasher), a position he has held since 2012.
“God has been very generous with His love and mercy. To have the privilege of sharing so intimately in the lives of His people has been a blessing and a very humbling experience. Ministry has been an on-going opportunity to recognize the presence of God and to grow in faith. He has used me in ways I would never have imagined and perhaps not even attempted. But through it all, God has provided abundantly. There are some golden moments and some times of struggle, but He is consistent in His love and growth happens when we least expect it.”
Fr. John O’Leary – 60 years
Bishop Lambert Hoch ordained Fr. O’Leary a priest in 1954. He spent his first three years of priesthood at the Church of St. Mary (New England) and worked at many parishes throughout his years of service, including: Sts. Peter and Paul (Amidon), St. Patrick (Dickinson), St. Mary (Foxholm) and St. Anthony (New Town). He also served as chaplain of Trinity High School from 1978-1987. He retired in July 1998 and now resides at Emmaus Place in Bismarck.
“Looking back on these 60 years of priestly ministry, I am filled with gratitude toward God for his love, care and blessings. I am amazed; the time has gone by so fast. I never thought I would experience this many years serving as an instrument of the Lord.”
Monsignor Joseph Senger – 60 years
Msgr. Senger is a priest of the Diocese of Fargo who now resides in the Bismarck Diocese—in Minot. He grew up 100 miles east of Minot and served as pastor of the Church of St. Cecilia (Velva) from 1985-2000. (The Bismarck Diocese and its priests have, at times, served St. Cecilia because of its proximity to the diocese). He was given the title of Monsignor (Prelate of Honor to His Holiness) in 1999 and retired from active ministry in 2000. Desiring to be near family and friends, he made his retirement home in Minot, where he currently lives.
“I find it exciting to be a priest in our current age—I wish I were a newly ordained priest today! I enjoyed the pastoral work, the people, Marriage Encounter, Search, Cursillo and parish work. I am filled with gratitude and hopefulness for the future of the Church.”
Note: Click here for the recognition of religious priests & sisters celebrating significant anniversaries of their ministry
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