By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND
Roseau, Minn. – On Dec. 9, Father John Kleinwachter celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination with a Mass of Thanksgiving and meal at Sacred Heart, Roseau. In addition to Sacred Heart, Father Kleinwachter is also pastor of St. Mary, Badger and St. Philip, Falun.
Father Kleinwachter, ordained Nov. 5, 1977, was the first priest of the Diocese of Crookston ordained by Bishop Emeritus Victor H. Balke.
During his 40 years of priesthood, Father Kleinwachter said he has moved 11 times, serving more than 20 parishes.
“As we get older, we realize more and more that everything is the grace of God, and because of that we can never thank God or celebrate God’s blessings too much or too often,” said Father Kleinwachter during his homily. “Today we are celebrating God’s grace to me and to others through 40 years of priesthood.”
He said the years have gone quickly.
“From day one, I have never had a boring day ever, and every day, I have wished I had more time to do more things for the parish,” he said.
He traces his first inspiration to become a priest to the mission magazines that would arrive at his house when he was a child.
“These always showed pictures of people so happy ... smiling around their religious sisters or priests or brothers serving them,” Father Kleinwachter said. “I wanted to help bring that joy and that happiness that I saw in those photos.” He said seeing joy in his parishioners and watching how they support each other brings him fulfillment.
After thanking his parishioners, family, Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner and his fellow diocesan priests, he concluded the homily saying, “May this celebration strengthen our union with God and each other and strengthen us to be prepared for whatever God has yet in mind for each of us.”
Bishop Hoeppner sat in choir for the Mass and near the end, shared a few words thanking Father Kleinwachter for his work in the diocese and his response to the vocation of the priesthood.
“Our celebration of your 40th is also a thank you to you for responding so beautifully to the call of God in your life,” said Bishop Hoeppner.