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Jubilarians celebrate 400 years in priesthood

By Elizabeth Wells

Four hundred total years of commitment and service are the fruits of 10 priests from or serving the Archdiocese of Omaha who celebrate jubilees in 2005.

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss and brother priests gathered for Mass and dinner April 5 at St. Patrick Church, Fremont, to recognize the priests who mark their 25th and 50th anniversaries to the priesthood this year.

Bishop William J. Dendinger of Grand Island was the homilist. He spoke about the leadership role of priests in the changing world.

"No doubt it was your spirituality, rooted in prayer, and the liturgical life of the Church that gave you the resources to see these leadership tasks as an integral part of your priestly ministry," said Bishop Dendinger.

"There has been a unity of the priesthood among you and yet a very healthy diversity," he said. "Each of the 10 would need a distinct chapter if we were to write a jubilarian book."

A brief biographical sketch on each jubilarian follows.

Ordained in 1955

Father Paul J. Begley

Father Paul J. Begley was born Sept. 26, 1925, to Paul J. Sr. and Mary (McShane) Begley, in Omaha.

He studied for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and received a bachelor's degree from Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. He also received a degree from St. Lawrence Seminary in Mt. Calvary, Wis.He served several parishes in the archdiocese including St. Patrick (1955-61), St. Adalbert (1961), and St. Stanislaus (1961), all in Omaha; St. Mary, West Point (1962-64); St. Mary, Hubbard and St. Cornelius, Homer (1964-68); St. Mary, Wayne (1968-74); St. Mary, Bellevue (1974-78); and Assumption, Omaha (1978-95).

Since 1965, he has been a member of the Knights of Columbus. He served as a contract chaplain for Veterans Hospital in Omaha for 20 years. He was also the chaplain for the 789th ACW Squadron of the Air Force and for the USS Nassau Survivors. He received the Governor's Award for his work with the 789th ACW Squadron in the early 1960s.

He co-founded the Catholic Hispanic Ministry for the archdiocese. He was also co-founder and president of CLP Housing Rehabilitation, which provided housing for the needy.

Additionally, he has served as a board member for Douglas County Bank, 12 years on the Priests' Personnel Board and two terms as treasurer for the Priests' Senate. He is a member of the American Legion and the Old Timers Baseball Organization.

Father Begley retired in 1995, but he remains active as a celebrant at funeral Masses and and by serving as a supply priest to area parishes. He said his life as a priest has "always been a rewarding experience."

Jesuit Father William Doran

A native of Omaha, Father Doran was born Sept. 23, 1923, to William P. and Teresa (Larkin) Doran.

He graduated St. John Grade School and Creighton Prep High School. His studies took him to St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., where he received a bachelor's and master's degree and a licentia in philosophy. He also attended St. Mary College in St. Mary, Kan. where he received a bachelor degree in Sacred Theology.

Father Doran's ministry led him into education. He served as the assistant principal and then principal of the former Campion Jesuit High School in Prairie du Chien, (1958-68). He moved to Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, in 1968, where he served as president until 1985.

He returned to Omaha and served Creighton University as the assistant to the president. He also worked in Gesu Parish in Milwaukee, Wis., before again returning to Omaha in 1994. He continues to serve as the assistant to the president at Creighton Prep High School School.

"The people that I've worked with and served have been tremendous," said Father Doran. "It's been a wonderful privilege to work with them and for them."

Father Doran is an avid reader. He lives at the Jesuit residence at Creighton Prep.

Father John O. McCaslin

Father John O. McCaslin was born July 24, 1929, he is the son of George E. and Elizabeth (O'Connor) McCaslin.

He attended Holy Angels Grade School and Creighton Prep High School, both in Omaha. He studied at Conception Seminary, Conception, Mo., earning his bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1951. He earned his master's degree in secondary school administration at the Theological College at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in 1955. He also received a master's of divinity from Creighton University in 1979.

Father McCaslin's parish assignments as assistant pastor include St. Philomena (1955-57), Christ the King (1957-61), and St. Patrick (1961-63), all in Omaha.

He served as pastor of St. Paul in Plainview and St. Ignatius, Brunswick (1963-67); Holy Family, Omaha (1967-79); St. Joseph, Ponca, and Immaculate Conception, Waterbury (1979-84); Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Tilden (1984-85); and St. Patrick, Tekamah, and Holy Family, Decatur (1985-1991).

From 1990-91, he served as chaplain at Bergan Mercy Hospital. He was pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Omaha (1991-2000). In 1998, this also included the parishes of St. Adalbert and St. Joseph.

Father McCaslin founded a number of ministries including the Cursillo Movement, Marriage Encounter, the Francis House and Siena House. He co-founded the National Federation of Priests Councils and is a member of Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty and Nebraskans for Peace.

He also has served on the boards of several organizations, including Catholic Charities, All Saints School Foundation, St. Richard School Foundation and the Priests' Senate. In addition, he was a member and on the board of the executive committee of the National Federation of Priests' Council from 1994 to 1996

Father McCaslin has been an activist for human justice and peace issues and was active in protesting nuclear arms.

He is a past recipient of the St. Vincent de Paul Award for his work with the poor, the Paul Gallagher Award from Catholic Charities, the Whitney Young Jr. Award from the Urban League of Nebraska (1975), City of Omaha Human Relations Award (1978), the Nebraskans for Peace Peacemaker of the Year (1990), Outstanding Service as a Catholic School Pastoral Leader by the National Catholic Education Association (2000).

He retired in 2000 and lives at the Westminster Court Priests' Retirement Center in Omaha. He continues to visit death row inmates, celebrates Mass four days a week at Immanuel Fontenelle Home, as well as at Hospice House. He regularly assists parishes in the Omaha area.

Father Thomas O'Brien

Father Thomas O'Brien was born Aug. 10, 1928, the son of Dan and Alice (Mahoney) O'Brien. He graduated from St. Margaret Mary Grade School and Creighton Prep High School, both in Omaha.

He served in the Army from 1946 to 1948. When he returned from Korea, he attended Creighton University and received his undergraduate degree in 1950. He also earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 from St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., where he completed his theological studies. He also received a master's degree in education from Creighton in 1968.

His first assignment as an archdiocesan priest was as assistant pastor for St. Pius X in Omaha. In 1962, he was transferred to Sacred Heart in Norfolk, where he also served as superintendent of Burns High School.

He was named pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish in Raeville in 1966, and also served as superintendent for Pope John XXIII School in Elgin.

In 1969, he became superintendent of schools for the archdiocese. During this six-year assignment, he was in residence as chaplain at the Notre Dame Sisters' Motherhouse in Omaha.

He was named a pastor in 1977 for Omaha's St. Pius X. In 1996, he was the senior associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul, Omaha. He retired in 1998, but continued to help with Masses at the parish until recently.

"I consider it a great privilege to be able to serve God's people," he said. "I say that because the greatest title Jesus has is Christ the Servant and it is not used quite often enough. I have tried to use that as my model."

Over the years, Father O'Brien has received numerous awards including, the Presidential Citation from Creighton University (1990), Hall of Fame Inductee at Creighton Prep High School (2002) and Roncalli High School's Service Award.

Father O'Brien lives at St. Vincent de Paul Rectory in Omaha.

Father Robert Schmitz

Father Robert Schmitz is a native of Petersburg and was ordained a priest in 1955.

The son of John J. Schmitz and Margaret Grendler, he was born Aug. 4, 1926. He attended grade school and high school at St. John the Baptist in Petersburg.

His studies for the priesthood began at Palotine College Seminary in Milwaukee, in 1947. He also attended Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., and completed his studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.

After ordination, he served as assistant pastor for two parishes – St. Mary in West Point until 1958 and St. Agnes in Omaha until 1963, when he was named pastor of Epiphany Parish in Emmet and St. Joseph in Ameila.

He was also pastor at St. Paul in Plainview and St. Ignatius in Brunswick (1969-71); Immaculate Conception, St. Helena (1971-74); St. Joseph, Atkinson (1974-83); Ss. Peter and Paul, Butte, and Sacred Heart, Naper (1983-88); and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Tilden (1988-2002).

He served as the director of Rural Life for the Archdiocese of Omaha from 1972 to 1983.

He retired in 2002 and is living at the Westminster Court Priests' Retirement Center in Omaha. He enjoys golf, dreams about fishing and tells fishing and hunting stories.

"I've been to a number of places, but I've found that people are pretty much the same everywhere, and I've enjoyed the people everywhere," he said.

Father Robert Smith

Father Smith was born Dec. 25, 1929, to Sam and Kathryn (Heithoff) Smith in Elgin. He attended St. Boniface Grade School and High School.

He left to attend the minor seminary at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo. He continued his studies at Conception Seminary, where he earned a bachelor's degree, and later at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., where he earned a master's degree.

As assistant pastor, he served the parishes of St. Ludger, Creighton (1955-57) and Our Lady of Lourdes, Omaha (1957-65). In 1969, he traveled to Talcahuano, Chile, where he was first assistant pastor and later pastor at Santa Cecilia until 1969.

When he returned from Chile, he served as pastor at St. Michael, Albion (1969-75); St. Richard and Holy Angels, Omaha (1975-89); St. Margaret Mary, Omaha (1989-94); and St. John, Valley (1994-2000). He retired in 2000 from active ministry.

"I have been blessed with the friendship and support of many loving individuals and families," said Father Smith.

"While I cannot recall that I received any business, church or civic honors or awards," he said, "I have experienced and still treasure the rewards of sharing the love of many wonderful people in the parishes where I was privileged to serve and where I now serve.

"These memories are precious."

He is living in Omaha and helping at a number of parishes in the archdiocese.

Ordained in 1980

Father Roger Kalscheuer

Father Roger Kalscheuer was born Oct. 10, 1950, to Roger H. Kalscheuer and Helen Zukowski in Milwaukee, Wis.

He studied at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., where he received a bachelor's and master's degree in philosophy and English. He continued his studies at Jesuit School of Theology where he received his master's of divinity.

He served as director of development at Holy Rosary Mission in Pine Ridge, S.D. He participated in parish ministry while at Creighton University in Omaha in 1993. He served as the retreat director at Oshkosh Retreat House in Oshkosh, Wis. When he returned to Creighton University in 1995, he worked in pastoral ministry.

In 1998, he was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Omaha. He served as pastor of St. Frances Cabrini in Omaha (1998-2004). He is administrator of St. Philip Neri Parish in Omaha.

Father David Reeson

Father David Reeson is celebrating his silver jubilee in the Middle East as an active duty lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, serving as Wing Chaplain for the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Airforce Base in Turkey.

The son of Dennis and Darlene (Cusick) Reeson of Fremont, he was born Nov. 13, 1952. He graduated from St. Patrick Grade School and attended Bishop Bergan High School in Fremont. He graduated from Fremont Public High School.

He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minn. His graduate work and preparation for the priesthood were done at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver and Creighton University in Omaha.

Following his ordination, he was assistant pastor of St. Bernard (1980-84) and Christ the King (1984-1987), both in Omaha. From 1987 to 1995, he served as Director of Vocations for the archdiocese and Campus Ministry at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He was in residence in at St Pius X in 1987.

He entered the United States Air Force as a reserve chaplain in 1981 and became an active duty chaplain in 1995. He was the Catholic chaplain at Offutt Air Force Base from 1981-1995, and served in Croatia, Macedonia. In 1998, he was granted an extended leave of absence from the Archdiocese of Omaha

His work in the Air Force has taken him to several bases in the United States, as well as Greenland and Turkey.

He will relocate from Turkey to Al Udied, Qatar (near Saudi Arabia) in July 2005. His address is 379 AEW/HC, APO, AE 09309.

Father Reeson has received a number of awards and decorations. These include Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; Air Force Achievement Medal; Air Force Outstanding Unit Award; Air Force Organizational Excellence Award; National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Service Medal; Air Force Longevity Service; Air Force Training Ribbon; and United Nations Medal.

Father Richard Reiser

Father Richard Reiser was born April 24, 1954, to Wilbur and Agnes Reiser.

He attended Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Butte and later graduated from Butte Public School in 1972. He earned a bachelor's degree from St. Thomas College and St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.

Father Reiser attended St. Thomas Theological Seminary in Denver, Colo. He received his master's in divinity from St. John Seminary in Collegeville, Minn., in 1980.

Following ordination, he served as assistant pastor at St. Cecilia Cathedral (1980-82). He was associate pastor at St. Patrick (1982-86), Sacred Heart (1986-89) and St. Leo (1989) parishes, all in Omaha.

Father Reiser was named pastor of St. John Parish in Clearwater in 1990. In addition to his parish work, he taught at Pope John XXIII High School in Elgin until 1994. He also served as pastor of St. Patrick in O'Neill from 1994 to 1999.

Father Reiser has served his brother priests as Servant Minister since 1999. During this time, he also was a participant of the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University. He received "The Spirituality of Diocesan Priesthood and Spiritual Direction" certificate in 2005.

He was in residence at Holy Ghost Parish in Omaha from 1999-2002, and served as temporary administrator of that parish from Sept. 2000 to May 2001.

Father Reiser has been active in Engaged Encounter, Cursillo and Jesus Caritas Fraternity. He has also participated in the Priests' Council, Priestly Life and Ministry, Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, National Responsible of Jesus Caritas Fraternity for Priests and the Knights of Columbus.

He is in residence at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Omaha. He enjoys travel and iconography.

Father Richard Whiteing

Father Richard Whiteing was born Feb. 2, 1947, the son of Leonard A. and Agnes B. (Kinsela) Whiteing.

He attended Kuemper High School in Carroll, Iowa, before studying at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minn. He received an undergraduate degree in theology and continued his studies at St. Paul Seminary, also in St. Paul.

After ordination, he was assistant pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Fremont (1980-83) and associate pastor at St. Leo in Omaha (1983-87).

He was both associate pastor and then pastor at St. Augustine Indian Mission, Winnebago. He also served as pastor at St. Peter Parish, Fullerton, and Holy Ghost Parish, Omaha. He was an archdiocesan consultor from 1998-2003. He also was the senior associate pastor at St. Michael Parish, Sioux City (2000-2001).

Since 2001, he has been the pastor at St. Mary, Hubbard and St. Patrick, Jackson. He is living in Jackson.

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