Msgr. Krejci finds fulfillment in connection with people
|Msgr. Albert Krejci still "helps out" at St. Bernadette parish in Omaha 18 years after retiring. Photo by Elizabeth Wells|
By ELIZABETH WELLS
For The Catholic Voice
As a new class of archdiocesan priests "“ ordained June 3 by Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss "“ looks ahead to what might be in their priesthood, another archdiocesan priest, Msgr. Albert Krejci, reflected on his 65 years as a priest in the Archdiocese of Omaha.
The people of St. Bernadette Parish in Omaha gathered in their social hall June 4 for a reception marking his 65th anniversary.
Msgr. Krejci's retirement was official in 1988, but he has spent the last 18 years 'helping out" at St. Bernadette. He celebrates daily Mass with parishioners and takes care of things as needed, he said.
'Not that I have an obligation, but I'm still helping out at the parish," he said.
When he was 71, he discussed retiring with then-Archbishop Daniel Sheehan. He said he was considering retiring, but he also wanted to stay in the parish if the next pastor would like his help.
He remembered the new pastor, Father Daniel Soltys, saying, 'Why should you leave?"
'So I stayed and helped," said Msgr. Krejci. 'When the next pastor, Father Robert Preisinger, came along, I told him the same thing "“ I would stay if he wanted me to. He just said, "˜Stay and keep doing what you've been doing.'"
Msgr. Krejci said he considers being allowed to remain at the parish a gift.
He draws satisfaction from his interactions with the people, he said. 'Before Mass, whenever I have the opportunity, I am in the vestibule meeting the people," he said.
When he was younger, he taught in the schools. 'That is how I got to know the children, and through the children I got to meet the parents, too," he said.
When the St. Bernadette eighth graders had their graduation ceremony and Mass last month, Msgr. Krejci was there. 'I knew many of the parents," he said. He met others that night.
'For 65 years I've always been with the people. Even before Vatican II, I was with the people, for the people and among the people," he said.
After his ordination in June 1941, Msgr. Krejci was assistant pastor at Assumption and St. Wenceslaus parishes, both in Omaha. During the first three quarters of 1944, he served as a United States Army Chaplain.
He was later named pastor of Assumption Parish in Lynch. He then served as pastor at Holy Cross in Bancroft, St. Joseph in Lyons and St. Peter in Newcastle, as well as at Holy Angels, St. Bernadette and St. Adalbert in Omaha.
In 1985, Msgr. Krejci returned to St. Bernadette as a senior associate pastor to help then-Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Milone with parish duties.
'I have enjoyed being a priest," he said. 'I have loved serving the people."
That connection with the people remains a significant source of fulfillment, he said. So, at age 89, he prays to continue to be with, for and among the people, he said. It is the one piece of advice he offered to the newly ordained.
'The priesthood is looking at the people as your family. You are going into a job that isn't an eight-hour job. You are at the service of the people 24 hours a day," he said. 'That is where you will find your fulfillment. Your reward is that you can help people by teaching "¦ and being an example."
Vatican II also has played a significant role in his priesthood. Even the advent of computers and cell phones has not played as significant a role in reshaping a priest's life, he said.
Vatican II has helped lay people and priests work together, he said. That interdependent relationship must be based on trust and respect, he added.
'After all, the parish is a community set up with the priest and the people for the glory and honor of God," he said. 'We must have respect for one another."