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Father Joseph Taphorn leads Benediction for students in the oratory of the St. John Paul II Newman Center in Omaha.

Father Taphorn to take post as rector of Saint Paul Seminary

Father Joseph Taphorn, founding pastor and director of the St. John Paul II Newman Center in Omaha, will leave his post in January to serve as rector of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minn.
 
He will guide the formation of men from 16 U.S. dioceses and three international dioceses. Currently, 79 men are studying for the priesthood at the seminary. 
 
“I am both humbled and honored for the opportunity to form men for the priesthood of Jesus Christ,” said Father Taphorn, 47. “I am grateful for the support and encouragement of Archbishop (George J.) Lucas in accepting this appointment.” 
 
Father Taphorn’s talent and experience prepared him for his new responsibilities, the archbishop said.
 
“I pray that his time at Saint Paul Seminary will bear good fruit in the church,” Archbishop Lucas said. “The work of directing the formation of priests has a profound effect on the future of dioceses, parishes and families.”
 
Father Taphorn emerged as one of three finalists among 60 submitted names. Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chairman of the search committee, said Father Taphorn brings some “very unique gifts” to the table, including “vast experience in working with priests,” strong intellect and recognition of the importance of lay formation. 
 
He also brings humility, authenticity and holiness, said Bishop Cozzens, who has known Father Taphorn since their years together as students at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.
 
Father Taphorn “wasn’t afraid to show that he’s a person who has weaknesses and has learned to grow from those weaknesses,” Bishop Cozzens said.
 
Located at the University of St. Thomas, the seminary offers a four-year graduate program in theology, which concludes a seminarian’s training before his ordination as a priest. It offers a two-year pre-theology program for men who have completed a bachelor’s degree but have not attended college seminary. And it has lay students enrolled in its degree programs in theology, pastoral ministry and religious education. 
 
An Omaha native, Father Taphorn grew up in Mary Our Queen Parish. Ordained in 1997, his first assignment was associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk. He also was administrator of the former St. Ann Parish in Omaha and St. Francis Borgia Parish in Blair.
 
He has served the archdiocese as vice-chancellor, chancellor, judge of the Metropolitan Tribunal, judicial vicar, vicar for clergy and moderator of the curia. He was instrumental in planning and developing the Newman Center, which opened in 2016 near the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), and became its first pastor and director.
 
Continuing his duties at the Newman Center until January, Father Taphorn will be assisted during the transition by Father Jake Anderson of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, who will serve as pastor and director at the Newman Center for one year. 
 
Father Taphorn said he will miss serving the Archdiocese of Omaha.
 
“I will especially miss my daily interactions with college students and staff at the Newman Center,” he said. “It will always hold a special place in my heart.”
 
Dave Hrbacek of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, contributed to this report.

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