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Msgr. James Gilg points to late family members who devoted their lives to service in the church. Photo by Joe Ruff/Staff.

Msgr. Gilg’s plans take on a pilgrim flavor

Editors note: Seven archdiocesan priests retired this year, each after decades of service. Links to each story are at the bottom of the webpage.


Msgr. James Gilg’s retirement will be equal parts pilgrimage, slowing down and continuing to serve.

Marking 50 years as a priest, he said he wants to visit the places where he studied for the priesthood – Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo., and Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He wants to pray at the gravesite in Arcadia, Mo., of his grandmother’s sister, Ursuline Sister Bridget de Chantel O’Donnell, just as he prayed at the gravesites of two relatives who were priests, in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"They watched over me in my life as a priest," Msgr. Gilg said. "Three guardian angels."

Msgr. Gilg, who in his years as a priest taught religion, helped found two high schools and served as director of the Catholic Schools Office, also plans to travel this August to Glacier National Park with an old friend from the seminary and at some point to the Czech Republic to explore his family’s roots and the site of his 2003 sabbatical – even as he takes up residence at Boys Town and helps with Masses and other duties there. And he plans to slow down.

"I am looking forward to time to savor the moment and reflect. Just to wake up and say ‘I want to see somebody,’ that freedom of movement and travel," he said.

A native of Atkinson, Msgr. Gilg, 75, was ordained in 1966 and devoted 49 years to education before retiring from that part of his service in 2015.

From 1998 through last month, Msgr. Gilg also was pastor of St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Omaha. For 18 years he had a primary office elsewhere, but celebrated Mass at the church and came back each evening to the same rectory in downtown Omaha.

Parishioners held a dinner celebrating his service May 22.

"It’s been such a wonderful home for me, living here as pastor," Msgr. Gilg said. "Now, I’ll really be moving – away from home and retiring."

But living at Boys Town will bring satisfaction and joy, Msgr. Gilg said. He can watch that high school’s basketball and football games, mix with students, staff and others.

"I’m full of gratitude and full of anticipation," he said. "I’m very happy with all the people who have shared my life. And I’m happy to share it with more people in the community. I don’t want to go away."


Click the links below to read stories on:

Father Michael Schmitz
Father Gary Ostrander
Father Luke Steffes
Father Frank Lordemann
Father Dennis Hanneman
Father Michael Fitzpatrick
Msgr. James Gilg

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