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Archbishop George J. Lucas presents the chalice to newly ordained Father Cremers during his ordination Mass June 1 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. The chalice is a symbol of the new priest’s duty to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist at Mass. BOB ERVIN

Trust guides Father Cremers as new shepherd

From when he served Mass as a boy at St. Anthony Church in Columbus, his fellow parishioners could tell William Cremers had the makings of a priest.

“I think everybody knew that was in him even before he did,” said his mother, Marlene Cremers. 

Those premonitions were confirmed June 1 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, when in the presence of many priests of the archdiocese, as well as family and friends, William Cremers was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop George J. Lucas. 

In his homily, Archbishop Lucas spoke of the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd from the 10th chapter of St. John’s Gospel.

“For those of us who come to an event like this, to a Mass of ordination of a priest, it would seem that Jesus would need no introduction,” the archbishop began. “But, as he speaks to us today, he chooses first to introduce himself: ‘I am the Good Shepherd.’

“Those words were addressed then during his public ministry for the first time and now those words, that introduction, is addressed to a flock to whom the Father has sent him,” Archbishop Lucas continued. “In the manner of introduction, he might add, ‘And who are you? I am the Good Shepherd. Who are you?’” 

The archbishop went on to explain the Good Shepherd’s unconditional promise to lay down his life for his sheep. He lays down his life regardless of the sins of his flock, the archbishop said. 

“Jesus is not the kind of shepherd who works for pay, who demands something in return,” he said. 

In describing Jesus as the Good Shepherd, Archbishop Lucas asked then-Deacon Cremers who he was and who he would become as a newly ordained priest, a shepherd called from among Jesus’ flock to lead the rest.

“Stay close to Jesus so that he can show you how to lay down your life for your people,” the archbishop said. 

RELATIONSHIP OF TRUST

An hour before ordination, the future shepherd was calm and collected, firm in his belief that God had led him to this day. “There’s a little bit of nervousness, but the main thing though is the trust,” then-Deacon Cremers said.  

“I’m trusting in the Lord. I’m trusting in what he’s done, what he’s going to continue to do, trusting in those who have formed me, trusting in those who are here,” he said. That trust carried him through his seminary formation, along with the hope that God’s will would be done in him, he said.

“One of the things he has always said was, ‘God willing,’” said Andrea Steffen, a close friend of Father Cremers. “Every time he talked about this day, it was always, ‘God willing’ that one day he will make it here,” she said. 

FAITH FOUNDATIONS

His parents’ support in the early years of his formation helped lay the foundation for Father Cremers’ discernment to 

the priesthood. His mother and father, Jim, were intentional about their children’s faith formation, making sure he and his sister, Carly, attended weekly Mass, received the sacraments respectfully and fully understood their Catholic faith.

“When Bill was a baby, we never took him to church,” Jim said. “We waited until he knew what was going on, could appreciate what was going on and act respectfully. It was an honor (for him) once he got to go to church.”

Bill and Carly would often ask when they would be allowed to go to Mass, and were told they could go when they were old enough, Jim said.

“She (Marlene) would go to one Mass and I’d stay home with the kids, and then we’d switch and I’d go to church and she’d stay home with the kids,” he said. 

RECEIVING CHRIST’S OWN HEART 

Father Cremers has also relied on the support and guidance of valuable mentors throughout his discernment. Father Andrew Roza, director of vocations for the archdiocese and associate pastor of the St. John Paul II Newman Center in Omaha, has witnessed Cremers’ growth since he began considering a vocation to the priesthood in high school.

“Bill has always had great zeal and clarity of purpose,” said Father Roza. “He loves Jesus, and he just wants other people to love Jesus.”

“It’s been really beautiful to watch him grow into a greater and greater ability to share that, a greater and greater knowledge of himself. His seminary formation has just taken a lot of good steps toward helping him be able to share and communicate everything that’s on his heart,” Father Roza said.

As he begins his priesthood, he wants to share the love of Christ with the people he serves, Father Cremers said. The motto at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, where he received theological formation for the past four years, is “Configuring men to the heart of Christ.” With his own relationship with Christ as the foundation, he can then bring others to Christ as well, he said.   

“It’s my prayer today that I may receive Christ’s own heart.”

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