Father Albenesius looks forward to family and friends, hobbies and travel
April 18, 2019
Sitting in a pew at age 42, Paul Albenesius felt a “firm call” that changed his life.
Owner of a ceramics shop and a night custodian in Jackson, he attended a Mass celebrating the 60th anniversary of a cousin, Jesuit Father James Kramper, who urged people in the congregation: “If any of you single men out there don’t have a reason to not be a priest, think about it.”
Twenty-seven years later, and after 21 years of service in 10 parishes in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Father Albenesius is retiring – from the same parish in which he was baptized, confirmed and answered the call to be a priest, St. Patrick Parish in Jackson.
It’s been a good life, Father Albenesius said, “helping (people), seeing them return to the church, getting their marriages validated. Those kind of things really brought me joy.”
It’s also been a life of service that brought him full circle after the last 12 years as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in his hometown, where he also will retire, and St. Mary Parish in Hubbard.
And while he answered the call to be a priest in middle-age, he heard it as a whisper throughout his life.
Raised in a loving, Catholic home by his late parents, Joseph and Christine Albenesius, along with his five siblings, he recalls, “Every night the whole family would gather in the living room, kneel down and pray the rosary.”
Two of his uncles were priests, as were his cousins, the late Jesuit Father Kramper and retired Father James Kramper of the Omaha archdiocese.
Father Albenesius attended Cathedral of the Epiphany School in Sioux City, Iowa, near Jackson, where the priests and religious sisters frequently encouraged students to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
“The priests would visit our class and tell us what their lives were like. It always seemed interesting and like something that maybe I could do,” Father Albenesius said.
But the hook hadn’t quite caught. Father Albenesius went on to teach in rural elementary schools, still thinking occasionally about the priesthood.
After several years he taught theology and worked as a house parent at Boys Town in Omaha. Then he moved closer to his family in Jackson, where he taught elementary school, then opened the ceramics shop.
About 10 years before his “firm call,” he began traveling with the pastor at St. Patrick, retired Father Michael Printy, and several parishioners as they attended the Chrism Mass at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.
He was particularly struck one year – shortly before the anniversary Mass for his cousin that changed his life – by the age of some of the priests, and his own desire to serve others.
“I remember distinctly at one of the Chrism Masses and all the priests had white hair. I wondered, ‘Who’s gonna take care of the people when they are gone?’ That was a very strong thought.”
Father Albenesius began serving as a priest when he was assigned as associate pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert and St. John Vianney parishes in Omaha, St. Michael Parish in South Sioux City, and St. Cornelius Parish in Homer. He went on to serve as administrator of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Hooper and St. Lawrence Parish in Scribner, and as pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in North Bend and St. Leo Parish in Snyder. Then came his most recent assignment.
Now he looks forward to spending time with family and friends, traveling, continuing to can his garden harvests and painting the ceramic pieces he saved when he sold his ceramics shop.
“I’ve always liked the assignments I’ve been given,” Father Albenesius said. “Our Lady of Lourdes will always be real special in my heart because that’s where I started, and all the rest of them too. I have a lot of great memories.”