Priesthood meant everything to Msgr. Newman

Msgr. Nelson Newman fell in love with the priesthood as a young child. He was ordained a priest in 1954 and was active in that vocation for 63 years, retiring in 2017 at age 88 after serving at numerous, mostly rural parishes.

He died April 30 at a care center in Central City. He was 91.

By all accounts, he relished being a priest.

“The priesthood means everything,” Msgr. Newman said in a 2006 Catholic Voice article. “It means the fulfillment of a dream. It means a calling to serve. It means being part of Jesus’ team.”

Later, in a 2017 Catholic Voice article on his retirement, Msgr. Newman conceded: “You never stop being a priest.”

Now he has taken that role into eternity, “a priest forever,” said Father William Sanderson, who presided at Msgr. Newman’s May 4 funeral at St. Michael Church in Central City, where the monsignor was pastor for 24 years.

The funeral Mass was livestreamed via Facebook, as was a private vigil service at St. Michael the previous day, before public liturgies resumed in the archdiocese.

A native Omahan, Msgr. Newman first fell in love with the Mass as a young student at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha, a love that grew over the years, he told the Catholic Voice in 2017.

He graduated from Creighton Preparatory School and Creighton University, both in Omaha, and Saint Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Msgr. Newman served as an assistant pastor at St. Philip Neri Parish in Omaha from 1954 to 1961 and at the former Assumption Parish in West Point from 1961 to 1962.

He served as a pastor at St. Anthony Parish in St. Charles, 1962-1968; at St. Patrick Parish in Battle Creek and its mission in Schoolcraft, 1968-70; at Holy Family Parish in Lindsay (and until its closing, the nearby St. Bernard Parish), 1970-80; at St. Peter Parish in Fullerton, 1980-1984; at St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn, 1984-1993; and at St. Michael, 1993-2017.

He was given the title of monsignor in 2006.

Father Sanderson, pastor of Holy Ghost and St. Stanislaus parishes in Omaha and a close friend of Msgr. Newman, noted his friend’s long service as a priest, “19 years beyond normal retirement age.”

“Msgr. Newman, you have done what you were sent to do,” his homilist said. “We all thank God for the gift he bestowed upon you and for your generous and unwavering and faithful response to his call all these years. There is nothing more for you to do, but for us it is to pray God reward you for what you did in his service.”

Msgr. Newman was preceded in death by his parents, George and Mary (Smythe) Newman, a sister, Mary Ellen Newman, and brother, Arnold Newman.

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