Retired priests look forward to relaxation, continued service
June 5, 2023
Embarking on religious pilgrimages, enjoying Gulf Coast breezes while immersed in classical music, rekindling old friendships – these are some of the plans of six archdiocesan priests retiring this summer. But one common thread – the willingness to continue serving God’s people.
Those priests recently spoke with the Catholic Voice and shared their plans and reflections on their service years.
Father Frank Baumert, senior associate pastor of St. Thomas More Parish and St. Joan of Arc Parish in Omaha – ordained in 1978.
Not leaving active service, Father Baumert said he is simply receiving his retirement benefits to save his parishes money. He has no target date for leaving active ministry but plans to continue for as long as possible.
Father Baumert said he enjoys the variety of activities in serving parishes and schools and “being able to have a positive impact on people’s lives.”
He will continue serving as chaplain for Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the Omaha Police Department and the West Omaha Serra Club, and will continue to reside at St. Joan of Arc Parish.
His one concession is that he will take three months of vacation each year to visit friends from the 18 parishes he has served over the years. “Being able to reconnect with people rejuvenates me,” he said.
Father Michael Grewe, vicar general, executive director of Catholic Cemeteries and pastor of St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha – ordained in 1979.
Leading a September pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey titled “In the Footsteps of St. Paul” tops the list of future plans for Father Grewe. He also will assist parishes around the archdiocese with Masses as needed. “I look forward to maintaining that connection with parishes, with priests and parishioners,” he said.
Father Grewe will reside in the metro area and continue to serve as executive director of Catholic Cemeteries for the Omaha archdiocese.
But other retirement activities are yet to be determined, he said. “People say, don’t make too many plans right away, just enjoy the time, let things evolve and trust the Spirit.”
Father Grewe said he has always enjoyed parish ministry, “being with people throughout the whole life cycle, from baptisms to funerals to weddings.” Another highlight of his service, he said, was the planning and construction of the new St. James Church in Omaha while serving as pastor there.
Father Daniel Kampschneider, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha – ordained in 1979.
An early highlight of Father Kampschneider’s retirement will be an 11-week sabbatical/study course in Rome this fall on the Church teachings and scriptural understanding of Mary, concluding with a pilgrimage to the “Holy Family Trail,” which commemorates the places they stopped or stayed during their exodus to Egypt.
He also may serve as a spiritual director for future pilgrimages to Europe and the Holy Land, considering his love of travel.
While living with other retired priests at the St. John Vianney Residence in Omaha, he plans to assist parishes with Masses and confessions, take more time for prayer, catch up with old friends and take long walks and bike rides.
Father Kampschneider has enjoyed his various experiences as a parish priest, from teaching in schools to ministering to people during significant moments.
“You get to walk with people in every aspect of their lives. It’s a privilege to do what we do,” he said. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity. I love being a priest.”
Father Gerald Leise, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Pender, Sacred Heart Parish in Emerson and St. Mary Parish in Hubbard – ordained in 1974.
Relaxed, lakeside living is on the horizon for Father Leise upon moving to his cabin at Woodcliff Lakes near Fremont.
Although he has no firm retirement plans, he hopes to spend time reading spiritual books, traveling, and possibly learning to fish. “I’m going to just relax and see where it goes,” he said.
He said he is open to helping with Masses and confessions if parishes need him.
Father Leise said he has enjoyed working with people and being a part of significant events in their lives, so he will miss that personal contact with people. To stay engaged with people, he plans to reconnect and spend time with friends around the archdiocese.
Father Carl Salanitro, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Omaha – ordained in 1970.
Father Salanitro has few specific plans but will consider his options while temporarily living at Holy Cross Parish. He does, however, plan to continue living in the Omaha area.
Father Salanitro said he might eventually travel, most notably to England, where the history and culture interest him.
One of the hallmarks of his faith is his love of Scripture. “What has given me the greatest joy is Scripture and being able to teach it to adults and in the schools,’ he said. In that spirit, he has agreed to lead a Scripture study for a women’s faith-sharing group in the fall.
Father Salanitro said he had been inspired by the “incredibly faithful Catholic people” he has served.
“Being part of a parish community has been the best part of it, working together with parishioners and staff and being part of something bigger than myself.” He said he would miss being an active member of a team.
“I’m leaving Holy Cross with a lot of gratitude. … Holy Cross is a very special parish where people are very kind.”
As he moves to Lakewood Ranch, Florida, Father Sanderson looks forward to escaping the cold Midwest winter with its ice, snow, and potholes.
There, he plans to assist with Masses and confessions at two parishes while spending his free time enjoying his extensive collection of books and classical music. An accomplished cook, he also plans to hold dinner parties for fellow priests while experimenting with new recipes.
Father Sanderson cited the pastoral care of the sick and his teaching duties as highlights of his ministry. “Trying to bring comfort to those who are ill or dying and to their families and helping to shape young people have been very rewarding,” he said.