Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meet our new priests

This is the story I wrote about our three new priests, ordained last Saturday.

Three to be ordained priests May 27

On Saturday, May 27, three men will be ordained priests in the Diocese of Lincoln. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz will celebrate the Mass of Ordination at 11 a.m., during which Deacons Lothar Gilde, Lee Jirovsky and Nicholas Kipper will become priests.

Deacon Lothar Gilda

The son of Hans and Shirley Gilde, Deacon Gilde and his two older sisters were raised in Saint Teresa parish in Lincoln. He was in seventh grade at the parish school when his science teacher asked the children to consider their future careers. First on Deacon Gilde’s list was “astronaut.” Second was “priest.”

“I had this idea that I could be the first priest in space,” he laughed.

Instead, Deacon Gilde graduated from Pius X High School and studied engineering at college. The summer before his sophomore year, he toured Saint Gregory the Great Seminary and was asked when he would be enrolling. “Maybe in a couple of years,” he answered.

However, home on break less than a year later, Deacon Gilde served with Father Ryland (then assistant pastor of Saint Teresa parish), who encouraged Deacon Gilde to consider the priesthood more seriously. The young man soon found himself telling his parents he would be applying to seminary.

“There was a moment of silence,” he remembered. “Then they said I had their blessing.”

Deacon Gilde found the formation process to be humbling in some ways. “The Church is so rich, even someone who has been studying the Church for seven years can’t understand all of it,” he admitted.

He is eager to serve as a priest, especially, he says, “celebrating the Mass with fervor…It’s the greatest prayer and greatest activity that can take place at any moment, the most exciting moment of our day. I just hope I can communicate that.”

Deacon Lee Jirovsky

For Deacon Lee Jirovsky, the call to the priesthood came with a mop and a bucket.

He was the Newman Center’s part-time janitor while studying engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There was something about this role – not to mention the example and encouragement he received from both Msgr. Leonard Kalin and his successor, Father Robert Matya – that led Deacon Jirovsky to understand, “God was calling me to a life of service.”

The news was something of a surprise to his parents, Carl and Ellen Jirovsky of Saint Vincent de Paul parish in Seward.

“They did not see the conversion that had taken place while I was at school, but they were open to it,” Deacon Jirovsky explained. When he enrolled at Saint Gregory the Great Seminary, he was able to interact with his parents and two younger siblings more frequently, and their support continued to grow.

“Our relationship grew deeper, too,” Deacon Jirovsky said of his parents. “Faith in the vocation has to be given to parents, too, because it is a sacrifice for them as well.”

He compared his formation process to the forging of a sword, a painstaking process of furnaces and grinders. Now he is anxious, “to being the good work that God wants me to do. Whatever the Bishop wants…anywhere in Southern Nebraska.”

For his own part, he hopes he will be able to “maintain a good balance of zeal and contemplation. It’s important to stay close to our Lord and draw from His strength.”

Deacon Nicholas Kipper

Growing up in Cathedral of the Risen Christ parish, Deacon Nicholas Kipper looked at the example set by many fine priests over the years and always thought, “I want to be like them.”

The oldest of Dennis and Maureen Kipper’s four children, he attended Cathedral school and Pius X High School, where he started to pray the Rosary more regularly as his teachers instructed him about the spiritual benefits and graces received from the devotional.

Through this practice, he believes, “The Blessed Mother guided me to see the possibility of this vocation…I really felt I had this call to the priesthood to help souls reach fulfillment in Christ.”

During a year at university, where Deacon Kipper spent a great deal of time at the Newman Center, he discerned his calling more clearly and soon enrolled at Saint Gregory the Great seminary.

His parents met the news with great support. “They were a big part of my vocation,” he explained. “There was always a kind of openness to vocations – wherever God led any of us.”

Though there are aspects of the priesthood that Deacon Kipper finds daunting – “Being a priest is really about acting in the persona of Christ,” he said – he is overjoyed at the prospects of being able to offer Mass. He enjoys teaching and hopes to do that in the assignment he will receive from the Bishop following his ordination, but he welcomes any task. “Just to be out there and to help people grow closer to God.”

All three ordinands hope the people of the Diocese will remember to pray for them.

“Priests need a lot of prayer,” Deacon Gilde said.

Deacon Jirovsky also asks for people to pray “for more men to answer God’s call to the priesthood.”

Becoming a priest, added Deacon Kipper, “…really changes who you are. My weaknesses are always before me. I have to rely on God’s grace to always be with me”


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