UP Catholic 06 16 2017 E Edition Page 10

10 June 16, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC www.upcatholic.org Three diocesan priests discuss transitions as they reflect on 50 years of service BY CAROL HOLLENBECK THE U.P. CATHOLIC We were the transition priests, says Father Thomas Wantland of his class- mates celebrating their Golden Jubliees this month. We were trained in the older methods, pre-Vatican II, and then were assigned to parishes and had to bring them into the new methods. There was turmoil, resistance, it was not easy. People would say Oh, youre the young one. But we sailed on. Along with Father Wantland of Venice, Fla., Father Raymond Zeugner of Winter Haven, Fla., and Father Daniel Zaloga, Compan- ions of Christ the Lamb (CCL), Paradise, were ordained in the Diocese of Marquette by Bishop Thomas Noa on June 3, 1967. While their ministries have separated them geographically, they still share similar concerns. All three spoke of transitions. Father Zeugners journey has been fraught with doubts. At one point, he left the seminary. He spent some time in the woods to consider his options. I learned that the Lord put the desire to pursue the priesthood in me, but I had to say yes, he recalled. Two years after his ordination, Fa- ther Zeugner became disillusioned. I wanted to change people, but I didnt see anyone changing, he said, adding that he had decided to leave the priesthood. Then, while I was at St. Mary and St. Joseph Parish in Iron Mountain, I had a con- version that changed my life. I was on a retreat at Marygrove. I received Communion and I felt an incredible sense of peace. I left the retreat house and was driving back to Iron Mountain when I felt the Lords presence so strongly that I was shaking. Father Zeugner said he came to realize that he was praying wrong. I was look- ing for fulfillment in people and realized I really didnt know the Lord. My prayer life changed 1,000 percent. It has been a beautiful 50 years. I wouldnt change it for anything, he said. Over the years, I have learned that the greatest thing of all is our own prayer life. We must have an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord. He is real and alive. I learned that you cant save any- one. You have to give them to the Lord. Father Zaloga also commented on tran- sitions. For 15 years, I was a teacher and administrator; I came to parish work 19 years ago, and now Im at CCL. Its almost like God has been preparing me for CCL for a long time, he said. While icially retired, the three priests are not idle. All three agreed that a benefit of working as a retired priest is no administration! Father Wantland left the U.P. in 1986 and has been in the Diocese of Venice, Fla., for 21 years. Ive served in parish- es small and large, he said. St. An- drews in Cape Coral had 10,000 house- holds. Thats the last place I served as parish priest. In 2009, he began work with Cross Catholic Outreach where he works with the poorest people. Last year, I traveled 22 weekends, so Im only part time now, he said. It has given me a passion for the poor. Before, I stayed away from ministry to the poor. But we learn and grow and have a different way of looking at life. He also assists at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and fills in as needed at surrounding parishes. Father Zeugner retired at age 67 due to health issues. He moved to Florida 13 years ago. Im still active. I have one day offa week, he said. He says Mass- es, hears confessions and gives spiritual direction at three parishes. My homi- lies are stories, mostly based on my own personal experiences, he said. As a par- ish priest, Father Zeugners focus has been on Charismatic renewal. The first thing I ask people is what is going on in your prayer life, and what is going on in your life, he said. You have to meet the Lord first and share what the Lord is giving back. Thats the best evangeliza- tion for the Church, he added. Father Zaloga also says hes as busy now at CCL as he was while running a parish. We have 3 hours of daily prayer, help in parishes as needed, hear confessions and conduct parish mis- sions, he said. But there are no more night calls, no more reports to fill out, no audit every 4 years. All those things take away from ministry to the people. All three priests also have concerns about changes the Church is experienc- ing. Its not all about theology; its about spirituality, a sense of prayerfulness, Father Wantland said. When I worked with priests, that was my direction. You have to have a prayer life. You cant do it alone. A priest drops the Daily ice, and the next thing, hes gone. Hes also concerned that technology is separating priests from their people. You have to be able to smell the sheep on the shepherd, he quips. Todays Church is at a critical junction. Young priests today are assigned to two or three parishes. Theres no sense of community. We need to empower lay people, to teach them to take some of the load. Our young men are going to burn out. Father Zaloga agrees. The Church is a family of families, he said. Instead, it is becoming more of a corporation than QUICK FACTS: FATHER THOMAS WANTLAND Born in Kokomo, Ind. Ordained June 3, 1967 by Bishop Thomas Noa. Served as an associate pastor at three parishes before his first pastorate at St. Albert the Great, Houghton. Was pastor for a year at St. Joseph, Sault Ste. Marie before moving to Florida. Has served in three parishes in Florida over the past 21 years. Has been involved in Cursillo, adult religious education and developed a program to prepare extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and lectors. QUICK FACTS: FATHER RAYMOND ZEUGNER Ordained June 3, 1967 by Bishop Thomas Noa. Served as associate pastor at St. Peter Cathe- dral, Marquette; St. Jo- seph (now Resurrection) in Hancock and St. Mary and St. Joseph, Iron Mountain. First pastorate was at Perronville, Northland and Foster City, an assignment that covered two time zones and nine zip codes, and a 60-mile round trip. Was pastor of Precious Blood, Stephenson for 12 years. Then Guardian Angels, Crystal Falls for seven years. SEE JUBILEE, PAGE 11 Father Thomas Wantland w i w t s W F Z Father Raymond Zeugner Father Daniel Zaloga

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