By KATIE BORKOWSKI
WILLEY – Bishop Walker Nickless will ordain Deacon Joseph Leo Lappe, native son of St. Mary Church, to the priesthood at 10 a.m. on July 28 at his home parish.
He will be ordained to serve the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin Mary (MIC) – Marians of the Immaculate Conception, for short.
Deacon Lappe is a Carroll High School graduate. He has an applied science degree from Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs, Iowa, and earned an exercise science degree in sports management from Iowa State University.
Prior to entering the Marians of Immaculate Conception, he worked in casinos and at Wells Fargo for about three years each.
This past spring, Deacon Lappe finished his priestly studies and graduated with a master of divinity from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a transitional deacon on Jan. 6, 2018.
“I am doing the short route and not taking a full year of diaconate,” Deacon Lappe said. “By canonical law, I have to exercise ministry for a minimum of six months.”
It wasn’t until about the age of 30 that Deacon Lappe started to realize and listen to his call to the priesthood.
On his life journey, he said he was wondering why things weren’t working out, such as his career in sports management. The path he was on “just didn’t seem to fit.”
The idea of priesthood then started “popping into” his head and kept happening. During the Year of the Priest, Deacon Lappe was at a conference for the direct marketing company he was working for at the time.
“I went to church on Sunday there,” he said. “At this time, I was also getting back into my faith – watching EWTN, listening to Relevant Radio. At the Mass, I was listening to the voice of the priest and he sounded familiar. He (the priest) mentioned the fact, ‘If God is calling you to this (the priesthood), all you have to do is ask him. He will tell you, ‘Yes or no.’”
Deacon Lappe couldn’t shake the thoughts that were popping into his head, so he asked God the question.
“I got a warm feeling over myself,” he recalled. “I am in the wrong place in my life and I need to figure out how to get to the other side.”
The deacon started researching his faith and that is when “God was really calling me to the priesthood. God led me where I needed to be led.”
A lot of what Deacon Lappe has learned stems from being able to trust in God.
“Basically, you have to let God take the wheel,” he said. “The more you take the wheel, he will tell you to take your hands off the wheel and let him drive. Trust in God. Do your work. If you are putting the work in and you’re doing your best, God can help you out.”
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception are based out of Stockbridge, Mass., in the United States, but originated in Poland. The order was founded by St. Stanislaus Papczynski.
The charism of the order is understanding and spreading the message of the Immaculate Conception. They also pray for the holy souls in purgatory, especially victims of war and disease, assist where the need is greatest in parishes, shrines, schools and missions and promote the Divine Mercy message.
Today, the Marian Congregation has more than 500 priests and brothers who serve in 20 countries around the world.
“I chose the community because of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the rosary,” said Deacon Lappe. “In essence, we are spreading God’s message of love.”
Deacon Lappe wanted to give back to his home parish and allow for many family members to attend his ordination, so it was decided to hold the ordination in Willey.
“When I entered (the order), they started allowing members to petition their home parishes to be ordained there,” he said. “If we do that, we could spark more vocations, not only to our order but for the diocese. Nine times out of 10, people haven’t attended an ordination in their life.”
The deacon acknowledged there might be a child in the pew who could see the ordination and realize they are being called to something greater.
Deacon Lappe is looking forward to starting his ministry once he is ordained at the end of July. He has been assigned as an associate pastor at two parishes in Kenosha, Wis., and will teach at the Catholic school.
Through the years, Deacon Lappe received assistance and support from the Diocese of Sioux City, Knights of Columbus, the Carroll Area Serra Club and other sources to take care of his priestly studies.
“My mom and dad and parish were always supportive,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for prayers, support and financial assistance.”