Two priests retire this year
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
The retiring priests are Father Richard Ries and Father Patrick Walsh.
Father Ries, pastor at St. Thomas in Manson, St. Mary’s in Pomeroy and St. Francis of Assisi in Rockwell City, will retire after 49 years as a diocesan priest. He also visits the prison to say Mass once a week.
“I think it was divine providence that I became a priest,” he said. “I always tell people who ask why I have a vocation that it is because I had a great family. You had to give and take and learn from them.”
He said there have been so many joys in his priesthood including the sacramental life of the priest, whether it is baptisms, confessions, weddings and receiving people into the church.
“I have liked everything. I have been extremely blessed,” said Father Ries. “I have had the opportunity to meet so many people from different walks of life. I try to do the Lord’s work. I enjoy everything I have done.”
A fun part of being a priest, he said, was teaching whether it be high school, grade school or CCD.
“I think my first sermon was a challenge and after that it went relatively easy,” said Father Ries.
The priest has also enjoyed being able to travel. He has visited many countries – Tanzania, Rome, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, etc.
In retirement, Father Ries will live in the rectory in Ruthven and will help cover Masses for Father Clem Currans, Father Bill Schreiber and other priests.
“I want to cover for priests and would like to be busy, but I want to rest too,” he said.
Having friends all over the United States, Father Ries hopes to continue to travel in retirement.
After 43 years as a diocesan priest, Father Walsh, former president of Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools in Sioux City, retired on June 1.
As a long-time educator, the priest said he enjoyed working with students.
“I was a guidance counselor and tried to help kids get through tough parts of their lives,” said Father Walsh.
Father Walsh said the biggest challenge he faced in Catholic education was “trying to get enough money to do the things you need to do to make the schools a place where Christ is at the center and the kids are challenged to strive for excellence.”
He said that an important part of his life has been meeting people, becoming friends with people and developing relationships “that are life giving for them and life giving for you in the sense that there is spirituality involved in it.”
At this point, Father Walsh said he is taking a few weeks off and doesn’t have definite plans for retirement.
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