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Our Hero Priests

Chaplain Emeritus Len Stegman

Our Priest Hero - Chaplain Emeritus Len Stegman

"Here I am O Lord, I want to do Your Will. What would You have me do today?"
This has been the personal motto of Fr. Len Stegman since his ordination on June 23, 1943. Father Len entered the U. S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1948; serving in Europe, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and at the Pentagon.
He received a Purple Heart, two Silver Stars, three Legion of Merit, a Bronze Service Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, and various other awards during his military service. He retired in 1977 as a full Colonel. One of his stories of serving in Korea is a featured article in the book "Blessings from the Battlefield" (edited by Thomas R.
O'Brien, published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing).
Today at 90, Fr. Stegman celebrates the Mass at Randolph AFB, Lackland AFB and serves as Chaplain Emeritus - Military Order of the Purple Heart and Chaplain Emeritus - Korean War Veterans Association. He also serves Mass at the Incarnate Word Village where he now resides.
Korean War Veterans Association National President, Louis T. Dechert recognized this Priest Hero with a Proclamation declaring June 3, 2007 as "The Korean War Veterans Association's Father Leonard F. Stegman Day." He will also be recognized at their National Convention (3 days before Priesthood Sunday), with a small multi-media presentation focused on his response to the Call to the Priesthood and service to soldiers.
--A. J. Herran for KWVA National President Louis T. Dechert


Fr. Tom Mayefske, Pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Albuquerque, NM is amazing.

No one believes his age, he doesn't look or act like his 60+ years, but more like a 35 year old man. We joke that the world gained a priest but lost a decorator, a construction worker, a musician, an architect. We're blessed to have him.


Many of you who have been around Epiphany Cathedral Parish in Venice, Florida, for a while know Father Esteban Soy. He was the "head man" around Epiphany for quite a few years.

Even before coming to Epiphany he had a full and busy life including assignments on the east coast of Florida, Arcadia, and Cape Coral , but he's originally from Girona, Spain. He built the existing church, St. Andrew, in Cape Coral and he built Epiphany. He was head of the building department for the diocese and also helped many other priests build their churches. But it's not about his pre-Epiphany years that I want to talk about.

Fr. Soy is a good priest, a really good priest, and I think an example to other priests and laity as well. But there aren't sounds of trumpets and beating drums with every good deed he does and most of the time his acts of kindness and service go unsung and unnoticed. He's quite an unassuming man. After his years at Epiphany, the shortage of priests, especially the shortage of bi-lingual priests, prompted him to come out of retirement, leave his native Spain and his family, and take an assignment in a small parish in the middle of the State. He now has about 100 families in his parish in Moore Haven, Florida and a similar number at his mission church in Buckhead Ridge. He could be sitting in a rocking chair on the shores of the Mediterranean, but he has chosen to spend his "retirement" years in service to the disenfranchised including the poor migrant population in Moore Haven. Undoubtedly, these people have bonded with Father Soy the way many parishioners did at Epiphany. If you know Father Soy at all, you know that he doesn't have a selfish bone in his body.

Many a time during his years at Epiphany he'd forego his day off to meet with a couple planning a marriage, receive an elderly person into the church, visit a sick parishioner, of take a funeral Mass if requested by the family. His people were always more important than anything he planned for himself.

He's a hero in the Diocese of Venice, a quiet hero.

Father Michael Hobson

My priest hero is Father Mike Hobson of Saint Agnes Parish in Middleton, MA . He came to our parish over five years ago and we have been truly blessed with his presence. He is a gentle, kind and giving person. His biggest problem is not having enough time in the day. I have seen him tired, frustrated, but faithfully ever-ready to listen and help with any and everything. His self-sacrifice for the needs of others is remarkable and often the most unnoticed. When asked what he needs, he simply answers to pray for him. His love for God is evident in everything he does. I honestly do not know how he does everything that he does. If a hero is person whose attitude and actions you wish to emulate, than Father Mike is a hero in the truest sense of the word. S. Saulnier

Fr. Leo Lutke

I am a recent convert to the Catholic Church and cannot say enough about our parish priest. Father Leo Lutke is a kind, generous loving man. He is completely devoted to his 'lambs'. He has been the guiding influence and sustaining force for Holy Spirit Highland here in Michigan. Even though he probably could retire and his health has not always been the best, he continues to serve our church. Our church is very welcoming to others and truly attempts to serve it members and the surrounding community. This might not be the case without his strong influence. Hooray for our hero Father Leo Lutke! – P. Dixon

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Chaplain (Major) Tim Vakoc

Chaplain (Major) Tim Vakoc, a Roman Catholic Priest, was stationed in Iraq when he was wounded Saturday, May 29, the 12th anniversary of his ordination.

He was returning from presiding at a Mass for the soldiers when his humvee was struck by an IED (improvised explosive device).

Father Tim was transported through Germany to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC on 2 June. He has sustained a severe brain injury. On Wednesday, July 14 Fr. Tim received a Purple Heart.

Fr. John Riccardo

Fr. John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Plymouth, MI, is intellectually brilliant, a wonderful teacher, a compassionate shepherd and a remarkably deep thinker.

He exemplifies all that is good about the priesthood by his constant devotion to our Lady, his fidelity to the Magisterium and his unabashed love of Jesus Christ. A real man for a man's job. – N. C. Bryhn, MD

Don and Gordon Weber

Waukesha (Wisconsin) Freeman Staff

A Lifetime of Service: Brothers Serve the Catholic Church Together

WAUKESHA - Together, brothers Don and Gordon Weber have been serving the Catholic Church for more than 100 years. To be exact, they have been ministering for a combined 109 years. Don is 82 and Gordon is 77, which makes them the oldest brothers still serving the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

"We're both retired, but we're semi-retired," Don said. "You remember the past, you live in the present and you anticipate the future." Don and Gordon grew up in a Catholic home and were altar boys in their church. They both knew at an early age that they wanted to join the priesthood. "Faith and religion, we believe, are very important things in our society and culture," Gordon said. "If a person is called to the ministry, it is
very worthwhile, satisfying, interesting work."

Over the years, Don and Gordon have served at several parishes in the area. Don started his priesthood at a parish in Racine and eventually went on to do specialized work for the archdiocese's Family Life program. Most of Gordon's service has been in parish life, including work with the St. Mary's churches in Menomonee Falls, Elm Grove and Waukesha. "We enjoy our ministry. We are needed in the ministry," Gordon said.

Today, Gordon still serves at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Waukesha and Gordon celebrates Mass at Brookfield Highlands, the retirement community where they reside. "There are still needs in the church and there are fewer and fewer of us," Don said. Dick Jahnke lives in Waukesha and is the local president of the Serra Club where Don serves as chaplain. "I think he's a testimony to the priesthood," Jahnke said. "Many times he will give us words of wisdom or he would tell us a joke." This is part of Don's tradition. He always ends his Mass with a joke or story. "They may not always remember the homily, but they'll remember the story," Don said. Gordon and Don have seen the Catholic Church evolve over time and believe it is a timeless entity within the community. "There's a saying I like," Gordon said. "We believe that the Catholic
Church is a changing changeless church."

Submitted by Monica Hanley

Father Greg Deters

My priest hero is Fr. Greg Deters, pastor of St. Mary's Parish in St. Clair, MI. Fr. Greg is a warm and personable human being who treats people with respect, warmth and enthusiasm. Although his schedule is very full, he takes time to visit and play with the elementary children and the teens of the parish. He is a hands-on pastor who supports his staff and works tirelessly with parishioners to help bring them to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. His laugh is infectious and his love for life radiates from him in all that he does. – M. Pavlov

Fr. Nicholas Zukowski

Our pastor, for the past 14 years, Fr. Nicholas Zukowski, celebrated his 25th Jubilee this past May. As a loving and gentle shepherd to this faith community of over 3600 families, at St. Mary Queen of Creation in New Baltimore, Michigan, he also finds time to work with other denominations to strengthen ecumenical efforts. As the only full time priest, his availability to minister to those in need is outstanding! His prayerful liturgies, inspiring homilies, guidance and leadership during very tragic events has won him the gratitude of many.

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