Neenah priest marks 40th jubilee
Fr. Richard Allen has been at St. Gabriel since 1985
By Linda DeVries
Fr. Richard Allen will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood at 10 a.m. Mass Sunday, May 27, in St. Gabriel Church in Neenah. Fr. Allen will host a reception and buffet dinner for his parishioners and friends after Mass as an acknowledgment that the priesthood has been good to him.
"I can't see myself in any other way than as a priest," said Fr. Allen, who was ordained May 27, 1961. "I can't see meaning in my life without it."
Fr. Allen said several things have influenced his ministry. "The Bible is a very important part of my life and I believe the documents of Vatican II set a good, new agenda for the church. Also, celibacy has been a positive value in my life. Anything worthwhile in life requires commitment, and celibacy is a commitment."
He is a strong advocate of continuing education for priests and has done graduate work at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University, and Northern Michigan University. He has served on the Clergy Congress the past 16 years.
Fr. Allen is the 10th of 12 children born to Frank and Mary (Ahearn) Allen. He was raised in New London and entered the Salvatorian Seminary in St. Nazianz after 8th grade. He also attended St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.
After ordination, he taught seven years at Catholic Central High School in Marinette and then was named principal, a position he held six years. After a year at St. John the Evangelist Parish and St. Joseph Academy in Green Bay, he was appointed pastor of St. Philip Parish, Green Bay. In 1982, he became pastor at Holy Cross Parish, Mishicot, until 1985 when he was appointed to St. Gabriel.
Pat Laux, a parishioner and RCIA director at St. Gabriel, said Fr. Allen is "a very pastoral person. He's incredibly hard working and in tune with the needs of the people."
Fr. Allen credits his relationships with family and friends, as well as a support group of priests he has met with over the past 25 years for giving added meaning to his life.