The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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June 8, 2001 Issue
Local News

Dyckesville native ordained for Kansas City

Fr. Pennings to say Mass at St. Louis, June 10

Special to The Compass

Fr. Gary Pennings, a native of Green Bay, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., on June 2. He will preside at the 10 a.m. Mass June 10 at St. Louis Church in Dyckesville. Fr. Pennings will be assigned as an associate pastor at the Church of Nativity in Leawood, Kan., on July 14.

The oldest of three children of John and Yvonne Pennings of New Franken, Fr. Pennings received his master of divinity degree May 5 from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

He was raised near Dyckesville and attended St. Louis School. When his family moved to Green Bay, he attended Ss. Peter and Paul School and Premontre High School, graduating in 1973.

Fr. Pennings attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and served as a paramedic and an emergency medical services manager for 18 years before hearing the call to the priesthood. He moved to Kansas in 1977.

It seemed inevitable that Fr. Pennings would go into some kind of service-oriented vocation. His father, paternal grandparents and an uncle operated nursing homes.

"My experience in management and as a paramedic have many parallels with the priesthood," he said. "Often, a priest is called to be with people in crisis. My years of management as an EMS manager helped teach me to relate to other people."

Fr. Pennings described himself as a "marginal" Catholic before realizing that material success didn't satisfy him.

"I had a good job, but I still felt there was something missing in my life," he said. "The more I thought and prayed, the more I realized I needed to focus on God and my faith life."

"In seminary, I learned the priesthood is not so much about doing as in being," he continued. "The priesthood becomes an identity, not a job, or task, or career. It's something you become. It changes who you are. You see everything through the lens of the priesthood."

Fr. Pennings admitted to some nervousness about exercising his ministry.

"A big part of the priesthood is surrendering and trusting that God will provide," he said. "I can't predict what kind of personal problems that will be brought to me. I can only do the best I can and rely on God's grace."

(The Leaven, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., contributed to this story.)

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