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Ellinwood native celebrates milestone on road to priesthood

John Rickert ordained a transitional deacon

Although he first heard the calling as a child attending St. Joseph School, the road to the priesthood for the Ellinwood native was anything but etched in stone.  
John Rickert said he first became interested in the priesthood “probably in grade school, mainly due to the excellent example sent by the earliest priest I remember, Father James Kelly. I thought about becoming a priest off and on ever since childhood, but then college, and then grad school, caused me to procrastinate.”Rickart, who was ordained a transitional deacon in March after five years at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Neb., previously earned a PhD in mathematics, first serving as a college professor, and later as a computer programmer with a multinational consulting firm.    
“I taught at the college level for a couple of years after I finished my degree,” he said. “I then got a job in an office -- a cubical farm sort-of job in downtown Dallas.  That was a really good job, and I’m grateful for the experience.  To this day I have great friends who still work there.  But I did realize my life was getting into a rut, and looking in the long term, I could see I was not going in the direction God really wanted me to go.”
With the seed of the priesthood having taken root, Rickert found himself looking into a relatively new order of priests, the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), formed by Pope John Paul II in 1988.   
“A friend of mine told me about the traditional Mass, i.e., ‘Extraordinary Form,’ while I was living in Dallas, and so I thought I would check it out,” Rickert explained. “I had had a lot of Latin in high school and college, so I thought it would be interesting to see what an old Latin Mass is like.  It was not an easy adjustment, though.  After about a half dozen times or so of going to the old Mass, something really clicked inside me, and the idea of becoming a priest, which had been stored away far in the back of my mind, somehow worked its way forward.  So, I was attracted to the FSSP because of their mission to make the Traditional Mass available.  I was also impressed by the example set by their priests I met.”
Except for following some of the older traditions of the Church, Rickert said that the order differs little from other orders of priests.
“We do have a school in Maple Hill and another in Moscow, Pennsylvania, which I will be assigned to for the coming year, but we are not a ‘teaching order,’” he explained. “We do follow the full set of liturgical books from 1962, meaning that we say the old office and use the old rituals for Baptisms, blessings, etc...”
   Rickert’s mother, a former “beauty operator,” and his father, a retired “big rig, long haul” trucker, still live in Ellinwood. Rickert is the youngest of four children.
 His ordination to the priesthood is scheduled for May 22, 2010, at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, Neb.  He said it is likely that Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., who ordained him as deacon, will perform the priestly ordination.   
It’s unlikely that the future Father Rickert will be serving any parishes in the Diocese of Dodge City.
“Because we’re so new -- the Fraternity started in 1988 -- we’re stretched a bit thin, and so priests and deacons have to try to meet the needs that arise, so in other words, I have no idea [where I’ll be serving],” he said. “We have around two dozen apostolates in the U.S .and Canada. We recently began an apostolate in Guadalajara, Mexico, and I’m really glad that we have begun to work in Mexico.  We also have an apostolate in Colombia, but that is under the direction of the European district of the Fraternity.”
In closing, Rickert offered this advice:  “If you think you might have a vocation, try it.  Don’t worry about being completely certain all at once.  God wants you to try, and He will show you where He wants you to be.”

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