Father Strasser “retires” from active ministry
Southwest Kansas Catholic
When asked what he would be doing after he retires, Father John Strasser laughed and replied with a hint of sarcasm, “Retire?”, once again proving that “priest” and “retirement” aren’t necessarily two words that belong in the same sentence.
“‘Retired’ priests are at premium to help out on the weekends,” he said. “That’s what I’ll be doing so our active priests can take some vacation time.”
In a time of fewer and fewer priests to serve the expanse of Southwest Kansas, he may be busier than he imagines. In the mean-time, though, the 10-year pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in Kinsley and St. Joseph Parish in Offerle will be taking a little time off.
After spending time with family in his home town of Garden City—he has two brothers and one sister living there—he will venture off to Rome in August for a three-month sabbatical (although he admits with a laugh that once you’re retired, it’s not really a sabbatical).
“It’s a three-part program,” he explained. “One module has a focus on Scripture, another on Church history through the saints, and a third on art. You can do one or more of the modules; I’ll do all three.
“That’s the first thing I’ll do.”
After that, Father Strasser hasn’t made any plans—including that of where he intends to live. For now, he’s depending on the kindness of farmers, including his brothers, who may still be occupied with harvest to help him move out of his Kinsley rectory.
Father Strasser was ordained to the priesthood June 12, 1976, by Bishop Forst at St. Dominic Church, Garden City. He served as an associate pastor at St. Anthony, Liberal (1976-1980), and Sacred Heart Cathedral, Dodge City (1980-1984), before receiving his first pastorate. His pastorates include: Sacred Heart, Ness City (1984-1988), with the addition of St. Aloysius, Random in 1985; St. Rose of Lima, Great Bend (1988-1994), with the addition of St. Francis Xavier, Seward, in 1992; Sacred Heart Cathedral, (1994-2001); the Barber County parish cluster of Holy Rosary, Medicine Lodge, St. John, Kiowa, and St. Boniface, Sharon (2001-2009); and St. Nicholas, Kinsley and St, Joseph, Offerle, (2009-2019). Father Strasser has served as a member of the Presbyterial Council, Priests’ Retirement Fund, Diocesan Consultors, Diocesan Finance Council, Personnel Council, and Diocesan Review Board.
“I remember Bishop [Marion] Forst saying this, and it proved true over the years: Being a parish priest, you celebrate with families their most joyful times, and sad times. From marriages and baptisms, to illness and death. You are blessed to be there for both.”
In an earlier interview, when asked “What have you liked most about being a priest?”, he responded, “Helping people realize that God is with them in the joys and sorrows of life, and in the daily routine of life.”
On June 12, two days after this issue of the SKC lands in churches, Father Strasser will celebrate 43 years of priesthood.
“I call parish priests in this part of the world ‘general practitioners,’” he said with a chuckle. “Most professionals are specialized, doctors, lawyers, for example.
“But parish priests are still general practitioners. They do a little bit of everything, from celebrating Mass to fixing a hole in the roof.”
And when asked if he’d like to thank anyone in particular, he replied, “Your paper isn’t big enough.”