Father Skalsky “retires” from active ministry
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Priests don’t retire, they refocus.
After a life of helping others, they perhaps place a little more focus on themselves, like Father Ted Skalsky, for instance, who is retiring as pastor at the Meade County parish cluster of St. John the Baptist, Meade, St. Anthony, Fowler, and St. Patrick, Plains.
“I don’t plan to be absent from the diocese,” he stressed, “but there won’t be quite as much activity. I still plan to be present in ministries in the diocese in some way.”
After speaking to Father Skalsky, it’s not difficult to understand why he plans to stay active in ministry. The Belpre native loves serving the people of southwest Kansas. He has found great joy in serving the Hispanic community in particular, and said that helping anyone through any sort of rough situation is “probably the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.”
One day after this issue of the SKC is in churches, Father Skalsky will celebrate 47 years a priest.
He was ordained to the priesthood June 10, 1972 by the Most Reverend Marion F. Forst, second bishop of Dodge City, at St. Bernard Church, Belpre. He served as associate pastorate at St. Patrick, Great Bend (1972-1975), St. Michael, Lacrosse (1975-1976) and Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dodge City (1976-1982). His pastorates included: Immaculate Heart of Mary, Windthorst (1985-86); Sacred Heart, Pratt (1986-1997); Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dodge City (1997-2001); Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe (2001-2014); and the Meade County parish cluster of St. John the Baptist, Meade, St. Anthony, Fowler, and St. Patrick, Plains (2014-2019). Father Skalsky served the diocese as chancellor from 1979 to 1986, and executive director of Catholic Social Service from 1986 to 2006. During this time he also served as Diocesan Vocation Director. He served as an advisor to Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas and continues to serve as Moderator of Marriage, Family Life and Natural Family Planning.
As you can imagine by the long list of service he has performed, Father Skalsky does plan to enjoy the freed-up time which he will be given. A small house is being constructed in Greensburg, where he plans to enjoy gardening and wood working, the latter of which he has a passion for, but until his retirement, very little time. He admits with a chuckle that he has more interest in wood working than he has developed skills for the hobby.
As he looks back, is the priesthood all he thought it would be when he first walked through the seminary doors in Dallas?
“I was afraid I wouldn’t find it fulfilling, meaningful — that it would be boring, but none of that’s been true. It has been more fulfilling than I could have ever anticipated.”
“There was an atmosphere of encouraging vocations in those days,” Father Skalsky said in an earlier interview. “The Sisters talked about vocations in school and we prayed a lot for vocations. The whole atmosphere of the Church made one aware that a vocation to the priesthood was a very good thing.
“I like being able to help people on their way to salvation. Many other professions help people in important ways, but a priest can help people in ways that will last for an eternity. Even the best of doctors can only keep people alive for so long.
“A person who helps people in their relationship with God can help them in a way that will have eternal value.
“I wish more young men would consider the priesthood,” he added. “They may be cheating themselves of a very happy and fulfilling life.”