The Michigan Catholic is proud to publish this special section honoring priests, religious and deacons who are celebrating milestone jubilees in 2017. Throughout this section, we honor 118 religious men and women, 56 priests and 46 deacons who have given a combined 10,740 years of service to God’s Church. For all they continue to do, we say thanks.

‘In persona Christi’

Local priests the face of Christ to their flocks

In the Catholic world, there is no life without the sacraments. And there are no sacraments without priests. But while priests across the Archdiocese of Detroit bring those sacraments daily to their parishioners, their service goes well beyond that. They are comforters, friends, advisers, shepherds, leaders, listeners and sometimes even handymen. This year, we honor 34 local priests — and one local bishop — who are celebrating milestone anniversaries of their priestly ordination, as well as 21 priests and bishops celebrating anniversaries greater than 60 years. For all they do, and for their lifelong commitment to Christ’s flock, we say thanks and offer our prayers.

60 years

Fr. William Murphy

Fr. Murphy, 85, was born in Windsor, Ontario, and attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, the University of Detroit, and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 1, 1957, in Detroit, and celebrated his first Mass at St. Rita Church in Detroit’s north end.

Fr. Murphy served as an associate pastor at St. Philomena Parish, Detroit (1957-61); and Shrine of the Little Flower Parish, Royal Oak (1961-65). He became principal of Gabriel Richard High School, Riverview, in 1965.

Fr. Murphy served as vicar of the Downriver Vicariate (1973-74), Northwest Wayne Vicariate (1985-86), and Vicariate of the Lakes (1990-93) as well as director of the archdiocesan Department of Education (1974-79). He was appointed pastor of St. Agatha Parish, Redford Township (1979-86), and also served as vicar of the Northwest Wayne Vicariate (1985-88). He was pastor of Our Lady of Refuge Parish, Orchard Lake Village (1986-2004), and also served as vicar of the Lakes Vicariate (1990-93). He was granted senior priest status in 2004. Since 2011, he has served as a weekend associate at St. Thomas a’Becket Parish in Canton.


Fr. William Petron

Fr. Petron, 86, was born in Highland Park and attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township, as well as the University of Detroit.

He was ordained June 1, 1957, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, and celebrated his first Mass at St. Rita Church, Detroit.

Fr. Petron served as an associate pastor at Guardian Angels Parish, Detroit (1957-62); St. Peter Parish, Mount Clemens (1962-64); St. Christine Parish, Detroit (1964-65); St. Gertrude Parish, St. Clair Shores (1965-67); and Ascension Parish, Warren (1967-70). He was also a Family Life Bureau speaker.

Fr. Petron later served as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Detroit (1970-76). He completed clinical pastoral education training in 1976, and became chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Clinton Township (1977-78), and at Bon Secours Hospital in Grosse Pointe (1978-81).

He was pastor of St. Mel Parish in Dearborn Heights (1981-97), and was granted senior priest status in 1997.


Fr. Ronald Sayes

Fr. Sayes, 85, was born in Detroit and attended Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake Village and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 1, 1957, and celebrated his first Mass at St. Raymond Church in Detroit.

Fr. Sayes served as an associate pastor at St. Benedict Parish, Highland Park (1957); and at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, Allen Park (1957-58). He was an associate at the Detroit parishes of St. Thomas Aquinas (1958-63); St. Catherine (1963-65); and Mother of Our Savior (1965-70).

In 1970, Fr. Sayes was involved with the campus ministry at Monroe Community College as well as with the Shalom Community in Monroe. He was appointed pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Carleton, in 1971, and served as vicar of the Monroe Vicariate (1973-76). He became co-pastor of St. James Parish, Ferndale, in 1975.

In 1980, Fr. Sayes was appointed pastor of SS. John and Paul Parish in Washington Township, where he had begun working to establish a parish in 1978, and continued there until 1990. He served as pastor of St. Perpetua Parish, Waterford Township (1990-95); and was appointed pastor of St. Bernadine of Siena Parish, Westland (1995-2001). He was granted senior priest status in 2001.


Fr. Richard Schmidberger

Fr. Schmidberger, 87, was born in Detroit and attended Maryknoll-Glenn Ellyn and Maryknoll-New York seminaries.

He was ordained June 8, 1957, in Maryknoll, N.Y.

Fr. Schmidberger’s first assignment was as a Maryknoll priest in Bolivia in 1957. He then served as an associate pastor at St. Genevieve Parish, Livonia (1969-72); and at St. Mark Parish, Warren (1972-73). He returned to St. Genevieve Parish as an associate pastor (1973-77), and in 1977 was appointed an associate pastor at St. Gabriel Parish in southwest Detroit. That year, Fr. Schmidberger was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Detroit.

In 1980, he was named temporary associate pastor at St. John the Baptist Parish in Monroe. He became pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Temperance in 1981. In 1986, Fr. Schmidberger was named pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in Capac. He served as vicar of the Thumb Vicariate (1986-89).

He was pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Lapeer (1987-90), and St. Henry Parish, Lincoln Park (1990-96). In 1996, Fr. Schmidberger became pastor of St. Mary Burnside Parish in Burnside Township, as well as of Sacred Heart Mission in Brown City, and served there until he was granted senior priest status in 2000. From 2004-07, Fr. Schmidberger served as administrator of Sacred Heart Mission.


Fr. Eugene Wojtewicz

Fr. Wojtewicz, 86, was born in Detroit and attended Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit; SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake Village; and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 1, 1957, in Detroit, and celebrated his first Mass at St. John Cantius Church in Detroit’s Delray district.

Fr. Wojtewicz served as an associate pastor at St. Francis d’Assisi Parish, Detroit (1957-62); St. Hyacinth Parish, Detroit; and Our Lady Queen of Apostles Parish, Hamtramck (1962-70).

He was pastor of St. Casimir Parish, Detroit (1970-89), also serving as vicar of the Core City Vicariate (1988-91). He was later pastor of St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish, Taylor (1989-93); and of St. Hugh Parish, Southgate (1993-2009), when he was granted senior status.


50 years

Fr. George Askar

Fr. Askar, 83, is an extern priest from Lafayette, Ind., who has assisted at parishes in the Blue Water Area, including Holy Trinity Parish and St. Mary Parish in Port Huron.

Fr. Askar was ordained for the Diocese of Lafayette on May 20, 1967. He moved to Michigan in 2007, and currently lives and assists at St. Mary Parish in Port Huron.


Fr. Anton Kcira

Fr. Kcira, who turns 78 on June 17, was born in Djakavic, Kosova, Yugoslavia.

He was ordained in Skopje, Yugoslavia, on June 29, 1967. In Yugoslavia, Fr. Kcira served as associate pastor at Distrazhi (1967-69) before becoming pastor of Gusi in Montenegro (1969-70) and later Gllagjam in Kosova (1970-89).

He came to the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1989 and was named associate pastor of St. Paul Albanian Parish in Rochester Hills. In 1991, he was named administrator of St. Paul Albanian and served there until 2011, when he was granted senior status. He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Detroit on April 25, 1995.


Fr. Richard Leliaert

Fr. Leliaert, 76, made his first profession into the Crosier Fathers and Brothers in 1961, and was ordained a priest June 3, 1967.

He had served the Archdiocese of Detroit as a Crosier for 16 years before being incardinated into the archdiocese on June 25, 2004.

Fr. Leliaert served as chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac (1988-92) and director of pastoral care at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn (1993-2006). He also was a sacramental minister at Holy Family Parish in Inkster (2004-2006).

Fr. Leliaert was named pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Redford in 2006, and he continues to serve in that role today.


Fr. Giuseppe Licciardi

Fr. Licciardi, 72, is a priest of the Diocese of Monreale, Italy, who is serving in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Fr. Licciardi was born in Altofonte, Italy, and was ordained for the Diocese of Monreale on June 28, 1967. He ministered there for many years. He earned a licentiate in sacred theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1970.

Fr. Licciardi arrived in Detroit in 2011, and since then has served as pastor of Holy Family Parish in downtown Detroit, where he continues to minister.


Fr. Donald MacLennan

Fr. MacLennan, 77, was born in Charleroi, Pa., and attended St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

He was ordained in the Diocese of Kitchener, Ontario, June 3, 1967.

While serving as associate pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Harper Woods (1971-75), he was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Detroit by Cardinal John Dearden on July 29, 1974. He also had been coadjutor pastor of Ascension Parish in Warren in 1975.

Fr. MacLennan then served as associate pastor of St. Anastasia Parish in Troy (1975-80) before serving as pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Lake Orion (1980-87), and later St. Kieran Parish in Shelby Township (1987-95). He was granted leave for medical disability in 1995, and attained senior priest status in 2005.


Fr. Gary Tierney

Fr. Tierney, 76, was born in Detroit and attended St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 3, 1967, by Archbishop John Dearden.

Following ordination, Fr. Tierney earned a master of divinity degree from St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township (1983), and a licentiate and master’s degree in canon law from St. Paul University in Ottawa (1984).

Fr. Tierney was associate pastor at St. Regis Parish in Bloomfield Hills (1967-69). From 1969 to 1971 he served in the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal. In 1972, he began work in the clergy office, where he ministered in the permanent diaconate program and then served as personal secretary for Cardinal Dearden. During that time, he also served as vicar of the Core City Vicariate (1972-73). Fr. Tierney then was made pastor of St. Clement in Dearborn, where he served from 1976-80. He also was vicar of the Dearborn Vicariate (1977-80).

From 1980-82, Fr. Tierney pursued his master’s degree in canon law full time at St. Paul University in Ottawa. He returned to the Metropolitan Tribunal in 1982, where he served as a defender of the bond and as a judge. He also returned to parish ministry, becoming pastor of Our Lady Queen of Hope Parish in Detroit (1985-86), St. Anne Parish in Monroe (1986-89), and Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson (1989-98). For two months, he was administrator of St. Colman Parish in Farmington Hills in 1984.

From 1998 to 2007, Fr. Tierney was pastor of St. Alan Parish in Troy. He was granted senior status in 2007.


Fr. Terence Treppa

Fr. Treppa, 75, was born in Detroit and attended St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 3, 1967, by Archbishop John Dearden.

Following ordination he earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Central Michigan University (1977), a master of divinity from St. John’s Provincial Seminary (1981), and a doctorate in theology from Walden University (1994).

Fr. Treppa served as associate pastor at St. Gregory the Great (1967-69) and Guardian Angels (1969-71) parishes in Detroit, before becoming co-pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Roseville (1971-73).

After a brief assignment in the Diocese of Toledo, Fr. Treppa returned to the Archdiocese of Detroit to become pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wayne (1977-78). He then was pastor of St. Norbert Parish in Inkster (1978-94) and SS. John and Paul Parish in Washington Township (1994-98).

For the next 17 years, Fr. Treppa served as pastor of St. Richard Parish in Westland, until being granted senior priest status in 2015.


Fr. James Wieging

Fr. Wieging, 75, was born in Monroe and attended St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 3, 1967, by Archbishop John Dearden.

Following his ordination, Fr. Wieging did postgraduate theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md., and earned a master of divinity from St. John’s Provincial Seminary (1982).

Fr. Weiging served as associate pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Utica (1967-71) and St. David Parish in Detroit (1971-73). In 1973, he was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in River Rouge, serving there until 2012. In 2010, Fr. Wieging took on additional responsibilities as pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Ecorse for two years.

Fr. Weiging also has served as vicar of the old Downriver Vicariate (1980-82) and as administrator of Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Woodhaven (1999, 2014), St. Elizabeth Parish in Wyandotte (2003-04), and St. Timothy Parish in Trenton (2015). He was on the archdiocesan Presbyteral Council from 1999 to 2003.

In addition to his ministry in parishes, Fr. Weiging has taught as an adjunct professor at Madonna University in Livonia, and served as chaplain for the Michigan State Circle of the Daughters of Isabella, the FBI, the Federal Air Marshals, and Wayne County Metropolitan Airport. He was granted senior priest status in 2012.

40 years

Fr. Ronald Babich

Fr. Babich, 67, was born in Detroit and attended St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained a priest on March 5, 1977, in Detroit.

Fr. Babich served as associate pastor at the parishes of St. Veronica, East Detroit (1977-80); SS. Peter and Paul (West Side), Detroit (1980-81); St. Rene Goupil, Sterling Heights (1981-85); and Guardian Angels, Clawson (1985-87). He also served as parochial administrator at St. John the Baptist in Monroe in 1985, and as pastor of St. Hilary Parish in Redford Township (1987-94).

From 1994 to 2014, Fr. Babich served as pastor of Our Lady Queen of All Saints Parish in Fraser. In 2014, he was appointed pastor of St. Daniel Parish in Clarkston, where he continues to serve today.


Msgr. John Budde

Msgr. Budde, 66, was born in Dearborn Heights and attended Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit; St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth Township; and American College, Louvain.

He was ordained Aug. 6, 1977, at Sacred Heart Seminary.

He served as associate pastor at the parishes of St. Christopher, Detroit (1977-80), and St. Angela, Roseville (1981-83). From 1980-81, he studied at the University of Louvain.

Then-Fr. Budde was on the faculty of St. John’s Provincial Seminary from 1983-88, and also at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 1988. From 1994-2001, he served as ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

In 1989, he was named pastor of Holy Family Parish in Novi, where he ministered until 2007. From 2007-13, he was pastor of the fledgling Divine Mercy Parish in Davisburg, and since 2013 has been pastor of St. Mary Parish in Milford. He also served from 2003-07 on the archdiocesan Presbyteral Council.

Msgr. Budde was named a “chaplain to His Holiness” (monsignor) by Pope Benedict XVI on Sept. 30, 2005.


Fr. Brian Chabala

Fr. Chabala, 66, was born in Detroit and attended Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, and St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 11, 1977, at St. Agatha Parish in Redford Township.

He served as associate pastor at the parishes of St. Basil, East Detroit (1977-80); St. Frances Cabrini, Allen Park (1980-84); and St. Mary, Wayne (1984-87). He served as temporary parochial administrator at St. Mary Parish, Monroe, in 1987, and was then named its pastor that same year. He served there until 1996, when he was named pastor of St. Fabian Parish, Farmington Hills.

In 2011, Fr. Chabala was named pastor of St. Irenaues Parish in Rochester Hills, where he continues to serve today.

In addition, he served on the clergy assignment board from 2001-05 and 2008-12.


Fr. Loren Connell, OFM

Fr. Connell, 74, is celebrating his 40th year as a priest, being ordained Nov. 20, 1976.

He has served as pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in downtown Detroit since 2013.

A priest of the Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, based in Cincinnati, Fr. Connell previously served as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Detroit (2013-15), and as administrator of both St. Patrick and St. Aloysius parishes from 2012-13.

Fr. Connell joined the Franciscans in 1967 and has also served in Ohio, Indiana and Louisiana.


Fr. Joseph Dailey

Fr. Dailey, 66, was born in Toledo, Ohio, and attended Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, and St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth Township.

He was ordained Sept. 10, 1977, at St. Agatha Parish, Redford Township.

He served as associate pastor of St. Genevieve Parish, Livonia (1977-78); St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Detroit (1978-82); and St. Edith Parish, Livonia (1982-85). In 1985, he was released to serve in the Diocese of Kalamazoo as associate pastor at St. Thomas More (Student) Parish until 1988.

Upon returning to the Archdiocese of Detroit, Fr. Dailey served briefly as associate pastor of St. Matthias Parish in Sterling Heights (1988) and as temporary administrator of St. Valerie of Ravenna Parish, Clinton Township.

In 1989, he was appointed pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish in Orion Township, where he remains today.


Fr. James Jagielski,
CH(COL) USA Ret.

Fr. Jagielski, 72, was born in Detroit and attended Wayne State University in Detroit and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained March 5, 1977, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Fr. Jagielski served as associate pastor at the parishes of St. Ladislaus, Hamtramck (1977-80); Our Lady of Good Counsel, Plymouth (1980-83); and St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Clair Shores (1983-84). He was an auditor in the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal from 1981-82.

He served as military chaplain for the U.S. Army (1984-90), and served in Fort Polk, La.; Fort Monmouth, N.J.; Ansbach, Germany; and Fort Stewart, Ga. Fr. Jagielski returned home to serve as pastor of St. Mary Queen of Creation Parish, New Baltimore, from 1990-93, before again serving as military chaplain from 1993-2001 at Fort McClellan, Ala.; and Heidelberg, Germany. He was episcopal vicar for the U.S. Army in Europe from 1998-2000. In 2001, he took a sabbatical at the Catholic Theological Union.

He served briefly as administrator and pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in St. Clair Shores in 2002, and from 2005-07 served as chaplain at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. He currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.


Fr. Thomas Kramer

Fr. Kramer, 67, was born in Royal Oak and attended Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit; St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth Township; and Detroit College of Law.

He was ordained Feb. 12, 1977, in Detroit.

Fr. Kramer served as associate pastor at the parishes of St. Regis, Birmingham (1977-79); St. Clement, Center Line (1979); and St. Matthew, Detroit (1979-81). He was named an auditor for the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal from 1981-82, and again in 1983. He also served as associate pastor at the parishes of St. Alphonsus, Dearborn (1982-83); St. Louise de Marillac, Warren (1983-86); and St. Joseph, Port Huron (1986-90), also serving as administrator of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Port Huron.

He then went on to help at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, Detroit, until 1991, and served as temporary associate pastor at St. Thecla Parish, Mount Clemens, for a year after that.

After a leave of absence, Fr. Kramer was appointed pastor of St. Mel Parish in Dearborn Heights in 2001, and continues to serve there today.

Fr. Kramer also served as vicar of the Dearborn Vicariate (2003-04) and West Wayne Vicariate (2004-07, 2007-09).