Father Dan Dahlberg is new priest at St. PatrickSt. Patrick Church in Hudson has a new pastor as Father Dan Dahlberg takes the helm, replacing Father John Parr, who was transferred back to La Crosse.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
St. Patrick Church in Hudson has a new pastor as Father Dan Dahlberg takes the helm, replacing Father John Parr, who was transferred back to La Crosse. The church also has a new associate pastor, Father William Brenna.
Dahlberg, who turned 67 last Saturday, began his duties July 1 and is looking forward to his time in Hudson.
“I’ll have an opportunity to build on what Father (John) Parr brought to St. Patrick,” Dahlberg said. “I hope to continue to build our parish family and expand our various ministries.”
He is also cognizant of the difficult times involving the 2002 murder of Dan O’Connell and the situation with the late Father Ryan Erickson – considered by most, including the police, to be the murderer. Erickson died of suicide in December 2004 as police were closing in on him as the prime suspect.
“Hudson went through some difficult times, and I want to help move beyond the tragedy and help bring more healing,” said Dahlberg.
St. Patrick Church is the largest in the Superior Diocese. Dahlberg said the parish has 1,800 to 2,000 families.
Dahlberg said his church philosophy comes from Pope John XXIII’s words at the Second Vatican Council in 1963.
Dahlberg said the Pope’s words were: Unity is the essential in the core beliefs of our faith; diversity in the accidental and charity in all things.
“I will strive for unity in our core beliefs – the creed,” Dahlberg said. “Diversity in accidentals includes things like choice of music, church decorations and other items where diversity is acceptable. And, above all, we need charity in all things. These are my core values.”
Dahlberg also enjoys parts of a sermon from Saint Augustine, a fourth century philosopher and theologian.
“It’s important to remember that the important part of the church is the people, not the bricks and mortar,” Dahlberg said. “A church is both a physical church building, and the church made up of God's people, the living stones.”
Augustine compared believers coming into the church to stones, which are shaped, leveled and smoothed by craftsmen.
Dahlberg said it was St. Augustine in his sermon, who said, “The work we see complete in this building is physical. It should find its spiritual counterpart in your hearts. We see here the finished product in stones and wood. So, too, your lives should reveal the handiwork of God's grace."
Dahlberg said people should support each other.
“We need to be supportive of each other, demonstrate charity in all that we do, and work with other churches in spreading the word of God,” Dahlberg said.
He said St. Patrick Church and School are in good condition, with excellent people on staff.
“It is important that we work as a parish family and take care of our areas of expertise, whether it is schools, building and grounds, outreach or whatever.”
Dahlberg was first ordained in 1967 at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior. Having been in the ministry for nearly 43 years, Dahlberg has seen plenty of changes, but cited the small number of priests as one of the largest changes.
“When I was ordained, the Diocese of Superior had 167 priests,” Dahlberg said. “That number is now 42.”
More remarkable is that the 42 priests are serving 105 parishes within the diocese. Dahlberg said many priests are serving three to five parishes and that the work load for all priests has increased dramatically.
“However, I still find the joy of the priesthood and service to others,” Dahlberg said. “The demands and sacrifices can be great, but the rewards are tremendous.
“As a culture, we’ve put so much emphasis on education and big money. When I was young, there were many good role models who encouraged me to enter the priesthood. Now young people are more likely to hear ‘don’t do it – go for the money.’”
Like most things in life, there is a hidden blessing.
“The good news is that we have more and more lay people involved in the ministry,” Dahlberg said. “There and more lay people and permanent deacons.
“I also think young people are concentrating more on service, attempting to build a better community and world. We went through a period of self-indulgence and greed. I think some of the younger people are beginning to see the value of service and simplicity.”
After being ordained in 1967, Father Dahlberg served numerous congregations. They include Rice Lake (1967-1972); Barron/Cameron (1972-1977); New Richmond (1977-1984); graduate studies (1984-1985); Iron River/Port Wing/Herbster (1985); River Falls (1985-1994); and Osceola/Centuria/Balsam Lake (1994-1998).
Dahlberg served as rector at Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior (1998-2009) and has been vicar general of the diocese from 1998 to the present. In that position he works with the bishop on various projects.
He has also been active in numerous church and community organizations.
“St. Paul said, ‘keep your eyes fixed on Jesus,’” Dahlberg said. “‘His grace is sufficient for all things.’ The Lord Jesus has been my comfort, wisdom, my strength and my hope.”
For more information on Father William Brenna, see the July 30 edition of the Star-Observer.