OLMITZ — Father Ultan Murphy, 87, retired Jan. 3, after 33 years as pastor of St. Ann’s Parish in Olmitz. At his retirement, he had the distinction of being the oldest Catholic pastor in the state of Kansas.
Father Murphy will continue to reside in the Olmitz community in his private residence. “I bought a house here,” he said. “As they say in Ireland, ‘I’m part of the furniture.’”
Father Murphy was appointed pastor at Olmitz and Holy Trinity, Timken, in 1980. He served both parishes for 23 years until he announced his retirement in 2003. He reconsidered, and his responsibilities were reduced to the Olmitz parish at that time. His official title also changed to “parochial administrator.”
The Olmitz community, however, will benefit from having a retired priest as a resident.
“I’ll do what I do now,” Father Murphy said, “Say Mass every day, visit the sick, just fill in if I’m needed. They’re not going to miss me. No, I’ll be here; I’ll be around. I don’t go home to Ireland any more. My nieces and nephews come over here every few years. No need for me to go. With communication now, it’s just like being there – almost.
“After having served these people, I can say without any reservations, they’re just good people. All solid people, many from Eastern Europe, who brought the faith with them and kept the faith and are doing their best to pass that on to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I’ve seen it in all of my 33 years.”
When asked about his happiest memories and what he’ll miss, Father Murphy responded: “The happiest part of my ministry has been many converts – marriages – getting people back to the Church. I’ll probably miss visiting the kids in the classroom on Sunday morning. That was one of my better things to do.”
Father Murphy was ordained June 7, 1953, by The Most Rev. John Staunton, bishop of Ferns, at St. Peter’s Seminary, Wexford, Ireland. He was recruited for the Diocese of Wichita, but was transferred to the Diocese of Dodge City by agreement of Bishop Mark K. Carroll and Bishop John B. Franz. He has served under all six of the bishops who have shepherded the Diocese of Dodge City.
Father Murphy’s assignments include: assistant pastor at St. John, Hoisington, (two terms); and St. Rose of Lima, Great Bend; and pastor at St. Mary’s Loretto; St. John’s, Kiowa; St. John, St. John, and St. Francis, Seward; Holy Rosary, Medicine Lodge, and St. John’s, Kiowa, all prior to his appointment at Olmitz and Timken.
Father Anselm Eke, MSP, resident pastor at St. John the Evangelist, Hoisington, was assigned to the additional pastorate at St. Ann’s, Olmitz. Father Anselm, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, and a member of the Missionaries of St. Paul, was ordained to the priesthood July 1, 1992. He has served in Hoisington since July 2, 2013.
The Most Rev. John B. Brungardt, bishop of Dodge City, announced the following additional clergy assignments for other Barton County congregations effective Feb. 4.
Father Louis Trung Dihn Hoang, currently parochial administrator of St. John the Baptist, Meade; St. Anthony, Fowler, and St. Patrick, Plains, all in Meade County, was appointed parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish, Great Bend.
Father Ted Stoecklein, while continuing as parochial vicar at Prince of Peach Parish, was assigned assistant vocation director.
Father Don Bedore, while continuing as pastor of Prince of Peace Parish, was appointed sacramental minister at Holy Family Parish in Odin. Fathers Hoang and Stoecklein will also provide sacramental ministry at Odin. Sister Andre Kravec, O.P., will continue in her positions as Parish Life Coordinator at Odin; and Pastoral Associate and Director of Religious Education at Immaculate Conception, Claflin. The chaplain services to the Dominican Mother House will be provided by the priests assigned to Prince of Peace Parish.