Father James Mason named Kenrick-Glennon president-rector

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

Father James Mason has been appointed president-rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury and Father Paul Hoesing as dean of seminarians and director of human formation. Both appointments were announced Tuesday by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

A priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., Father Mason has served as director of spiritual formation and dean of students at Kenrick-Glennon since August.

Father Mason will begin the role July 1, taking the reins from Jesuit Father John Horn, who was named rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in 2011. Father Horn, who is working with his provincial on his next assignment, oversaw the renovation and expansion of the seminary facilities after a capital campaign.

Since his ordination in 2001, Father Mason has served as medical-moral adviser, vice chancellor, director of vocations, director of Broom Tree Retreat Center and a parish pastor.

Father Mason received a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1993 and worked as a prosecutor in Minneapolis and director of Catholic Charities, legal counsel and lobbyist for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. He later attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome and received a degree from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas — Angelicum, Rome. He has a certificate in spiritual direction and retreat ministry at the Institute of Priestly Formation in Omaha, Neb., where he served on the board and taught a course titled, "The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priesthood." He directed seminarians, priests and religious in the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius for nine years and has led numerous retreats for clergy, consecrated men and women, seminarians and laity.

The aim in seminary formation, Father Mason said, is to form holy, healthy and joyful parish priests — men who will draw people to Jesus Christ. That "draw" can be "just through a smile, opening a door or opening a conversation on everyday things."

He told of the priest in a small-town parish where he served when he was a transitional deacon. The priest would set up a lawnchair outside the local hardware store after morning Mass. "I realized he was a genius because he knew all the men in the town and conversed and joked with all of them, Catholic and nonCatholic."

The small-town priest told Father Mason that "small talk isn't small" — a beautiful lesson on the little things, Father Mason said, "and sometimes we get so wrapped up with the big things in seminary life that we forget that the little things are important."

Bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to an ailing world is another aspect, he said. "We have to be priests of hope. There constantly are things that move us to despair. ... We need to be a light for people to remember that no matter how dark it seems, Jesus has won the victory."

He thanked Father Horn for serving as a mentor and noted that in emphasizing the interior spiritual life, Father Horn "has built a sturdy foundation for this seminary which fosters a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ."

He also cited the help of Msgr. Gregory R. Mikesch, vice rector for formation at Kenrick-Glennon, and noted that he has been impressed by the commitment of the seminary community to "the most important mission of the seminary in forming holy, healthy and joyful priests."

Father Hoesing is director of vocations for the Diocese of Omaha, Neb. He also serves as president of the National Conference of Vocation Directors and a faculty member for the Institute of Priestly Formation. Father Hoesing attended St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained in 2002 and has served as an associate pastor in addition to teaching and chaplaincy duties at two high schools in Omaha. He was named vocations director in 2008.

Father Hoesing and Father Mason knew each other from the North American College in Rome. Father Hoesing's priesthood is as solid as his work on the basketball court there where they used to compete, Father Mason said.

Father Horn said he is grateful he was able to serve in the role the last four years and has "a great confidence in the leadership" that Father Mason and Father Hoesing will bring to the seminary's mission. Father Horn added that they will work closely together in the coming months to plan for a bright future for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary serves 15 dioceses in the United States, as well as three dioceses from Africa, Central America and Southeast Asia. It began the academic year with 131 seminarians.

More than 2,700 of the seminary's alumni have been ordained to the priesthood.

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