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Celebrating 50 years of priesthood

Although most of his service has been in Guatemala, Monsignor Greg Schaffer will celebrate his anniversary in Minnesota

March 12, 2010
By Karin Elton

Monsignor Greg Schaffer will include Milroy in his celebration of 50 years in ministry. In recognition of his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, he will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Michael's in Milroy, one of only three places in Minnesota where he will celebrate.

"We are blessed to have this celebration so close to home, Milroy, at St. Michael's," said Jean Schmidt, director of religious education and the youth minister at St. Mary's in Tracy. Bishop John LeVoir will be present to celebrate Mass with Msgr. Schaffer. The Celebration will be followed by a reception in the basement.

Schaffer was a priest at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Marshall for three years before transferring to Guatemala. He has spent the past 46 years as a missionary in San Lucas Toliman, the Diocese of New Ulm mission parish.

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Monsignor Greg Schaffer is celebrating his 50th anniversary of ministry.

In 1963, Bishop Alphonse Schladweiler asked for a volunteer to work in the mission field in Guatemala for five years. On Aug. 11, 1963, Schaffer departed for six months of study of the Spanish language before beginning his service at the San Lucas Toliman Mission Parish. Those five years have turned into 46 years.

Schmidt and her husband, Don, visited the mission recently.

"After visiting Guatemala for the first time in January and seeing firsthand the many things that Msgr. Greg has done for these people and their community, we felt like we were walking among a saint in action," Jean Schmidt said. "He is amazing. The people love him and he loves them. His heart is for these people of San Lucas Toliman and their country of Guatemala. His example and his witness will never be forgotten. We look forward to the next time we will go to San Lucas and see the legacy Monsignor has left behind. A truly amazing man."

The parish celebrated with him on Feb. 20 in San Lucas. Bishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vasquez was present to celebrate the Mass, according to information provided by Schmidt. Dinner followed the Mass with presentations by different parish groups that included songs, poems and Mayan folklore groups with traditional music and dance.

Schaffer was born Jan. 29, 1934, in St. Paul. He attended St. Columba parish and school and graduated from the eighth grade at St. Columba before entering Nazareth Hall for his high school years. Following this, he went on to the St. Paul Seminary. His family moved from St. Paul to New Ulm and became members of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

He was ordained Feb. 21, 1960, at the Church of St. Mary in Sleepy Eye, by Bishop Alphonse J. Schladweiler. Following ordination, he served at the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Marshall and also taught religious and morals at the Central Catholic High School and served as high school counselor. He was at Holy Redeemer through April 11, 1963.

In 1984, Father Schaffer received "Protanotary Apostolic" (the title of Monsignor) from Pope John Paul II through Bishop Algelico Melotto.



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