St. John’s Catholic Church, Wahpeton, will host a Jubilee Mass and celebration at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 26 in honor of the Rev. Dale Lagodinski.
Lagodinski, who will turn 76 in August, is celebrating 50 years as a priest. Known to many as “Father Dale,” he has served with St. John’s since 1996.
Several people have to be thanked, Lagodinski said. They include the staff, the people he said he has been privileged to work with and cannot be separated from the success of his ministry.
“Serving the Lord is not a matter of doing things your own way, or by yourself, but rather, in community. That experience has been, for me, a very growing one,” Lagodinski said.
Lagodinski also thanks the St. John’s community, which is part of the Diocese of Fargo. For more than a quarter-century, he has seen “all of the events of life and death and marriage.” Naturally, Lagodinski also thanks his family, people who have shared everything from suffering and struggles to the promise of what comes ahead.
“I’m going to someday settle back into my own home community of Edgeley, and I’m looking forward to that day,” Lagodinski said. “My grand-nephew is helping me fix up the house. He’s just an extraordinary person.”
There has also been a community of priest friends for Lagodinski, men he has known throughout his ministry. A quartet including Lagodinski go back to their college days, he said, and still gather for anniversary celebrations.
“It’s been a joy to share all those memories and share the Eucharist with them,” Lagodinski said.
Within the Diocese of Fargo, Lagodinski is a member of the Jesus Caritas circle of priests. While one of the longtime sextet has died, the remaining members will join Lagodinski at the Jubilee Mass.
“It’s been like my second family,” Lagodinski said. “I always tell them, it’s like a marriage. You have your fights and your joys and your attempted divorces. We’re still together after all these years and I’m very grateful. That kind of community sustains me as a priest and I think it sustains all of us.”
It is not the Jesus in him that is sustaining, Lagodinski said. It is the Jesus in the church, the family of God.
“We’re all types, from all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old. That family — it is a powerful place that forms me, reforms me and has helped me be the priest I am today,” Lagodinski said.
Bishop John T. Folda, Diocese of Fargo, will provide a homily during Lagodinski’s Jubilee Mass. In addition to the Jesus Caritas priests, the event will feature Lagodinski’s past classmates.
“It should be about 40 priests there,” Lagodinski said. “About 650 people, I believe, have RSVPed. We’ll see who shows up. I think I’m going to have about 65 members of my family. That’s a joy for me, to have us all together for that great day.”
A meal and social will follow Sunday’s Jubilee Mass. The meal will include short ribs by Jeremy Remily and side dishes by Prante’s, Wahpeton. Both the meal and social are made possible thanks to volunteers led by St. John’s Jubilee Committee.
“I’m just humbled to have lived long enough for a Jubilee. I’m humbled by the role I’ve been entrusted to play in building the Kingdom of Christ in this community. It’s just deep gratitude. I don’t know any other word that can better describe it. Just the thought that this work — not mine, but the Lord’s — goes on. I seek to serve the best I can,” Lagodinski said.
Saying he tends to be a project-oriented person who can get a little out of sorts when it does not go exactly to plan, Lagodinski shared some important advice he received from a friend.
“Just remember, life is not a problem to be solved,” Lagodinski said. “It’s an adventure to enjoy. I use that line many times and it truly has been. My spiritual life has just been a powerful thing. I don’t know of any moment that won’t be as intense for me as this Sunday.”