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Father Richard Gonser

2022 is a celebratory year for Fr. Richard Gonser. May 19 marks the 60th anniversary of his ordination. He'll also celebrate his 86th birthday and his tenth year of retirement this summer.

Fr. Gonser was the first priest to receive his master's and doctorate degrees from Saint Mary Seminary. In 1978, he began transforming 11 acres of trees and swampland in North Ridgeville into St. Julie Billiart Church. He served as the founding pastor of this vibrant parish until 2012, when he supposedly "retired."

Looking at these accomplishments, you'd expect Father Gonser to kick back and relax between tee times. (He's an avid golfer with two hole-in-ones to his credit.) Father has other ideas.

Many of those ideas have ended up in his books. He's written four since he's retired - one about his passion for golf and three about the priesthood, with his latest about retirement issues for priests.

"Many people think when priests retire, we get taken up to heaven on a fiery chariot. I'm still waiting on that chariot, but I'm in no hurry," jokes Fr. Gonser.

He still celebrates Mass daily between four different parishes and helps out at a couple of local nursing homes. Between all these retirement activities, he does manage to get out of the golf course and travel the globe with his family members and brother priests.

Father is grateful he is able to donate to the Heart of a Shepherd campaign personally. He, more than anyone, understands that the priesthood is a lifetime calling and is grateful to be able to help his fellow priests in their retirement years. He appreciates the generosity our community has shown and prays for your continued support of those who serve our diocese.

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