Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 15, 1998

What Fr. Bob liked about Holy Trinity: 'Everything'


Wednesday, June 17 is moving day, as over 20 priests within the New Ulm diocese will go to their new parishes.

After 15 years, Fr. Bob Wyffels is leaving the Holy Trinity parish in Winsted. He will be the pastor at St. Michael's parish in Morgan, Minn., (near Sleepy Eye) and the sacramental minister at St. Joseph's parish in Clements.

These places are smaller than the Holy Trinity parish. St. Michael's has about 850 members, and a kindergarten through sixth grade school with 90 students.

St. Joseph's has about 250 parishioners. Within these smaller parishes, Fr. Bob is hoping to find more time: time for personal/spiritual growth, time for personal visits with families, and time to spend in the elementary classrooms.

Every 10 years, Fr. Bob explained, priests are moved to a new parish. He was given the gift by the diocese of staying at Holy Trinity an additional five years.

When it is time to move on, a pastor is allowed to select the three places he would like to go. A personnel committee makes a recommendation to Bishop Lucker, who gives the final assignment.

Fr. Bob was fortunate in that Morgan was his first choice. "Good people and a good Catholic school," he said.

When asked what he is going to miss about Holy Trinity, there is a catch in his voice when he answers, "everything."

"These are willing people, striving to be a faithful community. People are always generous and responsive to suggestions," he said.

In many ways, the parish has grown.

"We've grown in Eucharistic devotion; in our Thursday morning Eucharistic holy hour, and in our Eucharistic devotions every Tuesday," Fr. Bob said.

"Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so meaningful and more people come to Winsted for confession than any of the other parishes. I think it's because we have it scheduled right before Mass and people are much more open to God then," he said.

"When I came to Trinity, I was pleased to find a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and people pray the Rosary every day of the year before Mass."

Without a doubt, "Teaching is the greatest joy," Fr. Bob said.

This year was the first time in 38 years he did not teach so he is looking forward to returning to the classroom in Morgan.

The classroom is where some of Fr. Bob's fondest memories come from.

"Celebrating school liturgy, going to Valleyfair with the servers and riding every ride - several times - that's probably the only time I haven't worn a black suit and Roman collar," he said.

"I enjoyed working with the students, celebrating first confession and first communion . . . young people express their spirituality so openly," he said.

The years spent at Holy Trinity has given Fr. Bob many things to appreciate, the opportunity to be with families in times of sadness and death, and time spent with the people around him.

"I've enjoyed working with the parish staff, the sisters, principals and faculty. It's been a joy to work with the parish council, the different committees, societies and the KCs . . . Holy Trinity has more Renew groups and living faith groups than any other parish.

"It's been a blessing to have another priest at St. Mary's Care Center (Fr. Martin Rath, OSB)," Fr. Bob said.

He also recalled the cooperative relationship between himself and Rev. Robert Voelker, former pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church.

Actually, this will be the second time Fr. Bob leaves Holy Trinity.

Right after he was ordained, he taught religion at Holy Trinity Schools from 1960-1961.

He was then principal at Cathedral High School in New Ulm, followed by 12 years at St. Mary's parish in Sleepy Eye.

"Only three parishes in the diocese have high schools and I was at all of them," he said.

Moving on to Morgan and Clements continues a ministry that Fr. Bob was sure of since the second grade. That was when he knew he wanted to become a priest.

"I felt the Lord calling and I felt this was the best way to grow in friendship with Him and serve people, to respond to their personal and spiritual needs," he said.

"Every day I experience this is where the Lord wants me to be. I have always been a happy priest.

"If I had to start over, I would do exactly the same thing," Fr. Bob said.

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