By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN “Overjoyed.”
That’s how Father Paul Kammen said he felt when he learned he’d be the new pastor of Delano Catholic Community.
“I always had a good experience in Delano. People seemed warm and kind,” Kammen said, explaining that he had filled in a few times in early 2009.
Since Kammen arrived at the beginning of July, he hasn’t been disappointed one bit.
“People are really willing to help you,” he said. The Knights of Columbus and other community members assisted with moving, and the Delano Catholic Community staff has been making Kammen feel welcome.
“The staff has been phenomenal so far,” he said. “They really work well as a team.”
Kammen, who usually goes by “Father Paul,” was ordained in 2007.
His first assignment was as associate pastor at Holy Name of Jesus in Medina. After two years, he went to Saint Hubert’s in Chanhassen.
When the pastor at Saint Hubert’s retired in November 2010, Kammen became parochial administrator (essentially interim pastor).
New priests typically experience two churches early on, in order to see how different parishes operate, Kammen said.
Kammen grew up in North Minneapolis, attending church at Our Lady of Victory. When he was 11, his family moved to Champlin, where Kammen graduated from Champlin High School in 1996.
He attended North Hennepin Community College, followed by the University of St. Thomas, where he majored in political science.
During college, he had a part-time job at a suburban newspaper and tended bar at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids.
Meanwhile, a priest he’d gotten to know suggested that he consider going into the seminary.
At first, Kammen wasn’t so sure about the idea. He had thought about becoming a priest off and on since he was a child, but was also interested in getting married and having a family.
After much prayer and consideration, however, Kammen applied to seminary school in 2001 at Saint Paul Seminary, which is part of the University of St. Thomas.
“I thought, ‘where can I find fulfillment in my life?’” Kammen said, explaining that the priesthood was where he felt God was calling him to serve.
Now, Kammen is grateful he chose a vocation in ministry.
“The best thing is getting to know people,” he said. “People trust you and they get to know you. You’re with them in good times and in bad, and you can build an authentic relationship.”
One of Kammen’s first activities in Delano was the 5K 4th of July run. He tries to exercise every day, and recently joined Snap Fitness in Delano.
He also likes to bowl, and hopes to join a league this fall. Another of Kammen’s hobbies is nature and wildlife photography.
“I especially enjoy birds, because they are so challenging to photograph,” he said.
Once he gets settled into his new home, Kammen is also looking forward to becoming a first-time dog owner.
Kammen said his friends and family have been a valuable source of support and encouragement during his priesthood.
At Delano Catholic Community, Kammen is excited to make more friends, and also be involved in the school.
“I’m looking forward to being part of the community,” he said.
Kammen will be installed at St. Joseph during the 5 p.m. Mass Saturday, July 16. The installation at St. Peter will take place during the 10:30 a.m. Mass Sunday, July 17.
An open house with refreshments will follow each Mass.