Father Ted Tempel celebrates 60 years of priestly ministry

Father Ted Tempel, left, prays the Eucharistic Prayer during a May 24 Mass celebrating the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Father Joseph “Effie” Erbacher concelebrates Mass with him. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

By Megan Erbacher

The Message editor

The chapel at Aperion Care Lincoln was filled to standing room only with faithful from across the Diocese of Evansville for a May 24 Mass to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Father Theodore “Ted” Tempel’s ordination to the priesthood.

Father Ted, senior priest of the diocese, celebrated the Mass, and Father Joseph “Effie” Erbacher, senior priest of the diocese, concelebrated the Mass.

Father Ted was ordained May 23, 1964, by the first Bishop of the Diocese of Evansville, Bishop Henry J. Grimmelsman at the Assumption Cathedral in Evansville. On May 24, 1964, Father Ted celebrated his first Mass at Assumption Cathedral, which was his home parish.

During his time in pastoral ministry, Father Ted served at various parishes, including St. Joseph in Jasper, St. Anthony in Evansville, St. Theresa in Evansville and Good Shepherd in Evansville. After he retired from pastoral ministry, he served as the chaplain at the former Little Sisters of the Poor, now Aperion Care Lincoln, in Evansville, where he is also a resident.

Father Ted began his homily by expressing his surprise that everyone could fit in the chapel, which caused everybody to laugh. 

He continued and spoke about striving to have the spirit of Christ. He encouraged those who see him as a happy person to keep doing what they’ve learned from him, and he believes God’s peace will be with them.

Father Ted spoke about the gospel in which Peter was concerned about giving up everything to follow Jesus, but Jesus assured the disciples they would have 100-fold. 

“I believe that’s true,” Father Ted said. “I have no wife, no children, but I consider all of you family. All of us make up that one family of God.”

God loves every one of us, Father Ted continued, and God wants all of us to live in love and peace, always forgiving as he forgives and loving as he does.

“I think that’s what God asks each one of us, to be honest, responsible and loving,” he said. “That’s all God asks of us.”

For 60 years, Father Ted has also served in hospital ministry, which he continues to do.

“I have been blessed to minister in the hospitals, nursing homes and hospice care,” he said. “I pray for God’s healing. I don’t believe I bring healing. … God works through me just as he works through all of us. … You know, no one of us is greater than the other. … In the eyes of God, each one of us is equally important.”

Father Ted talked about Jesus being the chief servant. He explained that Jesus gave his life in service.

“I hope to follow that, and in the last 60 years, I've tried to give my life in service to the ministry,” he said.

Father Ted offered his gratitude to his family, parishioners and the faithful of the diocese for their many years of support and for being present to celebrate him.

“What has brought great fulfillment to me is your faith and your love,” he said. “You know, if you didn’t have the faith and love, my priesthood would’ve been empty, but because of your great faith and love, my life has been full. I am very grateful for all of the love, faith and friendship we’ve shared over these years. I couldn’t have a better life than what I’ve had — 60 years of priesthood.”

At the conclusion of Mass, Father Ted invited everyone to a luncheon and open house in the activity hall.