By Tim Lilley
Hundreds of people from across the Diocese of Evansville filled St. Joseph Church in Jasper on May 19 to help pastor Father Raymond Brenner celebrate the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Father Brenner was ordained to the priesthood on May 17, 1969.
Eighteen priests concelebrated the anniversary Mass — 17 active and retired priests of the Diocese of Evansville, and Father Pat Gaza, a retired priest of the Diocese of Gary and former classmate of Father Brenner at St. Meinrad. They are identified in the caption of a photo that accompanies this story.
The day’s Gospel reading from John 13 includes Jesus’ new commandment to the apostles during the Last Supper: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so also should you love one another” (John 13:34).
“The love of Christ is what I have tried to impart, and what I will continue to,” Father Brenner said during his homily. He called his 50 years of priestly ministry “a great blessing. I am excited to celebrate this anniversary with you.”
Father Brenner received a lengthy standing ovation from those in attendance following his homily.
Many of Father Brenner’s family members participated. His great nephews, Jonathan and Timothy Brenner, were altar servers. His brothers George and Jerome served as lectors. Brothers William, Norbert, David and Ronald presented the gifts; and during the presentation of gifts, his sister, Rose (Brenner) Breivogel, and Goddaughter and niece, Abigail Brenner, presented a photo of his parents, George and Marie Brenner, and flowers that they placed on the Marian side altar.
Members of the Knights of Columbus Monsignor Leonard Wernsing Fourth Degree Assembly 251 provided the Honor Guard, and members of St. Joseph Parish Scout Troop 182 and Eagle Scouts of the Parish — including Father Brenner’s great nephew Eric Brenner, an Eagle Scout candidate, presented the colors.
Father Jim Koressel, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Montgomery, offered the prayers of intercession. During his homily, Father Brenner noted that he and Father Koressel were St. Meinrad classmates through high school, college and seminary.
Following Mass, during a reception in his honor, Father Brenner received a proclamation from Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide. He received a certificate of accomplishment from State Senator Mark Messmer on behalf of the Indiana legislature and a flag that flew over the state capitol. Former Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, representing U.S. Senator Mike Braun, presented Father Brenner with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol and an invitation from Sen. Braun to travel to Washington, D.C., and offer the opening prayer on the floor of the Senate.
Dave Fuhs, representing the Sisters of Providence, announced that the sisters would honor Father Brenner on June 8 with a Companions Award. The annual award goes to individuals or groups who “display the outstanding qualities shown by St. Mother Theodore’s (Guerin) companions.”
The reception’s main speakers included St. Joseph associate pastor Father William Traylor and Randy Bauer of Resurrection Parish in Evansville, where Father Brenner served as pastor from 1986 to 2002.
Scott Brand, Chairman of the St. Joseph Parish Council thanked Father Brenner for his leadership of the parish and adhering to the Parish Mission Statement, “The people of St. Joseph Parish are called to be a faith-filled family who forgive freely, act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God.”
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