Father Taphorn named new rector of St. Paul Seminary

| July 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity has named Father Joseph Taphorn of Omaha, Nebraska, as its 15th rector.

He succeeds Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, who served in the role for 13 years until his recent transition to emeritus status. The seminary board of trustees approved Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s appointment of Father Taphorn for the position, announcing it July 16.

Father Joseph Taphorn | Courtesy Archdiocese of Omaha

Father Taphorn, 47, is the founding pastor and director of the St. John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he has served since 2016. He will begin his term as rector of the seminary Jan. 1, 2019. He plans to make extended visits to the seminary in the meantime to get to know seminarians, faculty, staff and leaders. Bishop Cozzens, a longtime friend of Father Taphorn, will serve as interim rector in the meanwhile.

“I am grateful to Archbishop Hebda and the seminary Board of Trustees for the opportunity to work with men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood and forming those who God is calling to ordination,” Father Taphorn said in a July 16 statement. “Introducing young people to the power of the Holy Spirit in my parish and campus ministry has given me great joy, and I very much look forward to walking with the men who will introduce Christ to all whom they will encounter in their priestly ministry.”

Father Taphorn is an Omaha native who was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1997, after receiving his theological formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, earning both a Master of Arts in Theology and a Master of Divinity degree. For his undergraduate degree, he attended Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he met Bishop Cozzens, who was also a student there.

“Father Taphorn remains joyful and hopeful even in challenging circumstances,” Bishop Cozzens said in the statement. “I know he believes in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people’s lives and he will help our seminarians to believe in this as well. He is a model priest with a huge heart for the Gospel and for those in need.”

Father Taphorn earned a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2002 and served at a number of parishes and in various administrative roles in the Archdiocese of Omaha, including moderator of the curia, chancellor and spokesperson, judicial vicar, vicar for clergy, and ecumenical officer.

He has also served the Omaha archdiocese on the college of consultors, the presbyteral council and the finance council, and on the board of the Nebraska Catholic Conference and as an officer of Catholic Mutual Group. He also served on the steering committee and leadership team establishing a pastoral plan for parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha.

According to the press release, Father Taphorn received certification in 2017 in the Spirituality of the Diocesan Priesthood and Spiritual Direction from the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, where he continues to serve as a spiritual director for the institute’s summer program for diocesan seminarians. He has collaborated with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and Franciscan University of Steubenville Youth Conferences to provide retreats and conferences on college campuses at the local, regional and national levels.

“I am thrilled that Father Taphorn, with the generous permission of Archbishop George Lucas [of Omaha], has accepted this appointment,” Archbishop Hebda said in the statement.

“His love for the Lord and his Church, as well as his pastoral heart and extensive experience working with priests, seminarians, and young people, will well serve the seminarians, seminary staff and the broader community,” he said. “Knowing his love for the Eucharist and his commitment to humble, collaborative, Christ-centered service, I am confident that he will be an effective role model for our seminarians and lay students as they prepare for ministry.”

As rector and vice president emeritus, Msgr. Callaghan will continue to serve the seminary in the areas of advancement and community relations. He will also serve the archdiocese as one of the ministers for clergy and as vicar for retired priests.

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