MADISON, WI – Father Timothy G. Mergen, 2d Lt, USAFR, a candidate for United States Military chaplaincy, was ordained a Catholic priest on Friday, June 26, in his home Diocese of Madison, WI. He hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the U.S. Air Force with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).
Father Mergen, 32, a 2010 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, completed the program for priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. His ordination was celebrated at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by Bishop Donald J. Hying. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, concelebrated the 7:00 p.m. ordination Mass.
Among those in attendance were the new priest’s parents, Greg and Denise Mergen; his sister, Ms. Heidi Mergen Toth and her family; his brother, Mr. Nick Mergen and his family; and the new priest’s uncle and aunt, Gary and Vickie Kittleson.
Raised in McFarland, WI, Father Mergen is a graduate of Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart in Madison. At the Air Force Academy, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science before going to pilot training school Sheppard Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas. He served as an Air Force pilot at Cannon AFB in New Mexico from 2012 to 2014 before entering Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, then transferring to Rome, where he has since earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and is currently working on a License in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) in Biblical Theology.
Commenting on his priestly ordination, Father Mergen said, “I am humbled and overwhelmed by the mercy and generosity of almighty God to call me, unworthy though I am, to this sublime vocation. Serving as a priest of Jesus Christ to make present his saving sacrifice each and every day on the altars of our Catholic Churches is a privilege and honor beyond words. I am grateful to my parents for living out self-sacrificial love in their marriage, my siblings for their constant support, and the many other family, friends, priests, teachers, mentors, co-workers, and parishioners that have guided me to this point. Much of my life I fought against the idea of a priestly vocation, thinking it would be a limit to my freedom and happiness. Now as I approach ordination, I cannot envision living life any other way. In freedom, happiness, and peace beyond all understanding, I look forward to laying down my life for Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church. I cannot promise I will be a perfect priest, but I can promise that I will never stop working to make Jesus Christ, fully present in the Eucharist, known and loved in the world for the glory of God and salvation of souls.”
Father Mergen celebrated his first Mass on Saturday in his home parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Monona, WI. He plans to go back on active duty in the Air Force following three years of pastoral work in the Diocese of Madison. His first assignment there will at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Monroe, WI, although the new priest will return to Rome in September to complete his Licenciate in Biblical Theology.
The eventual service of Father Mergen and other Catholic chaplain candidates is greatly anticipated by the Air Force, which, like all other branches of the U.S. Military, continues to suffer a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains. Currently, only 59 priests are on active duty in the Air Force, serving a Catholic population of more than 80,000 airmen without counting their families.
Young men interested in discerning a priestly vocation, and the vocation within a vocation to serve those who serve in the U.S. military, can find more information at www.milarch.org/vocations, or may contact Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.