Father Chuck Cimpl steps into the spotlight this month. He was ordained on June 1, 1978, and is currently the pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in Sioux Falls. He has served as the vicar general for the diocese since 2004 and is helping transition the role to Father Andy Young, the new vicar general for the diocese. Father Cimpl has a brother who lives in Tabor and a sister who lives in Yankton. Let’s learn more about this long-time priest of our diocese.
Q. How did you get your call to the priesthood?
I grew up in Tabor and the Benedictine priests from St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois, staffed our parish. Since Tabor had a high Czech population, St. Procopius had priests who could speak Czech. They were often at my grandparent’s and parent’s homes for dinner. I saw in them such happiness and joy that it influenced me to think about the priesthood. When I was a senior in high school, Father James Bream asked me if I ever thought of being a priest. His suggestion triggered me to pursue entering the seminary.
Q. What did you do before the priesthood? (other jobs, college major, etc.)
My family had a grocery store and butcher shop in Tabor; I worked in the store and assisted with the butchering. I also worked summers at Cimpl Meats in Yankton and did various jobs in the packing plant.
Q. Is there a particular part of Catholicism that really fascinates you? (liturgy, history, spirituality)
The Benedictine monks and Benedictine sisters from Sacred Heart Monastery were so instrumental in assisting the parish during the renewal of the Mass after Vatican II. They did such a wonderful job of teaching us, and it was so exciting to finally understand the Mass and participate in the Liturgy. Their influence, I know, has been pivotal in my understanding of the Liturgy.
Q. Who was most influential in your life?
My mom, dad and grandparents were truly the most influential people in my life. I can honestly say for all of them that their Catholic faith was the most important aspect of their lives. They truly were an example to me of having Christ at the center of their lives.
Q. What’s your favorite part of being a priest?
I love the weekend Masses and the gathering of the people. I enjoy seeing young and old coming to Mass and praying with them. It sets the whole week off to a great start for me.
Q. What’s the most challenging thing?
I wish more could experience the joy of living a life of faith. I am especially concerned about our younger people. As I meet with moms and dads, they relate to me that their children no longer practice their faith. I would like them to see and feel the wonderful treasures we have in our faith and how it can be so helpful to us, especially when we experience difficulties.
Q. Who is your go-to saint? Why?
I turn to a couple of saints for intercessory help. St. Therese of Lisieux was my mother’s favorite saint, so when things are looking a bit tough, I call upon St. Therese for assistance. Since my sister was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, I pray daily the prayer to St. Peregrine and ask his intercessory assistance to keep her in remission, along with others who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Q. What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy reading and most of my exercise involves taking a nice walk.
Q. What is something most people don’t know about you?
I played football for Notre Dame. (However it was Notre Dame High School in Mitchell.)
Q. How can your parishioners and people of the diocese best help you be a great priest?
In my early years in ministry I learned a lot about being a priest from high school and college students, since I taught for 11 years at O’Gorman and was the director of the Newman Center at SDSU. As my ministry progressed, I have always attempted to listen to my parishioners to gain insights from them on how I could be a better priest.
Q. If you could have supper with anyone from history (besides Jesus), who would it be and why?
I would probably like to have a dinner conversation with King David. He was multitalented—a warrior, song writer, musician—but also one who made some terrible decisions in his life, but eventually repented and turned things around. It would be fascinating to me to learn how he dealt with crisis and how he stayed connected to God.