April 14, 2024

By Father Mark Lichter

I’ve been ordained for 31 years, but I didn’t start out as a priest. Let me explain.

I come from a family of 11 children born to Thomas and Alice Lichter from Mitchell. My father died about seven years ago and my mother is 91 and going strong.

I was what they sometimes call a “belated vocation.” I went into the seminary when I was 31 years old and was ordained at 37. I had a career before entering the priesthood, mostly in sales work in office supplies and equipment and commercial insurance. It has certainly come in handy, as God works with crooked lines.

I knew there was something missing in my life and through the years had thoughts of priesthood, but I never talked to anyone about it. There was a deep yearning in my heart that there was more to life than making money and accumulating toys. I finally visited with a priest and was encouraged to check out the seminary (a place to discern how God is calling).

I took the plunge, sold my house and other items and entered the seminary at St. Mary’s in Winona, Minnesota, in 1986. I had already earned a college degree in business administration. After two years of undergraduate philosophy and theology, I entered graduate-level theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and after four years, I was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Paul Dudley in May of 1992.

I sincerely thought that I would get thrown out of the seminary because of my background and not living as a Christian ought. To my great surprise, God had mercy on me!

I have been blessed to be a priest, and it is the best thing that ever happened to me. God plucked me out of the muck and landed me on a solid rock to better love God and my neighbor.

I always thought I was ordained by God to help the business person and to bring God to a busy and confusing world. Over the years, I have been blessed with great assignments and challenging ones. With God’s grace all things are possible.

I love serving the people of God and feel so privileged to be an instrument of God. God has a tremendous sense of humor and can use many different instruments to accomplish his will. I’m a good case in point!

On July 5, I started a new assignment as a parochial vicar at the pastorate that includes St. Mary’s and Christ the King parishes in Sioux Falls and St. John Paul II in Harrisburg. I’ll be serving this pastorate with Father Paul Rutten (pastor) and Father Jacob Doty (parochial vicar).

Pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life and for the smooth transition in the pastoral changes that began this summer.