April 19, 2024

Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson is our featured priest this month. He was born in Sioux Falls to Leon and Dolores Gullickson and has two brothers (both of whom have passed) and five sisters. He was ordained June 27, 1976, and became a bishop Nov. 11, 2004. He is now happily retired, offering coverage for Mass for various parishes when needed..

How did you get your call to the priesthood?
From my mother’s womb,” to quote Scripture. It has been a work in progress (the Lord gently leading) that I have noticed ever since I lost interest in being either a cowboy or a fireman. My image of the priesthood has grown with me and continues to grow.

What did you do before the priesthood?
I’m a “lifer,” as they used to say in seminary parlance. I accepted an invitation from Monsignor Peter Meyer at the cathedral to be in the first class at the Minor Seminary out at O’Gorman. I did college seminary at St. Mary’s in Winona and was sent to Rome to the North American College for Theology.

Is there a particular part of Catholicism that really fascinates you?
Late in life, I fell in love with the traditional Roman Rite. I love the old liturgy and am most impressed with traditional lay Catholics. I have managed an invitation to the FSSP Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, each year since I got home. The first year, I conferred tonsure on a group of seminarians; last year, I ordained priests; and this year, on the feast of the Annunciation, I will be ordaining deacons. I love it! If all goes well, I will be celebrating the Pontifical High Mass on Pentecost Monday in the Chartres Cathedral at the conclusion of the Notre Dame de Chrétienneté Pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres.

What’s your favorite part of being a priest?
The liturgy. I especially like to hear confessions.

What’s the most challenging thing?
Being faithful to my prayer obligations and growing more in prayer. I find my encounters with brother priests much more challenging than dealing with bishops, deacons and lay people.

Who is your go-to saint? Why?
Probably my Guardian Angel. But I really hold to St. John the Baptist, as a martyr for truth, and to St. Martin of Tours for his charity, on whose feast day I was consecrated a bishop, Nov. 11, 2004. Martin impresses me terribly, both as a generous young man and as a dying old man still ready to serve.

What do you do in your spare time?
In retirement, I have less free time than I did as an apostolic nuncio. I try to get in my strength training at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center as many days as possible. I walk outdoors, weather permitting, but if I can read, I am very happy. I am ruminating about a book project, but it is slow going. The fundamental question I want to discuss is: “In what does priestly fruitfulness consist?” I want to look at asceticism in the life of St. Jean Marie Vianney and in the life of the protagonist of Georges Bernanos’ book, “Diary of a Country Priest.”

What is something most people don’t know about you?
Either they don’t know or they don’t believe that I am really a Sioux Falls boy and that I spent my first five years of priesthood here at home.

How can people of the diocese best help you be a great retired bishop?
Pray for me!

If you could have supper with anyone from history (besides Jesus), who would it be and why?
I really think I would like to sit down with the Blessed Mother. If that is reaching too high, I would settle for St. Anthony of the Desert or St. Vincent Ferrer, OP. And why not? Let’s put St. Benedict on the list as well.