June 18, 2024

Father Rodney Farke is our featured priest this month. 

He was born in Mitchell and was raised on a farm near Armour with his two brothers (both of whom have passed). He was ordained on May 20, 1972. He has been retired since 2016 and resides in Brookings where he helps out at St. Thomas More Parish. In the winter, he helps out at St. George Parish in Apache Junction, Arizona, for three months.

How did you get your call to the priesthood?

From childhood, I felt God wanted me to be a priest, but I didn’t want to be one. I was fascinated by the space program and wanted to be a scientist, so I kept saying no to God. I came to South Dakota State University to study electrical engineering and was about to commit to advanced Air Force ROTC, which would have put me into the Air Force for four years after college. I visited with the priest at the Pius XII Newman Center, Father Mahowald, who suggested if I felt God was calling me to be a priest, I would be wise to look into it. I attended the seminary at St. Mary, Winona, Minnesota, and had a great sense of peace and joy there. I was sent to The Catholic University in Washington, D.C., for theology. That was an exciting experience during the years 1968-1972, when the Vietnam War was going on, and all the anti-war protests, plus the general excitement of being in the nation’s capital. 

Who was most influential in your life?

Our priests when I was a child, especially Father Jim Wolfe, also Monsignor Mahowald, who convinced me to enter the seminary, and a great number of priests and laity, especially those connected with the Cursillo retreat movement, in which I was involved my whole priesthood.

Is there a particular part of Catholicism that really fascinates you?

The saints, the liturgy, Scriptures.

What’s your favorite part of being a priest?

Associating with great people, celebrating Mass and confessions, leading Bible study, teaching and the kindness with which most people treat priests.

What’s the most challenging thing?

Dealing with tragic deaths, interminably long meetings and being unavailable to relatives and friends during weekends and holidays because of priestly duties.

Who is your go-to saint? Why?

Francis of Assisi because of my love for nature and the outdoors.

What do you do in your spare time?

Bicycling, walking, reading, golfing, sailing my boat and playing cards.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I taught religion at Roncalli to the Fischer quintuplets in Aberdeen in my early priesthood; I was involved in building two churches, one involving starting a new parish; and I have been to Glacier National Park about a dozen times (it’s my favorite park).

How can your parishioners and people of the diocese best help you be a great priest?

Pray for me and continue to witness the example of their own strong faith.

If you could have supper with anyone from history (besides Jesus), who would it be?

St. Peter.