LUSK – The Rev. Andrew Duncan, who previously served as parochial vicar for St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Torrington, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Guernsey and St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Lusk, recently moved away from the area to answer a call to service as parochial vicar at St. Stephens Indian Mission on the Wind River Indian Reservation, home of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
With Duncan’s relocation to St. Stephens, the parochial vicar position within St. Rose, St. Anthony and St. Leo became vacant. To answer the call, newly ordained priest Rev. Dan Kostelc made his journey to the area.
“I asked our bishop if I could go to seminary and because of the training I had to become a permanent deacon, I had much of the training already,” Kostelc said. “So, I went to the Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.”
From there, Kostelc went to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Cheyenne where he received his priestly ordination on Thursday, June 24.
The road to priesthood was long and winding for Kostelc. Born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, he attended Catholic school kindergarten through eighth grade, graduated from a public high school and later attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He earned two degrees in Zoology, successfully completing the requirements of a wildlife biologist.
“For 16 years of my adult life, I was single,” he said. “I worked for the Illinois Dept of Conservation, then moved to Pinedale, Wyoming for a job with the forest service.”
May 20, 1989, Kostelc married Kathleen Shenefelt. The two had four daughters, Theresa, Mary, Gina and Christina.
The Kotelcs shared a happy life and marriage until 2005 when Kathleen tragically passed away after a three-year battle with cancer.
“Several months after that, I started getting this strong desire to celebrate three of the seven sacraments that I couldn’t do as a permanent deacon,” Kostelc explained.
Kostelc was ordained as a permanent deacon in the church in 2004. As a permanent deacon, he was unable to celebrate sacraments of the eucharist, reconciliation, sometimes called confession, and the sacrament of the sick, according to canon law.
“I asked God, ‘what are you trying to tell me?’” Kostelc said. “He was leading me to the priesthood, and that took 16 years to get where I am today.”
Kostelc recounted his calling to the priesthood.
“To lead souls to Christ,” Kostelc said. “Jesus’ commandment to his followers right before he ascended into heaven was to go throughout the world baptizing, proclaiming the good news of Jesus and that he died for our sins and rose again to restore us to a new life with the father, son and holy spirit. I’m doing that – God’s call to discipleship – that’s how I can do it best.”
Bishop Steven Biegler assigned Kostelc to serve with Rev. Raymond Moss, pastor for St. Rose, St. Anthony and St. Leo.
Kostelc said there are many factors which determine where pastors and parochial vicars will serve, but it largely rests on the needs of the bishop, the needs of the individual parishes and the wishes of the pastor/vicar themselves.
“We’re called to serve wherever we are needed,” he explained. “That’s the key. The bishop who is in charge of all the different parishes throughout the whole state of Wyoming, he’s the one who has the final say in that matter. He is guided by the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul.”
Kostelc holds going where one is needed is part of the Christian way of life.
“Going where we’re needed,” he reasserted. “And God knows where we are needed the most.”
Kostelc said he is happy with his assignment and is pleased with the area. He hopes to carryout “The Great Commandment,” thereby bringing souls to Christ by making “disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything (Jesus) has commanded...”
“The only long-term solution to what ails our world right now is God,” Kostelc said. “If (people) don’t have a personal relationship with our living God, and experience his love, his mercy and his truth, they are sort of lost.”
He added, “If we expect humankind to come up with the solutions to our world’s problems, they are not going to come from people. That’s one of the problems we have right now; depending on ourselves, not on God.”
Kostelc explained how many people have become somewhat of their own god, in that many people care only for themselves, their desires and what they want, not the community.
“Life is about loving other people, as God loves us,” he said. “We were created as a social being, that means we live with others.”
For those who wish to reach out to Kostlec directly or to seek more information on the church, he and Moss can be reached by calling the St. Rose parish at 307-532-5556 or emailing [email protected]
One can also learn more about the Tri Parish of St. Rose of Lima, Saint Anthony and Saint Leo by visiting strosetorrington.org.
“God is always waiting for people to come to him,” Kostlec proclaimed.