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It started gradually.
Then one day, in the quiet countryside while he was fixing a fence, it was loud and clear.
Patrick Moser knew God was calling him to the priesthood.
“I had thought about it before, but it really hit me one day when I was fixing fence,” the rural Clearwater native said. “I recognized it as something from God. The idea presented itself and I couldn’t really get it to leave me alone. It started to get more persistent.”
Before this, he had pushed the idea aside, doubting his ability to serve as a Catholic priest. When he could no longer ignore the calling, he talked to his parents, and Father James Kramper, who was serving St. Theresa of Avila Catholic Church in Clearwater at that time.
“I didn’t think I had the right skills,” he said. “I didn’t think I was good enough. One thing I finally realized, and Father Kramper pointed out to me too, is that it’s not just me, it’s Christ working in me and through me. It took me a couple years to do what God wanted me to do.”
On Saturday, Fr. Patrick Moser was ordained into the priesthood by Archbishop George Lucas at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. The next day, Fr. Moser celebrated his first Mass in Clearwater and a reception followed in rural St. John’s social hall.
“It’s a tradition for a newly ordained priest to celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, if he is able,” he said. “I talked to Fr. John Norman (the Clearwater priest), and he was already expecting that.”
Several hundred people attended Fr. Moser’s Mass of Thanksgiving in Clearwater on Sunday afternoon. Among those attending were more than a dozen priests, including past and present priests from Clearwater, Elgin, Neligh, Tilden and other area communities.
“It means a lot to begin your priesthood in the same parish community that you were baptized in,” he said.
One of the most emotional parts of the service occurred following communion. After thanking everyone for attending his first Mass, Fr. Moser had a special presentation for his mother and father, who were seated in the front pew.
He walked toward them holding a wooden shadow box containing a white linen cloth with a small, red cross and a purple stole adorned with gold edges, and read:
“On the occasion of their first Mass, it is a tradition that the newly ordained priest presents a gift to his parents. To his mother, he gives the Maniturgium, which was used to cleanse his hands of Chrism, the holy oil used at ordination. The Maniturgium is given to the mother, because she was the first protector of the newly ordained priest, during his time in her womb. When the newly ordained priest’s mother is called home to God, she is buried holding the Maniturgium so that all in Heaven and on Earth will know that she is the mother of a priest. And on the last day when we are raised from the dead, she can present the Maniturgium to Christ the Lord and say, ‘My son too shared in your priesthood.’ To his father, the priest presents his first confessional stole. The stole is the sign of priestly office, and the priest wears it when he engages in holy things, like celebrating the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance. It was the father of the newly ordained priest who first taught him about justice and mercy. And like the mother of the newly ordained priest, when his father dies, he is buried holding the purple stole so that all in Heaven and on Earth will know that he was the father of a priest. And on the last day when we are raised from the dead, he can present the purple stole to Christ the Lord and say, ‘My son too shared in your priesthood.’ I love you, Mom and Dad.”
Fr. Moser hugged his parents and presented them with the gifts. When he returned to the front of the church, he wiped tears from his eyes.
The son of Edward and Sandy Moser, he was raised in rural Clearwater as the middle child of seven children--Amy, Jennifer, Rachel, Patrick, Mark, Jill and Scott. He attended Clearwater Public School through sixth grade and then went to Elgin Pope John for grades 7-12. After high school, he attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanized systems management, graduating in 2010.
Fr. Moser said he started considering the priesthood after his sophomore year in college.
“I started to think about it a little more,” he said. “I became more involved in the Newman Center and joined a Bible study on campus.”
It wasn’t until about a year after his college graduation, while employed by Kevin Rittscher of rural Clearwater doing general farm work, that Fr. Moser decided to act.
“I had already discerned that I probably wasn’t called to marriage,” he said. “But it’s a similar consideration, ‘Am I ready to make this commitment?’ It’s not something to take lightly.”
After talking with his parents and Fr. Kramper, he reached out to Fr. Paul Hoesing, the vocations director for the Omaha Archdiocese at that time. It was a little too late for the 2011 school year, so Fr. Moser entered Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis in 2012.
He studied philosophy for the first two years at the seminary and theology for the last four years. After six years of study, Fr. Moser graduated from Kenrick-Glennon on May 12, 2018.
“Through the seminary I’ve met a lot of great men who are ordained priests or who will be, God-willing,” he said. “Those are the people I’ll look to for support and guidance, and, hopefully, I can be that for them too.”
Once his seminary formation was complete, he was ready for ordination. Fr. Moser received an official letter from the archbishop announcing his upcoming ordination about three months ago.
The ordination was held on Saturday for Fr. Moser, Fr. Taylor Leffler and Fr. Padraic Stack. The ceremony included laying of hands by the archbishop and other priests, anointing of the hands with Chrism, receiving the stole and chasuble and the presentation of the chalice and paten.
It was a full weekend for Fr. Moser. So what is the next assignment for the newly ordained priest?
Fr. Patrick Moser is heading to St. Patrick’s Parish in Elkhorn on June 30.
“He must be a good intercessor,” Fr. Moser said with a chuckle about the shared namesake.
In the meantime, he plans to visit friends and family and attend a friend’s ordination. Fr. Moser’s future also includes serving as the priest for his sister Jill’s wedding this summer.
“God has already done a lot of things in my life the last 30 years,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what He has in store for my priesthood. I’m sure there will be a lot of surprises and a lot to learn, but He’s always with me.”