Capuchin friars, including the former pastor of a local church, will celebrate their jubilee anniversaries this month.
Rev. Bertin Samsa, who served as the pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Weyauwega for 15 years, will be among those participating in the July 18 celebration, at St. Lawrence Seminary.
The seminary, located in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin, is the founding site of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph.
The Capuchins are an international community of friars modeling themselves after St. Francis of Assisi.
The brothers of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, headquartered in Detroit, serve in a variety of ministries including social service, schools, chaplaincy, retreat houses and parishes.
They serve in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, Arizona, California, Nicaragua and Panama.
The Capuchin Province of St. Joseph was established in Mt. Calvary in 1857 and currently has 174 members.
For Samsa, the 15 years he was in Weyauwega was the longest time he spent anywhere during his varied ministry.
He served community parishes, four years at an Indian mission in Montana, seven years in the Middle East and 24 years as an Army chaplain at various bases in the United States, Italy, Germany and Vietnam.
During seven of those 24 years, he served as a military chaplain to prisoners.
“I’ve had a great life,” Samsa said. “I enjoyed every assignment. I’ve traveled the world around a couple of times and I’ve never been lonely. Most of my work has been parish work, even in the military. There’s a family there as close to you as your own family.”
“I’m proud to be a priest,” he said. “I don’t think I could have lived a better life. What an opportunity to help people. You don’t become a priest for yourself. You become a priest for others. You’re actually serving the church. Being a pastor is the greatest thing. That’s where the action is. You’re working with people. That’s the epitome of the priesthood. We all do the same work — bringing the faith and keeping your parishes going. I did my job.”