Mount Angel faculty member celebrates 50 years of priesthood

In December, Reverend Richard Keolker, STL, a faculty member at Mount Angel Seminary, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Richard Koelker

Fr. Richard Koelker

Fr. Keolker was born in 1938 in Kennewick, Wash. Growing up in Kennewick with his parents, older sister and younger brother, Fr. Keolker attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. After discerning a call to serve God’s people, Fr. Keolker entered high school at St. Edward’s Seminary in Kenmore, Wash., and was enrolled from 1952-58. Upon graduation from the minor seminary, and continuing to feel a vocation to priesthood, he then attended St. Thomas Seminary in Kenmore as a college philosophy student from 1958-60. He was sent to Rome, Italy, to complete his education and priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College (PNAC) from 1960-64. Fr. Keolker completed his theological studies in Rome, earning a license in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Yakima in 1963.

Since his ordination, Fr. Keolker has served in a number of ministries, including parish work in the Yakima Diocese, teaching English, Latin and religion to high school students, and serving on the faculty at St. Patrick’s College in San Francisco. He was the director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the PNAC from 1980-83.

Fr. Keolker first came to Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary in 1991 as a formation director and pastoral supervisor. He currently teaches a course on Vatican II and serves as a much loved spiritual director for seminarians. Fr. Keolker also serves as a chaplain to the Benedictine sisters at Queen of Angels Monastery in Mount Angel, Ore. He has traveled the world to experience the Church in its array of cultural diversity, with visits to India, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, the Holy Land and parts of Africa.

Dancing a "shuffle step" during 150th Anniversary of the first mission mass of Yakima Diocese. The event was attended by Bishop Goerge, Bishop Sevilla and Bishop Skylstad.

Dancing a “shuffle step” during 150th Anniversary of the first mission mass of Yakima Diocese. The event was attended by Bishop Goerge, Bishop Sevilla and Bishop Skylstad.

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Fr. Keolker will celebrate his golden jubilee of ordination in the Abbey Church on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. with a reception to follow at 8:30 p.m. All are welcome to join the monastic and seminary communities in giving praise and thanks to God for Fr. Keolker’s many years of faithful service.

Read related story by Seminarian Jose Morales at MAS Journalism Blog:

Going Back to the Roots: Fr. Richard Koelker

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