Published January 23, 2020
WOODSTOCK—Hundreds of St. Michael the Archangel Church parishioners came to the Mass on Jan. 11 to celebrate Father Larry Niese, pastor, and the 25 years since his ordination.
With heavy rain blowing against the stained glass windows at the Woodstock church and the lights flickering, the Knights of Columbus and Columbiettes Honor Guards led the entrance procession. Father Luis Alvarez, parochial vicar and Father Adam Ozimek concelebrated, assisted by Deacon Vic Taylor, Deacon Jack Herndon and Deacon Joe Pupo.
Wearing his vestments from his first Mass, Father Larry gave his homily about his calling to the priesthood. With his oft-quoted expression, he ended his homily with “Praise God.” During Mass, the pastor used his 75-year-old chalice passed down to him at ordination. Father Niese uses the antique chalice every Mass he celebrates.
In his homily, Father Niese said even with challenges of serving as a priest “it has been a great joy bringing Christ to God’s people.” He said it has been God who has aided him in fulfilling his vocation.
He was ordained in Ottawa, Ohio, at Sts. Peter and Paul Church Jan. 7, 1995. Because his mother was terminally ill, he hoped she would be able to attend by moving the ceremony from the typical June date. But his mother, Monica, died on Nov. 18, 1994. The scheduled ordination took place in January in Ohio after a storm dumped inches of snow.
Atlanta Archbishop John F. Donoghue and Msgr. Don Kenny, vocation director, flew to Ohio for the ordination. Father Niese was ordained in the same parish where his parents were married 44 years earlier.
The priest served as parochial vicar at Holy Cross Church, Atlanta, for four years. His first ministry as pastor was at St. Peter Church, LaGrange, for three years, followed by St. Joseph Church, Athens, for two years. For the past 16 years, he has been the pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock.
He planned to celebrate Mass with his family and friends Jan. 19 at St. Mary’s in Leipsic, Ohio, where he was baptized.
Following the anniversary Mass, the Knights of Columbus, Columbiettes and staff hosted a dinner in the Family Center. Father Niese was “roasted” by parishioner Joe Lemmo. After a presentation of gifts, the parishioners enjoyed music and dancing.
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