Former Seminarian (and Nuclear Engineer) Is Saginaw’s Newest Priest
He once designed nuclear power plants and traveled the world as an engineer building fuel cells and oil blending facilities—in Sweden, Sardinia, India, Italy, and elsewhere. Now, “more than anything,” says Fr. Robert Kelm, “I look forward to sharing my love of Scripture with others.”
On Friday, February 6, Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, ordained the former Sacred Heart seminarian, Class of 2014, at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw, Michigan. Since his graduation last April with a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies degree, Father Kelm had been ministering as a transitional deacon to the people of Prince of Peace Parish in Linwood, Michigan.
“I also look forward to re-opening the gates of heaven to people through the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” Father says about one of the highlights of his new vocation. “I am just a pipeline for God’s grace. It’s incredibly satisfying.”
“It is the power of God within us that makes all these things possible,” Bishop Cistone said to Father Kelm during the ordination Mass. The bishop was referring to the overwhelming “busyness” a new priest may find himself immersed in. “He does not ask us to do it all. He just asks us to be open and to be of service. That is my encouragement on your ordination day, just be open to the Lord.”
Bishop Cistone acknowledged that for the sixty-year-old priest, “this is a dream you have harbored in your heart for a long time.” (Father first heard the ‘still, small voice’ of the Lord calling him to the priesthood in 1971, as an eleventh grader.)
“But this is a special day for all of us in the Diocese of Saginaw, too. We look forward to the many days the Lord will use you with your many gifts.” Father Kelm will continue at his assignment at Prince of Peace, now as parochial vicar to pastor Fr. T.J. Fleming.
“Kudos to Sacred Heart’s administration for having us take Patristics, the study of the early Church Fathers,” Father Kelms says, recalling one of the most rewarding aspects of his two years of graduate-level study at Sacred Heart. “I fell in love with Patristics while at the seminary, principally studying under Fr. Daniel Jones and Dr. Daniel Keating. To this day, I reference the Fathers frequently in my preaching, teaching and writing.
“They are the answer to peoples’ skepticism about the faith.”
So, how does he like being a priest as opposed to being nuclear engineer? Father laughs, “Being a priest is the best job in the world!”