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New Holy Rosary/St. Bridget's Priest becoming acclimated to Panhandle

By Rachel Gonzalez
Times-Herald City Editor

The Catholic communities of Box Butte County, including Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Alliance and St. Bridget's of Hemingford are getting acquainted with their new parish priest, Fr. Jim Heithoff.

His first services with the two parishes were over the July Fourth weekend.

Fr. Heithoff's most recent assignment in the diocese was at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ord and Sacred Heart in Burwell for the last two years. These communities are in central Nebraska, about 80 miles north of the Kearney-Grand Island area. 

Originally from Cedar Rapids in Boone County, about 40 miles west of Columbus, Fr. Jim grew upon the family farm and has three younger sisters. His family has been in the area for well over 100 years.

He graduated from the College of St. Thomas (now a university) in St. Paul, Minn.. in 1973 and studied theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, MD. He was ordained in January of 1977.

"All of my pastoral assignments, for more than 25 years, have been in the Grand Island Diocese," he said.

Prior to Father Bryan Ernest being the vocation director, Fr. Jim was the vocation director for the diocese for six years in the 1980's.

"My hope and my goal is to be a good pastor. It involves a lot of listening initially, and then as I become more acquainted with the parish communities, I will work at meeting those needs the best I can."

He had served as chaplain at the University of Nebraska at Kearney for five years and also at the Youth Development Center for troubled youth in Kearney.

"I am sort of a general practitioner as far as being a priest," he explained. "There is diversity, variety in being a pastor of ministry. There are all types of situations and all types of people. It takes a very special person to do -- say -- prison ministry, or to be a military chaplain."

"I like the Panhandle and was eager to come here," he said. "It is different from the eastern part of the state. Not so humid . . . I like the weather here and the wide open spaces."

"The people have been friendly and very helpful and just looking around the town it seems very well maintained."

He said he is looking forward to becoming more a part of the community as a whole.

Catholic Communities of Box Butte County - All Rights Reserved 2003.
Last updated 07/16/2006.