By Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross
Deacons Charles Russell Friebohle and Paul Anthony Strommer were ordained transitional deacons, a step toward ordination to the priesthood, June 5 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary.
“I’ve had the privilege of being bishop long enough to have accompanied you on a good part of your vocational journey,” Bishop Paul Sirba told them in his homily before he ordained them. “... I can attest to the growth that I have been able to witness in both of you.”
Deacons Charles Friebohle (left) and Paul Strommer pose with Bishop Paul Sirba after their ordination as transitional deacons. (Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)
Deacon Friebohle, 26, is the son of Russell and Connie Friebohle and comes from All Saints Church in Baxter. An Eagle Scout, he is the fourth of five children with two brothers and two sisters.
The bishop described him as “quiet by nature, I think,” but as someone who has grown into being able to confidently tackle a conversation with his bishop on a question of philosophy. The bishop said he had done amazing things in his seminary formation.
Deacon Strommer, 28, is the son of Michael and Ann Strommer and is from St. Mary of the Lake Church in White Bear Lake. He came to the Duluth Diocese by being active in the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is the second of three children, with a brother and a sister.
Bishop Sirba described him as “able to speak with anyone.” His homiletics professor also had high praise, the bishop noted: “He has been described already as a very good preacher.”
Both of the deacon candidates are finishing theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul.
Bishop Sirba focused his homily on one out of a series of promises deacons make at their ordination: maintaining and deepening a spirit of prayer.
“God’s people come to us with many needs,” he said. But among them is that the faithful will come to them, asking them for their prayers.
“How humbling is that?” he said.
“So Charlie and Paul, pray for God’s people.”
Citing the spiritual classic “The Soul of the Apostolate,” the bishop said that in the sacrament of holy orders, their prayer comes not just as “a private citizen.” “We speak and act in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior.”
“My brothers in orders, we forget this truth to our own condemnation,” he said. “So don’t forget. St. Augustine said, ‘God is more pleased with the barking of dogs than with the prayer of such clerics who forget their purpose and meaning.’ ”
In a world in search of immediate responses, the prayers of clergy point to a dependence and trust in God.
“What a gift for us to pray for our people,” he said.
Deacon Friebohle was assigned to St. James, St. Margaret Mary and St. Elizabeth parishes in Duluth, and Deacon Strommer was assigned to Holy Spirit and Sacred Heart parishes in Virginia and Sacred Heart in Mountain Iron. There were no ordinations to the priesthood this year for the Diocese of Duluth.