BALGONIE, Sask. — Graduation from Campion College was coming up and a young Ed Hengen decided it was time to do something about his feeling that he wanted to be a priest.
“I made an appointment to see the bishop (Michael C. O’Neil) and told him I wanted to be a priest. They took it from there. Encouraged me, and with the support of my family I entered the seminary that fall.”
He was ordained June 5, 1965, by Archbishop O’Neil in his home parish in Windthorst. Fifty years later, June 5, 2015 in St Joseph’s Church here, some 40 priests, family and friends celebrated that vocation.
Hengen said there was no single moment of revelation in which he felt the call to the priesthood; it was something that grew within him because of his faith-filled family. There were six boys and two girls in the family. He and a younger brother, Francis, who is pastor at St. Gerard Parish, Yorkton, gravitated to consecrated life.
The family was friendly with their parish priests but it was a Dutch priest who served at Windthorst that supported and encouraged Hengen’s early thinking about being a priest. “As a matter of fact when I celebrated my 50th anniversary, the chalice I used was the chalice he gave me before he went back to Holland.” The red chasuble he wore for the anniversary was also a gift. His mother gave it to him when he was ordained.
He began his journey at St. Pius X Seminary in Saskatoon which had just opened, and from there to St. Paul’s Seminary in Ottawa.
Hengen said he has had many experiences during his vocation and each gave him a greater understanding of the ministry. One of his highlights came during his three years as the first pastor of Regina’s Holy Family Church. St. Jerome and St. Bernadette elementary schools were part of his parish. “The CBC had a program called Meeting Place and they televised our mass from St. Bernadette’s gym on the second Sunday of Easter. That was kind of a highlight.”
He said if he hadn’t been a priest he probably would have gone into farming. “I loved farming but I don’t know if I would have kept up with that,” he said laughing. A Grade 12 aptitude test pointed him in the direction of being an engineer but he never explored that.
He estimates he has served in 52 archdiocesan communities, almost all of them rural parishes. His only urban church as pastor was at Holy Family.
“I always feel fortunate that I can share in the joys that people have and also to be with them in times of struggle and sadness.”