Priest always wanted to be at Vermillion parish

Priest always wanted to be at Vermillion parish Father Don Imming by M. Jill Sundstrom Father Don Imming has always wanted to be the pastor at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Vermillion. Earlier this summer, that dream became a reality.

He was appointed to the position in June by Bishop Robert Carlson when Father Leonard Fox made the decision to retire.

Father Imming has served parishes in Lincoln, NE, Yankton (at Mount Marty College), Huron, Wessington Springs, Platte and Geddes. He also served the Newman Center at The University of South Dakota from 1978-83, so Vermillion is not new to him.

�I�m happy to be here,� he said. �I always wanted to be a pastor here. I like the size of the community, the rich complexity of people ? from farmers to business people and university people ? and I like being in a university town. There are opportunities here that you won�t find in other places.�

Father Imming grew up in Beatrice, NE. He went to college at Conception Seminary in Conception, MO, which he said prepared new priests well for Vatican Council II which occurred from 1961 to 1965.

�It was a very forward-looking seminary,� he said. �Not all of them were at that time.�

In addition to his parishes in Nebraska and South Dakota, Father Imming spent three years at Blue Cloud Abbey.

�I had wondered about becoming a monk,� he said. �But after three years, I decided it was not my vocation.�

As a youngster in Beatrice, NE, Father Imming attended a small Catholic school, where he was influenced by a Benedictine nun, Sister Bernice.

�She awakened in me a certain spiritual quest,� he said. �She interested a number of us in various callings of religious life. I owe a lion�s share of becoming a priest to her.�

Father Imming is quick to point out that family and other priests were supportive of his decision. In the same way, he credits the people of St. Agnes Parish for helping him fill his role as pastor there.

�I couldn�t possibly do it all myself,� he said. �My ministry is very visible ? providing overall leadership, Masses, homilies, funerals, baptism, confession, preparing couples for marriage and weddings. But there are many people who play an invisible role in other parish work, including our St. Vincent DePaul Society, St. Agnes School, our Pastoral Council and Finance Council. I rely heavily on them.�

Reflecting on his own responsibilities, however, Father Imming views himself as a shepherd.

�In a pastoral function, a priest is a shepherd, looking after the spiritual needs of his people,� he said. �But my role is an instrumental role. God is our father. My role is bringing God to the people.�

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