Marist priest Joel Konzen to be installed on April 3

Some of the older generation may remember Marist Father Joel Konzen. He was born in Oak Harbor in 1950. In 1964 he moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he attended The Pontifical College Josephinum. His education and training continued as Konzen dedicated his life to God. He was ordained a priest for the Society of Mary in 1979.

Konzen was recently named auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia.

His lifelong friend, John Hermes, said, “This is quite an honor for a little town.”

Hermes shared memories of his boyhood friend. They grew up as best friends. Konzen lived in town; Hermes in the country. Hermes said Konzen always wanted to become a priest.

For a time, Hermes thought he, too, would be a priest. Both attended the Pontifical College in Columbus. There Hermes discerned he did not have a vocation and left. He remembers an early orientation to the school when the new students were told 90 percent of the class would not be ordained. Hermes thought that was unbelievable. However, “Lo and behold, 90 percent of us did not become priests!”

As Konzen continued his studies, he would return to Oak Harbor during breaks. Hermes remembers after Konzen’s mother moved from the area, he would stay in Oak Harbor with Richard and Betty Kratzer. In fact, he said when Richard died, Konzen helped with the funeral service at the Methodist Church.

Over the years, Hermes and Konzen have continued their friendship “as much as you can when distances are great.” Hermes was both delighted and surprised when, on Feb. 5, it was announced that Joel Konzen would become auxiliary bishop of Atlanta, Georgia.

Hermes explained that Konzen is a priest in the Society of Mary, or a Marist. As such, these priests do not pursue “ecclesiastical honors.” They serve as teachers.

During the Feb. 5 news conference announcing the appointment, Konzen said he was tongue-tied and unsure how to proceed when the Vatican’s representative in Washington, D.C., called him on his mobile phone as he prepared for Mass on Jan. 27. He explained that his religious community takes the rule to avoid ecclesiastical honors seriously. However, upon reflection that this was the will of the Pope, he accepted the appointment.

Konzen will be installed as auxiliary bishop on April 3.

More information on Father Joel Konzen’s background and career is available on the Atlanta archdiocese’s website,, with some amazing statistics of how quickly the area is growing, and from the archdiocesan newspaper,

Best wishes from Oak Harbor! We are very happy for your success.

Linda Hartigan writes about the Oak Harbor community. Call her at 419-898-1645.

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