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Father Harr marks 52 years of service: Long-time Gering priest to conduct last mass June 22
June 19, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Fr. Gerald Harr, who served the past 25 years as priest at Gering’s Christ the King Catholic Church, is retiring on July 1.

A Nebraska native, Harr graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Greeley, Neb. in 1954. He then entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John L. Paschang at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island on May 26, 1962.

“I started out as an assistant at St. Ann’s Church in Lexington in 1962,” he said. “Then I was transferred to the cathedral in Grand Island for two years. Clergy usually serve as an assistant for five years before they’ve assigned to a parish of their own.”

Harr’s first assignment with his own church was serving three parishes in Nebraska: Sacred Heart Church in Sutherland, St. Patrick’s Mission in Paxton and Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Hershey. “I was there for six years and it was a wonderful assignment,” he said. “They were wonderful people.”

In 1973, Harr was assigned as pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Alliance, where he served nine years. In 1982, it was on to St. Patrick’s Church in North Platte for the next seven years.

In 1989, Harr came to Gering as priest at Christ the King Catholic Church, where he’s served since then.

In his 52 years as a priest, one of the biggest changes within the Catholic Church was Vatican II, with its council running from 1962-1965.

“Our liturgies changed as we moved from the traditional Latin to English,” Harr said. The music also changed, as has the priests’ ministry. It used to be the priest was like the superintendent of schools and made the decisions as the sole authority. Ministry today is more collaborative as the laity has come to the forefront to help cooperatively in many ways.”

He added that in many ways, Vatican II was an earthshaking event and many had to rethink their attitudes in how they work and deal with others.

Another change he noted was the decline in vocations for the priesthood and also in the orders of religious sisters, who did great service in operating the Catholic schools.

“With the chaos and upheaval in society, it’s a different world than the one I came into in 1952,” he said. “Some of it is good and some of it isn’t. But I see a more pervasive secularism in the world today.”

Harr said he has no specific plans for after retirement. “I’m going to see what the Lord has for me and play it by ear for now. And I’ll be playing more golf.”

He said he’s going to miss the people of his parish. “I’ll also miss the liturgies and functioning as a priest on a daily basis.”

The parishioners of Christ the King have scheduled an informal barbecue after his last mass on Sunday, June 22.
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