50 years of letting his light shine for Christ

Parish celebrates Father Vorderlandwehr

By Charles Albert
The Sooner Catholic

While serving in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s, Adrian Vorderlandwehr had many options for his future – continuing his military service, accounting and a vocation to the priesthood.

After a visit to Saint Gregory’s Abbey, he entered the Benedictine community. That was more than 50 years ago.

On Aug. 20, parishioners, family and friends gathered for the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. At age 82, Father Vorderlandwehr is the oldest full-time, active priest in the diocese. Parishioners said his enthusiasm for his faith shows them two common threads: he makes them better Christians as he shines Christ’s light, and he follows Archbishop Coakley’s call to “Go Make Disciples” by his actions and example.

Father Vorderlandwehr serves two parishes – Sacred Heart in Konawa and Saint Mary in Wanette. He also has served as prison chaplain at three different Oklahoma prisons.

“I drive a long way just to attend Mass with Father Adrian. At every Mass, he translates the readings into a true-life story and I learn so much. After Mass, Father also has a catechism class to further explain teachings about the Church,” James Krohmer said.  

Charlene Fundis’s family has been attending Saint Mary since 1904. She said church attendance has grown since Father Vorderlandwehr arrived. She said she has seen him exemplify “Go Make Disciples” by unifying the Wanette community and its different churches.

“He has unified all denominations under the light of Jesus Christ, and I never believed it could happen in this town,” she said. “He wants you to be a better Catholic!”

Father Vorderlandwehr is dedicated to the Benedictine way of life – “Ora et Labora” (work and prayer). Once the abbot of Saint Gregory’s, he still lives his life according to the rule, knowing that he is responsible for all the souls in his charge.

This is manifested by his work. Father Vorderlandwehr not only runs two churches, but also is a certified public accountant and dedicates his life to his parishioners, making visits to the homebound.

Debra Gibson, a parishioner at Sacred Heart, said, “I admire Father Adrian's gentle, quiet and humble spirit while also recognizing a deep inner-strength. I believe this strength can only come from his many years of sacrificial and dedicated service to our Lord and his people. Father Adrian is an inspiration to me.”

Charles Albert is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.