Father Michael Kueber began as a deacon at the church in 1999
Although Father Michael Kueber is no stranger to St. Anne Catholic Church, he is just adjusting to his new role as pastor.
Kueber, 42, began his career at St. Anne in 1999, when he served as a deacon while he finished seminary in Mount Angel.
He was ordained in 2000, and returned to the church two years later as an assistant. In July, he was named the new pastor.
For Kueber, one of the biggest challenges is finding a balance between developing a long-term vision for the congregation while fulfilling his new administrative duties.
However, he is enthusiastic about his new role.
'I think it's an exciting place to work,' Kueber said. 'I enjoy being pastor here.'
The path Kueber took to the priesthood is somewhat unconventional.
In 1985, Kueber joined the Brotherhood of People of Praise, a celibate group within the larger People of Praise movement, which began in 1971 in South Bend, Ind.
'It's a source of life, a source of renewal,' Kueber said. 'It supports me; it renews me; it gives me strength.'
People of Praise is a Christian, charismatic, covenant community.
'We're called to break down barriers between churches,' Kueber said of the brotherhood. 'We try to live our lives fully in God as best we can.'
As part of the brotherhood, Kueber attends weekly prayer meetings, and gives 5 percent of his salary to the community.
'I had a sense it was what God wanted me to do, and that intensified when I joined the community,' Kueber said of his decision to enter the priesthood.
However, he was willing to wait until the time was right, as he did not want to leave the brotherhood.
Kueber, along with a number of other men in the brotherhood, wanted to become a priest, but wasn't sure how to go about it.
Francis George, who was then bishop of the Yakima Diocese, visited the community, and was willing to let the brothers enter the priesthood.
Kueber, like all of the Portland-area members of the Brotherhood of People of Praise, lives at All Saints Parish, a former convent, in Portland.
Prior to becoming a priest, Kueber taught for 10 years at two of the three Trinity schools operated by the People of Praise. Kueber particularly enjoyed teaching German and Spanish language classes, but also taught everything from Latin and geometry to Catholic doctrine and earth science courses.
Kueber's love of the Spanish language developed when he was in high school.
He practiced his Spanish with an exchange student who played on his soccer team and later spent six weeks with the young man in Mexico City after he graduated from high school.
When he was a sophomore in college, Kueber studied abroad in Innsbruck, Austria. He later taught Spanish in Grenada for two years.
Kueber's Spanish skills are extraordinarily useful at St. Anne, where all of the full-time staff members are bilingual and most of the parishioners do not speak English as a first language.
In the past, many of St. Anne's members were of Polish descent, but the neighborhood has changed, and with it the demographics of the church.
St. Anne is somewhat unique in it's ministry to the Spanish-speaking population in the area.
In addition to offering four Masses each week in Spanish, the church hosts a large celebration for Virgin of Guadalupe Day, which is Tuesday, Dec. 12.
'It's our biggest feast day of the year,' Kueber said. 'It's a huge thing for the Hispanic community.'
St. Anne's also offers a migrant camp ministry with the help of a priest from Mexico.
In his first year as pastor at St. Anne, Kueber said he is looking forward to developing a pastoral plan and seeing members of the church come together in mission work.
'I think we've got a challenge to evangelize and bring the faith to younger generations,' Kueber said.
One thing Kueber would like to do is reach out to the people in the Rockwood neighborhood.
'A lot of what we do is meet people at critical times in their lives,' Kueber said.
He also wants to promote unity within the various groups of the church.
Kueber is also spending his time planning for the church's 50th anniversary celebration that will take place in February.
Erin Shea can be reached at 503-492-5118 or at [email protected]
If you go
St. Anne Catholic Church is at 1015 S.E. 182nd Ave., Portland, and can be reached at 503-665-4935.
• 7 p.m. Friday, Spanish
• 5 p.m. Saturday, English
• 7 p.m. Saturday, Spanish
• 7:15 a.m. Sunday, English
• 9:15 a.m. Sunday, Spanish
• 11 a.m. Sunday, English
• 1 p.m. Sunday, Spanish