Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay received the 2017 Archbishop Cousins Award Oct. 19 for his years of support of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology (SHSST). Fr. Luke Strand of Milwaukee received the 2017 Dehon Distinguished Ministry Award.
The Archbishop Cousins Vocations Award honors an organization or individual who has demonstrated distinguished effort, involvement, and promotion of vocations among men over 30 to the Roman Catholic priesthood. The award was established by Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology to commemorate Milwaukee Archbishop Cousins’ 60th anniversary of priesthood and to recognize his leadership role in promoting vocations.
In presenting the award, SHSST Board Vice Chair Dr. Marna Boyle said, “Bishop Ricken has been a steadfast supporter of SHSST. Dating to his time as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne in 2000, he has sent or overseen eight SHSST seminarians.
“He has continued to support us in his episcopacy in Green Bay, sending seminarians to Sacred Heart by way of St. Francis de Sales Seminary (SFdSS).
“In fact, he opened the door for a series of relationships with the other Wisconsin bishops outside the Archdiocese of Milwaukee: He was the first among them to send seminarians to SHSST through SFdSS, starting a trend that saw the other Wisconsin dioceses follow suit, ultimately accounting for more than 20 SHSST seminarians,” she noted.
Furthermore, Bishop Ricken provided invaluable support in his role as a member of the SHSST Board of Directors. He served on the board from 2009 to 2012.
When in Cheyenne, he worked in close collaboration with an SHSST alum (and former distinguished Dehon Ministry Award winner, Fr. Robert Cook) to found a Catholic college in Wyoming.
Through this time he has been present with SHSST as a celebrant for various important rites.
The Dehon Distinguished Ministry Award is presented annually in honor of Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. The award recognizes an alumnus of Sacred Heart who has given distinguished service to the Church and humankind in professional or volunteer endeavors, in leadership in civic or social work, or in the promotion of intellectual or cultural pursuits.
Fr. Strand received his master of divinity degree from Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in May of 2009, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee later that year. Fr. Strand spent his first three years of priesthood at Holy Family Parish in Fond du Lac, the largest parish in the state.
In 2012 he became vocation director for the archdiocese. At that time Fr. Strand established the John Paul II House of Discernment at St. Robert Parish in Shorewood. He has also served as the director of college seminarians and has been very involved in many youth and young adult apostolates, often as a conference speaker and chaplain.
SHSST President-Rector Fr. Thomas Knoebel, who presented the award, noted, "Through his work with the John Paul II House and other efforts, he has been instrumental in increasing the number of seminarians in formation for the archdiocese from 17 to 40 during his time as vocation director. More than half of Milwaukee’s seminarians have lived at the John Paul II House.”
In 2016 he was asked to serve as vice-rector and director of human formation at St. Francis de Sales Seminary while retaining his responsibilities as vocation director.
Fr. Strand accomplished much of this while fighting stage 3 colorectal cancer, which he refers to as a time of personal growth. He has been in remission for two years.
Prior to entering the seminary, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where he double majored in marketing and human resources.
“Fr. Luke has built an outstanding team in the Vocation Office and is passionate about the work of priestly formation at St. Francis de Sales Seminary and beyond," Fr. Knoebel added.