The weekend of Aug. 17-18 was bittersweet, with both celebration and goodbyes, for the people of Good Shepherd Parish, Rib Lake, as they bid farewell to their pastor, Fr. Otto Bucher, OFM Cap.
Saturday Mass was celebrated with Bishop James P. Powers, who expressed his thanks to the retiring priest for the years of service, both at Good Shepherd and in many other parishes in the diocese. Concelebrating that Mass was Fr. Aaron Devett, one of the temporary priests now serving at Good Shepherd. Bishop Powers also acknowledged Sept. 10 would be Fr. Bucher’s 60th anniversary of priestly ordination.
“Of the many places I have served as a priest, this one is dearest to my heart. I love it here, but it is becoming more difficult for me, and it is time to retire,” said Fr. Bucher, who turned 86 in June.
At his final Mass, he shared the story of his religious vocation, starting with his studies in eighth grade at St. Lawrence Seminary in Mount Calvary.
He later joined the seminary at St. Anthony in Marathon City; following that, he began his Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana. He recalls times spent with Bl. Solanus Casey there.
“I was honored to be able to serve Mass for Solanus. Solanus would often play his violin for the bees outside. When he would come indoors, some of the bees would remain on him. He would ask the seminarians to take the bees back outside. None of them ever got stung.”
Solanus would also play his violin for the seminarians during their recreation time.
“He would sometimes play extra long and smile at us, knowing he could help in extending our time of relaxation.”
Fr. Bucher’s studies took him to the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and the Biblicum in Rome.
The priest’s other service included teaching 30 years at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners. He taught a number of the priests now serving in the Diocese of Superior.
During his time at Sacred Heart, he also served as vice-rector and academic dean. Part of his religious life included travels to Australia and New Zealand. He also served in Guam. He traveled throughout the United States on summer assignments.
Fr. Otto has now retired to St. Fidelis Friary in Appleton.
He often shared, “When I wake up every morning, I say, ‘God, I’m still alive. Show me what you want me to do today, and then give me the help to do it.’”
Good Shepherd parishioners believe he will continue to say that prayer.