The Saint Paul Seminary’s Board of Trustees approved on Monday Archbishop Bernard Hebda’s appointment of the Rev. Joseph C. Taphorn, JCL, as the 15th Rector of the Saint Paul Seminary.
Father Taphorn, 47, has served as founding pastor and director of the St. John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Omaha since 2016. The Omaha native was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1997 after receiving his theological formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, earning both a Master of Arts in Theology and a Master of Divinity degree. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College in 1993.
Father Taphorn earned a licentiate in canon law (JCL) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2002 and served at a number of parishes and in various administrative roles in the Archdiocese of Omaha, including Moderator of the Curia, Chancellor and Spokesperson, Judicial Vicar, Vicar for Clergy and Ecumenical Officer. In addition to serving the Archdiocese on the College of Consultors, the Presbyteral Council and the Finance Council, he has served on the board of the Nebraska Catholic Conference and as an officer of Catholic Mutual Group. He also served on the steering committee and leadership team establishing a pastoral plan for parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha.
In addition, Father Taphorn has distinguished himself in his ministry to priests, seminarians and young adults. In 2017, he received certification in the Spirituality of the Diocesan Priesthood and Spiritual Direction from the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, where he continues to serve as a spiritual director for the institute’s summer program for diocesan seminarians. He has collaborated extensively with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and Franciscan University of Steubenville Youth Conference to provide retreats and conferences on college campuses at the local, regional and national levels.
“I am thrilled that Father Taphorn, with the generous permission of Archbishop George Lucas, has accepted this appointment,” Archbishop Hebda said. “His love for the Lord and his Church, as well as his pastoral heart, and extensive experience working with priests, seminarians, and young people, will serve well the seminarians, seminary staff and the broader community. Knowing his love for the Eucharist and his commitment to humble, collaborative, Christ-centered service, I am confident that he will be an effective role model for our seminarians and lay students as they prepare for seminary.”
“I am grateful to Archbishop Hebda and the Seminary Board of Trustees for the opportunity to work with men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood and form those who God is calling to ordination,” Taphorn said. “Introducing young people to the power of the Holy Spirit in my parish and campus ministry has given me great joy, and I very much look forward to walking with the men who will introduce Christ to all whom they will encounter in their priestly ministry.”
Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, S.T.D., who chaired the Rector Search Committee, has known Father Taphorn since they attended Benedictine College together in the 1990s. Bishop Cozzens says Father Taphorn’s evangelistic zeal, profound convictions and his intellectual gifts have always inspired him. “Fr. Taphorn remains joyful and hopeful even in challenging circumstances. I know he believes in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people’s lives and he will help our seminarians to believe in this as well. He is a model priest with a huge heart for the Gospel and for those in need.”
Father Taphorn will succeed Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, who has served as Rector and Vice President of the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity since his appointment in 2005.
“Father Taphorn is a well-respected priest,” Callaghan said. “He has served in various administrative and pastoral ministries that afford him a unique understanding of the challenges of diocesan priesthood in our present day. He is a ‘priest’s priest’ who has a great love for his vocation, the work of evangelization and ministry to youth. He will be a blessing in the new evangelization of seminary formation.”
As Rector and Vice President Emeritus, Callaghan will continue to serve the seminary in the areas of advancement and community relations. He will also serve the Archdiocese as on of the Ministers for Clergy and Vicar for Retired Priests.
Due to commitments at the Newman Center and the Archdiocese of Omaha, Father Taphorn will begin his term as rector on Jan. 1, 2019. He will make use of the intervening time to make extended visits to The Saint Paul Seminary this fall to get to know the seminarians, faculty, staff and leadership. In order to facilitate a smooth transition, Bishop Cozzens, who served on the seminary faculty for more than seven years, will serve as Interim Rector when Msgr. Callaghan begins his new responsibilities in August.