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Chaplain Appointed to Holy Family

Archbishop Hebda appoints chaplain to Holy Family

Holy Family Catholic High School is excited to announce Archbishop Hebda’s appointment of Fr. Nels Gjengdahl as Holy Family Catholic High School’s full-time chaplain beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Fr. Gjengdahl is the current pastor of Nativity of Mary Catholic Church in Bloomington, MN, and has previously served as the school chaplain at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. This appointment comes in response to a formal request submitted  by Holy Family in March 2018.

Fr. Nels Gjengdahl
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl

Fr. Gjengdahl grew up in North St. Paul, MN, graduating from North St. Paul High School in 1999.  He then attended North Dakota State University to study engineering.  While he has been a lifelong Catholic, it was at college where his faith came alive. After two years of studying engineering, Fr. Gjengdahl entered Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo, ND, and graduated with a degree in Philosophy in May of 2003. In the fall, he entered the St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas. He was ordained a priest in 2007 and was appointed parochial vicar at St. Odilia in Shoreview, MN.

Following St. Odilia, Fr. Gjengdahl was assigned as parochial vicar of St. John Neumann in Eagan as well as part-time chaplain at Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights.  After one year, his chaplain assignment became full-time. This change allowed him to be both a full-time teacher and a sacramental minister for the school.  He taught several subjects including morality, sacraments, Church history, world religions and Catholic social teaching and even coached ultimate frisbee. After a seven-year term as school chaplain, he was assigned as pastor to Nativity of Mary Catholic Church in Bloomington, MN in 2017.

Beginning July 1, Fr. Gjengdahl will transition from his position at Nativity of Mary Catholic Church to providing the Holy Family community with full-time sacramental leadership and spiritual guidance. He will teach within theology department, support ongoing campus ministry efforts, and enhance formation opportunities for our students and their families.

When announcing the move to his congregation, Fr. Gjengdahl shared these thoughts, “I am very grateful to Archbishop Hebda and to Holy Family Catholic High School for this opportunity. I have enjoyed serving as a high school chaplain in the past and look forward to returning to this ministry.  It is a rare opportunity to engage high school students in our Catholic faith on a daily basis, and it is a precious gift that I take seriously. I am excited to share Jesus Christ with the community at Holy Family through the sacraments, and in the entire life of the school.”

When asked what the addition of a full-time chaplain to the Holy Family staff means for the school, President Brennan responded, “As a school, we are blessed to have wonderful relationships with our local priests and are incredibly grateful for their time and leadership over the past 20 years.”  He added, “However, the addition of Fr. Nels to our community, our theology department, and campus ministry programs creates opportunities for daily sacraments and allows us to more deeply live out our Catholic mission. I am grateful for the wisdom, open hearts, and leadership of Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens in providing a shepherd for our school with an extensive background in secondary Catholic education.”