Tell Him Your Plan
“Now that he’s become a priest, everyone mentions to me that there was something about him, something holy,” Fr. Mark’s mother, shared warmly.
As a part of a dedicated Catholic family, Fr. Mark and his siblings were always involved with the church. They all attended Catholic schools until sixth grade, and served Mass with one another on the weekends.
Fr. Mark had his life planned—attend school, become a social studies teacher, get married and have kids. He was inspired by a quote he once heard: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan,” and so he did, one night during his second year of college at University of Wisconsin-Madison, when he was conscious but not aware of anything around him. “I heard this voice saying, ‘Mark, Mark, I want you to be a priest,’ and my first response was ‘no’ because I didn’t know how to react,” he recalled. But as he continued to attend Mass, he warmed to the idea. “I thought I would become a deacon, so I could work on behalf of God and be married with a family,” he continued. “I knew that wasn’t all, though. I knew I was to become a priest.”
After he graduated college, Fr. Mark studied for two years at St. Francis de Sales Seminary outside of Milwaukee. He then studied for four years at Pontifical North American College, in Rome, Italy, just south of the Vatican. Fr. Mark speaks Italian well, and even met the Pope. “I didn’t know what to say; I just froze!” he laughed.
He was ordained a deacon at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in September 2016. Several family members attended to support him—including his parents, two brothers, sister and sister-in-law.
Agent Frank Bradley and his wife, Shirley, St. Lawrence 1190, Stangelville, Wis., had nothing but wonderful things to say about Fr. Mark. When the two visited Rome, they reached out to Fr. Mark, then still a deacon, who gave them what they described as a “grand tour” of the historical city. “He brought us up on this rooftop that looked over Rome,” Shirley said. “He had so much to share with us; we were amazed.”
Someone Fr. Mark admires is Fr. Milton Suess. “He’s so dedicated - 81 years old and he performs Mass every day in addition to two Masses each Saturday,” Fr. Mark said.
Friendly and full of anecdotes, Fr. Mark is certainly adored by many. His priesthood ordination (alongside four other new priests) was well attended by 1,200 people and 130 priests. “It was great to be surrounded by friends and family,” he said.
COF’s community ties are strong and run deep. “I’ve known [HCT Mark Wessely] my whole life,” Fr. Mark shared with a smile. HCT Mark Wessely spoke highly of Fr. Mark. “[His] ordination was a great day for all of us, and I am so thankful that I was able to be part of Fr. Mark’s journey to his ordination as a priest. We hope that [everyone continues] to pray for the success of Fr. Mark and all the other religious…as they serve us.”
Immaculate Conception in Luxemburg, Wis. and St. Therese de Lisieux in Pilsen, Wis. (also serving Stangelville and Denmark), are Fr. Mark’s parishes, and he is excited to serve the people of the area in which he grew up. “It’s been busy,” he shared. “But I love doing the work of God.”
Above: Fr. Mark's family enjoys cheering him on and rooting for the Wisconsin Badgers, his alma mater.
Below: Agent Frank Bradley and his wife Shirley, St. Lawrence 1190, Stangelville, Wis., visited Fr. Mark (then a deacon) in Rome.