Father Daniel L. Vacca grew up in a Kansas parish served by priests on mission from Ireland.
Now, the God Who summoned him to Priesthood is also allowing him to follow those priests into the mission field — this mission field.
Bishop Carl A. Kemme of Wichita, Kansas — which is also Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s home diocese — has given Fr. Vacca permission to minister in the Jefferson City diocese.
Bishop McKnight appointed Fr. Vacca pastor of St. Anthony parish in Camdenton and Our Lady of the Snows mission in Climax Springs, effective June 23.
North, west, east and back
Fr. Vacca, 50, one of six children born to Joseph and Kay Vacca, grew up in Coffeyville, Kansas, in the Wichita diocese.
He attended Holy Name School and public schools in Coffeyville.
He attended St. Mary’s College of Minnesota and Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, both in Winona, graduating in 1991 with a double major in philosophy and theology.
He then studied for two years at St. Thomas Theological Seminary in Denver, completing a master’s degree in theology.
He continued for two years at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, completing a Master of Divinity degree.
On May 27, 1995, in St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wichita, Bishop Eugene J. Gerber, now deceased, ordained Fr. Vacca to the Holy Priesthood.
He served for two years as associate pastor of a large parish in Wichita; followed by four years as a hospital chaplain.
He has been ministering since then as a pastor of parishes large and small, most recently for four years at Sacred Heart parish in Fredonia and St. Ignatius parish in Neodesha, Kansas.
“So I send you”
Fr. Vacca noted that God has blessed his home diocese with an abundance of priestly vocations — including 20 men ordained in the past two years.
“God’s blessings dispose us to be generous,” he said, “so I volunteered to be of service to a mission diocese.”
A fellow priest from the Wichita diocese is now serving in the Diocese of Dodge City, while another is in the Diocese of Salina, both in Kansas.
Fr. Vacca pointed out that this is how the Church has always operated.
“St. Paul and the Apostles evangelized in city after city, leading to Rome and Africa and India,” he noted.
Accordingly, Fr. Vacca now joins priests from India and several African countries who are helping tend to the spiritual needs of Catholics in this 22,000-square-mile diocese.
“The communities of faith continue to be generous from their blessings, as has always been what we are called to do,” Fr. Vacca noted. “As St. Paul said to the Corinthians, ‘I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you...” (1 Corinthians 11:23).
“So I hand on to this community what I have received in experience in both rural and city parish work,” he said.
And as each pastor brings his own gifts and talents to ministry, Fr. Vacca offers a fresh perspective to his new parishes and this diocese.
“But I receive, as well, from the parish community, in that each community is unique in its history and character,” he said.
He’s looking forward to learning the history and character of the community of believers in Camden County.
“May it renew and strengthen my ministerial spirit!” he said.