Fr. Godecker reflects on his 50 years as a priest

About Cathedral: “A really good feel to it here”


Lauryn Woods

During a Mass earlier this school year, Fr. Jeff Godecker greets senior Lila Welch.

Ethan Eckhart, Reporter

Known as the priest who celebrates all-school Masses as well as three Masses each week in the chapel, Fr. Jeff Godecker is a relatively new face to the school.

But to the Church and his various flocks over the years, not so much.

Fr. Godecker recently celebrated his 50th year in the priesthood. Talented and wise, Fr. Godecker looked back on his five decades of service as well as his commitment to Cathedral High School.

As time moves forward, everything develops and evolves. Fr. Godecker notes that many things have changed, but a lot has stayed the same as well.

The same tasks that were performed by priests 50 years are still carried out today, but with some differences. Another change involves how priests are viewed, Fr. Godecker said, largely as a result of the sex abuse scandals. However, everyone should remember to give priests the respect they deserve because a handful of priests should not define an entire group.

Fr. Godecker said the future of the priesthood is also a concern. One of the main differences today is that there are many fewer priests than there used to be. Fr. Godecker said, “When I was ordained in 1969, there were probably 160 to 170 priests for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and now there are less than 100 active priests.” This causes more stress for all of the active priests, because a smaller number of individuals must carry out the same number, or in some cases a greater number of tasks, including the Sacraments.

Fr. Godecker has a long history that goes along with his priesthood. He started teaching at Roncalli High School where he points out that students were quite a bit different back then. He said, “You guys are much busier now. You guys are way too busy.”

After five years at Roncalli, he spent another five years teaching at Schulte High School in Terre Haute, the alma mater of  Sr. Mary Ann Stewart. Father has also served at two parishes, including St. Andrews and Immaculate Heart of Mary. He has served in campus ministry offices at both Butler University and IUPUI.

Finally, he became a member of the Irish family at Cathedral High school.

Of all the places he has served, he said his favorite is IUPUI. Fr. Godecker said, “IUPUI was a small community, mostly (graduate) students, but it was a very nice relaxed community.”

Fr. Godecker said he enjoys the youthful energy at this school. When he first celebrated Mass in the gymnasium, he said he was proud of the liturgy, adding, “It just had a really good feel to it here.”

Based on the reaction of students to Fr. Godecker, greeting him in the hallways and talking to him after Mass, that feeling seems to be mutual.

Outside of his many duties as a priest, Fr. Godecker said he enjoys reading, traveling, listening to music and attending small parties. He said he takes pride in his commitment to the Church and his 50-year career, which continues.