Alumni Association of The Pontifical North American College

Spring Anthony Opem



Reverend Anthony P. Opem, 73, died Saturday, August 13, 2016 at St. Luke’s Hospital, Sioux City, IA where he had been receiving medical care for recurrent issues related to his cardiac health.  He was in the presence of family members when he passed to eternal life.  Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 AM Friday, August 19 at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Sioux Falls, SD.  The Most Reverend Paul J. Swain, Bishop of Sioux Falls, will serve as main celebrant of the Mass.  A private interment will be held with the family at Calvary Cemetery, Red Wing, MN.  Visitation begins at 5:00 PM Thursday, August 18 at Blessed Teresa Church, Dakota Dunes, SD with a Liturgical Wake Service beginning at 7:00 PM.

Anthony Peter Opem was born on December 7, 1942 at Red Wing, MN.  The oldest son of Martin W. and Gertrude (née Bossly) Opem, the family would move first to Rochester, MN and ultimately to Aberdeen, SD where he attended and graduated from high school.  He then enrolled in Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary at St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN before attending St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, MN where he received his priestly formation.  On May 30, 1968, he was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Lambert A. Hoch, Bishop of Sioux Falls, at the Bishop Marty Chapel in Yankton, SD.

Upon ordination, Father Opem served as an associate pastor at Saint Mary, Aberdeen, SD, Saint Thomas More, Brookings, SD, Cathedral of St. Joseph, Sioux Falls, SD, Sacred Heart, Aberdeen, SD and St. Thomas Aquinas, Madison, SD.  Father Opem also completed his Master’s degree in education from South Dakota State University.  Father Opem used his training in education at O’Gorman and Roncalli High Schools, teaching religion and psychology courses while also coaching tennis.

 Father Opem went on to serve as priest director of the Aquinas Newman Center at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD before being appointed pastor at St. Joseph the Workman, Huntimer, SD, St. Joseph, Elk Point, SD, St. Mary, Garryowen, SD, St. Therese, Sioux Falls, SD and St. Thomas Aquinas, Madison, SD.  In 1998, Bishop Robert J. Carlson appointed Father Opem the inaugural pastor of Blessed Teresa Parish, Dakota Dunes, SD, an assignment he held until his retirement from assigned ministry in 2010.  While in retirement, Father Opem remained in the greater-Sioux City area providing regular substitute ministry and chaplaincy ministry at Tyson Foods facilities.

Beyond his pastoral ministries, Father Opem regularly contributed to the Diocesan Church’s ministries through his participation on advisory committees including priest retirement, clergy continuing education, Catholic Family Services, and priest personnel.  Father Opem was also appointed judge, advocate and defender of the bond for the Marriage Tribunal.

Father Opem was known to advocate for parish and parishioners passionately and with an embodied concern for their well-being and a strong sense of justice.  Fond of sport and competition, he could always be counted on to know the successes and failures of his favorite teams, especially the New York Yankees.

Father Opem is survived by his two brothers, Martin E. (Johnelle) Opem, Elk River, MN and Robert A. (Gayly) Opem, Rockport, TX, a niece and nephew, and six great-nieces and nephews

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