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Father Wilson's Bulletin Article

May 26, 2024

From Iceland to Minnesota

In the summer of 2019, Father Blume, the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, asked if we would be willing to host a seminarian who was relocating from outside the diocese and needed to establish residency here under the supervision of a priest. “Where is he from,” I asked. “Iceland,” he replied. “Iceland!” I exclaimed. “Who relocates from Iceland to Minnesota?”
 
He proceeded to share Hjalmar Gudjonsson’s background which included a conversion to the Catholic faith, extensive experience in a religious order based in Austria, and a considerable amount of study in Rome. It is not unusual for men in religious orders to change directions into a diocese. However, few relocate from Iceland to Minnesota.
 
While in Rome, Hjalmar met a few of our seminarians and priests studying there, and eventually met both Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens who invited him to consider our diocese when he discerned out of his religious order. He accepted their invitation and visited Minnesota a few times, toured the diocese, and met many people. After prayerful discernment, he chose to apply for formation here, part of which would include doing pastoral work and establishing his residency on a religious worker visa.
 
Archbishop Hebda assigned him here to All Saints beginning in the summer of 2020, during the height of the pandemic and increased precautions for international travel. He was delayed almost a year before he was able to enter the country. Some of that time was spent in Bermuda, which was probably a decent consolation prize, but also a place to learn patience and humility.
 
Hjalmar was an easy person to live with at the rectory, and Father Froehle and Father Gifford would likely agree. He is well educated, and his international living experience brought much to our dinner table conversations. His experience in a religious order gave him unique insight into living in community, which is not usually a charism of diocesan priests.
 
His ministry at All Saints brought him into multiple areas, including formation, pastoral care, and liturgy. He was excellent in connecting with youth in formation and provided essential leadership and organization in the complex response to gathering at Mass during the pandemic and afterward. His ability to organize helped us set up a system for keeping track of pastoral care calls and reorganizing our Perpetual Adoration database.
 
Hjalmar was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis just this weekend. We are grateful to be hosting his Mass of Thanksgiving this weekend and welcoming some of his family and fellow Icelanders to Minnesota and his adopted new home in the Archdiocese. I am always astounded by those who have the bravery to leave their homelands to serve in other countries and cultures as Father Hjalmar has. As he continues to grow in his priesthood and awareness of a culture that is not naturally his own, please keep him in your prayers.
 
Congratulations, Father Hjalmar!
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