Father Monte Robinson, of the parishes of St. Mary and St. Paul in Mineral Point, as well as the parish of St. Philomena in Belmont, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his ordination on May 23.
Father Robinson hopes to celebrate with the people of his parishes on Sunday, June 7 at 3 p.m. with a solemn mass of thanksgiving on the solemnity of Corpus Christi in Mineral Point. There will also be a dinner at 5 p.m. at the Belmont Convention Center.
Bishop Morlino will be present at the event and at least 25 priests including Father Bart Timmerman will be in attendance as well.
Father Robinson noted that all former and current parishioners and friends would be welcome, but asked that those planning to attend RSVP by calling either 987-3361 or 762-5446.
Father Robinson feels that not only will this event be a celebration of his ordinance and accomplishments, but also a celebration of priesthood in general and an opportunity for people to reaffirm their faith in the church, God and the priesthood.
In looking back over the past 40 years, Father Robinson is very reflective.
“How does one get to 40 years so fast?” he said. “It seems like just yesterday I was back at school, studying.”
Father Robinson said he is very grateful for his education. He attended Beloit Catholic High School in Beloit as a child and then went on to St Francis Seminary in Milwaukee.
“I am very grateful for my education and ordination,” he said. “But I am truly the most grateful for the people in the last 40 years who have welcomed me into their homes and invited me to share in their greatest joys and their deepest tears.”
Father Robinson explained that all of the people who have supported him in the last 40 years, including those who are now gone, are very dear to him.
“To be with people is my joy,” he said. “I have been blessed to not have been moved around much, so I have been able to marry couples, and then later marry some of their children. Those are particular joys for me.”
In addition to the joyous occasions of life such as marriage and births, Father Robinson has also felt blessed to be able to help people in their times of need and sorrow during times of sickness and death.
“I have always cared for and visited the sick, but since recently being in the hospital myself for 18 days I am much more aware of the fragileness of life,” said Father Robinson who was hospitalized due to what he called “a spell with his heart.”
“I’ve realized that life is like a candle that burns out,” he added. “And my life is to burn for the people of my parishes.”
Father Robinson said he hopes that he is thought of as a figure who has always tried to point people towards God and the higher reality, so that people may live happier lives within the paths of their faith.
“I hope that when people see my black shirt, it will make them think of God or something higher than themselves,” he added.
Father Robinson was ordained at St. Raphael’s Cathedral in Madison on May 23, 1975 and has spent the majority of his priesthood in southwest Wisconsin.
He began at St. Rose parish in Cuba City and stayed there until 1980. From there he traveled to Waunakee where he stayed from 1980-1993. His next location was at St. Mary’s in Bloomington and St. John’s in Patch Grove from 1993-1995.
Since 1995 he has been with St. Philomena parish in Belmont. Then three years ago, he also took on the parishes of St. Mary and St. Paul in Mineral Point.
“There has been a great deal of cooperation and willingness to work together between the parishes,” said Father Robinson. “It’s not always easy to share a priest, but the parishes and parish leadership have almost blended and become stronger together in order to meet the needs of the Catholic community at this time, with the current shortage of priests.”
Father Robinson was born in Juneau County, but spent most of his childhood in Beloit with St. Jude’s as his home parish. He has two brothers: Danny and David Robinson of Beloit and one sister, Sharon Cardone, who lives near Green Bay. His parents are the late George and Hazel Robinson.
Father Robinson definitely felt that he was called to the priesthood at a young age.
“Even as a young boy, God felt very near to me. It was always very natural for me to pray,” he said.
His family life also encouraged that, often praying the family rosary with mealtime prayers being very important as Father Robinson was growing up.
Father Robinson’s grandparents, Ivan and Catherine Robinson, were also very deeply religious people and were very influential in his vocation.
“They use to pray they would have a priest in their family,” explained Father Robinson. “That didn’t happen with their own children, but it did among their grandchildren.”
When he was in 9th grade and attended a first mass, he said he was very inspired and believes that was what really sparked his calling.
Father Robinson enjoys traveling and has particularly enjoyed visiting the Holy Land and traveling in the footsteps of Jesus there. He also enjoyed spending around three months in Rome while on sabbatical, visiting the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, the Shrine of Santiago in Spain, Notre Dame in Paris and Cologne Cathedral in Germany. He also enjoys traveling in the U.S. and is interested in American history.
Father Robinson views his 40-year anniversary as an opportunity to rededicate himself to the task of serving his parishes as best he can and as his health permits.
“My health is failing now, but my hope for the future includes strong marriages and family life and the turning of people towards God and faith, as well as more vocations for priesthood in the future and someone to eventually replace me,” explained Father Robinson.
Father Robinson said he has actually been working with a few young men who have shown an interest in the priesthood and that brings him much comfort and joy.