St. Isidore’s priest finds warm reception among college crowd

Evert Nelson | Collegian Priest Jarett Konrade stands in front of the chapel of St. Isidore Tuesday afternoon. Konrade takes over the position after Rev. Keith Weber, priest from July 1997 through September 2012, was transfered to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Salina.

After the Rev. Keith Weber spent 15 years serving as the priest at St. Isidore’s Catholic Student Center, the church community saw a different face at the altar — the Rev. Jarett Konrade. Konrade became the priest at St. Isidore’s last September, and for the last several months, he has been adjusting the challenges and opportunities the new position has provided.

“I was a bit nervous,” said Konrade, who is originally from Abilene. “Everyone loved Father Keith, so I didn’t know how they would react to my preaching.”

After high school, Konrade was offered scholarships in baseball, football and choir at Sterling College, which he attended for a year. That is also where Konrade experienced his first call to priesthood.

“During that year, my girlfriend invited me to a retreat,” Konrade said. “It was at that retreat where I experienced real prayer and explored my relationship with God.”

Konrade said he made a deal with God at the end of the retreat.

“I told God that he had to hit me over the head, because I was in this great relationship with this great girl,” Konrade said. “My girlfiend then called me up a week later and dumped me.”

Konrade eventually transferred to Newman University and later Benedictine College. After going to many seminary colleges, Konrade became the associate priest at the St. Mary’s Parish in Salina, as well as the chaplain at a junior-senior high school. Last year, he became a priest in Wilson, Kan., before moving to his current position at St. Isidore’s.

With a new church comes new challenges.

“The average age here is a little different,” Konrade said. “There tends to be more college students here, which I like because I tend to be more informal in my preaching and using humor and what not.”

After a couple of months at St. Isidore’s, students say they enjoy his homilies and sense of humor.

“He’s really good,” said Dani Spafford, sophomore in animal science. “I like his jokes and he’s pretty down to earth as well.”

Cody Yost, junior in mechanical engineering and regular guitarist for the St. Isidore’s choir, had experience with Konrade before this year and said he enjoys his services at St. Isidore’s.

“I knew Father Jarett previously. He was the priest at the Church in Salina,” Yost said. “He always cracks jokes and the kids love it.”

Konrade has adapted to the busy lifestyle that comes with a large and active congregation and community. His duties include administering a full-time and part-time staff, taking care of the facility, having daily appointments with students and, of course, leading the daily and weekend masses.

“It’s busier and crazier than I have anticipated,” Konrade said. “My voicemail light hasn’t stop blinking. It’s been a little bit overwhelming, but it’s a great experience.”

Despite his busy schedule and a change in lifestyle, Konrade said he has enjoyed his time at K-State and Manhattan.

“People have been extremely welcoming and have complimented me,” Konrade said. “I’ve been real pleased with the welcome I have received from the wider community and St. Isidore’s.”