Catholic campus minister is terminated

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Joseph Leidecke, former Catholic Campus Minister

Joseph Leidecke, former Catholic Campus Minister

The archdiocese of San Antonio restructures its campus ministry program.

By Richard Montemayor

March 30 seemed like just another ordinary day for Joseph Liedecke until he was told it would be his last as campus minister at this college.

For more than 13 years, Liedecke has been the campus minister at Catholic Student Center, 312 W. Courtland Place.

Pat Rogers, director of communications for the San Antonio Archdiocese, said the archdiocese is restructuring its campus ministry program and eliminated Liedecke’s position.

“We are going to continue our ministry at SAC,” Rogers said. “What has changed is how the structure of ministry is delivered.”

“It wasn’t my choice to depart from campus ministry and to be honest I would’ve stayed as long as I could,” Liedecke said. “I love SAC. I love the students and faculty at SAC. These were the best 13 years of my life.”

San Antonio native Liedecke knew at a young age he wanted to be involved with the Catholic Church, he said.

“When I was a child, I grew up in the Catholic Church,” Liedecke said. “That had been instilled in my mind. I love my Catholic faith and I love the church.”

Liedecke attended St. Teresa Catholic and was taught by the sisters of that school, he said. “In my early 20s I decided to enter the seminary to become a priest. I stayed for three years and decided that wasn’t for me.”

But that didn’t stop Liedecke from being involved with the church and ultimately ending up at this college.

In 2001 Liedecke was working at a parish as the director of religious education when he received a fax about going to the University of the Incarnate Word for religious studies, so he enrolled and got a master’s degree in 2004.

Shortly after, Liedecke noticed an article in Today’s Catholic newspaper about a job opening for a campus minister position for the archdiocese.

“There were 24 people that had interviewed for the position,” Liedecke said. “Out of 24 people I was asked back to do a second interview and was told if I want the job that it was mine.”

Fast-forward to this semester. A week before March 30 Liedecke received an email from Mari Silva, the archdiocese’s department head for pastoral ministries, he said. She wanted to meet with him at 4 p.m. March 30 at his office.

“She had someone from human resources with her, so I knew something was up,” Liedecke said of the meeting. “She said to me, ‘Well, as you have probably heard, I have been making a lot of changes in the department. I’ve been eliminating departments and eliminating positions so your position has been eliminated as of today.’”

With the news still sinking in, Liedecke felt emotional about her decision to terminate his position because he worked really hard and loved the job as the campus minister, he said.

“What about my students and programs that I have planned for them?” he said.

“She said, ‘That is not your concern any longer’ and asked for my keys to the center.”

In May Liedecke will receive a second master’s degree, this one in clinical pastoral education.

“I will be certified to be a hospital chaplain or hospice chaplain,” Liedecke said.

Liedecke said he always had that in mind and has been studying to become a hospital chaplain since 2012.

The Ranger tried to contact Silva for comment, but she did not return phone calls.

Rogers said the archdiocese will complete restructuring of its campus program in time for the start of the fall semester.

“Our reorganization is going to allow us to bring a team of people in ministry to help contribute to our program,” Rogers said.

The only other campus ministry program at the archdiocese is at UTSA.


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