Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Msgr. Chuck Lienert outside St. Andrew Church
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Msgr. Chuck Lienert outside St. Andrew Church
After 44 years as a priest in the Archdiocese of Portland, Msgr. Charles Lienert has decided to retire.

He'll still be around, he says, helping out at parishes when needed. Archbishop John G. Vlazny has also asked him to continue a planning role in the archdiocese.

But Msgr. Lienert, who turns 70 this July, says he has to admit he's looking forward to taking more photos, a hobby he's had since he was a young man.

"Photography has been a long time hobby, and there are certain times of the year where the light is just perfect," says Msgr. Lienert, whose photography has graced the cover of the Oregon Catholic Directory for several years. "To be able to just get up and go when that's happening sounds pretty good to me."

Msgr. Lienert served at Central Catholic High School, North Catholic School, Immaculate Heart, Portland, St. Anne, Grants Pass, St. Henry, Gresham, St. Francis of Assisi, Portland, and St. Andrew, Portland, his most recent assignment.

For 15 years, while continuing to serve at parishes, Msgr. Lienert served the archdiocese as its vicar for clergy. As the lead priest providing ministry and care for diocesan priests, it proved a challenging and formative role.

"There are many good things about being vicar," said Msgr. Lienert. "It's a difficult job, yes, but it enabled me to get to know most of the priests personally, visit almost every parish and listen to pastoral councils about the work they were doing."

In that office, Msgr. Lienert helped rewrite the clergy personnel manual, a system that is still used to this day.

He has helped the archdiocese in other ways, too. He helped start the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, a consultative body that reports to the archbishop. He was involved with starting the priests' convocation, now an annual event that brings all the priests that serve in Western Oregon together.

Msgr. Lienert takes no individual credit for any of theses accomplishments, attributing their success to the spirit of collaboration in the archdiocese — "one of its strengths," he says.

Examples of this in his recollect include the liturgy planning team at St. Anne in Grants Pass, and the ability for parishioners around the archdiocese to settle their differences and obstacles by sitting down and working them out.

"What I recall most is the people, and just being involved with people and all the different ways a pastor is involved — the liturgies, retreats, teaching and preaching, celebrating with them, seeing people develop their talents and skills and leadership, working with organizing projects — it was very inspiring," said the monsignor.

He has also taught a course in Homiletics to seminarians at Mount Angel Seminary for years, something he'll continue to do even after retirement.

He is excited for recent ordinands to the priesthood, the largest class the archdiocese has ever seen. Teaching is rewarding for him, and his way of passing on the knowledge of 44 years as a priest.

"In class I try to help them learn about preaching in the whole context of the work of a pastor," said Msgr. Lienert.

Looking back, his advice to future and current clergy is to first get to know and love the people you serve — to build relationships with people. He also recommends maintaining your own life of prayer and personal development.

"Also, continue to study, even though, when you get out of the seminary, you don't really feel like it," he says. "Education is a life long project. Continue to study scripture and theology, yes, but also study culture, sociology, economics — try to understand what's going on in the world we live in."

Msgr. Lienert has a long list of books to read upon his retirement — continuing his formative education even in retirement.