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New pastor joins SEAS

By Jane Lightbourn • Staff writer

The Rev. David Hennen’s family was always active at their church in Watkins. But he enjoyed working with computers and seriously believed that’s where his future was.

That was, in fact, his career until he was 30. Then, though, Hennen changed his life and career, entering the seminary and becoming an ordained priest.

Now, after nine years as a priest, Hennen has been transferred to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings to become its pastor. He succeeds the Rev. James Perkl, who transferred to Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville.

When Hennen was attending high school at Eden Valley-Watkins High School, he took several computer classes during what was the start of the computer age.

“I became fascinated with the computer,” he said.

He was so intrigued with computers that following high school graduation, Hennen enrolled at the University of St. Thomas and earned a computer science degree. For the next 10 years he worked in the Twin Cities area as computer programmer for big business such as Dain Rauscher, 3M and Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo). He eventually formed his own company with a friend. He bought a house and life was good, he said.

“But I was not enjoying it,” he said. It did not bring him the satisfaction he was expecting.

Hennen had become more involved in Mass and remained active in the church. It was a retreat that changed his life’s direction.

“It was there that God called me,” he said. “He said, ‘Follow me.’”

Hennen remained skeptical. But as he was teaching a religion class three days later, the calling came again.

Two weeks later, Hennen began the process of going back to school, this time the seminary in St. Paul. It was six years of schooling in all – two for philosophy and four for theology training.

Following his ordination in 2005, Hennen became the associate pastor at Epiphany Church in Coon Rapids. At the end of Hennen’s third year, he was contacted by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. They said they were looking for priest at St. Xavier’s Church in Buffalo. Would he be interested? He was.

He stayed six years. At the end of May, he was contacted again about transferring to Seton in Hastings.

“It was similar to St. Xavier’s and I let the Holy Spirit decide – I put my trust in Him,” he said.

At Seton, Hennen is “in charge” of the spiritual wellbeing of the parishioners. He is very appreciative to have an associate pastor (Rev. Cole Kracke), he said. He is also responsible for the operation of the buildings, including the school.

Hennen has spent much of the past several weeks getting acquainted with staff and parishioners.

“People have been very kind,” he said. “There are new challenges and this is good.”