The Rev. John Francis Ulm of Houston, Orange native and son of the late Louis and Elsie Ulm, recently returned to Orange to celebrate Mass and observance 50 years in the priesthood.

Co-celebrants were the Revs. Benedict Zientek and Joseph Daleo, who led Ulm and Zientek in a renewal of vowels.

A graduate of St. Mary High in 1951, Ulm graduated from St. Mary Seminary (Houston) in 1958. He was ordained in Galveston by Bishop Wendelin Nold in 1958.

Ulm’s first assignment was at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Houston. He later served at Sacred Heart and St. Francis Cabrini, also in Houston; then at Our Lady of Guadalupe (Pasadena) and Guardian Angel Church in Baytown. Volunteering as a missionary to Guatemala, he spent more than five years at Our Lady of Monserrat where he helped build the church Jesus Obrero.

“I loved being in Guatemala because the people were so human and real there,” Ulm said. “They appreciated everything you did. They were just so special.

From Guatemala, he went to St. Mary’s Church in Texas City. He received a master’s degree in art in theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston in 1980. In 1984, he was appointed a chaplain in the Army and served at Fort Stewart, Ga., and in Germany. For the past 10 years, he has served at St. Maximilan Kolbe in Houston.
Ulm credits his longevity and perserverance in the priestly ministry to his roots. 

“I think it goes all the way back to my family, and my school … in Orange,” he said. “I think I had a lot of values instilled in me during the early part of my life the first 15 to 16 years. That is what it all started with; the desire to serve the people and the church. It is not something that came to me later in life. It was something I had in me since I was young.”