When Fr. Donald Thieman, C.PP.S., celebrated his 70th ordination anniversary at St. Charles Center on July 1, one of his special guests brought along a special object.

Marilyn Link came to the celebration with a satin pillow that she had carried when, as a five-year-old, she was part of the procession at Fr. Thieman’s first Mass.

Marilyn is the oldest of Fr. Thieman’s nieces. She and two of his young cousins, Sarah McDonough Baldorf and Mary Ann Penno Diller, were part of the procession into

Fr. Thieman’s home parish, Holy Trinity Church in Coldwater, Ohio, on June 7, 1953. After Mass, family and friends joined Fr. Thieman for a celebration meal at the Coldwater High School gym.

It was a big day, but a long day for a five-year-old. Marilyn’s long-sleeved white dress, which was flocked and flounced, was “hot and it smelled,” Marilyn said. “The veil hurt my head. And I could not run out and play” like the other children were free to do. Yet even at five, she realized something momentous was going on—and she was a part of it, along with her uncle.

A few years after his ordination, Fr. Thieman volunteered to minister in Chile, where he served for over 50 years. He returned to the U.S. in 2012 and lives at St. Charles.

Marilyn, now mature in her own faith and wisdom, is an active parishioner at Holy Trinity, where she wore that hot, itchy dress so many years ago. She served as a lector for 40 years, has taught several Bible studies, and is a server for funeral Masses.

She said she appreciates the example her uncle has set for the family through his 70 years as a Missionary of the Precious Blood. “Fr. Donald is dedicated to God and the people of God,” she said. “His nieces and nephews were always excited when he returned from Chile to visit with the family. We are happy that he is spending his retirement so close to home.”