On the Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2016, His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, installed Father Elias Mills, F.I. as the new rector of the church at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Following the homily, Cardinal Burke said to Father Elias:

Remember, Fr. Elias, always be a loving father, a gentle shepherd of souls, and a wise teacher of the faithful to all who come here on pilgrimage, so that you may lead them to Christ who will strengthen all that you do.

Father Elias Mills is the youngest of four sons of Donald and Grace Mills. Father Elias was born on June 30, 1963 in Kearney, Nebraska.  When his mother found out that she was pregnant with him, the doctor said that the child was due on the Fourth of July.

“My mother told the doctor, ‘I am going to have this child on my birthday.’  The doctor replied, ‘You can try but normally they are born the day before or the day after, but not on the mother’s actual birthday.’  When June 30th came my mother awakened early in the morning and said to herself with some disappointment, ‘Well, I guess the baby is not going to come today.’  No sooner had she said those words I started kicking and I was born on my mother’s birthday.  The only birthday present she could not return.” 

Father Elias established a June 30 Club for all those who are born on June 30th to pray for one another; Father Elias offers Mass on that day for all the people he has come to know are born on that special day.  Interestingly, June 30th is also the birthday of His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke!

Father Elias graduated from Kearney State College (University of Nebraska – Kearney) in December 1985 with a Major in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. “That is kind of strange since as a I wanted to be a cartoonist and had some talent in art, particularly in drawing!”

In March of 1984 Father Elias began to discern a vocation to the priesthood and religious life and began formation as a Third Order Carmelite in December 1984 and made Profession in 1986.

From 1987 to 1988 Father Elias served as a volunteer with the Conventual Franciscans at Marytown where he first learned about St. Maximilian Kolbe and Total Consecration to the Immaculata.

After that period he began his seminary formation at Holy Apostles Seminary from September 1989 to May 1991.  During his time he was introduced to the Franciscans of the Immaculate who had just arrived at Holy Apostles in December of 1990.  Eventually Father Elias would join the Franciscans of the Immaculate in 1993, make his first Profession in September 1995 and his Final Profession in September 1999. On December 7, 1999, he was ordained a deacon in Castelpetroso, Italy.  On May 27, 2000, Father Elias was ordained in Lincoln, Nebraska by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

During the Jubilee Year of 2000 Father Elias, as a deacon, served in the sacristy of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome until shortly after his ordination when he was then sent to serve in the friars’ mission in Western Australia.  In November of 2003 he returned to the United States where he lived in the friaries in Griswold, Connecticut and Castelpetroso, Italy.

In 2007 Father Elias was transferred to the Mother of the Redeemer Retreat Center in Bloomington,  Indiana where he served as the Father Guardian and Retreat Program Director.  In December of 2016, Father Elias arrived at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to serve as Rector of the Shrine Church.

Father Elias likes to garden, draw if he has time, write his Fiery Chariot Newsletter, and is a Nebraska Cornhusker Football fan. Father Elias does have a “Wisconsin-connection”: an Aunt lives in Athens, Wisconsin! Father is familiar with picking rocks from his uncle’s fields when as a child his family would come on “vacation”.

Father Elias has visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse on numerous occasions for various events and is looking forward to his time in the fold of Our Lady’s arms.  Ave Maria!

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