Sacred Heart's emotional goodbye to Fr. Fangman

Posted at 3:06 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 13:52:38-04

It's a little after nine o'clock on a Tuesday morning. The more than one hundred students at Sacred Heart catholic school.

One by one, children ages five to fifteen high five and hug Father Tom Fangman.

"You guys are the best," he greets them cheerfully.

It's hard to tell who likes whom more. Fangman or the children.

"They can accomplish great things, and that has just been so exciting. Just to witness that happening over the years," he says.

For the past 18 years, Fangman has been the priest assigned to the Sacred Heart parish. He's also the CEO of CUES. CUES supports three of North Omaha's inner-city catholic schools - Sacred Heart, All Saints, and Holy Name.

As the students in the choir begin to sing and drum and the procession enters the restored 1900's church, there's an undertone to their celebration. It's the tone that follows for many at the end of the school year. An exciting journey to come: the summer, a new school for students graduating, a new adventure. That also means leaving behind what you know, what you are accustomed too, what you love.

And for the first time in 18 years, Father Fangman knows this too. He's been reassigned to another parish, St. Patrick's in Elkhorn. Father Dave Korth will take his place. For most priests, moving to another parish happens every six to twelve years. Father Tom far exceeds that.

"I've been a priest for 24 years, and everywhere I have gone I make great friends," he says.

So today, as it's close to the end of the school year, it's Father Tom's last blessings and homily for the school kids.

"Cherishing where I have been blessed to be so much, and that's with all of you, and that means so much," he says, chocking back his words as he wipes away tears. "You know what, these are tears of joy, tears of joy!"

Tears on the altar and in the pews Tuesday. It's the heartbreak of leaving and the excitement of something new. And the belief, that in life, you're put where you're supposed to be.

The students also had a heartfelt farewell of their own. Watch the video above to see what they did.