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      Heartland priest celebrates 40 years of priesthood

      One Heartland priest celebrated a major milestone Sunday.

      About 500 hundred people filled Baldwin Hall on the Truman State University's campus in Kirksville to celebrate Father Bill Kottenstette's, of the Catholic Newman Center, 40th anniversary in the priesthood.

      Truman students and parishioners from Mary Immaculate in Kirksville, St. Rose in Novinger, St. Joesph in Edina where Kottenstette was pastor for 4 years, and Memphis where Kottenstette was a pastor for 15 years came to give him their best wishes and to thank him for all he has given to the northeast Missouri community over the past several years.

      For Kottenstette, this is a day he is humbled and touched and thanks the community for all the love and support.

      "I became a new creation here in Kirksville. My priesthood was fulfilled in Kirksville. Each day we should live as a new day. The grace of God is constantly changing us. We have to love one another. I claim the love of all these people that have come here. That's so wonderful...not that I loved so well, but I have been loved so well," Kottenstette said.

      After the mass, everyone went over to the Catholic Newman Center for a celebration lunch.

      Kottenstette has been the pastor at the Newman Center for the past 18 years.

      Kottenstette was one out of 10 children. Six of his siblings and many nieces and nephews attended the celebration. He also thought of his loving sister Pat, who just passed away three months ago. Kottenstette said he knows she is here with him today.