Greece parishes to see leadership changes - Catholic Courier

Greece parishes to see leadership changes

Two Greece parishes will experience adjusted Mass schedules in the coming weeks as part of recently announced leadership changes.

Beginning the weekend of June 29-30, Masses at Holy Name of Jesus will be at 4 p.m. Saturdays and at 11 a.m. Sundays, according to a question-and-answer sheet circulated at parishes June 1 and 2.

Mass times are still pending at St. Charles Borromeo, where a task force of parishioners, staff and the parish’s pastor, Father John Firpo, recently made recommendations to discuss with the pastoral council and parishioners. Daily Mass times will be modified at both parishes.

As part of temporary leadership changes announced at Masses in Greece May 18 and 19, Father Firpo will serve as parochial administrator of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in addition to his duties as St. Charles’ pastor.

"It’s a temporary arrangement for a year," explained Karen Rinefierd, coordinator of pastoral planning for the diocesan department of Parish and Clergy Services.

During that year, pastoral council members will work with the Eastern Greece/Charlotte Steering Committee and Father Firpo to determine by February 2014 what to recommend to the diocesan bishop for June 2014 and beyond. The process will look at all aspects of parish life.

Father Firpo will preside at Masses at Holy Name and provide other sacramental ministry. He will be assisted by Father Michael Mayer, who will serve as parochial vicar at both parishes. Father Anthony Nketiah is currently assigned as parochial vicar at St. Charles.

Rinefierd said that the arrangement was driven by declines in priest availability, and noted that if the decision had not been made in Greece, a different area would have experienced a comparable reduction in priest availability.

"This is definitely a reduction in terms of the number of priests assigned to the area," Rinefierd said, noting, however, that "we do have very generous help from the retired priests."

She noted that one factor considered in structuring the arrangement was that St. Charles is a parish with a high number of funerals — 82 last year and 65 so far this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Rinefierd pointed out that Holy Name is a smaller parish than its neighbors in terms of registered households and average weekly Mass attendance, which is why a parochial administrator/parochial vicar arrangement was considered when Holy Name’s pastor, Father John Gagnier, was assigned (effective June 25) as parochial administrator of St. Peter Parish in Manchester/Phelps/Clifton Springs.

Another factor that was considered was Holy Name’s financial health, she said. "Through the hard work of the parish and Father (John) Gagnier, they have built it up to a point where it is financially healthy," Rinefierd said.

Although deacon assignments are still being determined for the next year, Holy Name will keep at least one of the two deacons currently assigned to it, the question-and-answer sheet noted.

The two parishes’ finance councils will meet with Father Firpo June 5 to determine a fair way to share expenses for salaries, benefits and housing for the two priests, according to information provided by the diocese.

Each parish will maintain separate pastoral and finance councils, but these groups will meet regularly on the same night and in the same place, according to the question-and-answer sheet.

Rinefierd said the number of active priests available to serve at diocesan parishes has long been on a decline, as the numbers of priests retiring each year outpace the numbers of ordinations. But she said it is hoped that the level of priest availability will stabilize in the future, given an increase in the number of seminarians currently in formation.

 

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