Priest turns to new ministry - Catholic Courier
Father William Donnelly. Father William Donnelly.

Priest turns to new ministry

Father William Donnelly plans to take a new direction in his ministry when he officially retires at the end of next month.

He said he will begin assisting the chaplain at St. Ann’s Community, where he also resides in Chapel Oaks apartments.

"I have been blessed in so many ways and blessed to have travelled this path with Bishop (Matthew H.) Clark and the amazing clergy and women religious of our diocese," he added. "I look forward to continuing that journey with the St. Ann’s Community."

An Auburn native, Father Donnelly began his travels as a priest on June 6, 1964, when he was ordained by Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence Casey. He first served as an assistant at St. John the Evangelist Church in Rochester beginning in 1964. Five years later, he became chaplain at Monroe Community College.

In 1976, he took a leave of absence that lasted 10 years. During that time, Father Donnelly said he provided youth counseling services in Canandaigua and then later worked for the Tidewater Regional Group Home Commission in Portsmouth, Va.

"Most surprising for me was the 10-year leave of absence and all I learned through those years in working with families and adolescents and (how) that experience enhanced my ministry as a priest so much," he remarked.

Returning to ministry in 1986 "for all sorts of reasons," Father Donnelly served at Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Mercy parishes, both on Long Island. At the time, he also was pursuing studies in psycho-drama in New York City, he noted.

He returned to the Rochester Diocese in 1990, becoming temporary parochial vicar at St. Mary Our Mother Church in Horseheads. Later that same year, he began serving as parochial vicar at St. Mary Church in Canandaigua. In 1992, he was appointed as pastor of St. Mary Church in Elmira. In 1994, he became pastor of St. Mary Church in Rochester where he remained through 2003 while also serving as rector of Becket Hall from 2002 to 2005. In 2007, he began serving as a sacramental minister at St. Mary.

"I am so blessed to have been with the community of St. Mary’s these past 14 years and often wondered how I got to be so lucky," Father Donnelly remarked. "The people have been my teachers all through the years, and colleagues in ministry and those I worked with in Ontario County, Virginia and New York have blessed me with their wisdom and goodness."

Father Donnelly said he will mark his retirement with celebrations of Mass at St. Mary on the last weekend of June and a reception after the 10:30 a.m. Mass on June 26 at the Winter Garden in Bausch & Lomb Place.

"The staff at St. Mary’s have been wonderful to be associated with and I admire their generosity," Father Donnelly added. "The people of St. Mary’s are so good and generous and supportive of the many social-justice initiatives."

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