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Bishop Announces Decisions on PPTF Recommendations
On April 27, the Parish and Personnel Task Force presented to Bishop Patrick R. Cooney and leadership of the diocese its Final Report of Recommendations which culminated a two and a half year process to plan for the long term future of the diocese. Since that time, Bishop Cooney has been reviewing the recommendations and concurrently meeting with the diocesan Assignment Board which advises and assists the Bishop regarding pastoral appointments. On June 1, Bishop Cooney provided an update regarding his decisions as to the General Recommendations section of the Task Force Report. Over the past two weeks, announcements have been made in parishes following correspondence from Bishop Cooney regarding upcoming assignments which also reflect decisions on some of the specific recommendations for parishes offered in the Task Force Report. I would like to thank the Task Force as well as all of the parishioners who participated in the process through your prayers, attendance at Parish Town Hall Meetings, Regional Committee meetings and written correspondence, stated Bishop Cooney. I know that change can often be difficult. At the same time, we are people of hope. We know that we are not alone, Bishop Cooney said. Guided by the Holy Spirit, I am confident that through prayer and by working together we can surmount any challenge. We are also called to embrace our unity as Catholics to serve the greater good of Christs mission and co-build the Kingdom of God. It is my hope that in all regions of the diocese, parishioners will work collaboratively as true disciples to share Gods love and the message of Jesus to Christ especially in your area, but also as part of the universal church, Bishop Cooney remarked. I also want to assure you of my prayers and of the assistance of the diocese during this transition and always, Bishop Cooney concluded. Below are the recent decisions of the Bishop regarding specific Task Force recommendations as well as the official appointments. Unless otherwise noted, new pastoral assignments are effective July 15, 2009 and due to Bishop Cooneys impending retirement, have been made for one year. Alpena Region: The parishes of St. Bernard, St. Anne, St. Mary and St. John the Baptist in Alpena, as well as St. Rose of Lima in Herron shall form a cluster with one Pastor and one Associate Pastor assigned. The city of Alpena parishes should begin working toward a formal merge into one parish within five years. A comprehensive review of the human and financial resources of the area, as outlined in the Task Force recommendations, is to be undertaken without delay. Fr. Greg McCallum will be appointed Pastor with Fr. Rolando Silva being appointed Associate Pastor of the cluster. Cheboygan Region: Cross in the Woods Parish and National Shrine (Indian River) shall remain as a stand-alone parish. The parish is currently under the care of the Franciscans which shall continue. In addition, for the foreseeable future, the priests from Cross in the Woods will continue to provide sacramental ministry to St. Anthony parish (Mackinaw City). St. Ignatius (Rogers City), St. Casimir (Posen), St. Dominic (Metz), St. Paul (Onaway) and St. Monica (Afton) shall form a cluster. Fr. Artur Duchnowicz will be assigned Pastor and Fr. Clarence Smolinski will be assigned as a Sacramental Minister to the cluster. Sr. Rita Epple, RSM will continue as Pastoral Administrator to Metz. The Bishop has decided weekend Masses may continue to be celebrated at St. Monica (Afton) during the summer months only and only as long as a priest is available to do so. St. Mary-St. Charles (Cheboygan), St. Anthony (Mackinaw City), St. Clement (Pellston) and Sacred Heart (Riggsville) shall form a cluster. Fr. Paul Megge will be assigned Pastor and Fr. Robbie Deka as Associate Pastor to St. Mary-St. Charles, St. Clement and Sacred Heart. Sr. Chris Herald, OP, shall continue as Pastoral Administrator to St. Anthony in Mackinaw City with sacramental assistance from Cross in the Woods, Indian River. Bishop Cooney has accepted the recommendation of the Task Force that the parish of St. Mary in Burt Lake should close. That process should be completed no later than October 1, 2009. Gaylord Region St. Mary Cathedral (Gaylord), St. Mary (Grayling) St. Thomas Aquinas (Elmira), and Holy Redeemer (Vanderbilt) shall form a cluster. Fr. James Bearss will be assigned Rector of St. Mary Cathedral and Pastor to the additional three parishes while Fr. Peter Eke will be assigned Associate Pastor to the cluster. Fr. David DuPuis shall continue serving the diocese as Sacramental Minister to Holy Redeemer, Vanderbilt. St. Mary (Mio), St. Francis (Lewiston), Jesus the Good Shepherd (Atlanta) and St. Augustine (Hillman) shall form a cluster. Fr. Raymond Cotter will be assigned Pastor to the four parishes. Weekend Masses may be celebrated at Jesus the Good Shepherd during the summer months only and only as long as a priest is available to offer them. St. Luke (Bellaire) and St. Joseph (East Jordan) will continue its existing arrangement with Fr. James Gardiner continuing as Pastor. Manistee Region: St. Ann (Cadillac), St. Edward (Harrietta), St. Theresa (Manton) and St. Stephen (Lake City) shall continue its existing cluster arrangement. Fr. Francis Murphy has been reappointed as Pastor and Fr. Santiago Hoyumpa will be assigned Associate Pastor. The practice of no weekend Masses at Harrietta will be continued. St. Joseph (Onekama) and St. Raphael (Copemish) shall continue its existing arrangement with Fr. Larry Sergott continuing as Pastor. St. Ann (Frankfort) shall continue as a stand-alone parish at this time with Msgr. John Porter continuing as Sacramental Minister. St. Joseph, St. Mary and Guardian Angels (Manistee) shall continue working collaboratively with the goal of formally merging into one parish within three years. Fr. John McCracken will be assigned Pastor and also continue his assignment as Delegate for Continuing Formation for Clergy, Pastoral Administrators and Religious Sisters. Fr. Joseph Muszkiewicz will continue as Associate Pastor. Oscoda Region: St. Catherine (Ossineke), St. Gabriel (Black River), St. Anne (Harrisville) and St. Raphael (Mikado) shall become a cluster. Fr. Stanislaw Bereda, who has served as Pastor to St. Catherine and St. Gabriel, will be retiring to Senior Priest status. Fr. Robert Bissot will be assigned Pastor to all four parishes. Fr. William Livinus will continue in his position as Temporary Administrator to St. Anne and St. Raphael. St. Pius X (Hale) and St. James (Whittemore) shall become a cluster. Fr. Gus Franczek will continue as Pastor. In this arrangement, St. James will be offered one weekend Mass as long as a priest is available to celebrate it. In preparing for the future, Bishop Cooney expressed his hope that the parishes will also begin working together with Holy Family (East Tawas) and Sacred Heart (Oscoda) where appropriate as recommended by the Parish and Personnel Task Force. Holy Family (East Tawas) and Sacred Heart (Oscoda) shall become a cluster. Fr. Charles Donajkowski will be assigned Pastor. In preparing for the future, Bishop Cooney expressed his hope that the parishes will also begin working together with St. Pius X (Hale) and St. James (Whittemore) where appropriate as recommended by the Parish and Personnel Task Force. Petoskey Region: Holy Childhood (Harbor Springs), Holy Cross (Cross Village), St. Nicholas (Larks Lake), and St. Ignatius (Good Hart) shall become a cluster with one Pastor assigned. Fr. Joseph Graff will be assigned Pastor to all four parishes. Fr. Norbert Landreville, who has served as Sacramental Minister to Holy Cross and St. Nicholas will continue serving the diocese by providing sacramental ministry within the cluster. Bishop Cooney has decided that St. Ignatius shall remain open due to its historic connections to Bishop Frederick Baraga and that the practice of celebrating two Masses per year held in the summer months may be continued Bishop Cooney has accepted the recommendation of the Parish and Personnel Task Force that St. Francis Solanus (Bay Shore) should close. That process should be completed no later than September 15, 2009. St. Francis Xavier (Petoskey) shall become a stand-alone parish. Fr. Dennis Stilwell will continue as Pastor. St. Matthew (Boyne City), St. Augustine (Boyne Falls) and St. John Nepomucene (Praga) shall remain a cluster with one Pastor assigned. Fr. Duane Wachowiak will continue his assignment as Pastor to this cluster while also continuing as the diocesan Director of Worship and Liturgical Formation. St. John Nepomucene shall remain open with weekend Masses offered only during the summer months and only as long as a priest is available to offer them. St. Mary (Charlevoix) and Holy Cross (Beaver Island) shall become a cluster. Fr. Gerard Hunko will be assigned Pastor to both parishes. Fr. Pat Cawley will continue his ministry as Sacramental Minister to Holy Cross. Prudenville Region: St. Michael (Roscommon), Our Lady of the Lake (Prudenville), St. Hubert (Higgins Lake), St. James (Houghton Lake) and St. Helen (St. Helen) shall become a cluster. Fr. Joseph Blasko will be assigned Pastor to all of the parishes with Fr. Anthony Cureton assigned Associate Pastor to St. Michael and Our Lady. Fr. Bernie Tyler will continue serving in the diocese as Administrator to St. Hubert and St. James. Sr. Barbara Matievich will also continue as Parish Life Coordinator at St. Helen. The parishes are encouraged to begin working together toward the ultimate recommendations set forth by the Parish and Personnel Task Force. St Joseph (West Branch), Holy Family (Klacking Creek) and St. Stephen (Skidway Lake) shall become a cluster. Fr. Patrick Maher has been assigned Pastor to St. Joseph and St. Stephen Lake. Fr. Miro Weise will continue as Pastor to Holy Family until his retirement on August 1 at which time Fr. Maher will become Pastor to Holy Family in addition to St. Joseph and St. Stephen. Traverse City Region: While I agree with the overall concept for this area and the goal toward increased collaborative ministry as put forth by the Parish and Personnel Task Force, due to the complexities in this region, implementation of many of the specific recommendations in the report will be delayed, Bishop Cooney stated. However, I strongly encourage leadership to minister more collaboratively throughout the region and to strive to begin implementing the spirit of the recommendations as soon as possible. St. Anthony (Mancelona) shall continue as a single parish with Fr. Dale Magoon continuing as Pastor. St. Mary of the Woods (Kalkaska) and St. Aloysius (Fife Lake) shall continue their existing arrangement. Fr. Norman Dickson, SJ, shall be assigned Administrator. Sacred Heart (Elk Rapids) shall continue as a single parish with Fr. Robert Zuchowski reappointed as Pastor. Christ the King (Acme) shall continue as a single parish with Fr. Gerald Micketti continuing as Pastor. St. Mary (Lake Leelanau) and St. Philip Neri (Empire) shall continue it existing arrangement with Fr. Michael Janowski continuing as Pastor of both parishes. Fr. William Lipscomb will be assigned Sacramental Minister to St. Philip Neri in addition to an assignment as Chaplain to Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools. Holy Rosary (Cedar) and St. Rita-St. Joseph (Maple City) shall continue as a cluster. Fr. Donald Libby will be assigned Pastor to both parishes. The practice of no weekend Masses being celebrated at St. Rita-St. Joseph should be maintained. However, Masses during the week may continue. Fr. Libby also continues as a celebrant for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. St. Michael (Suttons Bay) and St. Gertrude (Northport) shall continue as a cluster. Fr. James Doherty will continue as Administrator of the two parishes. Weekend Masses may continue to be celebrated at St. Gertrude for the immediate future. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (Peshawbestown) shall continue with Fr. Andrew Buvala, OFM, as Pastor. St. Wenceslaus (Gills Pier) shall continue with Martin Korson as Lay Administrator and Fr. Buvala serving as Sacramental Minister. Within the city of Traverse City, while the spirit of the Parish and Personnel Task Force recommendations will begin to be implemented and the expectation the parishes will strive to work more collaboratively, Bishop Cooney has decided that for the immediate future these parishes will have individual priests named as Pastor rather than one Pastor named for all of them. Immaculate Conception (Traverse City) and St. Joseph (Mapleton) shall have Fr. Anthony Citro assigned as Pastor. Fr. Ruben Munoz will be assigned Associate Pastor at Immaculate Conception and will also serve as Assistant Director of Hispanic Ministry. Fr. Edwin Thome will continue serving St. Joseph (Mapleton) as Sacramental Minister. Bishop Cooney has also decided that St. Joseph (Mapleton) shall not be granted permission for a building project and pursuing such plans should be discontinued for the immediate future. St. Francis of Assisi (Traverse City) shall continue to have Fr. Kenneth Stachnik assigned as Pastor. St. Patrick (Traverse City) shall have Fr. Robert Nalley assigned as Pastor. He will also continue as Judicial Vicar of the Diocesan Tribunal. St. Mary (Hannah) shall continue as a single parish with Fr. Michael Conner continuing as Pastor. Fr. Donald Geyman will be released from his assignment at Immaculate Conception (Traverse City) and assigned as full time diocesan Director of Vocations while also being available to assist throughout the diocese. Fr. Wayne Dziekan will be released from his assignment as Pastor of St. Augustine (Hillman) and Jesus the Good Shepherd (Atlanta) and assigned as full time diocesan Director of the Secretariat for Justice and Peace while also being available to assist throughout the diocese. The complete Task Force Report as well as the June 1 update from Bishop Cooney regarding the General Recommendations by the Task Force are available below. Bishop Cooney Discusses the General Recommendations in the Parish and Personnel Task Force Report On April 27, the Parish and Personnel Task Force appointed by Bishop Patrick R. Cooney in 2006 released its Final Report of Long Term Recommendations for the Diocese of Gaylord. Since that time, Bishop Cooney has been reviewing the report and meeting with advisors as he prepares to make decisions for the future of the diocese. In an update released June 1, Bishop Cooney said: I am extremely grateful for the work of the Parish and Personnel Task Force. It is clear a great deal of prayer and consideration went into the process resulting in the recommendations put forth by the committee. I also appreciate the special effort the Task Force undertook to receive input from the local faith communities and regional committees before arriving at their plan to try to best serve the entire diocese in the long term. I agree with the overall concept of the Task Force calling for further collaborative ministry among all believers. This is at the heart of our faith. Because God loves us, we are each called to respond with love to those in need and to share the good news of Jesus Christ in all areas of our daily lives. This work is not solely entrusted to clergy or those consecrated to religious life, but to each and every Catholic Christian. I have accepted the General Recommendations substantially as presented, though some will likely be modified or take time to implement. Specifically regarding General Recommendation #5, I feel it is important to clarify that in accord with Canon Law, priests are able to celebrate up to five Masses on a weekend. While it is certainly important for priests to have appropriate time to visit with parishioners and to travel safely between parishes, I do not want there to be any misconception or misunderstanding regarding the number of Masses a priest can celebrate on a weekend. The Task Force also correctly noted all liturgies should be well planned and include sufficient liturgical ministers to ensure they are well executed and spirit-filled. Of course, since the release of the Task Forces Report, there has been a great deal of interest in the specific recommendations made for parishes. Over the past month, I have been praying about them and consulting with the Vicars of the diocese to help determine which recommendations should be implemented at this time, which recommendations should be modified or implemented later, as well as who might be assigned to serve in each area. Last week, I consulted with more than 18 priests individually to begin discussing assignments, but that process has not yet concluded. It is my expectation that we will be in a position to make announcements in parishes as to many of the specific recommendations and related appointments within the next week or so. The information will then be placed on the diocesan website. I appreciate the patience of the faithful during this process and I ask for your ongoing prayers.