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Dayton parishes to share pastor

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February 23, 2011

By David Eck

DAYTON DEANERY — Three parishes in downtown Dayton — Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph — will share a pastor beginning in July under the pastoral region seven plan. The news was recently announced in a letter from Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr and Missionary of the Precious Blood Father Larry Hemmelgarn, provincial director.


The new pastor will be a Missionary of Precious Blood priest who will be named hopefully by April, the letter said. It also indicated that a parochial vicar will be assigned. Precious Blood Fathers Richard Friebel, pastor of Holy Trinity, and John Mencsik, pastor at St. Joseph, will be reassigned. Marianist Father Lee Sciarrotta, longtime pastor of Emmanuel, died last September.
The Marianists previously indicated they could no longer provide a pastor to Emmanuel, and Father Sciarotta’s death prompted the implementation of the regional plan.


“The Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Marianists and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood are limited today by the number of active priests. We are doing the best we can to serve the needs of our parishes,” Archbishop Schnurr and Father Hemmelgarn wrote. “We have to make difficult decisions. They are made after prayer and understanding that there will be disappointment that each parish cannot have its own pastor.”


A goal is to be as transparent as possible, Father Hemmelgarn said.


“The challenge is sharing a pastor,” he said. “It requires all the parishioners of all three parishes to be open to where God is leading us and how they can share their gifts among three parishes to continue to build up their individual faith communities and region seven.”


The Missionaries of the Precious Blood minister in some parish clusters where parishes share a priest, particularly in the northern areas of the archdiocese. These include the Marion Catholic Community and the St. Henry cluster.


Father Leonard Wenke, director of the archdiocesan Priests Personnel Office, said the new pastor may come to the region ahead of time to help celebrate Masses and become acquainted with parishioners at all three parishes and their needs. The pastors currently in place will share the news of the change and help parishioners prepare for the transition.
Having a pastor minister to several parishes enables the local parish communities to remain in the face of a priest shortage, Father Wenke said.


“The nature of this is that we want to sustain the local parish communities and the charisms,” he explained. “That means the pastor who is there has to be willing to minister to people with different backgrounds and different histories.”


David Eck can be reached at [email protected].

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