Two dozen priests receive new assignments

Fr. John Muir, seen here distributing ashes Feb. 13 at All Saints Catholic Newman Center in Tempe, will begin serving as parochial administrator of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Anthem on May 9. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)
Fr. John Muir, seen here distributing ashes Feb. 13 at All Saints Catholic Newman Center in Tempe, will begin serving as parochial administrator of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Anthem on May 9. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the additional pastoral appointments announced May 8.

Fr. David Sanfilippo, vicar for priests for the Diocese of Phoenix, has announced the reassignment of local clergy. Most reassignments are effective July 1, but a couple took place immediately.

Fr. Chauncey Winkler, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Havasu City, serves on the Priests’ Placement Board and spoke to how and why priests are reassigned from time to time.

“Priests are usually reassigned because there’s a need in [another] parish,” Fr. Winkler said. “Sometimes it’s because the priest has a particular need — it might be health, or to continue his education.”

The placement board makes recommendations to Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, who then prayerfully considers them. The bishop, Fr. Winkler noted, takes many of the board’s recommendations but not all of them.

At times, the prospect of having a beloved pastor reassigned can be unsettling to a community, particularly if a replacement is not immediately named. Fr. Winkler said he hopes parishioners will understand the reason for the move.

“It’s good that people would be attached to their pastor, but at the same time, he is a priest in the whole diocese, he’s a priest for the whole Church,” Fr. Winkler said.

If there’s a particular need somewhere that requires the priest’s talents, skills or particular spirituality, the board considers that and if they deem that he’s needed in another place, “that would be a compliment to the priest,” Fr. Winkler said.

Fr. Mike Straley, who’s been a priest for 30 years, said he’s never been assigned to any parish longer than six years. Two years ago, he left St. Paul Parish after being named pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale.

It is hard, he acknowledged, but “we didn’t get into [the priesthood] for permanence, we got into it to do what’s best for the Church and to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit who works through the personnel board and the bishop as much as He works through me,” he said.

“The needs of the diocese are that priests are moved around from time to time,” Fr. Winkler said. “There’s no term limit. In my time on the board, I have not known of a priest being moved around just because we thought, ‘Well, he’s been there long enough, let’s move him.’ There’s always a reason.”

Fr. John Muir, who’s been assigned to the All Saints Catholic Newman Center at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus since 2010, was recently named parochial administrator of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish in Anthem, a community of 21,000 that lies north of Phoenix. He said that while he’s sad to leave the Newman Center, he’s excited about his new assignment. He’s also thankful for what he learned while serving on the nation’s largest university campus.

“I learned a lot about evangelization,” Fr. Muir said, “about not sitting back and waiting for people to come to church or come to me as a priest, but getting out there mixing it up.”

Anthem, he said, was recently voted one of the best places in the country in which to raise a family. “People are typically happy to live in Anthem,” Fr. Muir said. “I’m really looking forward to being the priest in Anthem, not just for the Catholics, but for everybody.”

Fr. Regidor “Reggie” Carreon, who currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Steven Parish in Sun Lakes, was appointed parochial administrator of St. Joseph Parish. A native of the Philippines, he once served at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Sun City. He still owns a condo in that part of the Valley, so he said the move to St. Joseph takes him closer to the property.

Back in the Philippines, Fr. Carreon was assigned to six different parishes, one after the other. He learned that the new pastor is wise to get to know the people and the parish first and listen to them before making any sudden or sweeping changes.

New priest assignments

The Vicar for Priests Office announced the following pastoral appointments in March:

  • Fr. Jesus “Jess” Ty is appointed parochial administrator of Our Lady of Joy Parish in Carefree, effective immediately. Fr. Ty has been serving as interim administrator of Our Lady of Joy since January.
  • Fr. Fidelis Igwenwanne was appointed chaplain at Mercy Gilbert Hospital, effective Feb. 18.
  • Fr. Augustine Ogumere was appointed parochial vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes and Prince of Peace Parish, effective April 15.
  • Fr. John Muir is appointed parochial administrator of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Anthem, effective May 9.
  • Fr. Regidor “Reggie” Carreon is appointed parochial administrator of St. Joseph Parish, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Gary Regula is appointed pastor of St. Jerome Parish, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Joseph Bui is appointed interim parochial administrator of St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Alfredo Valdez Molina is appointed parochial administrator of La Santisima Trinidad Mission in Scenic, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Benedict Onegiu, A. J. is appointed parochial vicar of St. Helen Parish in Glendale, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Mark Nyeko, A. J. is appointed parochial vicar of St. James Parish in Glendale, effective July 1.
  • Eudist Father Ben Drapeau is appointed parochial vicar of St. Jerome Parish, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Eric Houseknecht is appointed parochial vicar of St. Steven Parish in Sun Lakes, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Matthew Jacob, D. S. is appointed parochial vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Mesa, effective July 1.
  • Deacon Chris Axline upon his ordination to the priesthood will be appointed parochial vicar of St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Gilbert, and chaplain of Seton Catholic Preparatory High School, effective July 1.
  • Deacon Kurt Perera upon his ordination to the priesthood will be appointed parochial vicar of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, and chaplain of Bourgade Catholic High School, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Matthew Henry is assigned to further studies in ecclesiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, effective July 1.
  • Fr. John Parks is appointed full time chaplain at Notre Dame Preparatory High School and is assigned to begin an advanced degree in administration, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Thielo Ramirez is appointed associate director of All Saints Newman Center at Arizona State University, effective July 1.

Update: On May 8, the Diocese of Phoenix Vicar for Priests Office announced additional pastoral appointments:

  • Fr. Greg Schlarb is appointed pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale, effective May 15.
  • Fr. Bob Binta is appointed interim parochial administrator of St. Paul Parish, effective May 15.
  • Fr. Bruno Cuario is appointed Pastor of St. Paul Parish, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Bob Binta is appointed parochial administrator of St. Benedict Parish, effective July 18.
  • Fr. Killian McCaffrey is appointed pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Williams, St. Anne Mission in Ashfork and St. Francis in Seligman, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Chad King is appointed parochial vicar of St. Gabriel Parish, effective July 1.
  • Fr. Dan Vanyo is appointed chaplain at Benedictine University, Mesa, effective June 1. This appointment is in addition to his duties as parochial vicar at Queen of Peace Parish, Mesa.