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New priest appointments

Effective July 1, unless otherwise noted

Pastor

• Fr. Matthew Henry, from serving as parochial administrator of Christ the King in Mesa, to serving as its pastor

• Fr. Chad King, from serving as parochial administrator of Corpus Christi to serving as its pastor, effective June 7

• Fr. Kieran Kleczewski, from serving as pastor of St. Thomas the Aquinas in Avondale, to serving as pastor of St. John Vianney in Sedona

• Fr. Lawrence Merta, from serving as interim parochial administrator at St. Gregory, to serving as pastor of Holy Cross in Mesa

• Fr. John Muir, from serving as pastor of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Anthem, to serving as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale

• Fr. Arthur Nave, from serving as parochial administrator of St. Charles Borromeo in Peoria, to serving as its pastor

• Fr. Paul Sullivan, from serving as parochial administrator of Sacred Heart, to serving as its pastor

Parochial Administrator

• Fr. Andres Arango, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Anne in Gilbert, to serving as parochial administrator of St. Gregory

• Fr. “Bing” Francisco Colasito, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Theresa, to serving as parochial administrator of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Anthem

Parochial Vicar

• Fr. Celso Benjamin Rivera, newly arrived from the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico, to serve as parochial vicar at St. Louis the King in Glendale, effective March 26

• Fr. Fernando Camou, to serve as parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale, upon ordination to the priesthood June 27

• Fr. James Aboyi, VC (Via Christi Society), newly arrived to the diocese to serve as parochial vicar at Holy Cross in Mesa, July 1 and part-time chaplain at Benedictine University in Mesa effective Aug. 15

• Fr. Joachim Adeyemi, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale, to serving as parochial vicar at St. Theresa

• Fr. Joji “Bala” Balasamy, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Chandler, to serving as parochial vicar at San Francisco de Asís in Flagstaff and El Cristo Rey in Grand Canyon

• Fr. Gerald Barmasse, CSC, to serving as parochial vicar at St. Matthew

• Fr. Raphael Bercasio, from serving as parochial vicar at Corpus Christi to serving as parochial vicar at St. Mary in Chandler

• Fr. Rey Clutario, from serving as parochial vicar at San Francisco de Asís in Flagstaff and El Cristo Rey in Grand Canyon, to serving as parochial vicar at Corpus Christi

• Fr. John Ehrich, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Clement of Rome in Sun City, to serving as parochial vicar at St. Joan of Arc

• Fr. David Halm, CSC, to serve as parochial vicar at St. John Vianney in Goodyear, upon ordination to the priesthood for the Congregation of the Holy Cross April 11

• Fr. Thomas Kagumisa, from serving as interim parochial administrator at St. John Vianney in Sedona, to serving as parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle

• Fr. Julius Kayiwa, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Seton in Sun City, to serving as parochial vicar at St. Clement of Rome in Sun City

• Fr. Jose Lobaton, OFM, newly arrived to the diocese to serve as parochial vicar at Queen of Peace in Mesa

• Fr. Sylvester Modebei, from serving at St. Gabriel the Archangel in Cave Creek to serving as parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Seton in Sun City

• Fr. Thielo Ramirez, from serving as interim parochial administrator at Holy Cross in Mesa, to serving as parochial vicar at All Saints in Mesa

• Fr. Dan Vanyo, from serving as parochial vicar at Queen of Peace in Mesa, to serving as parochial vicar at St. Anne in Gilbert

• Fr. Oliver Vietor, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle, to serving as parochial vicar at St. Bernadette in Scottsdale

Other

• Fr. Nelson Libera, JCD, newly arrived to the diocese from India, to serve in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Phoenix, effective March 5

• Fr. Kevin Grimditch, from serving as parochial vicar at St. Joan of Arc and part time chaplain at Xavier College Preparatory, to serving as Xavier’s full time chaplain

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Change is biblical. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

This year’s wave of new priest assignments that largely took effect July 1 changed who fills the role of pastor and parochial vicar at 21 parishes. The changes address pastoral needs across the Diocese of Phoenix. They also make room for both newly ordained and newly arriving priests.

A growing population at St. Anne Parish in Gilbert brought in Fr. Andres Arango as a second parochial vicar earlier this year. Fr. Dan Vanyo replaced him July 1 when Fr. Arango became parochial administrator at St. Gregory Parish. St. Matthew Parish received its first parochial vicar in recent memory to support its 800 families.

For parishioners at St. Charles Borromeo in Peoria, the need was a permanent pastor. They had been without one for a year since Fr. Loren Gonzalez passed away.

Fr. Arthur Nave, Jr. had served as parochial vicar for about three months before filling the gap as parochial administrator. He will officially be installed July 18 as the eighth pastor in the parish’s nearly 50-year history.

It marks his first time as pastor since his ordination seven years ago and his fifth parish assignment. Fr. Nave believes every Catholic parish is different and stressed the importance of openness and patience. Above all, though, is prayer.

“I always took a few days off between the transfer to take a breath and pray for the parish,” Fr. Nave told The Catholic Sun exactly one year after becoming parochial administrator.

When he arrives, he says it’s important not to downplay the fact that the parish is experiencing a change, which is different and can be hard.

“I’m not your predecessor,” nor the one who will be here in the future, Fr. Nave tells parishioners, “I’m the one God called to be here now.”

The people appreciate that honesty, he said. Fr. Nave also admits that he will make mistakes, but together they can figure things out. The strategy has been fruitful.

Listening sessions identified what’s going well, what could go better and what the focus for the next six months should be. The parish has doubled in size forcing the addition of a third English and a second Spanish Mass each weekend. They’ve made steady progress on capital improvements and opportunities for spiritual nourishment too.

Fr. Nave said the slight title change from parochial administrator to a pastor brings stability to a parish and better reflects a priest’s spiritual fatherhood. A three-year program for newly appointed pastors and parochial vicars at St. Meinrad Seminary paired with monthly follow up workshops at the Diocesan Pastoral Center has prepared him for the role of pastor.

Open discussions with staff and the parish council have paved the way for the role of a forthcoming parochial vicar too.

Fr. James Aboyi, VC, is one of four pioneer priests of the Via Christi Society and one of four newly arrived priests serving the Diocese of Phoenix. The new parochial vicar at Holy Cross in Mesa is not new to Arizona.

The Nigeria native has spent his entire priesthood — 11 years on July 3 — in the Diocese of Tucson. He has served at five parishes in the Tucson area with increasing leadership roles, most recently, as pastor in Superior.

“When I go to a new parish, I look in the directory to know who is who in the parish and to know the ministries they have,” Fr. Aboyi said.

He is eager to get to know the communities he serves by visiting ministry meetings and other parish groups, but noted that it’s far easier, especially as a parochial vicar, to be invited by group leaders. The priest, who has a masters in human relations and counseling from Northern Arizona University and is working on a doctorate in psychology, doesn’t want to intrude or step on the pastor’s toes.

“Of course, on the altar I introduce myself,” Fr. Aboyi said.

An introductory homily and note in the bulletin is a common way to announce a priest’s new assignment. Fr. Chuck Kieffer, pastor at St. Theresa, wrote a lengthy bulletin note that both saluted the outgoing parochial vicar and welcomed its new one, while making several connections to priests and places with which parishioners were already familiar.

It went on to offer a basic bio and personality description of its incoming parochial vicar, who is from the same diocese in Nigeria as a previous parochial vicar.

Fr. Nave said any switch within parish leadership should be seen as a celebration that it’s needed, “that we’re doing God’s will and God be praised.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I was not the least bit surprised when I heard about his forced resignation and emotion. I went to seminary with John. I remember him as rude, crude and arrogant. I recall that he was so “Orthodox” in his own mind that no one else was ever right unless they were agreeing with him. Indeed, one could not have a reasonable conversation with him about anything pertaining to liturgy, philosophy, morality or theology without enduring his sarcastic, snide and condescending comments a short way into the discussion. Embarrassingly, this applied to his conversations with his professors in class as well. I also remember that John would refuse to attend a Mass, if he did not deem the celebrant “Orthodox” enough. This alone should have been a red flag for the formation team. But, like many things, it was also overlooked.

    As I see it, John’s current plight is not only due to his own moral failing but the moral failing the Roman Catholic Church which continues to miss the mark when it comes to properly screening, evaluating and forming candidates for the priesthood.

    As long as the garbage-in/garbage-out formation system remains common practice in Roman Catholic seminaries, we can expect more victims of these misfit priests who are negligently ordained and then unleashed on the faithful of our parishes. No doubt, low standards will continue as the priest shortage worsens.

    There’s a certain irony to the fact that John was designated a moral authority in his diocese by his own bishop while clearly lacking the moral character for such a role. I think this attests to the fact of how little bishops really know about the men they are admitting to their presbyterates on the blind advice of the seminary formation directors they trust.

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