Two pastors who will soon be leaving their current parishes are, Father Steven Stillmunks, left, of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha, and Father David Reeson of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion. Father Stillmunks will retire and Father Reeson will take his place at St. Robert, effective July 1. Shown during small group discussions at a 2019 pastoral planning meeting in Fremont, they are among 21 priests retiring or receiving new assignments this year. MIKE MAY/STAFF

News

Archdiocese announces new priest assignments

Much like life in the military, a diocesan priest’s life is characterized by relocations, transitions, adjustments and new relationships.

“We’re traveling peoplewe don’t grow deep roots in any one place,”  said Father Scott Hastings, vicar for clergy for the Archdiocese of Omaha. 

And that reality carries both costs and benefits for priests and their congregations, he said in announcing this year’s new priest assignments.

Although a sense of loss when a beloved priest moves on is inevitable, maximizing the benefits to both priests and parishes is the goal in determining which priests to assign to which parishes, he said. 

Father Hastings described to the Catholic Voice the process and factors involved when making new assignments. Archbishop George J. Lucas makes those decisions in consultation with an eight-member personnel board of priests. Deliberations begin in fall, with the final decisions coming the following May.

The first consideration is determining which priests will be retiring, said Father Hastings, who as vicar for clergy is also a member of the priest personnel board. Priests are eligible to retire at age 70.

The second consideration is determining which priests are completing their terms in their current parishes. Generally, pastors serve either one or two six-years terms at a parish before being reassigned. Associate pastors are reassigned more frequently to help them gain a variety of experiences.

Once parish vacancies are identified, assignments to the larger parishes are handled first.

“There are fewer priests who have enough experience to run a humongous parish, so generally speaking, we start with the parishes that are hardest to fill first, because we have the smallest experienced pool,” Father Hastings said.

This starts a “cascading effect,” he said, until all the assignments are filled.

In some cases, a priest’s specialized talents, such as Spanish language skills, also play a role.

And each priest brings his own unique gifts to his new parish, Father Hastings said. “In the end, hopefully each one has a way of helping people hear the voice of Christ.”

“We ask, what is best for the parish given the resources we have,” he said, “and what’s the best way to set up the priest for success?”

The archbishop also discusses the potential assignment with each priest before the decision is finalized, Father Hastings said. Personal requests such as a desire to be near family or a preference for a rural or urban assignment are considered, when possible.

This year, three priests will retire and 18 will take on new assignments. 

The priests will continue in their current assignments through June 30, with new assignments effective July 1. They are listed below.

GREATER OMAHA AREA

PASTORS

Father Vitalis Anyanike, from pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Parish, to pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish and St. Andrew Kim Taegon Catholic Community, all in Omaha.

 

Father Damien Cook, from pastor of Christ the King Parish, to pastor of St. Philip Neri-Blessed Sacrament Parish, both in Omaha.

 

 

Father Thomas Greisen, from senior associate pastor of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion, to pastor of the same.

 

 

Father Jeffrey Mollner, from associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wayne, St. Mary Parish in Laurel and St. Anne Mission in Dixon, to pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Bellevue.

 

 

Father John Pietramale, from pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish and St. Andrew Kim Taegon Catholic Community, to pastor of Christ the King Parish, all in Omaha.

 

 

Father David Reeson, from pastor of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion, to pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha.

 

 

Father Michael Voithofer, currently released for ministry with Ablaze Ministries, with residence at St. Bernadette Parish in Bellevue, takes on additional duties as pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Parish in Omaha, with continued release for ministry with Ablaze Ministries. 

 

ASSOCIATE PASTORS

Father Benjamin Boyd, associate pastor of Christ the King Parish, to associate pastor of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish, both in Omaha.

 

 

Father Patrick Moser, associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn, to associate pastor of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion.

 

 

Father Padraic Stack, associate pastor of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha, to associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn.

 

 

HIGHWAY 91 CORRIDOR

Father Matthew Gutowski, senior associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bellevue, and temporary administrator of Ss. Cyril & Methodius Parish in Clarkson, St. Wenceslaus Parish in Dodge and Sacred Heart Mission in Olean, concludes his service at St. Mary Parish and continues as administrator of Ss. Cyril & Methodius Parish, St. Wenceslaus Parish and Sacred Heart Mission.

Father Rodney Kneifl, pastor of Ss. Cyril & Methodius Parish in Clarkson, St. Wenceslaus Parish in Dodge and Sacred Heart Mission in Olean, continues in a voluntary, medical leave of absence.

 

HOLT AND BOYD COUNTIES

Father Ross Burkhalter, from pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus, to senior associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in O’Neill, St. Joseph Parish in Amelia, Sacred Heart Parish in Boyd County, St. Boniface Parish in Stuart and St. Joseph Parish in Atkinson.

COLUMBUS AREA

Father Patrick Harrison, chaplain to the Poor Clare Monastery in Elkhorn, with additional parish and hospital duties at St. Cecilia Parish in Omaha, to pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus. 

 

HIGHWAY 81 CORRIDOR

Father Steven Emanuel, from pastor of St. Mary Parish in West Point, St. Aloysius Parish in Aloys, St. Boniface Parish in Monterey Township and St. Anthony Parish in St. Charles Township, and president of Guardian Angels Central Catholic Schools in West Point, to associate pastor and school staff at St. Francis of Assisi Parish and School in Humphrey, Holy Family Parish and School in Lindsay, St. Mary Parish in Leigh and St. Michael Parish in Tarnov. 

WEST POINT AREA

Father James Weeder, from associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in O’Neill, St. Joseph Parish in Amelia, Sacred Heart Parish in Boyd County, St. Boniface Parish in Stuart and St. Joseph Parish in Atkinson, to pastor, St. Mary Parish in West Point, St. Aloysius Parish in Aloys, St. Boniface Parish in Monterey Township and St. Anthony Parish in St. Charles Township, and president, Guardian Angels Central Catholic Schools in West Point.

WAYNE AREA

Father Matthew Capadano, from associate pastor of Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha, to associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wayne, St. Mary Parish in Laurel and St. Anne Mission in Dixon, and chaplain duties at the Wayne State Newman Center.

 

SPECIAL

Father Stephen Hilgendorf, incoming pastor of St. Barnabas Parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (non-archdiocesan parish), will take on half-time duties as associate pastor of Christ the King Parish, both in Omaha.

RETIREMENTS

Father Harold Buse, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Bellevue, will be in residence at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha. (Ordained 1977)

 

Father Wayne Pavela, associate pastor and school staff at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Humphrey, Holy Family Parish in Lindsay, St. Mary Parish in Leigh and St. Michael Parish in Tarnov. (Ordained 1977)

 

Father Steven Stillmunks, pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha. (Ordained 1977)