Archdiocese lists 13 pastor assignments

A new assignment can mean significant changes for a priest, moving from urban to rural, or rural to urban parishes – or from small to large, or large to small parishes.

That’s the case for Fathers Matthew Gutowski and Walter Nolte, two of the 13 priests preparing for new assignments this summer as pastors.

For Father Gutowski, his new assignment will mean a two-fold change as he moves from a small community and parish, St. Joseph in Springfield, with about 300 parish families, to St. Patrick Parish in Gretna, a more urban area, with about 1,400 parish families.

"In a smaller parish, you have an opportunity to get to know everybody," he said, "but that’s more of a challenge in a larger parish."

To prepare for the move, Father Gutowski met twice with Father Michael Grewe, current St. Patrick pastor, to learn about the parish’s daily routine, upcoming weddings and other practical details.

He said he also will have more deacons and lay ministers on whom he can depend to take care of details he would tend to himself at St. Joseph.

Father Nolte also will be moving to a larger parish, but in a smaller city, as he moves from St. Bernard Parish in Omaha, with more than 750 families, to St. Patrick Parish in Fremont, with more than 2,100 families.

Adjustments will include learning new names and a new schedule, he said, but he looks forward to meeting the people of St. Patrick and being engaged in the life of the parish and the Fremont community.

Father Gutowski also is looking forward to meeting his new parishioners. "The people here have been great, and I’ve heard the same about the people in Gretna," Father Gutowski said. "I’m also interested in learning more about the history of the parish."

But leaving the people one has served for years is the hard part.

"There’s always grief in parting, but there’s also joy in serving the Lord," Father Nolte said. "The Lord has called me to a new place to serve a new people.

"I’m being very intentional about saying goodbye, but letting parishioners know that we’ll see each other again," he said, "that the friendships and connections remain."

Twenty-one parishes will have new leadership as 13 priests assume assignments as pastor. Four of those parishes are served by an associate who has been named pastor, and the new pastor at another parish has been serving as administrator of that parish.

Four of the 13 will be first-time pastors in the archdiocese – Father John Norman, who will serve three rural parishes, Father Jeremy Hans, who will serve two rural parishes, and Father Anthony Weidner and Father Patrick Mac Tran, each of whom will serve one urban parish.

Other changes include Father Jeffrey Lorig moving from pastor at St. Ludger Parish in Creighton and St. Ignatius Parish in Brunswick to become part of a new, three-person leadership team for the curia of the archdiocese under Archbishop George J. Lucas. The team also includes Father Scott Hastings, vicar for clergy and judicial vicar, and Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor. (Click here to read the story.)

The 2017 assignments include two newly-ordained priests who are among seven taking on new or modified assignments as associate pastors, while five priests will retire.

And 21 newly-ordained deacons also have been formally assigned to their parishes.

The moves, according to the official listing of assignments released this month by the archdiocese, are effective July 1, unless otherwise noted.

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