Nineteen priests prepare for new assignments

Father Gerald Leise will spend more time on the road and in meetings starting July 1, but adding a third parish – St. Mary in Hubbard – to his service also will bring the joy of getting to know a new congregation.
And Father Andrew Sohm will add a third rural parish to his service, St. Patrick Parish in Jackson, as he and Father Leise help the archdiocese absorb the retirement of the pastor of those parishes, Father Paul Albenesius.
Another rural pastor, Father Damien Wee, will take on additional parish duties when he moves half-time to St. Patrick Parish in Fremont, while continuing as pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Hooper and St. Lawrence Parish in Scribner.
Those are just some of the pastor changes announced this month by the Archdiocese of Omaha. All told, eight parishes will be preparing to welcome new pastors or administrators – including one first-time pastor, Father Patrick Nields – and eight priests will take up new posts as associate pastors. A total of 19 priests will assume new assignments July 1.
For Father Sohm, already pastor of St. Peter Parish in Newcastle and St. Joseph Parish in Ponca, the change also will mean a move – from his home in Newcastle to Jackson.
That move will put him closer to area hospitals, making it easier for him to respond quickly to emergency calls, he said.
“God has given me more souls to care for, and though the responsibility is daunting, God will provide,” Father Sohm said. “This reflects the reality of the times.”
 “The primary role of the priest is the care of souls” so it will be necessary to rely on the laity to take on more responsibilities in the parishes, he said.
Father Leise, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Emerson and St. John the Baptist Parish in Pender, said the additional assignment will involve some challenges, such as shuffling Mass times.
“We’ve been working on the Mass schedule, and all three parishes are willing to make it work,” he said. “What’s important is to be able to keep our rural parishes open and vibrant.”
For Father Wee, his half-time assignment in Fremont will help his own parishes through cost sharing, with St. Patrick Parish paying 50 percent of his salary, insurance and other expenses.
“Since many rural parishes are struggling financially, this is a win-win situation and gives my two parishes some breathing room while helping meet the needs in Fremont,” Father Wee said.
“At a time when there are fewer priests, this is a good, creative solution.”


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