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Annual priest reassignment includes Saranac Lake

Priests and deacons are on the move within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg as a result of a April 24 meeting by the Committee on Assignments.

“It’s typical that the Committee on Assignments would meet at least once a year, and it does typically happen around this time of year,” said Darcy Fargo, the diocesan communications director.

“However, there can be a variety of factors that lead to the moves, like sometimes there will be moves at other times of the year based on an unexpected need.”

The ultimate decision about any reassignment is made by the Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley, bishop of Ogdensburg.

The committee is an advisory board made up of the vicars within the diocese and other members elected by the priests.

“Each seat is divided essentially by the number of years ordained, so that each demographic group is represented at that meeting,” Fargo said.

“There is also a representative that represents the international priests and the retired priests, so it’s basically by their demographic.”

The majority of the assignment changes will be effective on June 26.

Doors open, close

The Rev. Patrick A. Ratigan, currently pastor of St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake and Church of the Assumption in Gabriels, is retiring and will assist with weekend coverage and short-term needs.

The Rev. Martin E. Cline will take over as St. Bernard’s pastor. He will move to Saranac Lake from Jefferson County, where he is currently pastor of St. Cecilia’s Church in Adams and Queen of Heaven Church in Henderson.

The Rev. Joseph W. Giroux, pastor of St. Andre Bessette Parish in Malone, will be attending St. Paul’s University in Ottawa for advanced studies in Canon Law. Giroux has been assigned to Malone since 2010.

“We are required to have a certain number of canon lawyers to run our tribunal. So if I had to guess, I would say it’s for continuity within the tribunal as people age and so that we can just have a canon lawyer present in the diocese,” Fargo said.

“It’s usually something like that with the situation with Father Ratigan and Father Giroux that creates a need for us to convene the Committee on Assignments,” Fargo said.

“There are a variety of factors. Sometimes a pastor can request a move, but more typically it’s that we have a retirement or someone has a disability and is retiring due to disability.

“Or (in Giroux’s case), someone who is pursuing higher education to meet the needs of the diocese. That usually is what starts this need for people to be shifted around.”

Priests are consulted throughout the process.

“They will look at the need of the parishes and look at everybody’s individual talents for the pool that is available to them and then they consult with the priests,” Fargo said.

“The bishop doesn’t make these decisions in a vacuum by any stretch. It’s with consultation of the committee and with the priests who are being discussed.

“And we firmly believe that it’s a prayerful decision as well and that it’s guided by the Holy Spirit.

“These things are meant to work out the way that they work out.”

Parish shifts

The Rev. Thomas E. Kornmeyer, pastor of St. Mary’s of the Fort Church in Fort Covington, St. Joseph’s Church in Bombay, the Catholic Community of Burke and Chateaugay, and the Catholic Community of Constable, Westville and Trout River, remains canonical pastor and takes on the duties of sacramental minister.

In addition, Kornmeyer remains the dean of the Franklin Deanery.

Deacon Bryan T. Dwyer, currently pastoral associate of St. Mary’s of the Fort Church in Fort Covington and its associated parishes, is appointed pastoral life coordinator there.

“The Living Stones Planning Document for the Diocese of Ogdensburg envisions the use of pastoral life coordinators as the means for providing a strong pastoral presence in parishes configurations where a resident pastor might not be available, according to a diocesan press release.

Pastoral life coordinators are distinct from pastoral associates. They report to the bishop, as do pastors, whereas pastoral associates are part of a single or multi-parish structure and report directly to the pastor.

Day-to-day duties

Kornmeyer’s purview includes six churches under the current configuration in that parish grouping.

“Obviously, that is a significant load for anybody,” Fargo said.

“And as pastor, he is both responsible for providing the sacraments and administering the parish.”

As pastoral life coordinator, Dwyer will relieve Kornmeyer of certain tasks.

“So the business workings, the HR workings, all of that stuff,” Fargo said.

“Under this new configuration with the pastoral life coordinator — and this is a new thing that we are doing — this is the first one we have used in this diocese.”

Dwyer will handle the parishes’ administrative portion.

“So he will be running the day-to-day operations, running the business portion, representing the parish on some councils here at the diocesan level with the pastor and the priest providing just the sacramental duties,” she said.

Dwyer has resided at the rectory of St. Patrick’s Church in Chateaugay for some time.

“This is kind of an increase in his duties, but he’s been doing some of the day-to-day administration prior, so this is just kind of formalization of that role and elevating his status in certain councils and in certain duties to make it so that the pastor, the priest, can administer the sacraments,” Fargo said.

“When you’re trying to cover that kind of geography and that number of parishes, it’s routinely to focus on the sacrament while someone else is doing the administration.”

June moves

Deacon Assistant Jack M. Lukasiewicz at Our Lady of Victory Church in Plattsburgh has been appointed deacon assistant at the Catholic Community of Holy Name and St. Matthew in AuSable Forks with its mission of St. Margaret’s Church in Wilmington, as well as the Roman Catholic Community of Keeseville.

The Rev. Steven M. Murray, currently pastor of Church of the Holy Family in Watertown, is appointed pastor of St. Andre Bessette Roman Catholic Parish in Malone.

The Rev. John M. Demo, now pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Dannemora and the Church of the Assumption in Redford, is appointed pastor of Holy Family Church in Watertown.

The Rev. Scott R. Seymour, pastor of the Roman Catholic Community of St. Alexander and St. Joseph in Morrisonville and St. James Church in Cadyville, will additionally become pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Dannemora and the Church of the Assumption in Redford.

This consolidation is part of the Living Stones Planning Process.

“Living Stones process formally started in 2014; however there were planning efforts that were under a different name prior to that,” Fargo said.

“The planning efforts in terms of looking at priest demographics and looking at parish configurations has been going back, it’s easy to say several decades.”

The Rev. Todd E. Thibault, administrator of St. Edmund’s Church in Ellenburg Center and St. Bernard’s Church in Lyon Mountain, is appointed pastor.