New leadership coming to more than 20 parishes

By Jay Nies

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s prayer intention for this month is “for parishes receiving new pastoral leaders.”

There are more than 20 of these under an Official Decree the bishop set forth on May 22.

New pastors or are being assigned to the Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City and the parishes in Argyle, Cuba, Indian Creek, Mexico, Monroe City, Russellville, St. Martins and Taos.

In addition, the assigning of new priestly administrators will affect the parishes in Bourbon, Canton, Clarence, Ewing, Fulton, Kahoka, LaGrange, Martinsburg, Mary’s Home, Mokane, St. Patrick, Shelbina, Steelville, Wayland and Wellsville.

An administrator has the responsibilities of a pastor without the right of stability (Code of Canon Law 522).

The parishes in Milan and Unionville will have a new sacramental minister.

Several priests have also been given special roles in the overall care of the diocese.

Most of the appointments will take effect June 27.

Reflecting the decreasing number of available priests in the diocese, the parishes of St. Joseph in Martinsburg and Church of the Resurrection in Wellsville will now share an administrator with Immaculate Conception parish in Montgomery City and St. Patrick parish in Jonesburg.

Similarly, St. Francis Caracciolo parish in Bourbon and St. Michael parish in Steelville — previously served from Holy Cross parish in Cuba — will now share an administrator with Immaculate Conception parish in St. James and St. Anthony parish in Rosati.

The Cuba parish will now be served by priests currently in residence in Rolla.

Our Lady of the Snows parish in Mary’s Home will be served by the priest in Eldon.

Pastors: 

Father Louis M. Nelen, pastor of St. Martin parish in St. Martins and St. Michael parish in Russellville, will succeed Monsignor Robert A. Kurwicki VG as pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City.

Fr. Nelen previously served as secretary and master of ceremonies to the bishop; vice chancellor; and diocesan director of cemeteries.

He will continue as diocesan director of seminarians.

Monsignor Robert Kurwicki, who was appointed vicar general of the diocese in February, will succeed Fr. Nelen as pastor of St. Michael parish in Russellville and will continue as chaplain of the Missouri House of Representatives.

Father Gregory C. Meystrik, who was appointed moderator of the curia for the diocese in February, will step down as pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish in Taos and will succeed Father James Finder as pastor of St. Aloysius parish in Argyle.

Father P. Gregory Oligschlaeger, who has been diocesan vocation director since 2015 and temporary administrator of Our Lady of the Snows parish in Mary’s Home since 2017, will succeed Father Michael Penn as pastor of Holy Rosary parish in Monroe City, St. Stephen parish in Indian Creek, St. Mary parish in Shelbina and St. Patrick parish in Clarence.

Father Mark A. Porterfield JCL, serving full-time in the Chancery as judicial vicar for the Diocesan Tribunal, who in February was appointed vice chancellor and vicar for clergy for the diocese, will step down as pastor of St. Brendan parish in Mexico and will succeed Fr. Nelen as pastor of St. Martin parish in St. Martins.

Father Dylan Schrader, who has been completing post-graduate studies at The Catholic University of America and serving as sacramental minister of St. Mary parish in Milan and the Mission of St. Mary in Unionville, will succeed Fr. Porterfield as pastor of St. Brendan parish in Mexico, along with other duties.

Father Michael W. Penn, previously pastor of Holy Rosary parish in Monroe City and St. Stephen parish in Indian Creek and diocesan master of ceremonies, will succeed Fr. Meystrik as pastor of St. Francis Xavier parish in Taos.

He will also continue as diocesan representative to the Fr. Tolton Guild.

Father John J. Schmitz will serve as pastor of the Mission of St. Philip Benizi in Versailles, in addition to his role as pastor of St. Patrick parish in Laurie.

Father David J. Veit will serve as pastor of Holy Cross parish in Cuba in addition to his role as pastor of St. Patrick parish in Rolla.

Assisting him will be Father Paul J. Clark, associate pastor of St. Patrick parish in Rolla, who will also serve as associate pastor of the Cuba parish.

Administrators :

In his first role in parish administration, Father Simeon A. Etonu, associate pastor of St. Peter parish in Jefferson City, will succeed Father Angelus Minj as administrator of St. Mary parish in Shelbina and St. Patrick parish in Clarence.

Father Joseph Abah, a priest of the Diocese of Idah, Nigeria, who has been serving as administrator of St. Joseph parish in Martinsburg and Church of the Resurrection parish in Wellsville, will succeed the late Father Frank A. Bussmann, former pastor, as administrator of St. Peter parish in Fulton and St. Jude Thaddeus parish in Mokane.

Father Alexander Gabriel, a priest of the Diocese of Daltonganj, India, will continue as administrator of Sacred Heart parish in Eldon. He will step down as administrator of the Mission of St. Philip Benizi in Versailles in order to become administrator of Our Lady of the Snows parish in Mary’s Home, succeeding Fr. Oligschlaeger, who has been temporary administrator since 2017.

Father Angelus Minj, a priest of the Diocese of Jashpur, India, currently serving as administrator of St. Mary parish in Shelbina and St. Patrick parish in Clarence, will succeed Fr. Aubuchon as administrator of St. Michael parish in Kahoka, the Mission of St. Martha in Wayland, the Shrine of St. Patrick parish in St. Patrick, St. Joseph parish in Canton, the Mission of Notre Dame in LaGrange and Queen of Peace parish in Ewing.

Sacramental ministry to those parishes has recently been reorganized.

Father Augustine A. Okoli, a priest of the Diocese of Aba, Nigeria, will continue as administrator of Immaculate Conception parish in Montgomery City and St. Patrick parish in Jonesburg. He will also succeed Fr. Abah as administrator of St. Joseph parish in Martinsburg and the Church of the Resurrection parish in Wellsville.

Father Henry Ussher, a priest of the Diocese of Wiawso, Ghana, will continue as administrator of Immaculate Conception parish in St. James and St. Anthony parish in Rosati and will also succeed Redemptorist Father Richard Boever as administrator of St. Francis Caracciolo parish in Bourbon and St. Michael parish in Steelville.

“Retiring” to ministry :

Two priests of the diocese — Father Patrick G. Dolan and Father James Finder — will retire from their current roles but will continue in priestly ministry without administrative responsibilities.

Fr. Dolan, who has been ministering to Hispanic Catholics at St. Brendan parish in Mexico, plans to volunteer as sacramental minister of St. Mary parish in Milan and the Mission of St. Mary in Unionville, and to continue as a priest in service to Hispanic ministry.

Fr. Finder, after stepping down as pastor of St. Aloysius parish in Argyle, plans to volunteer in hospital ministry at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital and Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, with residence in the St. Anthony of Padua parish rectory in Folk.

Father Kenneth B. Steinhauser, who was incardinated into the diocese while ministering in Jonesburg, will retire from being a full-time professor at Saint Louis University in St. Louis.

Two priests leaving diocese :

Two priests who are members of religious orders have accepted assignments outside the diocese.

Dominican Father Ronald G. Kreul, who has been serving as diocesan minister to priests since 2012, is being assigned by his prior provincial to service outside the Jefferson City diocese.

Redemptorist Father Richard Boever, who has been serving as administrator of the parishes in Cuba, Bourbon and Steelville since 2014, will return to the Redemptorist community in Liguori, Missouri.

Parish life collaborators :

Franciscan Sister Donna Eggering and Kristin Roth, who have been working for many years as parish life coordinators in the diocese, will also retire.

Sr. Donna has been serving at Immaculate Conception parish in Brookfield and served previously at St. Michael parish in Russellville.

Ms. Roth, who has been serving in Kahoka, Wayland and St. Patrick, previously served at St. Patrick parish in Jonesburg and before that at St. Francis Caracciolo in Bourbon and St. Michael parish in Steelville.

Sister Mary Rost of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, currently parish life coordinator of St. Michael parish in Russellville, will succeed Sr. Donna as parish life collaborator of Immaculate Conception parish in Brookfield.

Sister Jane Weisgram of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who is currently pastoral minister of St. Martin parish in St. Martins, will succeed Ms. Roth as parish life collaborator of St. Joseph parish in Canton, the Mission of Notre Dame in LaGrange and Queen of Peace parish in Ewing.

Permanent deacons : 

Deacon Joseph M. Braddock, who assists the pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City, has been assigned to assist the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Columbia and to assist with nursing home ministry.

He will continue to serve as chief financial officer for the diocese.

Deacon John L. Neudecker will step down from being temporary parish life coordinator of St. Peter parish in Fulton and St. Jude Thaddeus parish in Mokane, a role he was given when the pastor, Father Frank A. Bussmann, died in November.

Deacon Neudecker will continue to assist the administrator of St. Peter parish in Fulton.

In addition, Deacon John A. Schwartze, previously a deacon of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, has been incardinated into the Jefferson City diocese. He will continue to assist the pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City, where he has been serving since 2015.

As announced on May 8, Deacon Dan K. Joyce, diocesan communications director, will serve as interim president of Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School in Columbia, and will continue assisting the pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish in Jefferson City.

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