Oblates’ mission a good fit in eastside St. Paul parishes

| March 16, 2011 | 0 Comments

From left, Betty Fousek and Corrine Bauer of St. Patrick in St. Paul, talk with Father Bob Morin, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, and Cindy Pasiuk, liturgy coordinator at St. Casimir in St. Paul, at St. Casimir March 14 before Mass celebrated by Father Morin. The Oblates will continue to serve at St. Casimir, which has been clustered with St. Patrick. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

The pastors an­nounced the weekend of Feb. 19-20 that both parishes would be served by a single Oblate pastor beginning this summer.

Oblate Father Jos­eph Ferraioli, the current St. Casimir pastor, said, “The day I announced it here that we were going to cluster with St. Patrick, nobody was upset. They saw it coming. It was a sigh of relief that St. Casimir wasn’t going to be closed. What they were upset about was that I said it might be the end of the Oblates here.”

A similar reaction was noted by Father Jerry Hackenmueller, an archdiocesan priest and St. Patrick’s pastor, when he announced the clustering decision in the Arch­diocesan Strategic Plan.

“I think it was probably a relief more than anything. This took so long that the rumor mill really got going. A lot of people perceived that either one of the two parishes was going to be closed or mer­g­ed,” Father Hackenmueller said. “I sense, on a more personal level, there is more of a sadness that I’m leaving after 15 years.”

He said that he plans to retire at the end of June, but will stay at the parish until the new Oblate pastor is installed.

One priest, two parishes

Another concern at St. Patrick was the decision that one Oblate pastor was to be named to serve both parishes.

Although a new pastor will be named to replace Father Ferraioli, who said he will be leaving St. Casimir, Oblate Father Harry Winter will continue to live at the St. Casi­mir rectory and assist with Masses and other responsibilities, as he has done for the past few years.

Father Ferraioli said there was some confusion during the planning process about whether the Oblates would remain at St. Casimir.

“Our provincial indicated to the archbishop that the Oblates would like to stay in this archdiocese,” he said. “When we said we were interested in staying, Archbishop [John] Nienstedt was open.”

Jennifer Haselberger, archdiocesan chancellor for canonical affairs, said that part of what delayed discussions with the Oblates was a change in the community’s leadership, when Oblate Father Louis Lougen, then U.S. superior, was nam­ed to serve in Rome as superior general.

Haselberger has a personal interest in the Oblates at St. Casimir be­cause it is her family’s parish and where she was baptized. In addition, a relative was one of the founding pastors, and an uncle, Ob­late Father John Mas­low­ski, was serving as pastor when he died of a heart attack while playing baseball with local kids.

“The men in my family who are or­dain­ed are Oblates, so they’ve all served at the parish. And I have aunts who are Felician Sisters, and the Felician Sisters were at the parish until the 1980s,” she said.

Oblate presence welcome

Although she no longer worships there each week, Hasel­berger said that because of her baptism and because it is a Polish na­tion­al parish, she would always feel welcome at the church.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing for the parish, and the archbishop is grateful for the continued presence of those priests,” she said.

St. Casimir parishioners Pete Bar­rett and Cindy Pasiuk also are glad the Ob­lates are staying.

“We’re thrilled that they are staying and I hope St. Pat’s people come to enjoy the Oblates and appreciate them as well,” said Barrett, who has been a parishioner since 1991 with his wife, Andrea, and their six children. “[The Oblates] are a great bunch of guys. They seem to have an attitude of ‘What are you doing here and how can I help?’”

Pasiuk, who has been a parishioner “over 50 years,” said the Oblates are dedicated to the parish.

“When Father Andrew Stojar came in 1916, he set a precedent,” she said. “I think the Oblates have given us the sense of comfort, dedication and spirituality, especially after the situation Father Stojar walked into.”

The history on the parish website — http://www.stcasimirchurch.org — details a sordid tale about the murder of the first pastor of the church, which had to be reconsecrated. Since there were no Polish-speak­ing diocesan priests available, the Ob­lates were invited to serve the parish and sent Father Stojar.

Father Ferraioli said the Oblates were founded to serve as missionaries to the poor. They came to St. Casimir to serve the Polish community, of which there is still a small core at the parish.

The parish and the Oblates are happy to continue that missionary spirit in welcoming the many Afri­cans and Asians who are moving into the neighborhood and attending Mass, he added.

“To that extent I see this as a mission.”

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Category: Archdiocese Planning Process