After decades of faithful service, Father Rolfes and Jane Marrin move into retirement

Two mainstays in the diocese have quietly retired — Father Robert Rolfes as vicar generaland Jane Marrin as chancellor. Between them, they’ve served in various roles for a total of more than 70 years.

Father Robert Rolfes, left, and Jane Marrin celebrate with Bishop Donald Kettler at a retirement party with diocesan staff in February in St. Cloud. (Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Central Minnesota Catholic)

In a March 1 letter announcing new appointments in the diocese, Bishop Patrick Neary, C.S.C., said both “have served this diocese generously for decades.”

“I am indebted to them for the knowledge and experience they have shared with me since my arrival,” he wrote.

Marrin began in the Diocese of St. Cloud in 1989 as a counselor with Catholic Charities. In 1997, at the request of Bishop John Kinney, she headed what was then called the Pro-Life Office followed by the Social Concerns Office, Planning Office and Communications Office.

“When Bishop Donald Kettler became the ordinary, he asked me to be his chancellor. He made me an offer I could not refuse — I only came into the office one day a week and was available as needed beyond that one day,” she said.

Her primary duty as chancellor was defined by canon law: record keeper for the diocese. All documents related to the workings of the Church in the diocese come under the responsibility of the chancellor. That, coupled with “other duties as assigned,” made up the majority of her work.

One of her responsibilities was serving as a liaison to Speltz House and working with the retired priests who reside there, Marrin said. She helped them make decisions with the goal of ensuring their safety and independence.

“The biggest challenge was in hearing from so many people throughout the diocese who are struggling with issues related to the Church today and their feelings of isolation, disappointment and lack of acceptance,” she said. Sometimes they just wanted a listening ear, but other times action needed to be taken.

“I enjoyed every role I had within the diocese and always looked forward to coming to work,” she said. “My counseling background was one of my greatest assets in all those assignments. That, and because of my many years working [for the diocese], I developed a relationship with the priests and the lay people. Being trusted and being a listener were gifts that I believe served me well as chancellor for the diocese.

“Bishop Kettler, Father Rolfes and I were a good team, made better by the supportive staff we had as we faced the challenges of the Church today,” she added. “Two days were never the same! I loved every position I held. Now I look forward to retirement.”

What does Marrin plan for her retirement? She doesn’t have a single answer but whatever it is, she said, she will love it.

Beginning as a pastor

Father Rolfes was ordained in 1977 by Bishop George Speltz and began his 44-year life of service in the St. Cloud Diocese as a pastor. At the request of Bishop Speltz, he studied canon law for two years at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, to serve as his assistant chancellor.

Over the years, he added new responsibilities, including serving as executive director of the diocese’s annual appeal. He also served on the diocese’s marriage tribunal. Under Bishop Kinney, Father Rolfes served as chancellor, moderator of the curia and vicar general, and as a pastor at various times in Rockville, St. Augusta and Luxemburg. Bishop Donald Kettler called on him to continue his service as vicar general and moderator of the curia a little over nine years ago.

“I always did whatever the bishop asked of me,” Father Rolfes said. “I liked doing anything to help pastors and tried to be available tohear about issues or concerns in their parishes, to make their jobs easier. I dealt with parish and personnel concerns when things weren’t going smoothly and they needed another person to hear them out. The most enjoyable part of being vicar general was helping our pastors in different areas of their ministry, whether in finances or in personnel or something else.

“To bring groups together who were having difficulty, that’s the accomplishment I’m proudest of,” he added. “It takes a very compassionate listener to zero in on a problem and bring those parties together to resolve an issue. Often, for my peace of mind, I prayed the prayer to St. Cloud.”

Father Rolfes was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and is moving to Assumption Community in Cold Spring, where he looks forward to resting and relaxing, playing cards, watching television and enjoying mystery novels.

In retirement, Father Rolfes also plans to spend time with his family, especially at a lake home in the summer months. He hopes to help out in parishes on weekends. “I want to stay involved in parish ministry,” he said.

Father Robert Rolfes, left, and Jane Marrin celebrate with Bishop Donald Kettler at a retirement party with diocesan staff in February in St. Cloud. (Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Central Minnesota Catholic)

Author: Nikki Rajala

Nikki Rajala is a writer/copy editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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