The St. Cloud Diocese announces new parish arrangements and pastoral assignments effective June 30.
Two parish clusters and one individual parish will have a new arrangement starting July 1, based on a plan from the diocese’s priest personnel board completed in consultation with the pastors of those parishes.
Currently, the cluster arrangements include parishes in Holdingford, Opole, St. Anna and St. Wendel; and Bowlus, Elmdale, Upsala and St. Francis. St. Stephen in St. Stephen is a stand-alone parish. Father Robert Harren, pastor of St. Stephen since 2002, is retiring.
The new arrangement will feature three clusters of three parishes each: Holdingford, St. Anna and Bowlus; Elmdale, Upsala and St. Francis; and St. Stephen, St. Wendel and Opole. One priest will serve each cluster.
Father Gregory Mastey continues to serve in Holdingford and St. Anna with Bowlus as a new assignment. Father Jeremy Theis will become the pastor in Elmdale, Upsala and St. Francis. Father Eugene Doyle will serve in St. Stephen, St. Wendel and Opole.
Two men, who will be ordained priests at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud June 18, will serve as parochial vicars — priests assigned to help the pastor in a parish. Deacon Matthew Langager will serve Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Mary parishes in Little Falls as well as Holy Family in Belle Prairie. Deacon Douglas Liebsch is assigned to St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Augustine Parish, both in St. Cloud.
In his retirement, Father Harren, who was ordained in 1966, said he hopes to continue serving the people of the diocese, wherever he is needed, and he plans to travel.
“I would like to see a little bit more of God’s creation and I’m interested in other cultures and peoples,” Father Harren said.
His assignments have included serving as assistant pastor at St. John in Foley and pastor of St. Lawrence in Duelm, St. Anthony of Padua in St. Cloud and St. Stephen.
Additionally, Father Harren has served the diocese as chancellor and vicar general and as secretary, notary, vice officialis, officialis and promoter of justice in the Tribunal. He has been a member of the Diocesan Review Board and dean of the St. Cloud Deanery. He will continue serving the diocese after retirement as “censor librorum” — the church authority who reviews texts for doctrinal accuracy.
“I’ve enjoyed all the different ways in which I have been able to help and serve the people of the diocese,” Father Harren said. “I have always enjoyed helping others. A highlight has been celebrating the liturgies during the liturgical year — celebrating the Eucharist is especially rewarding.”
Also retiring is Father Arlie Sowada, pastor of the parishes of St. Hubert in Bluegrass, Our Lady of the Assumption in Menahga and St. Frederick in Verndale.
Ordained in 1973, Father Sowada also has served as assistant pastor of St. Anthony of Padua and Holy Spirit parishes in St. Cloud and associate chaplain at St. Cloud Hospital. He was pastor at parishes in Herman, Donnelly, Browns Valley, Grey Eagle, Swanville, Dent, Rush Lake, Elbow Lake and Tintah. He also served as dean of the Morris Deanery. No public retirement event is planned for Father Sowada.
“Retirement to me,” Father Sowada said, “means not having a parish assignment, but being able to continue my ministry by assisting in the St. Cloud Diocese as needed. During my ministry I have enjoyed being part of many living faith communities.”