Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The transfer of a priest is always very difficult in a parish. I know that many of you have expressed sadness upon learning that Fr. Thomas Joseph, who has served St. Nicholas since 2008, has been transferred effective February 1, 2018. As Fr. Thomas can assure you, this is a normal part of life for diocesan priests. A diocesan priest isn’t ordained for service to a particular parish but for the good of the Archdiocese and indeed of the universal Church.
It was with that greater good in mind that I began discussions with Fr. Thomas last August about a transfer. I then came to your parish and met with your lay leadership, so that I would have a better sense of the parish’s needs. I was delighted to learn about your commitment to inclusivity and your conviction that St. Nicholas has a bright future as well as a distinguished past. I heard in particular your observations concerning the need to attend to the 150th Anniversary of the Parish, to provide for the pastoral needs of the Spanish-speaking parishioners, and to sustain the Prayer Garden. I took all of this into consideration in appointing Fr. William Deziel (as pastor) and Fr. Edison Galarza (as parochial vicar) to serve your parish. While both will also be serving Guardian Angels in Chaska, the two parishes will remain distinct, even though they will for now be served by the same priests.
I realize that change is always difficult but I have great confidence in your new priests. Both have had extensive experience and success working with multicultural parishes. I was at Fr. Galarza’s parish on January 1st and the parishioners (both Spanish speaking and English speaking) were literally weeping over his departure. The parishioners at St. Peter’s in North Saint Paul (Anglos and members of the African community alike) were similarly distraught when Fr. Deziel was transferred last June. I encourage you to embrace your new priests.
As for Fr. Thomas, he will be moving from Saint Nicholas to the Metropolitan Tribunal offices, here at the Chancery in Saint Paul. With an increasing number of Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Archdiocese, Father’s communication skills will be beneficial to the important works of the Tribunal.
My hope is that Fr. Thomas views his new assignment as an opportunity to serve the Church and her Spanish-speaking faithful in a new way. At this time of transition, please keep Fr. Thomas Joseph, Fr. Deziel and Fr. Galarza in your prayers.
With the promise of my prayers for the faithful of St. Nicholas as you prepare for your 150th Anniversary, I remain
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis