Priests on the move; 23 assignments affect 36 parishes

Categories: Around the Diocese

May 23, 2014, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

July 1 will mean new assignments for 23 priests in the St. Cloud Diocese.

The changes will affect 36 parishes.

The diocese will welcome five newly ordained priests to parishes and extend best wishes to two retiring priests. Sixteen other priests will receive different assignments. Three new clusters will be established.

New priests

The four transitional deacons, Mitchell Bechtold, Timothy Gapinski, Aaron Nett and Jeremy Theis, who will be ordained June 21 to the priesthood, will become parochial vicars.

Deacon Bechtold will serve the parishes in Greenwald, Meire Grove, Melrose and Spring Hill.

Deacon Gapinski will serve Holy Spirit, St. Anthony and St. John Cantius parishes in St. Cloud.

Deacon Nett will become parochial vicar of St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Augustine Parish and Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud.

Deacon Theis will serve at the parishes in Sauk Centre and West Union.

Benedictine Deacon Bradley Jenniges, who will be ordained to the priesthood May 31, will serve as parochial vicar at Seven Dolors Parish in Albany and St. Anthony Parish in St. Anthony.

Moving to the next phase

Two priests who had been serving as parochial vicars will become pastors.

Father Omar Guanchez will become pastor of St. Mary of Mount Carmel in Long Prairie. Father Mark Ostendorf will become a pastor of the parishes in Belgrade, Brooten and Elrosa.

Two priests are retiring in July: Father Nicholas Landsberger and Father Mark Willenbring.

New clusters

Three areas of the diocese will be see slightly different clusters.

St. Mary Parish and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Little Falls and Holy Family Parish in Belle Prairie will become one cluster. St. Mary’s has been a stand-alone parish while Our Lady of Lourdes and Holy Family were twinned. The cluster will be served by one pastor, Father Joseph Herzing, and a parochial vicar, Father Jeremy Ploof.

A similar situation will happen in Sauk Centre, where Our Lady of the Angels Parish and St. Paul Parish in Sauk Centre and St. Alexius Parish in West Union will be served by one pastor, Father Gregory Paffel, and a parochial vicar, Deacon Theis.

St. Paul’s has been a stand-alone parish while Our Lady of the Angels and St. Alexius were twinned.

In the eastern part of the diocese, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Isanti, which was a stand-alone parish, will be clustered with the parishes in Braham and Cambridge, which were twinned. Father Don Wagner will be the pastor of the cluster, and Father John Knopik will be the parochial vicar.

Father Knopik had served as parochial vicar in the Holdingford, Opole, St. Anna and St. Wendel cluster. Father David Grundman will become the new parochial vicar of the cluster.

Other assignments

Father Mark Stang and Father Benjamin Kociemba will no longer be assigned to parishes as they become full-time chaplains. Father Stang will serve at the St. Cloud Hospital, and Father Kociemba will serve Cathedral School in St. Cloud.

Father Robert Rolfes will no longer be assigned to a parish and can focus on his duties as vicar general and moderator of the curia. His parish, St. Mary, Help of Christians in St. Augusta, will be served by Vincentian Father Jose Edayadiyil who had served as parochial administrator in Isanti.

Father James Statz is moving from Sauk Centre and West Union to Kensington and Lake Reno, which are currently served by Father Roger Thoennes.

Father Thoennes will become parochial vicar of the parishes in Luxemburg, Pearl Lake and Rockville.

Father Ronald Weyrens and Father Ralph Zimmerman will switch places. Father Zimmerman is moving to Sauk Rapids. Father Weyrens will serve the parishes in Luxemburg, Pearl Lake and Rockville.


Deacon Bechtold


Deacon Gapinski


Deacon Nett


Deacon Theis


Deacon Jenniges


Father Guanchez


Father Ostendorf


Father Landsberger


Father Willenbring


Father Herzing


Father Ploof


Father Paffel


Father Wagner

St. Cloud Diocese

Father Knopik


Father Grundman


Father Stang


Father Kociemba


Father Rolfes


Father Edayadiyil


Father Statz


Father Thoennes


Father Weyrens


Father Zimmerman