Sacred Heart pastor taking diocese position
Carol Wagner, Leader Correspondent
The Rev. Luke Ferris will leave Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School in Shawano on July 1 to be the vicar for clergy and pastoral leaders for the Diocese of Green Bay.
“I’m grieving the idea of leaving and at the same time at peace to what the bishop (David Ricken) has asked,” Ferris said.
Nancy Schauer, chairperson of the parish finance council, had the same reaction as many parishioners when he made the announcement at Mass.
”Wow. This is going to take some getting used to,” she said.
Ferris will be caring for over 80 priests in the diocese along with lay people who are leaders of parishes. Some of his duties will be to help care for the senior priests, coordinate the annual retreat clergy congress and organize priest funerals.
“I already know the business side and liturgical work and parish ministries,” Ferris said.
In his new position he will lead the committee that will recommend to the bishop who will be assigned to Sacred Heart. Ferris said the parishioners and the bishop want someone who will fully support the school.
“I encourage the people who are upset to pray on this to know that I’m OK with this decision, but if they want to they can write the bishop or speak to parish leaders about their concerns,” he said. “I hope this will help the people finish my time well here and help the next pastor.”
Ferris has accomplished a number of things while at Sacred Heart. He is most happy with the number of young families who have become involved in the parish. He helped direct the renovation of the church, the growth of the school from 65 students to 102 with the help of the school staff, and expanded parish leadership in areas such as finance and parish council.
“His presence here did a lot of good for us,” parishioner Guy Keshena said. “He has a lot of compassion and understanding of people.”
He also was the priest celebrant at St. Martin in Cecil, where he assisted Deacon Mike Grzeca.
“I hope to be back from time to time,” Ferris said.
One of those times is the parish’s 150th anniversary in August. Ferris and parish members have done extensive planning for the event, which will be celebrated the weekend of the parish picnic, on Aug. 12-13. The event will include an outdoor Mass with Ricken at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 12.
Ferris, who is from Coleman, graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and then earned a masters in government from the University of Notre Dame. He was principal at Northridge Preparatory School in Niles, Illinois, then completed his Master of Divinity degree at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. He was ordained on June 25, 2011. Before coming to Shawano and Cecil, he served parishes in Oshkosh, Winneconne and Omro.
“There’s a lot of goodwill and good people in this town, Catholics and non-Catholics, so I will miss that,” Ferris said. “I just want to grow closer to our Lord and share Him with others wherever I’m asked to do that.”