New assignments for 30 priests include three to senior status

Clergy assignments involving 30 priests and including the naming of new pastors for nine parishes have been announced by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC.

The complete list of appointments, which take effect on varying dates, is found here.

Highlighting the changes is the granting of senior status to three priests, including:

Msgr. John J. Prendergast, 69, a longtime military chaplain and former pastor of parishes in Streator, Washington, and East Peoria who has held several diocesan offices for the past two years

Msgr. William A. Watson, 79, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights since 1981, and

Father Ronald E. Dodd,, 70, a late vocation who has served several parishes since his ordination in 2005, most recently as pastor of St. Mary, Metamora, and St. Elizabeth, Washburn. Father Dodd’s move to senior status was effective March 1.

For individual stories on the three retiring priests, click on their names above.

The changes also include a transition for the diocesan Office of Priestly Vocations. Msgr. Brian Brownsey, who has guided the office for 12 years, will be succeeded by two priests given specialized roles. Father Patrick Henehan will become vocation director of formation, while Father Timothy Hepner has been named vocation director of recruitment.

Father Henehan will continue as pastor of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, while Father Hepner will leave assignments in Monmouth and Raritan. Msgr. Brownsey will continue as pastor of St. Mark Parish in Peoria and as chaplain/director of St. Joseph Chapel and Newman Foundation at Bradley University.

The appointments also announce the return to the diocese in late July of Msgr. Steven P. Rohlfs, PA, who has served as rector of Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland for the past decade. Msgr. Rohlfs, who has served in several leadership roles including diocesan administrator, vicar general, chancellor, moderator of the curia, and vocations director, will be in residence and have pastoral duties at St. Joseph Parish in Pekin.

First assignments for the six men to be ordained priests of the Diocese of Peoria on May 23 will be listed in the next issue of The Catholic Post.

Named to succeed Msgr. Watson at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights is Msgr. Jason Gray, who has served with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome since 2012.

Ordained in 1997, Msgr. Gray is a former pastor of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Peter parishes in Peoria. He has held several diocesan posts including judicial vicar, vice chancellor, and administrative assistant to the bishop.

With the impending departure of Franciscan Friars from Sacred Heart Parish in Peoria, the downtown parish will now share a pastoral team with St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Bernard parishes. Msgr. Stanley Deptula, current cathedral rector and pastor of St. Bernard, will serve as pastor of the three parishes, with Father Thomas Gibson and Father Donald Henderson as parochial vicars.

Succeeding Father Henderson as pastor of St. Mary Parish, Princeville, will be Father Steven Bird, who has been pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Colona, since 2013. Ordained in 2000, Father Bird was previously pastor of parishes in Rantoul, Thomasboro, and Kewanee, and has been involved in Hispanic ministry.

The new pastor of the Colona faith community — as well as Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Silvis — will be Father Peter Zorjan. These will be the first assignments as a pastor for Father Zorjan, who was ordained in 2007 and for the past two years has been parochial vicar of parishes in Pontiac, Flanagan, Cullom and Odell.

Meanwhile, Father John Cyr has been named pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Bradford and St. Dominic Parish, Wyoming. Ordained in 2002, Father Cyr is a former pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Tolono, and St. Joseph Parish, Ivesdale, who for the past year has been parochial vicar at St. Matthew Parish in Champaign.

In Bradford and Wyoming, he succeeds Father Vien Van Do, who after guiding those faith communities since 2006 will become parochial vicar of parishes in Germantown Hills and Metamora, with pastoral care of Vietnamese Catholics in the Peoria and Bloomington regions.

Father Robert Lampitt, who served as administrator of St. Thomas Parish, Philo, and St. Mary Parish, Pesotum, for the past year, has been named pastor of both parishes.

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