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Important Information Regarding Regrouping of Parishes

Lettter from Msgr. Marion of Mary Immaculate:

Here follows the text that I read at the Masses of the weekend of May 27-28 along with some additional news that has come about this past week. 
I am sharing with you  some very recent developments regarding the pastoral ministry in the North Deanery. As you know, I am the dean of the Northern part of the Diocese. As such I assist the pastors in fulfilling their duties  in their respective parishes. As Dean, I also assist Bishop McKnight in his role as the chief shepherd of the local Church in providing sacramental, pastoral, and spiritual leadership for the faithful in northern Missouri. I am also the canonical pastor of St. Mary in Milan and St. Mary in Unionville. Deacon John Weaver is the parish life coordinator who administers those churches. Father Pat Dolan has been the sacramental minister for Milan and Unionville.
If you recall two years ago when I first came to this area, I spent four weekends celebrating Sunday Mass at 11:00 AM in English and Spanish for the people of St. Mary, Milan when Fr. Pat Dolan was away on vacation. The people of Kirksville were gracious in allowing that the 11:00 AM Mass to be suspended for that time while I was available for sacramental ministry in Milan. That was the only Mass that was available for the people of Milan and Unionville. It was bit easier since we didn’t quite have the customary crowds at the Sunday Masses since the effects of the pandemic were still felt.
Also recall that when Truman State University resumed classes, I celebrated the 11:00 AM Mass at the Newman Center for three weeks until Fr. Simeon returned from vacation. The priest who was covering for Fr. Simeon in Edina on Sundays was unable to do the 11:00 AM Newman Mass. During that time the folks in Milan and Unionville did not have a Sunday Mass. Once Fr. Pat and Fr. Simeon returned from vacation, we resumed the 11:00 AM Mass here at Mary Immaculate and Milan and Unionville resumed their customary schedule.
Summer is upon us and leaves for study and vacation for priests once again affect who is available for sacramental ministry in north central Missouri. Father Pat Dolan is going to be gone for two months to Ireland for his vacation. Recall that he is a retired priest who has generously agreed to continue in ministry, especially to those who speak Spanish. Father Pat has announced  to the folks at Milan and Unionville that he has decided to enter into full retirement and will resign as the sacramental minister to St. Mary in Milan, and St. Mary in Unionville. 
With Fr. Pat gone, there is no priest available  to take the Masses for Milan and Unionville, especially to provide ministry in Spanish at Milan. 
Another aspect of our current situation is that Fr. Simeon, pastor of Edina and Memphis is on a leave of absence throughout the whole summer for studies in Washington DC and then vacation back home in Nigeria. Fr. Walter Kispotta has been assigned as the temporary administer of St. Joseph in Edina and St. John LeLand in Memphis. 
That leaves me and Father Walter to cover the six counties of this area of northeast Missouri. And we can all remember that this isn’t just about having a Sunday Mass, it is about providing the sacraments, especially the Sacraments of the Sick and Confessions, and funeral Masses too. 
Bishop McKnight has made the following pastoral assignments in response to our needs. After consultation with me as the Dean,  the Bishop has decided it is necessary for the parish of St. John in Memphis be separated from St. Joseph Parish, Edina, and regrouped with the parishes in Clark County.  Fr. Kispotta will continue serving as the parish priest of St. Joseph, Edina, but will now assist with Masses in Kirksville and Milan.  
Bishop McKnight has accepted the resignation of Fr. Simeon Etonu as pastor of the parishes in Memphis and Edina, and he intends to appoint Fr. Robert Fields as Pastor of St. John, Memphis, with continuing duties as the Pastor of St. Michael, Kahoka and St. Patrick, St. Patrick.  Fr. Simeon Etonu will receive a new assignment upon his return from studies at the end of summer. St. Joseph, Edina, will receive a new pastor at that time.
Therefore, beginning the weekend of June 24-25, Fr. Robert Fields will cover the Mass at 5:30 in Memphis, and Fr. Kispotta will continue the 9:00 am Mass at St. Joseph Parish, Edina.  
I would like to be able to provide for a Sunday Mass in Milan for the folks west of us. Fr. Walter does have a bit more flexibility at this time because there is no Newman Mass on Sunday during the summer and Baring no longer is able to have Mass with the closing of the church. And now that he does not have to go to Memphis, he will be free to assist with Masses at Milan and Kirksville on Saturday evenings.
So the first change will be for me to have an 11:00 AM Mass at Milan starting  Sunday, June 25. Fr. Walter will come to Kirksville and celebrate the 11:00 AM at Mary Immaculate. That will continue at least through the rest of June and into July. 
During the next few weeks, I’ll be working with Bishop McKnight and his advisors and parish leadership to assess the Mass schedules for all the parishes in this part of the deanery, including the Newman Center when Truman resumes classes and see what changes we have to make to ensure that the sacraments are celebrated worthily and for the greatest good. I’ll be meeting with parish leadership from the different parishes involved to help them understand the challenges we are facing at this time in the Diocese and to respond with confidence in the Holy Spirit’s guidance that our mission to evangelize through word, sacrament and charity continue. 
Thank you for your prayers and support as I work with our neighboring parishes and missions to provide the sacramental graces to the faithful in northern Missouri. – Msgr. Marion Makarewicz