Last week, I promised that I would continue our reflections on the second Precept of the Church: Confession of serious sin at least once a year. I am humbly asking that you wait another week as another topic has come up that I think deserves our attention. It has to do with three of our previous Parochial Vicars here at the Cathedral and some confusion about what was recently listed in the Catholic Times regarding the assignments of Father Michael Friedel, Father Peter Chineke, and Father Wayne Stock.
Let’s start with our most recent Parochial Vicar – Father Peter Chineke. As you are aware, the plan we had in place was to have Father Peter begin full-time Canon Law studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. As we were preparing for this transition, it was brought to our attention that his current immigration status does not really allow us to assign him to full-time studies at this time. The details are a bit confusing, and if you do not deal with immigration law, I won’t bore you with the details. We still hope to have Father Peter study Canon Law full-time in the future, but for now, for the purposes of immigration, he needs to be in a parish assignment, thus his being appointed Parochial Administrator at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Decatur, as well as Chaplain of St. Teresa High School and Millikin University, both in Decatur.
If you read Father Peter’s appointment carefully, you will see that it includes information about Father Michael Friedel, and this is where many have been confused. Due to some unforeseen challenges with another assignment (see below) in Decatur, it became no longer possible for Father Friedel to serve both of his parishes by himself (Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Thomas the Apostle). Up until July 1, Father Friedel had a second priest to assist him, but after July 1, he was left by himself, as I will explain below. The solution was for Father Friedel to request a Leave of Absence from his role as Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle so as to focus his efforts on Our Lady of Lourdes, thus making room for the diocese to assign a priest to take care of the pastoral care of St. Thomas the Apostle temporarily. The diocese therefore assigned a priest for a month at St. Thomas, then when the situation with Father Peter arose, it made good sense for him to take care of St. Thomas. Where people have grown concerned with Father Friedel is the mention in the appointment for Father Peter that Father Friedel’s Leave of Absence was necessitated by his Parochial Vicar’s Medical Leave of Absence. Several people saw “Medical Leave of Absence” and the closest name to that phrase was Father Friedel, so many assumed he was on a Medical Leave of Absence, when in reality, it was his Parochial Vicar.
That brings us to our final priest – Father Wayne Stock, and his situation brings clarity to the last point. Father Wayne Stock was initially scheduled to take a new assignment on July 1 as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Thomas the Apostle in Decatur, as well as Chaplain of St. Teresa High School. Unfortunately, Father Wayne has requested and received a Medical Leave of Absence for the time being. Since this happened after all of the assignments had been made, we needed to pivot to address the situation in Decatur while trying to avoid upsetting other assignments that were already set.
I hope this explanation helps to clear things up. I know that Father Friedel has been pretty surprised at how many people have been asking about him, if he is okay. I assure you, Father Friedel is doing great in Decatur. Nevertheless, I am sure he still very much appreciates your prayers! The same goes for Father Peter as he settles into his new assignment. Finally, I invite you to keep Father Wayne in your daily prayers. Many of you came to know and love him during his time here, and I know he will very much appreciate your prayers during this time in which he is attending to his well-being.