I am under siege by telephone and e-mail. People are asking me what is going on at St. Agnes.
There is a lot of misinformation flying around. Rumors build on rumors in the manner of the game "Telephone". One person referred to this as the St. Agnes Massacre. I don’t think that sort of thing is very helpful.
I can offer something I know to be facts.
The pastor of St. Agnes, Fr. George Welzbacher, has issued a letter which explains what is going on. Fr. Welzbacher would NOT print and distribute anything that isn’t true. I have had conversations with those involved as well.
Fr. Welzbacher has explained (both in print and to me) that at his age of 78 he does not consider himself to be the right man to take care of St. Agnes, which is a very big job indeed. He ASKED to be moved to a smaller parish and the Archbishop granted his request. He will go to St. John’s on the east side of St. Paul, not back to St. Nicholas in New Market as some people have speculated.
The new pastor of St. Agnes will be Fr. John Ubel. I have known Fr. Ubel for many years. He is a highly intelligent, highly respected, and accomplished priest. He has been involved in Catholic education and is an excellent teacher. He has a great love of music and the Church’s Latin liturgy. No one need fear that Fr. Ubel will dismantle what has been accomplished at St. Agnes over the decades of service of Msgr. Bandas, Msgr. Schuler and Fr. Welzbacher. People have reason to be very happy for this appointment.
I also have known for years Fr. Randy Kasel who will be the assistant at St. Agnes. The Archbishop could not have made a better choice.
Most of the controversy in this matter surrounds Fr. Altier.
Fr. Altier is not going to be assigned to parish work at this point. He will be at Regina Medical Center in Hastings, Minnesota. Fr. Altier has offered a reaction elsewhere and I take him at his word when he offers his explanations. Whatever the motives of the Archdiocese were for this assignment, I think it is fair that we take Fr. Altier at his word when he says something.
Has Fr. Altier struck anyone who is paying attention to him to be the sort of fellow who thinks one thing and says another publicly?
No Fr. Z, I don't take Fr. Altier to be duplicitous. Fr. Altier comes across to me as the kind of guy who says what he is thinking.