Farewell to Father GregPublished 10:53am Thursday, March 21, 2013
The parish of Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Fergus Falls will go through a significant change when Father Greg Paffel, who has served the parish for five years, leaves at the end of March. A farewell party is planned from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 24 in Victory Hall at OLV.
“Change can be a wonderful opportunity for what God has ahead of us,” Paffel said in relation to the transition at OLV. “A flower doesn’t grow into its beauty unless it changes. The rhythm of life has seasonal changes like our earth- don’t be afraid of change.”
Paffel was notified by Bishop John Kinney of the Diocese of St. Cloud, that he will be assigned to a new parish effective July 1, 2013. Since Paffel will go on a three month sabbatical prior to his new assignment, his last service will be Easter Sunday, March 31st.
“We are going to miss him — he has had a phenomenal impact on our parish spiritually and has accomplished so much in his short time here,” said Margie Gettel, one of two trustees on the Church board.
While parishioner Pat Connelly is involved with OLV on the stewardship committee, his respect for Paffel grew immensely outside the church.
“He has been a blessing to our parish and our really good friend,” said Connelly. “He accomplished a lot for Fergus Falls by being a real person — he brought our entire family closer through the church.”
While Paffel is credited for providing leadership in building the fellowship hall and adorship chapel, many appreciated how he built a program to lead teens to Christ.
“Our life teen group is really blooming and he had a big hand in that,” said Connelly.
Paffel got another church member involved in youth leadership outside the church.
“He mentioned Boy Scouts to me and I got involved and it’s worked out really well,” said OLV church board chairman Dean Pawlowski. “Fr. Greg did a great job in providing a gentle hand guiding the process and as spiritual support of the programs.”
OLV staff also hold him in high regard.
“He was one of the reasons I moved up here from St. Cloud- I got to know him when he was a chaplain there at St. Anthony’s,” Deacon Chuck Kampa said. “He’s been an open and friendly person to work with, and brought a lot of spirituality with him great love of holy spirit.”
Kampa added that Paffel is really open to the ideas of others, including when they discussed, and ultimately moved the tabernacle from the back of the sanctuary.
“Fr. Greg has been a total blessing to work for,” said Mary Jo Baez, OLV’s church secretary. “He has brought tremendous spiritual growth to the parish, and now it’s time to share him.”
“He brought a lot of great gifts and I’m sad to see him go,” said Pawlowski. “But I believe whoever replaces him will have their own unique skills to continue to help our parish grow.”
So what’s up next for Fr. Greg Paffel?
During his sabbatical, he plans a 30-day silent retreat in Clearwater, Fla., with the Marion Servants of Divine Providence, followed by an internship with Catholic Stewardship Consultants in Georgia.
Paffel will announce what parish he will be moving to on Easter Sunday, but did provide the following clues:
“The diocese is setting me up to work with younger priests and that takes a larger set-up,” Paffel said. “The diocese needs pastors to mentor the younger priests. There are 15 new seminarians this year in our diocese.”
Paffel hails from Elk River. He is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, attended St. John’s Seminary in Collegeville, then graduated from St. Paul Seminary with his Master’s of Divinity degree. He has been a priest for 12 years.
Refreshments will be served at the farewell party, and people will have an opportunity to pay tribute to Paffel during an open mic session starting at 2 p.m.
Donations will be accepted through the OLV office for a parting gift.
“I’ve very much enjoyed my time in the community of Fergus Falls, and I’ll miss parishioners and various members of the community I’ve met during my time here,” Paffel said. “Thank you for welcoming me so warmly for these past five years.