By Pat Maurer Review Correspondent
There are big changes coming for the Catholic ministries in the Diocese of Saginaw and for St. Cecilia’s, St. Henry’s and St. Charles Churches.
Father William James Rutkowski, who has been serving as pastor of St. Cecilia’s for three years and of St. Henry’s in Rosebush and St. Charles in Leaton for two years, will be leaving at the end of June. He has also been serving as pastor of St. Phillip Neri of Coleman and St. Anne of Edenville with the help of an assistant, Father Christian Tabares.
Father Bill came to Clare July 1, 2010. “Father Bill” is moving to the Diocese of Saginaw where he will serve as Vicar General, an assistant to Bishop Joseph Cistone.
He said, “I’m excited, and nervous about the change. It will be a totally different kind of ministry for me. I’m used to being a pastor. Now I will be in a big city and involved in a totally different way with the Church.”
He continued, “To keep me grounded though, I will still be conducting weekend masses and sacramental work at St. John Vianney Church in Saginaw.”
He said he will miss the community and especially the congregations here. “I am amazed with Clare and the area here – the spirit of the people, the sense of community. It is a nice blend of people who have always been here and people who have moved and retired here. Everyone gets along so well.”
He came to the area from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Bay City where he served as Pastor for 13 years. Before that his ministry was at St. Vincent DePaul in Shepherd and St. Leo in Winn for five years. He is originally from Ubly and has been a priest for 25 years.
Father Bill will be replaced by Father Prentice A. Tipton, who will come to the area from St. Elizabeth’s Church in Reese and St. Norbert Church in Munger (located near Bay City). For the next year Father Prentice will minister to the “linked Parishes of St. Cecilia, St. Henry and St. Charles. The three will be blended except for finances.
There are more big changes coming for the area Parishes.
On July 1, 2014, the three separate Parishes will merge into a totally new, single Parish with a new name. “The name hasn’t been decided yet,” Father Bill said, “but it will be determined in October.”
He said only the Parish name will change. The Church and School in Clare will continue to be St. Cecilia’s and the Rosebush Church will continue to be St. Henry’s and the Leaton Church will stay named St. Charles.
In the new Parish, Clare will be the main Parish Church, while Rosebush and Leaton will called “Churches of Occasional Use,” and be used for special events like weddings and funerals and other activities.
Core teams, each consisting of four members from each Parish, have been working and planning for the changes, which will be done throughout the entire Diocese, since November of 2011, Father Bill said. Their evaluation will be reviewed by Bishop Cistone, with the help of two advisory committees; the Diocesan Planning Committee and the Presbyterial Council, and then the final decision will be made by the Bishop.
“Our work now,” said Father Bill, “is how do we help people embrace and make the new Parrish vibrant? How we can all work together to make it all work?”