Archdiocese calls for priestly transition at Utica church

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 2, 2014

UTICA — The unexpected death of Monsignor William Easton, of National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak, this past December caused the Archdiocese of Detroit, led by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, to make new arrangements in the Catholic community.

The archdiocese called the Rev. Robert Fisher, of St. Lawrence Parish in Utica, to take Easton’s place at the National Shrine of the Little Flower, and the Rev. Roman Pasieczny, of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Warren, to take Fisher’s place.

Fisher spent 11 years at St. Lawrence. He conducted his first Mass at National Shrine of the Little Flower March 22. Pasieczny spent 14 years at St. Martin de Porres and will start at St. Lawrence July 1 — the date regularly slated for assignment changes.

“It’s always difficult to leave a group of people you’ve come to love, who you’ve been with through difficult times, as well as good times,” Fisher said. “At the same time, as an archdiocesan priest, we know that this is part of our life.”

He said the congregations of National Shrine of the Little Flower and St. Lawrence are similar, although the national shrine is a little larger — about 4,000-3,500 families. Both parishes also have a school, but the shrine also has a high school.

Easton, Fisher said, was one of his teachers and formation advisors at seminary, so he knew him well. He said Easton died as a result of heart-related complications.

“He was very well-loved and very well-respected,” Fisher said. “I keep looking for a mighty big pair of shoes. He was here for almost 17 years and did a lot of great things.”

When asked about his decision to accept the position, he said when he was newly ordained, one of the first pastors he worked with told him that unless there was a very good reason to say no to a bishop, he should always say yes.

“When I met with Archbishop Vigneron and he asked me to come here, I thought about it and prayed about it. Things were running well at St. Lawrence, and I didn’t have a good reason to say no to him, so I needed to say yes,” he said.

He added that the congregation and staff were very welcoming of him and that he began his assignment in March instead of July because the parish had been without a pastor since late December.

Pasieczny said St. Martin de Porres’ congregation consists of about 1,500 families and, although it doesn’t have a school, the parish has a good-sized religious formation and more than 300 children.

He attended seminary in southeast Poland at the Catholic University of Lublin, where former Pope John Paul II had been a student and professor. Pasieczny said he was privileged and honored to be at the university during visits from the pope.

Pasieczny said he came to the U.S. in 1993 and Michigan in 1994, so he will be celebrating 20 years in the state this year. He added that the weather in Michigan is similar to that of his hometown, and that he is happy to be a Michigan resident.

“I’ve heard many positive things about St. Lawrence Parish and their school,” he said. “It is a very beautiful and vibrant community.”

He said when he got the call, he accepted and said, “Thank you very much for trusting me.”

“I am very happy and optimistic about serving the people of God at St. Lawrence Parish,” Pasieczny said. “As we begin a year of ‘new Pentecost’ in the Archdiocese of Detroit, I invoke the Holy Spirit to guide me, (associate pastor) Father Salvatore Palazzolo and the parishioners of St. Lawrence to continue building up the kingdom of God.”

Until Pasieczny’s assignment change July 1, St. Lawrence administrator the Rev. Tom Sutherland will take over Fisher’s place.