Counseling him to “always be a loving father, a gentle shepherd, and a wise teacher,” Bishop Robert Deeley installed Father Seamus Griesbach as the new pastor of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes during a Mass celebrated at Sacred Heart Church in Portland on October 8.
"I am grateful for Fr. Griesbach’s willingness to accept my appointment and happy for you that you will have such a good priest as a pastor," the bishop told those gathered.
Father Griesbach will serve as pastor of Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Parish, St. Louis Parish, St. Peter Parish, and St. Christopher Parish, which is located on Peaks Island. In addition, he will serve as rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.
Together, the parishes serve a diverse community, which includes new arrivals and refugees as well as the descendants of immigrants who arrived in Maine decades ago.
“Here at Sacred Heart/St. Dominic, the Sunday Mass is a gathering of nations. It is a welcoming place. At St. Christopher’s Parish on Peaks Island, you have a great tradition of building up the community that gathers for Mass and caring for one another. The St. Vincent de Paul lunch program at the cathedral has been a godsend to many poor people for many years but, in a special way, through this time of pandemic, it has found a way to feed people when many other resources were closing down. In St. Peter’s and St. Louis parishes, you continue long traditions of Italian and Polish culture in the city. You enrich the life of the community,” Bishop Deeley said during his homily.
“The Peninsula and Island Parishes are an incredibly diverse and faith-filled community that gives a beautiful witness to the universality and richness of our Catholic faith, and the cathedral gives us a special connection to our Bishop, Robert Deeley,” said Father Griesbach. “It’s been a real inspiration to see how our parishes have contributed and continue to offer so much to this great city and to the larger community of greater Portland - much that is unseen.”
During the installation Mass, Father Griesbach was formally introduced to those with whom he will serve, including the parochial vicars of the parishes, Father Agustin Sebasthiyan, HGN, and Father Kevin Upham, whom he greeted with hugs; staff members of the parishes; and members of the Pastoral Council and finance councils, whose counsel, guidance, and advice he pledged to seek.
Father Griesbach then led the congregation in the Profession of Faith, after which he attested to his firm faith in God’s word, whether written or handed down in tradition, and in the Church’s teaching.
Bishop Deeley and the congregation then joined in praying for the Church and its leaders, especially Father Griesbach, and for the needs of the people whom he will serve.
The bishop said having a new pastor inaugurates a new era for the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, and he emphasized the importance of the need to work together as they move forward.
"The work of a cluster with five parishes is complicated and difficult. It can only be accomplished with a strong staff and committed laypeople cooperating with the staff and the clergy," the bishop said. "All of you will need to work together to make the cluster one in which together you will live the Gospel and serve each other."
Father Griesbach, who began serving at the parishes at the end of the July, said he has already received a warm welcome and said it is remarkable how much is taking place at the parishes. He said he is looking forward to what the future holds.
“I think there are some real opportunities as we come through this pandemic to reinforce and strengthen our efforts to hand on the faith to a younger generation and to support and encourage one another in living the Gospel.”
Prior to his current appointment, Father Griesbach served as the director of the diocese's Office of Vocations.