The Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of Salt Lake said in his Tuesday Tapestry column, Feb. 12, that this is sad news for all of us. We are profoundly grateful to these Jesuit fathers and their predecessors for more than five decades of service in this diocese,” the bishop said.
“Since their arrival in Utah, the Jesuit fathers have provided a supreme and effective presence in the Ogden area,” said Vicar General Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald. “Their commitment to St. Mary Parish and St. Joseph Catholic High School greatly enriched the faith life of the Catholic community. They leave an impressive legacy as they depart this diocese and will be greatly missed.”
“This is our home,” said Fr. Prengaman. “We (the Jesuits) have been serving the people here since at least the 1940s. It is a disappointment that we have to leave now.”
Fr. Prengaman said the provincial superior said last year he would not be sending any more Jesuits to Utah because of a manpower shortage.“We knew that we would not be replaced, but it was a surprise that we are being pulled out,” said Fr. Prengaman. “Fr. Rock is 82 and after almost 20 years of service here, he will most likely retire. We are going to have a going away and retirement party in July. I will be reassigned in May or June.”
Fr. Prengaman said because there are so few priests in Utah, there is a special comaraderie among them. They work together and help one another. He said he hasn’t found that to be true in other places. “That is one of the great blessings of having been here,” he said.
“With the Jesuits leaving St. Mary Parish, I feel like it is the end of an era,” said Deacon Steve Neveraski of St. Mary Parish. “Frs. Rock and Prengaman have been a large part of our lives and our family here. Fr. Rock has been my spiritual director since I began my studies for the diaconate. His knowledge and experience have been a treasure for me and helped me greatly as a deacon.”
“It was Fr. Rock who suggested 10 years ago that I consider the diaconate as a vocation,” said Deacon Jack Clark, of St. Mary Parish. “At that time, I really had no idea of what the diaconate ministry entailed. What I did have was the honor and pleasure of the likes of Jesuit Fathers Neale Herrlich, John Ferguson, Patrick Reuse and Rock; studying and learning what I could during my formation. One of my fondest memories is being able to assist my mentors and friends during an Easter Vigil shortly after my ordination.”
Link (here) to the full article.