Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Father Savelesky is new Director of Continuing Formation for Priests

by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Dec. 1, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Michael Savelesky, pastor of Spokane’s Assumption Parish and spirituality columnist for the Inland Register, has been named the new Director of Continuing Formation for Priests. Bishop Skylstad’s appointment of Father Savelesky is effective Jan. 1, 2006.

He replaces Msgr. Robert Pearson, who, though officially retired, will continue as the diocese’s Vicar for Priests.

The focus of the position will be two-fold: both the continuing formation of the priests of the diocese, but also continuing education. Father Savelesky will be responsible for scheduling regular opportunities for the priests of the diocese to attend events designed to further their formation and education as priests.

Such events include days of recollection, the priests’ annual retreat, and workshops. Father Savelesky mentioned the possibility of offerings specifically designed for small groups, rather than all priests as a body.

Father Savelesky said that a survey of the priests was conducted about a year ago, to ascertain topics that would be helpful and of interest. Suggestions ranged from bioethics to spiritual direction to preaching to retirement issues, he said.

Occasionally, events are held for both priests and deacons. Earlier this year, Father Pat Hartin, pastor of St. Paschal Parish in Spokane Valley and Scripture professor at Gonzaga University, led a joint preaching workshop for both priests and deacons. Father Rory Pitstick, a Scripture scholar and pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Okanogan, will lead a similar joint workshop next month at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center.

Father Savelesky said that the outgoing Director of Continuing Formation for Priests, Msgr. Robert Pearson, has done such a good job that events are scheduled for the next year or so, “which makes it easy for me to move into the position.

He said that one of the position’s major responsibilities is coordinating the annual priests’ retreat. But “as far as my approach to the position is concerned, I do see a need to be very flexible and adaptable. I would foresee offering a lot of small group formation opportunities.”

Father Savelesky expressed gratitude to Msgr. Pearson for his many years of work. “He had this job for 10 years back when Bishop Welsh was here, then he took it over again later, and he did an excellent job both times. I’m building on his fine basis.”

He also hopes to “do what I can to help improve the morale of priests. We’re feeling pretty dejected these days.”

It’s an assignment he embraces “with enthusiasm.”

Father Savelesky has been pastor of Assumption since 2001. Besides his spirituality column for the IR, he is author of Catholics Believe, from Harcourt Religion Publishers, and served as the IR’s editor from 1980-85.

He also has served as pastor of St. Peter Parish, Spokane, and St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi parishes, Walla Walla; was rector of Bishop White Seminary and Vocations Director for the diocese; and was the Bishop’s Secretary for Evangelization. He was the director of the diocese’s deacon formation program twice, in 1975-80 and 1992-95.

He holds a doctorate in theology from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

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