Interim Catholic ministry takes shape

Nicholas Goldrosen

Chaplain to the College and Protestant Chaplain Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer recently announced interim arrangements for the College’s Catholic ministry, following the departure of former Catholic Chaplain Fr. Gary Caster in May. Tracy Finnegan, assistant director of the Center for Learning in Action, has taken on the role of Catholic coordinator in the chaplains’ office; Fr. John McDonagh of the Diocese of Springfield’s campus ministry outreach will serve as a visiting priest. This arrangement began in September and is expected to continue through this academic year. 

Finnegan’s work involves advising the student group Williams Catholic, coordinating Catholic events and activities on campus and supporting the chaplains’ office’s spring break interfaith trip to El Paso, Texas. McDonagh celebrates the 8:30 p.m. Sunday Mass, in addition to holding open hours for pastoral concerns each Monday. The 4:30 p.m. student Mass is being celebrated by Fr. Michael Lillpopp, the pastor of St. Patrick’s and St. Raphael’s Church on Southworth St.

The search is currently underway for a new permanent Catholic chaplain. “We will be launching a search for a permanent Catholic chaplain very soon with the goal of welcoming our new Catholic chaplain to the campus in the Fall of 2020,” Bailey Fischer said. The search could include both lay and ordained chaplains. “It is possible that some of the applications may be lay ministers as well as priests,” Bailey Fischer said. “The sacramental needs of the Catholic community will be a very high priority of the new Catholic chaplain, which includes the continuation of Mass and other pastoral needs.”