Photo by WNY Catholic Newspaper
The Rev. Daniel P. Walsh
Out of retirement, return is blessing for parish
December 6, 2015
By GREG FOX – OBSERVER Staff Writer , Observer Today
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“My best years may be over, but I would not want them back, not with the fire that is in me now, the fire that is in me now.” Those words by literary giant Samuel Beckett appeared in a recent bulletin for Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church parishioners to describe how the Rev. Daniel P. Walsh feels about coming out of retirement. Walsh was appointed to a six-year term as pastor of the Dunkirk parish last month. Walsh beamed on more than one occasion as he discussed his return to the priesthood during an interview with the OBSERVER. “The parish is exciting; I feel like I’m on a honeymoon and I hope Holy Trinity feels the same,” he said. “It’s a very welcoming community, to me and to others. And it has some good contemporary music, which I think is important in the church. I’m just happy to accompany the people (in their life journeys).” Walsh was born in Buffalo and grew up in Salamanca.
He was ordained in 1968 and has lived in the local area since then. He was pastor at St. Anthony’s Church in Fredonia for a period of time and retired as pastor at St. Joseph’s Church in Gowanda in December 2012, when he became eligible at 70 years of age. Three years later, he has found himself back in a position to preach God’s word. So what brought this seasoned clergyman back into the fold?
“I’d like people to come back to church, and not just the Catholic church, but church, temple, synagogue or mosque – because we do need faith, not just religion, but faith. I want to help those people that I see are struggling in life without faith,” he explained, adding faith gives people hope and an ability to cope and voyage through life. “The culture has changed. We’re a secular culture; the religious traditions are gone. Not only that, but the bench has gone from weak to empty,” he noted. In the year of his ordination about 45 years ago, the Diocese of Buffalo had 610 active priests, according to statistics Walsh shared with the OBSERVER. That number has nosedived to 154 active priests in 2015, a drop of roughly 75 percent. “That is a terrible and shocking statistic that we have to recognize and deal with,” Walsh remarked. “We need not only priests, but laypeople – since priests are getting older and older – to tell people about the Good News and to share the message of Jesus and Pope Francis. And that’s another reason I came back, too; Pope Francis is exciting. He’s the most popular leader in the world … and his message is we’re all sinners, but we’re all children of God.”
To step in tandem with that theme, Holy Trinity has displayed a message stating, “All are welcome,” on its sign out front, Walsh pointed out. He noted he has received compliments from people for that sign.
In summing up the overall health of the Roman Catholic church, Walsh stated that while certain trends and transitions may seem alarming to some, he remains optimistic for the future.
“Maybe we’re going through a little winter, but we look forward to the spring,” he said. “You want to have hope.”
Rev. Daniel Walsh – Pastor
Heather and Aaron Pietro – Coordinators of Religious Ed
Tonia Piede – Director of Music and Liturgy, 4 PM and 8:30 AM Masses
Marie Sedota/Dadie Sedota – Music Directors, 11 AM Contemporary Mass
Evonne Hennebery – Organist
Patricia Donovan – Secretary
Randy Ruland – Maintenance
Mary Rosario – Rectory Housekeeper
Catherine Mohart – Business Manager
There are numerous parish volunteers who work in the office, prepare for each Mass, aide in Bereavement planning meetings, perform maintenance of the grounds, the facility and the cemetery. Although their time is donated, their work is vital to this parish.