Local news outlet RTV Noord reports unhappiness among some of the clergy of the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden. The reason? A string of new appointments which came into effect this month.
In general, parish priests remain in one parish (or, as is the case in the diocese in question, a cluster of parishes) for six to eight years. Among the priest that were reassigned were Father Peter Stiekema, who wrapped up twelve years in the south east of the province of Drenthe for Leeuwarden, the Frisian capital; and three young priests who are heading to their second assignment: Fathers Victor Maagd, Jos Deuling and Albert Buter. Fr. Bert van der Wal is also one of the reassigned priests. In an interview following the news of their reassignments, Fr. Stiekema and Maagd (pictured) commented on their move. “I go where I’m needed,” Fr. Stiekema said after admitting that the news had some emotional undertones for him. Fr. Maagd said, “the priesthood is a matter of being called and sent.”
Fr. Jos Deuling called the rumoured grumblings “misplaced”, and calls it “refreshing” for both priests and faithful to relocate every now and again.
While it is certainly understandable that leaving a familiar parish and beloved faithful behind is hard, it comes with the territory. As times change, so do the demands of the faithful and the diocese. Personally, knowing some of the priests in question to a certain extent, I have my doubts about the nature and extent of the unhappiness.
EDIT: Later today, Bishop Gerard de Korte offered a response that was much along the lines of what I wrote above. He understands the pain of leaving a familiar parish, but adds:
“We are of course also a Catholic Church in which the bishop can send his priests to where they are needed. So accepting that does have something to do with a bit of priestly spirituality.”
Photo credit: DvhN/Duncan Wijting