Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

PORTLAND — Counseling him to “always be a loving father, a gentle shepherd, and a wise teacher,” Bishop Robert Deeley installed Fr. Seamus Griesbach as the new pastor of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes during a Mass celebrated at Sacred Heart Church in Portland on Oct. 8.

“I am grateful for Fr. Griesbach’s willingness to accept my appointment and happy for you that you will have such a good priest as a pastor,” the bishop told those gathered.

Fr. Griesbach will serve as pastor of Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Parish, St. Louis Parish, St. Peter Parish, and St. Christopher Parish, which is located on Peaks Island. In addition, he will serve as rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

Together, the parishes serve a diverse community, which includes new arrivals and refugees as well as the descendants of immigrants who arrived in Maine decades ago.

“Here at Sacred Heart/St. Dominic, the Sunday Mass is a gathering of nations. It is a welcoming place. At St. Christopher’s Parish on Peaks Island, you have a great tradition of building up the community that gathers for Mass and caring for one another. The St. Vincent de Paul lunch program at the cathedral has been a godsend to many poor people for many years but, in a special way, through this time of pandemic, it has found a way to feed people when many other resources were closing down. In St. Peter’s and St. Louis parishes, you continue long traditions of Italian and Polish culture in the city. You enrich the life of the community,” Bishop Deeley said during his homily.

“The Peninsula and Island Parishes are an incredibly diverse and faith-filled community that gives a beautiful witness to the universality and richness of our Catholic faith, and the cathedral gives us a special connection to our Bishop, Robert Deeley,” said Fr. Griesbach. “It’s been a real inspiration to see how our parishes have contributed and continue to offer so much to this great city and to the larger community of greater Portland – much that is unseen.”

During the installation Mass, Fr. Griesbach was formally introduced to those with whom he will serve, including the parochial vicars of the parishes, Fr. Agustin Sebasthiyan, HGN, and Fr. Kevin Upham, staff members of the parishes, and members of the Pastoral Council and finance councils, whose counsel, guidance, and advice he pledged to seek.

The bishop said having a new pastor inaugurates a new era for the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, and he emphasized the importance of the need to work together as they move forward.

“The work of a cluster with five parishes is complicated and difficult. It can only be accomplished with a strong staff and committed laypeople cooperating with the staff and the clergy,” the bishop said.  “All of you will need to work together to make the cluster one in which together you will live the Gospel and serve each other.”

Fr. Griesbach is one of six pastors who have been installed in Maine parishes in recent weeks. The others are:

  • Fr. Aaron Damboise at Holy Savior Parish (St. Athanasius and St. John Church, Rumford; Our Lady of the Snows Church, Bethel).
  • Fr. Nathan March at St. Brendan the Navigator Parish (Our Lady of Good Hope Church, Camden; St. Bernard Church, Rockland; St. Francis of Assisi Church, Belfast; St. Mary of the Isles Churches on Islesboro, Vinalhaven and North Haven).
  • Fr. Kevin Martin at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Houlton and St. Agnes Parish (St. Agnes Church, Island Falls; St. Paul Church, Patten).
  • Fr. Brad Morin at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish (Immaculate Conception Church, Calais; St. Anne Church, Perry; St. Ann Church, Indian Township; St. James the Greater Church, Baileyville; St. John the Evangelist Church, Pembroke; and St. Joseph Church, Eastport).
  • Fr. Kent Ouellette at Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Parish (St. David Church, Madawaska; St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Madawaska; St. Gerard Church, Grand Isle), Our Lady of the Valley Parish (St. Agatha Church, St. Agatha; St. Joseph Church, Sinclair; St. Luce Church, Frenchville; St. Michael Church, Birchpoint), and St. Peter Chanel Parish (St. Bruno-St. Remi Church, Van Buren; St. Joseph Church, Hamlin).