Parish leaders — two priests, three PLCs — reflect on future plans

Two priests and three parish life coordinators will retire from leadership roles in the Belleville diocese effective July 11.

Msgr. Daniel J. Jurek and Father Raymond Schultz, with a combined 70 years of service in the diocese, have been granted retirement by Bishop Edward K. Braxton. Parish life coordinators Sister Grace Marie Mueller, SSND, Sister Carol Karnitsky, sscm, and Brenda Pehle are also ending their terms of service.

Msgr. Daniel J. Jurek, currently the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Prairie du Rocher and chaplain at the Adorers of the Blood of Christ Ruma Center, has provided 44 years of service to the Belleville diocese. In retirement, Msgr. Jurek will continue to provide sacramental ministry to the parish partnership of St. Joseph’s, St. John the Baptist in Red Bud and St. Patrick in Ruma.

Father Raymond Schultz, currently the pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Fairview Heights and St. Stephen Parish in Caseyville, has served in the diocese for 26 years. Detailing his time in the diocese as “quite a journey,” Father Schultz plans to move southwest and focus on his health in retirement.

“My health, energy level and well being are no longer up to the task,” Father Schultz said.

Although he said he is looking forward to retirement, Father Schultz said he will miss the people who have influenced his priesthood.

“I am a better person and a better priest for my time with the people,” he said.

Sister Grace Mueller, SSND, is retiring after 25 years of service as the pastoral associate and parish life coordinator at St. Luke Parish in Belleville. Sister Grace plans to move to the motherhouse in St. Louis upon retirement and engage in a few “low-key sabbaticals” and workshops.

Looking back, Sister Grace said she has been “amazed by the lay leadership at St. Luke’s.”

In her role as parish life coordinator, Sister Grace said she has always viewed her role as the midwife of the laity. “That’s how it’s been here,” she said. “I’d like to think I brought a broad vision of what ministry is to this parish.”

Brenda Pehle, parish life coordinator at St. Joseph Parish in Lebanon, is retiring after 25 years of service to the parish where she began as a pastoral associate. Pehle was the first parish life coordinator appointed in the Belleville diocese.

Sister Carol Karnitsky, sscm, will end her term of service with the diocese, but will be taking on the role of Province Leader of the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary. After serving 14 years as the parish life coordinator at Holy Spirit Parish in Carterville, Sister Karnitsky said she is looking forward to her new position.

“I plan to be a touchstone for my sisters and be the one to assure they live a fully developed religious life,” she said. She said she will miss the people of the parish and the diocese, though. “Being a parish life coordinator was a dream come true for me,” she said.