By CAROLINE MURRAY
Recorder News Staff
The Rev. Lawrence J. Decker will fill the role of administrator of St. Mary's Church in Amsterdam while the Albany Catholic Diocese continues its search for a priest to guide the congregation on a more permanent basis.
In a letter read at Catholic Mass in Amsterdam Sunday morning, Bishop Edward B. Scharfen-berger explained that, while recent plans for leadership at the church have fallen through, the parish will continue to move forward.
"As I mentioned previously, we had been in communication with the Conventual Franciscans about the possibility of their sending some of their priests to minister in Amsterdam," Scharfenberger wrote. "I have recently received notice from the provincial that, due to circumstances which have resulted in reduced numbers of priests than previously expected, they will be unable to accept my invitation to serve here. I am grateful for their prayerful consideration. I believe the necessity to draw back from their original offer is a painful awareness for them."
The plan for now, according to the bishop, is for Decker to assume an administrative role.
"As we continue to move forward with our planning, I have asked Father Larry Decker to serve as administrator of St. Mary's parish," Scharfenberger wrote. "This will provide for pastoral and canonical leadership, particularly as we approach the opening of another school year. I am grateful to Father Decker for his willingness to serve as administrator."
Deacon Michael Ryba will continue in his position as director of finance and administration for the Amsterdam parishes, according to the bishop.
"I am grateful, too, for his ongoing and dedicated service," he wrote.
"I know that these are challenging times but I am confident that with a spirit of cooperation and trust, we will continue to discern the Lord's will and faithfully serve the needs of our people in the city," Scharfenberger concluded. "Please continue to pray for an increase of vocations."
No one at the diocese was available for comment this morning. Neither was the Rev. Decker, who is also the priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Amsterdam.
St. Mary's parish remains in need of a leader to replace the Rev. John Medwid, who resigned May 9.
For the past several months, the diocese has sent retired priests on a rotating schedule for St. Mary's Masses.
Contact CAROLINE MURRAY at firstname.lastname@example.org