By Bob Seigel/for OND
On Sept. 6, the people of St. Francis de Sales Parish, led by Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of retiring pastor, Msgr. Michael Patnode. Around 275 people attended the event.
Bishop Hoeppner, speaking in reference to the years of service given by Msgr. Patnode, recalled the dedication and sacrifice witnessed by his parishioners, friends and acquaintances during the 45 years of his priestly and administrative roles in the diocese. Bishop Hoeppner said Msgr. Patnode was not moving away from the priesthood, but rather moving to senior status. The bishop observed that this next step in a priest’s life allows him to continue to serve the God he loves while embarking on his next phase of service to God’s people.
Msgr. Patnode, in his homily, observed that while thanking him for his service was certainly appreciated, it was his fervent hope that true thanks be given to God for allowing him, as priest, to serve the Church. He said such thanks would endure far longer than simply thanking the man for his works.
Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Hoeppner; Bishop Emeritus Victor H. Balke; Msgr. Patnode; Msgr. Michael Foltz, diocesan Vicar General; and Father Larry Delaney, Pastor of St. Joseph, Moorhead.
Special music, chosen for the occasion, was performed by the St. Francis de Sales Adult Choir under the direction of former parish liturgical director, Jim Dottenwhy.
Following Mass, attendees gathered in the Father Ketter Social Hall to enjoy a meal prepared by parishioners from the St. Francis de Sales community. Following the meal, a program highlighting Msgr. Patnode’s career in the diocese was presented. It featured remarks from Bishop Hoeppner, Msgr. Foltz, Father Delaney and Andrew Hilliker, principal of St. Joseph’s School, the Catholic school that serves St. Francis de Sales Parish. During the program, he was given several parting gifts as material thanks for his good works. The conclusion of the program featured his own personal recollections and a blessing for him offered by all those in attendance.
Msgr. Patnode is moving to the Bemidji area, where he will become a new homeowner and continue to serve the spiritual needs of those who seek his guidance. His successor, Father Raul Perez-Cobo, began pastoral duties on Sept. 11 and was officially installed as pastor of St. Francis de Sales by Bishop Hoeppner, on Oct. 1.
Swede Stelzer contributed to this article.