The shepherd of St. Jane Frances DeChantal Church in Pasadena is being put out to pasture this June.
Msgr. Charles F. Muth will have aplace to live off Edmondson Avenue near Catonsville. He'll have a job with the Holy Name Union, a Roman Catholic men's organization dedicated to honoring Jesus. And he'll have memories of 21 years as pastorof the church.
In the last several months, Muth and his congregation tried -- and failed -- to talk the Archdiocese of Baltimore into keeping him on at the church.
The priest turned 70 this year, the age at which priests must submit a resignation to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The church can either accept or reject the resignation.
Despite a petition signed by 2,123 parishioners asking that Muth be retained as an assistant priest, the Archdiocese insisted upon accepting Muth's resignation.
Leaving the church and the active priesthood is hard for the monsignor to accept.
"I told the archbishop I'd rather die with my boots on," he lamented last week. "I never heard of a priest retiring. But I guess they have to think of the parish, too."
The church of nearly 4,000 families is throwing a farewell party for Muth at3 p.m. April 21 in the school hall, and everyone who knows him is invited, said Cass Moran, church secretary.
A new priest, the Rev. Dennis Tinder, has been appointed to replace Muth in June, the church announced last week.
Tinder, 48, has served at St. Joseph's Church in Fullerton for the past 10 years.
"I was very happy here, but the archbishop called and said, 'I really think you ought to go.' And I'm looking forward to the challenge and I'm excited about it," Tindersaid. "St. Joe's is a great big parish and so is St. Jane Frances. The churches are very similar."
Tinder, who grew up in Towson, saidMuth has welcomed him "very graciously. It's hard for me to leave here after 10 years. It must be twice as hard for the monsignor, who has been (at St. Jane Frances) twice as long. It's very tough to leave people you love and care for."
The new pastor, who just learned of his appointment last week, hopes to meet members of St. Jane Frances during the next several months, he said.
One goal he has is to share thework, Tinder said. "I tend to see my objective as enabling as many as possible to join in ministry."
Meantime, Muth prepares to move to Baltimore's Ten Hills neighborhood, near Catonsville, and take up work with the Holy Name Union. His activities will include working with the poor, promoting scholarships for Catholic high schools and promoting attendance at Mass and confession.
"Confession seems to have dropped off somewhat since Vatican II," Muth said. "The churchwants to revive the sacrament of reconciliation. They don't want it to fall into disuse.
"I hate to leave what I'm doing, but there are lots of things to stay interested in."