Newly named pastor gets warm welcome at St. John Catholic

January 17, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

When the Rev. Arthur Valenzano attended Monsignor Joseph C. Antoszewski's funeral in July, he didn't know he would be returning to St. John Roman Catholic Church in six months.

On Feb. 15, the 43-year-old priest will become the new pastor and spiritual leader to 3,400 families at the Westminster church, one of the largest in the Catholic archdiocese. Since the monsignor's death, the Rev. George B. Moeller has served as interim administrator at St. John.

Father Valenzano may not have moved in yet, but he said he already feels welcome.

The Rev. David Pietropaoli, associate pastor, gave his new boss a "whirlwind" tour of the parish Wednesday. As the pair approached the new multipurpose building, Father Valenzano saw several children's smiling faces

peering from the classrooms windows. The children were all waving to him.

"I don't know how they knew who I was or that I was coming," he said. "They just wanted to say 'Hi.' "

Since his appointment, officially announced at last weekend's Masses, Father Valenzano said he has been "welcomed 100 times over" with phone calls and invitations.

"I am not surprised at that," he said. "I have heard a lot of good things about the people here, and I know this parish has a tradition of cooperation."

For the past six years, Father Valenzano has served as pastor at St. William of York parish in Baltimore County.

"At St. William's, we have 860 families," he said. "With more than four times that number at St. John's, I am in for a big change."

He said he hopes the archdiocese names his successor at St. William's before he leaves for St. John's. He is that parish's only priest. "The archdiocese asks us to serve," he said. "We don't apply for positions."

Following his ordination in 1975, Father Valenzano served as associate pastor at St. Ambrose and St. Mary of the Assumption parishes in Baltimore.

His appointment to Westminster brings him a little closer to his childhood home in Eckhart Mines, a small Allegany County town near Frostburg.

"Carroll County is a beautiful, rural area," he said. "Not so rural as the town where I grew up, but as beautiful."

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