St. Matthias’ ‘Father Doug’ Celebrates 25 Years In The Parish


St. Matthias’ Rev. Douglas Haefner sings during Mass celebrating his 25 years at the parish. All Photos: Marilyn Parente.

Hundreds of parishioners at St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church showed up Nov. 22 to congratulate their priest on his 25 years at their pulpit.

The Rev. Douglas J. Haefner said he was “humbled” by the response to his anniversary.

“I’m just humbled by the outpouring of the people,” Haefner said after the 10:30 a.m. Mass. “Today was a celebration of all the people who have helped me to build up the kingdom of God here at St. Matthias.”

Following the Mass, which Haefner officiated, parishioners joined him for a reception. The receiving line of well-wishers stretched from one end of the long room to the other.

Haefner said the actual date that he was assigned to St. Matthias falls in February, but the decision was made to celebrate now because St. Matthias School is also celebrating its 50th year then.

Haefner said the thing that has impressed him most in his quarter-century at St. Matthias is the welcoming nature of the congregation.

“We say all the time we welcome you wherever you find yourself on the journey,” he said. “I think it’s a place of hospitality, not only of space but also of mind and heart. We’re not here to question people, to punish people, but to lead people to God.”12241042_10205500595896103_6978639612116421890_o

“The Pope said a church should be a bridge, not a prison,” he said. “My focus has always been that line from Hebrews, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. When my eyes are fixed, we do alright. When they’re elsewhere on other things, that gets me in trouble.”

Helping “Father Doug,” as he’s known to his parishioners, celebrate his anniversary were: Reverend Nicholas Gengaro, Reverend J. William Mickiewicz, Reverend Thomas V. Perunilam, Reverends Peter & Timothy from the Consolata Society for Foreign Missions, Pastor Sharon Culley from Somerset Presbyterian, Deacon Ronald J. Caimi, Deacon John Radvanski, Deacon Russell B. Demkovitz and Deacon Stephen Holzinger.

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