Stay. Father Tom gets the word
Local Catholic community breathes sigh of relief
The Rev. Thomas Zelker is staying right here in Granville.
Zelker said Friday he had finally received word Monday, June 14, he would not be leaving St. Mary’s Church following a nearly four-month wait for word on his possible new assignment.
After months of waiting, while hearing nothing from the church apart from the initial news he might be leaving, Zelker said, he finally felt he had to write a letter seeking clarification of his situation.
“I wrote a letter to the bishop asking for his help in understanding what was going on and the time frame,” Zelker said.
Church business from baptisms and the food pantry to youth group, weddings and funerals were all being held up because he had no idea when or if he would be called on to move, he said.
Requests for any occasion could not be planned because there was no information about when or if he would go meaning putting off any number of different functions.
“They’d ask and I’d have to tell them I don’t know,” Zelker said of parishioners asking for him to preside over an occasion.
Zelker received word he might be moving in March and word spread around Granville quickly. At the time he was given no word where or when he might be expected to go.
“The ball was not in my court, but I was ordained to serve so I would have to do, what I was told to,” he said.
Shortly after the letter was sent, Zelker said, he heard from the diocese personnel director telling him he was staying. Zelker cautioned the news did not come with any indication of how much longer he would remain in Granville – he was simply told he would not be moving.
“There is no time frame,” he said.
Zelker said he had even heard from other priests rumors about where he was going.
“Rumors are still flying around,” he said. The combination all of the pressures from uncertainty with his assignment and its effect on the day-to-day operations convinced Zelker he needed to seek some understanding on behalf of the congregation.
Zelker said he would be “breaking” the news to the congregation at Mass June 20, although he felt sure word had already gotten around.
The waiting had not been easy, he said.
“It has been day-to-day living,” Zelker said.
He planted a garden at the rectory, but said he did so thinking it would be someone else eating the vegetables.
Asked what it was like to find out he would not be leaving the congregation he has been a vital part of for more than 15 years, Zelker just exhales as if he’d been holding his breath the whole time while holding up an extremely heavy weight.
“I just needed anything,” he said.
Zelker said finding out he was leaving would have been difficult, but something he thought he could deal with as a professional.
“This is a relief, a happy relief,” he said.
“I like it here. I like the families. I feel like I’m part of the family so it’s a good relief to know something,” Zelker said.
“It was a long haul; not knowing is the toughest thing,” he said. “It would have been tough to leave Granville. It would have been a heart breaker; there’ll never be another Granville.”