Father Tom is leaving Innisfail

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Catholic priest continues career in Red Deer

INNISFAIL – Father Tom Puslecki may be leaving Innisfail next month but it’s not a final goodbye.

The pastor at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Innisfail will give his last mass on Aug. 16. He will then  move to Red Deer to further his career in the priesthood.

Puslecki has been appointed the next pastor at Sacred Heart Parish.

“I’m not saying goodbye. It is just a transition,” said Puslecki. “I’ll still have a connection with the school here and because of (that) I will stay connected with the people and families in Innisfail.”

Puslecki was ordained on May 25, 2002 in Wroclaw, Poland. He received his master of divinity in Catholic social studies there as well, before moving to Edmonton in 2011 and Innisfail in 2013, where he took the position of pastor at Our Lady of Peace.

Despite being nervous about moving to a small town like Innisfail, the warm welcome soon made him feel at home here.

“I was a little afraid (when I first came here) but I’m leaving after five years filled with love, with friendship and with the faces of the people who are always smiling with an open hand and open heart,” said Puslecki.

In 2017, Puslecki was appointed assistant director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Edmonton. In January 2018 he was appointed as spiritual advisor of the newly formed Catholic Physicians Guild for Central Alberta. At the beginning of April, with permission of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Puslecki received his appointment from Archbishop Richard Smith as a collegial judge to the tribunal for the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton.

That same month he was elected to the board of directors for the National Association of Vocations and Formation Directors.

“It’s more responsibility and more work but I love my vocation. I love my priesthood,” said Puslecki.

Since arriving in Innisfail in October 2013, Puslecki has become a much loved and respected part of the community, noted David Griffin, vice-principal at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys School.

“Father Tom brings a lot of passionate faith to the school,” said Griffin. “He is an extremely influential faith leader.”

He will remain the division chaplain, noted Griffin, working with Catholic schools in Innisfail, Red Deer and Olds.

“St. Marguerite’s school wishes Father Tom the best. We thank him for all of his hard work growing our faith community here,” said Griffin. “We’ll miss him but we know Sacred Heart is very blessed to have such an amazing parish priest.”

The new priest for Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, Father Liju Jose — a native of India — will replace Puslecki in Innisfail.  Jose was introduced to parishioners on June 10 when he celebrated mass.

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.