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Parish priest is promoted

Father O'Reilly now rector at Cathedral
By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger Correspondent
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The celebration to say goodbye to St. Rose of Lima pastor Rev. Michael O?Reilly has been postponed from June 23 to June 30 for unforeseen reasons, Liturgy Coordinator Joy Robles told parishioners Sunday. O?Reilly has been promoted to rector of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. A divine singing voice, kind manner and friendliness are among the many reasons St. Rose of Lima parishioners are going to miss their pastor, Father Michael O?Reilly. On July 1, O?Reilly becomes rector of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramento. O?Reilly grew up in Lincoln the youngest of seven siblings. His parents, Gerald and Philomena O?Reilly, have lived in Lincoln for 45 years. A rector is someone who ?presides over an ecclesiastical institution,? according to Bishop Jaime Soto spokesman Kevin Eckery. In the case of the Cathedral, since it?s technically the Bishop?s church, there is no pastor so the priest who manages the Cathedral and the Cathedral parish on a day-to -day basis is called a rector. ?It?s an honor to be asked to be in this (rector) position. I appreciate the bishop offering me the opportunity to do ministry there,? O? Reilly said. ?I?m also glad to have had the opportunity to be in Roseville for four years and the grace to be a part of this community.? A going-away party for O?Reilly and Moxie, his 14-year-old Siberian husky mix, will take place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at the church, 615 Vine Ave. in Roseville. A bilingual Mass at 5:30 p.m. will be followed by a parish potluck, entertainment, dancing and ?thank you? presentations. Moxie will relocate to O?Reilly?s parents in Lincoln. ?It?s (the Cathedral) a really busy place,? O?Reilly said. ?Moxie is old and would feel out of place. I?ll get the chance to visit her regularly at my parents? home. I?m sad. It?s going to be a hard transition.? O?Reilly, 46, told his Roseville parishioners at the end of Mass on May 27 that he needed to make a ?small announcement.? Afterward, the cantor choked on her tears while trying to announce the recessional hymn. ?In the whole place, you could feel spirits go ?Ohhh?,? said parishioner Juanita Gutierrez, who was there when O?Reilly made the announcement. ?Everyone was so sad.? ?I really liked him,? Gutierrez said. ?He?s the only way my whole family went to church. They really liked him.? A parishioner walking to her car after Mass said, ?Won?t his voice sound wonderful in the cathedral.? Whenever O?Reilly sang ?Ave Maria? a Capella, it seemed no one spoke or whispered. ?The ministries have gotten stronger since he?s been here. He?s a strong priest. He has an open door policy,? said Roseville resident Paula Shortt, who started coming to St. Rose of Lima in 1973. ?He will get back to you and he will listen to you. His departure will leave a big void.? O?Reilly said that the new St. Rose of Lima pastor will be Rev. Joel S. Genabia, currently Our Divine Savior pastor in Chico. ?I accepted the position after talking to my mom and dad and Bishop Soto,? O?Reilly said. ?I?m looking forward to getting to know the people of the Cathedral but I will greatly miss the people at St. Rose, my garden, Moxie. I?ll be further from my parents.? O?Reilly?s parents started attending St. Rose four years ago when their son was assigned there as pastor. They plan to travel to the Cathedral on Sundays when he celebrates Mass. ?We both have mixed feelings,? Philomena O?Reilly said of she and her husband. ?He will be further away. This is his calling and he has to do what he has to do. We?re just here to support him.? His mother said he never mentioned wanting to be a priest while growing up. He attended Carlin C. Coppin Elementary School and Glen Edwards Middle School and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1983. ?He told us when he was 19 or 20,? she said. ?He had some decisions to make about how he wanted to spend his life. He?s very thoughtful and introspective. He came to the decision that?s what he wanted.? O?Reilly celebrated 16 years as a priest May 27. He went to seminary at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park. St. Theresa in South Lake Tahoe was his first parish and the place where he got Moxie, who has traveled with him to his subsequent positions at Holy Family in Weed, St. Dominic in Orland, and again at St. Theresa in South Lake Tahoe before becoming pastor of St. Rose of Lima in Roseville in July 2008. ?He?s always seemed very happy,? Philomena O?Reilly said. ?I don?t think he regrets his decision in any way.? Philomena O?Reilly said her son being chosen Cathedral rector ?was a complete surprise to us. We know he?s special. We didn?t know the bishop knew that.? Asked why he was chosen, O?Reilly answered, ?My liturgical sense, musical ability and how I celebrate the Eucharist. He heard I was a good speaker.? O?Reilly oversaw the installation of a new roof at St. Rose of Lima to help keep the rain out. ?Many people think that?s a good thing I?ve done,? O?Reilly said. ?I like the choice of the copper dome.? O?Reilly takes over as Cathedral rector for the Very Rev. Michael F. Kiernan, who has been assigned to pastor Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Carmichael. Kiernan, who was Cathedral rector for three years, is replacing a retiring priest. ?That parish (Our Lady of the Assumption) has over 2,000 families,? spokesman Eckery said. ?It?s a big church that needed an experienced administrator.? Eckery said one of the requirements for the position of Cathedral rector is someone who is a good parish administrator. ?It?s great to be assigned to the Cathedral,? Eckery said. ?It?s a big deal. Ironically, it?s not the largest parish in the (Sacramento) diocese but it?s the highest profile parish in the diocese.? The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is the seat of the Diocese of Sacramento, which is spread across 20 counties in Northern California. Bishop Jaime Soto is pastor. The Cathedral Rector oversees day to day functioning of the Cathedral parish in downtown Sacramento, which serves 1,200 families. St. Rose of Lima has 2,500 families. ?This is a middle-sized parish,? Eckery said. ?Daily and lunch Masses are more widely attended than most because of people working and visiting downtown.? In addition to Masses, Eckery said the Cathedral hosts civic events like a prayer service in honor of the governor?s inauguration or the speaker of the house?s inauguration and major community events like the Red Mass marking the opening of the Supreme Court?s session. ?You have to be community aware and comfortable with lots of people in your church who may or may not be Catholic and are there for civic activities,? Eckery said. ?The bishop is happy Father Michael is open to doing it,? Eckery said.