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Bishop's list of reassigned Catholic pastors, assistants includes 3 at St. Eugene


Bishop Robert Vasa on Friday announced the appointment of 22 new pastors and their assistants at parishes throughout the Santa Rosa Diocese, along with six officials at the diocesan office.

Vasa, who took over as leader of the 165,000-member diocese in July, sent a memo to all priests and deacons listing the personnel changes late Friday afternoon. He could not be reached for comment.

Most of the reassignments are effective in June. The sweeping changes are unusual for the diocese, in which many priests have long years of service in the 42 parishes from Petaluma to the Oregon border.

Prominent among the changes was the reassignment of the three priests serving at the Cathedral of St. Eugene in Santa Rosa, the bishop's church where ordinations and other formal events are held.

The Rev. Msgr. James Pulskamp, pastor at St. Eugene's, was reassigned as pastor at Star of the Valley Church in Oakmont. He will replaced by Rev. Frank Epperson, pastor at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Ukiah.

Rev. Fergal McGuinness, associate pastor at St. Eugene's, was named pastor at St. Peter Church in Cloverdale. The Rev. Gary Sumpter is coming in as parochial vicar, a pastor's assistant post. Sumpter also will be co-chaplain and co-director of the Religion Department at Cardinal Newman High School.

The third priest currently assigned to St. Eugene's, Rev. Alvin Villaruel, was named pastor at St. Mary of the Angels Church. He also has served as chaplain and religion teacher at Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa for 11 years and will be leaving that post.

"I'm happy for him. He's been a great leader for us," Newman Principal Graham Rutherford said. "He will do a great job in Ukiah."

Rutherford said that a possible transfer of Villaruel, the school's longest-serving chaplain, had been the subject of some speculation.

Nor is the large-scale personnel shift a surprise, Rutherford said, noting that Vasa has been in charge for nine months.

"He's had time to take a good look at things," Rutherford said. "I think he's looking to put people in different roles."

The Rev. Raul Lemus will be the new chaplain and director of the Religion Department at Newman and director of vocations for the diocese.

Yvette Fallandy of Santa Rosa, a St. Eugene's parishioner, said the changes took her "by complete surprise" but are not out of the ordinary.

Vasa is "assembling his own team to proceed with his programs for the diocese," Fallandy said, calling it "a commonsense move on his part."

Posts effective March 14 are: Rev. Manuel Chavez, pastor, St. Joseph Church, Fortuna; Rev. Adam Kotas, parochial administrator pro tempore, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Calistoga, and as pastor, St. Joseph Church, Crescent City, in June; Rev. Ramon Pons, parochial vicar, St. John the Baptist Church, Napa; and Rev. David Galeana, parochial vicar, St. Francis Solano in Sonoma.

Effective June 18: Rev. Oscar Diaz, pastor, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Clearlake; Rev. Thomas Diaz, pastor, Holy Spirit, Santa Rosa, and director of seminarians for the diocese; Rev. Mario Laguros, pastor, Assumption Church, Ferndale; Rev. Abel Mena, pastor, St. Joseph Church, Cotati, and diocesan judge for the diocese; Rev. Luis Penaloza, pastor, St. Elizabeth Church, Guerneville; Rev. Angelito Peries, pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Calistoga; Rev. Michaelraj Philominsamy, pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Windsor; Rev. JoJo Puthussery, pastor, St. Leo the Great, Boyes Hot Springs; Rev. Sean Rogers, pastor, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Fort Bragg; Rev. Eric Arroyo, parochial vicar, St. John the Baptist, Healdsburg; Rev. Raju Balugari, parochial vicar, St. Sebastian, Sebastopol; Rev. Carlos Ortega, parochial vicar, St. Vincent de Paul, Petaluma.

Also, appointments were announced for the diocesan office in Santa Rosa. Rev. Msgr. Daniel Whelton is the new vicar general, as well as chancellor, moderator of the curia and vicar for priests. Whelton is currently judicial vicar, a post that McGuinness will assume.<NO1>

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.