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St. Mary’s Father Gaffney leaving Massena; Father O’Brien reassigned to diocese

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OGDENSBURG — When Monsignor John D. Murphy steps down as moderator of the curia for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, he won’t be saying goodbye.

Instead, Monsignor Murphy will work full time as the administrator of the Church of the Visitation in Norfolk and St. Raymond’s Church in Raymondville. He had been working at both parishes part-time while fulfilling his diocesan responsibilities.

The move will take place in June, accompanied by several other personnel changes within the diocese. Rev. O’Brien will become the administrative pastor for parishes in Morristown. The current pastor in Morristown, the Rev. Albert J. Hauser, will move to Port Henry. The Rev. Scott D. Fobare will move from Port Henry to become the administrator of St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s parish in Massena, replacing the Rev. J. Michael Gaffney, who will move to the Brownville post, replacing Rev. O’Brien.

“Monsignor Murphy has been a very helpful moderator of the curia, but he wanted to go back to parish work,” according to Sister Jennifer Votraw, diocesan chancellor. “Most diocesan priests do other work because they are asked by the bishop. They all love being in the parish and working with their flock. After a while, they wish they could go back and be a pastor and be with their people.”

Monsignor Murphy, who served as moderator of the curia since 1994, will be replaced by the Rev. Kevin J. O’Brien, who currently administers parishes in Brownville and Dexter, said Sister Votraw. He had served as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart in Massena at one time.

“Thank God that our young priest Father Kevin O’Brien agreed to come in,” she said. “He is of course very competent and well-trained and hopefully will be able to pick up the reins.”

The moderator of the curia acts as a supervisor of all the diocesan offices and serves as a liason between diocesan staff and Bishop Terry R. LaValley.

Rev. Gaffney, better known to his parishioners as Father Mike, has been assigned to the Massena churches since 2006.

Father Gaffney will serve as pastor of the Roman Catholic Community of Brownville and Dexter and St. Andrew’s Church in Sackets Harbor,.

Previously, he was pastor in Lake Placid from 1995 to 2006 and pastor in Chaumont from 1985 to 1995.

From 1980 to 1995, Father Gaffney served as a faculty member at Immaculate Heart Central School in Watertown.

A native of Watertown, Father Gaffney was born July 21, 1947.

The priest has also served as an assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus in Tupper Lake, St. Peter’s in Lowville, Notre Dame in Malone and St. Anthony’s in Watertown.

Father Fobarehas been the pastor in Port Henry and Mineville, known as the Catholic Community of Moriah, since 2008.

Previously, he was pastor in Alexandria Bay and Redwood, St. Mary’s of the Lake, Cumberland Head; John XXIII Campus Parish, Plattsburgh; and diocesan Director of Campus Ministry.

He was also pastor in Old Forge, Inlet and Raquette and served as pastor in Carthage, Deferiet and Natural Bridge from 1999 to 2002. While in Carthage he later was given added responsibilities as pastor in Copenhagen.

Father Fobare also served as pastor in Newcomb and Long Lake and parochial vicar at Notre Dame in Malone, St. Peter’s in Plattsburgh, Notre Dame in Ogdensburg and at St. Anthony’s in Watertown and served as a religious teacher at Immaculate Heart Central School in Watertown.

Father Fobare was born March 25, 1961 in Massena and grew up in Lawrenceville. The 1979 graduate of St. Lawrence Central attended Mater Dei College in Ogdensburg, Wadhams Hall Seminary-College and St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.

“Many times one move necessitates many others,” Sister Votraw said. “Basically, when we move our pastors around, it is a matter of good men needing a change or sometimes it is a family issue. It is rarely a negative thing.”

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