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Berlin parish gets a new pastor and a new priest

Special to the Union Leader

February 05. 2014 9:37PM

BERLIN - Good Shepherd Parish will be getting a new pastor and priest, but they won't be strangers to the congregation.

The Rev. Kyle Stanton, 30, who has served the parish for two and a half years as the parochial vicar, has been chosen as the new pastor for the parish. The Rev. Andrew Nelson will be taking Stanton's place.
A special Mass of Installation will take place tonight at St. Anne’s Church in Berlin at 6.

It will be a joint Mass for members of both churches in the parish, St. Anne’s and Holy Family in Gorham. It will be presided over by the Rev. Craig Cheney of Colebrook, who is the dean of the region.

Stanton came to St. Anne’s after being ordained. This was his first assignment.

He is the middle of three sons and is from Salem. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theology with a minor in philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. He then went to St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.

The announcement that he is succeeding the Rev. Marc Gagne came at the beginning of the year. Gagne has been transferred to St. Anne’s Church in Hampstead.

Nelson said how long a pastor stays in a parish varies depending on the needs of the diocese. He said it is unusual someone so young is given the responsibility of such as large parish, as Stanton has, but Nelson said Stanton is well loved in the community.

“Father Kyle is faith-filled, enthusiastic and positive. He has a real sense of what the mission of the church is,” Nelson said. “It’s exciting. He’s young — just 30 years old — and this is his first assignment.”

In his first homily after his appointment as pastor, Nelson recalled, Stanton told the congregation that its members should always remember and cherish the past, because that’s who they are, and should be conscious of the present and look to the future and build it together, Nelson recalled.

Stanton went on to note that because he had been in the parish for more than two years, he now had a shared part of the parish’s past.

The congregation also has a shared past with Nelson.

Two years ago, the first Feast of St. Anne pilgrimage was held in Berlin. Then- Deacon Nelson helped to organize it, and in that capacity got to know many in the parish.

Nelson grew up in Brookfield. He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Anselm College in politics and a master’s in education from the University of Notre Dame. He taught for eight years before deciding to become a priest.

He taught for two years in Biloxi, Miss., through a program called Alliance for Catholic Education and then went to Dublin, Ireland, to teach both in a primary school and at the college level.

He then taught theology for five years at Trinity High School in Manchester and was involved in the campus ministry there.

During that time he also covered and wrote about special religious events for the New Hampshire Union Leader. He went to Rome for Pope John Paul II’s funeral, to Washington for the March for Life and other events for the paper.

“There are incredible people here and a real sense of community. I saw it first when I was here for the pilgrimage,” he said. “We had no time, no money, it was all done from the heart.”

Although the bishop makes the assignments, a conversation is part of the process, Nelson said.

“Both of us willingly and excitedly wanted to come here,” he said.

Tonight’s Mass will include special prayers and Stanton will renew his priestly vows.

A reception will follow the Mass.

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