BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — After nearly 12 years of service to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Maumee, the Rev. Keith Stripe has been reassigned to a church across the river in Oregon.
Last month, he broke the news to parishioners that he has been named as the new pastor of St. Ignatius Catholic in Oregon and also its twin parish – Our Lady of Mount Carmel – in Bono. His new assignment will begin on July 1.
“This has been a wonderful assignment and this move is no reflection of my love for this community,” Stripe said.
The Rev. Eric Schild has been named new pastor of St. Joe’s. For the past nine years, Schild has served as the president of Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School and Academy, the area’s only pre-K to 12 Catholic school.
According to the school’s website, he is an “unapologetic fundraiser” who successfully completed the school’s largest capital campaign, helping to raise nearly $6 million dollars.
Stripe came to St. Joe’s in 2008, after serving at other parishes including the Immaculate Conception Church in Bellevue, St. Michael in Findlay, St. Mary’s in Tiffin and St. Patrick of Heatherdowns in Toledo.
In the Diocese of Toledo, certain church laws allow pastors to serve one six-year term, after which time an evaluation could allow for an additional six-year term. Rarely does a term exceed 12 years, unless retirement is imminent. Stripe, who is 56, will not be able to retire until age 75.
“I knew I would have to move,” he said. “I told the bishop that if he ever considered allowing a third term, I would gladly stay, but that isn’t in the cards.”
Stripe requested consideration for the opening in Oregon because he is currently overseeing the affairs of a priest who had a stroke and is living nearby at Gardens of St. Frances, formerly Little Sisters of the Poor. He also said that the parish is similar to the Maumee parish.
“Both are suburban Toledo parishes. St. Ignatius is smaller, but it is growing, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a vibrant little rural community. They even still host a parish festival,” he said.
Since arriving to the Maumee parish, Stripe has had a substantial impact through a variety of initiatives he oversaw, including a multimillion-dollar renovation project and the creation of a preparatory school, but it is the expanded programming that also provides a sense of pride, he said.
“In addition to the physical effects, from the spiritual standpoint, you look at our bulletin and see everything that is going on and it’s amazing,” he said.
Stripe also turned his attention and spiritual connection abroad by traveling to the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda wiped out villages and homes and killed 6,000 people. It was a chance phone call to local physician Dr. Richard Paat, who oversees multiple medical mission trips abroad, that prompted him to make the first of many trips to the region.
The rebuilding effort was long and arduous, but Stripe felt compelled to get involved. Last summer, that project, known as Carpenter Outreach, concluded with the rebuilding of a second church and a major medical mission.
“Any future work through Carpenter Outreach will be up to the next pastor,” he said.
He was named Maumee’s 2016 Outstanding Citizen for his service to members of his local congregation as well as the church communities abroad. While he is sad to leave the St. Joe’s parish family, he looks forward to settling into his new assignment, which will initially begin with a lot of listening.
“When I came here, one of the things I did is just listen for the first year,” he said. “I want to respect the community and the needs of the community, because everyone is a little different. I do believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to me as a pastor and speaks to all of us through the community and the assembly.”
A parishwide reception and send-off in honor of Fr. Stripe will take place at St. Joe’s on Sunday, June 30.