LAKE CHARLES – Father Jeffrey Starkovich, pastor of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Ragley, has been appointed to serve as Director of Continuing Formation for Priests in the Diocese of Lake Charles, effective July 1, 2021.
Father Nathan Long is stepping down from the role after 10 years to focus more of his attention on hurricane recovery in his parish at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church.
Bishop Glen John Provost expressed his gratitude to Father Long for his dedication to the position over the past decade.
“For ten years, Father Long has served as the Director of Continuing Formation for Priests in the Diocese of Lake Charles. He has done so diligently and conscientiously,” Bishop Provost said. “Due to the demands of the recovery in his parish and with his school, he finds it necessary to relinquish this position. The duties of the director are numerous. Father Long has proven himself to be a faithful steward, and we are most grateful for his services.”
Among the responsibilities of the director are to schedule and coordinate the annual retreat in October for priests, along with two other days of recollection; organize and facilitate all preparations associated with the annual convocation in June; serve as a resource for priests seeking sabbaticals; chair the Committee for Continuing Formations for Priests; and develop and execute any other continuing education programs for priests such as occasional seminars or conferences.
Keeping abreast with issues going on in the Catholic Church and staying fresh with Theology has always been important to Father Long. He said he was excited when given the opportunity to serve his brother priests in their ongoing formation, even though he himself had only been a priest for a few years at the time.
“The role of director is a behind-the-scenes quiet service,” said Long. “You serve them because you care about them, because you want to, and it’s good for them. It is very important for us to get together as we do during retreats as we pray together, but also during convocations spending quality time together in conversation and community. It is a joy to have been the director, a simple service that I took delight in.”
Father Long said he is also grateful for the opportunity to have engaged with a lot of “rising stars” in the Catholic world when scheduling guest speakers over the years. He recalled a few including Dr. Brant Pitre, PhD, Distinguished Research Professor Scripture at the Augustine Institute; Christopher West, co-founder, president, and senior lecturer of Theology of the Body Institute; and most recently, Father Tad Pacholczyk, PhD, from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
Father Starkovich was ordained to the priesthood in 2011 and has served as Vocation Director since 2016. With anticipation for his new role, he recognizes a parallel between the two positions.
“Serving as Vocation Director has been a source of much joy in my priesthood,” said Starkovich. “In seminary formation, the Church speaks of four different dimensions of priestly life: human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral. Transitioning from Vocation Director to Director of Continuing Formation for Priests seems to be a natural progression. I look forward to growing with my brother priests in the diocese in these same four dimensions of our priestly life,” he continued. “I pray that we can be open to the Holy Spirit who continues to form us into priests after the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord.”
In appointing Father Starkovich to the position, Bishop Provost said, “I know that he will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the directorship.”