After two-plus decades, Ellsworth priest’s moving onFather Tom Donaldson is retiring after 22 years at St. Francis Parish in Ellsworth.
By: Bill Kirk, Pierce County Herald
Father Tom Donaldson may be retiring after 22 years at St. Francis Parish in Ellsworth, but he’s not resigning from the priesthood.
“I could never do that,” Donaldson said Tuesday, explaining when he leaves the parish here at month’s end, he’ll move to Arkansaw to assist with St. Joseph’s Parish and live in the rectory there.
It seems like the right time to move on, the retiree said. The condition of his legs prevents him from standing in one spot over long periods. Besides, two six-year terms is now being deemed as the maximum for any Catholic priest.
He attributed his lengthy service here to “just getting caught up in it,” what with the positive reception he’s received from people he described as friendly and supportive. For example, he recalled the 25th anniversary of his ordination in 1993, when local parish members led by Stacy Henning organized an outing to a Minnesota Twins game. The baseball fan was accompanied to the Metrodome in Minneapolis by nearly 600 others from the Ellsworth area, who rode there on seven big buses as well as in private vehicles.
He not only saw the group recognized on the stadium’s “Jumbotron,” but got to throw out the first pitch. Based on the Twins’ loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, it was one of the few “strikes” thrown for the home team that game, he joked. Moreover, as he walked past the home dugout, he found just one player inside and managed to get an autograph on a baseball from that player—the late Kirby Puckett.
Donaldson said he’s never regretted entering the priesthood nor coming to St. Francis. The community is the latest he’s served in the 42 years as a priest he marked in May. He remembered all of it fondly.
“The only bad times are when I’ve had to leave,” he said.
Read more in the print version of the Herald Nov. 18.