Newburgh pastor heads to Port Jervis

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 7/6/22

After seven years of dedicated service to the City of Newburgh, Father William Damroth bid farewell to the parish of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta to begin his new life as pastor of Immaculate …

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Newburgh pastor heads to Port Jervis

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After seven years of dedicated service to the City of Newburgh, Father William Damroth bid farewell to the parish of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta to begin his new life as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Port Jervis. Damroth’s first official day as new pastor was July 1.

Ordained a priest on May 15, 1993, Damroth’s service and work has taken him to parishes not only in the City of Newburgh but also in Yonkers, Stony Point, Mount Kisco, and Staten Island.

“I will definitely miss the people” he said of his time in Newburgh. They’re wonderful people,” Damroth said.

Damroth shared that he knows this part of ordained life does happen and though he will miss his congregation in Newburgh, he is ready to serve Immaculate Conception.

Immaculate Conception is a merger of several other churches in the Port Jervis area. Like many other churches in the state and across the country, many have merged with different congregations or have been forced to close due to rising maintenance costs and expenses. A shortage of priests has also led to restructuring of parishes.

Damroth served both St. Francis of Assisi and Sacred Heart Newburgh before the two parishes merged and became the parish of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. When choosing the name for the new parish Damroth shared that the chosen name for the parish was decided to reflect someone that represented the finest of everything and was open and accepting of all people. Damroth said he even served mass for some of the sisters from St. Mother Teresa’s order, The Missionaries of Charity and had met St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta three times.

During the last two years of COVID, Damroth said it was difficult to see the numbers of parishioners dwindle. Some parishioners have either passed away while others have decided to not return to church entirely, some still in fear of COVID. St. Francis of Assisi mainly sees a majority of Hispanic members where he also started a Spanish speaking mass, despite not being a native speaker. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart serves the majority of the city, a more prominent European community. The merger of the two communities during the pandemic was a challenge but Damroth was proud to have worked on this initiative and created new relationships during his time here in the city.

With Damroth’s departure, Rev. Fernando Hernandez, who serves as pastor of St. Patrick’s-St. Mary’s – Our Lady of the Lake Parish will also assume the duties of pastor for St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta as well. Hernandez was pastor of Saint Patrick’s and Our Lady of the Lake when the parishes merged with Saint Mary’s in 2015.

Hernandez wishes Damroth well in his new mission and looks forward to the new mission ahead.

“I look forward to continuing the wonderful traditions of St. Francis and Sacred Heart and my overall goal is to serve the people of Newburgh,” Hernandez said. “I pray for the success of Father Bill Damroth wherever he may go.”

As a chaplain in the City’s Police Department, Damroth plans to continue to remain as a chaplain and will stop by to visit from time to time to serve his community and once again said that this community will be dearly missed and he will keep it close to his heart.

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