His was not an easy decision to make, but after nearly two years of prayer and thought, Father Jerry Hanley has announced he will retire from St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community, effective July 1.
Hanley, 70, said now is a good time to retire.
"All that has taken place with the church - we recently paid off the note - now is the time," Hanley said. He has served 30 years with St. Teresa.
"Since Sunday, I have received many wonderful letters. I'm very touched by the people. To have this type of care and love for me is astonishing and wonderful. To me, I'm just Mrs. Hanley's son."
When Hanley began at St. Teresa in 1977, there were 400 families, seating for 200, two priests and one part-time secretary. He has performed hundreds each of weddings, funerals and baptisms.
"Kids I baptized are bringing in their kids."
Hanley also held a service in honor of the late former Gov. Mike O'Callaghan.
"Mike told me that he was injured when he was in Korea. He prayed to God and told Him that if He would save his life he'd go to Mass every Sunday. I think he did. He was the finest leader."
Hanley said the people of the church and his staff have been his family. He also cherishes the ecumenical friends he's made. Those with pastors from St. Paul's Lutheran Church, St. Peter's Episcopal Church and First United Methodist Church.
"They're all good people - that's why I like it here. They're a great support team. The staff, they're made in heaven."
Hanley said he has loved Carson City since arriving here to work with Father Larry Quilici. When offered the job of lead priest in 1981, Hanley said he walked into the church hall and stood underneath the crucifix and cried.
"I was so grateful," he said, "that this (church) was given to me, and I grew up with it.
"But who can leave this?," he said of the view of the Sierra Nevada from the west windows of the church hall. "I plan on staying here, living here and dying here. I will be buried at Lone Mountain Cemetery."
Hanley said what he will miss the most are the people.
"Why? Because your life, identity, love and care come from your home. It's scary to think you're leaving home."
The Right Reverend Bishop Randolph Calvo, of the Reno Diocese, said Hanley has made an impact on the Catholic community.
"He is highly regarded as a gifted preacher and a leader who can build a strong sense of community among his parishioners," Calvo said. "The new church and facilities are a testament to his ability to work with people in getting things done. I know he will be greatly missed by his parishioners. I wish him well as he retires from the administrative responsibilities of being a pastor."
Hanley was part of a team which oversaw a six-year process of planning and building the church on Lompa Lane. It was difficult for him and the parishioners to leave the historic church at 449 W. King St., but the new church is one of his greatest memories.
"God gave us the insight to know we were smart enough to build it," he said. "The spirit of the people to believe in me and put up with me was the greatest.
"I've always felt God is here, and I've never been abandoned by Him. He's always been a part of me here. Always. I love these people and life is wonderful. This church means family."
Hanley wants the congregation to remember the words of Paul: "Love is patient, and love is kind."
"And in the end, there will always be love," Hanley said.
"I do have to move out of the house owned by the diocese and to my own place. The only one to have a breakdown about it is going to be 'Kitty,'" Hanley said. Kitty is his pet cat.
Hanley will preside over his last Mass on June 24. The church will host a picnic that weekend to celebrate his retirement.
"It's also a time for me to thank God," he said. "But we still have some good months left to appreciate what God has given us and celebrate that.
"After I retire I will spend some time in Detroit with my family, but we still have some exciting things to do here.
"We have a destiny that has not yet been lived and we can trust in that. I believe in (my parish), and they trust me. God is here, and we are not going to be alone. Love never ends, and I will never forget them."
Hanley has said he will volunteer at the Community Counseling Center and offer to celebrate Mass for some of the military units in the area.
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Sister Marie McGloin - "I'm sad. I feel he's been my life in Carson City for 23 years. Not that I won't accept the new person, but it won't be the same."
John Tatro - "We (Tatro family) are fans of Father Jerry. Personally, I'm excited he can have some time to himself, but I know he will be helping others.
"Not only is he a great pastor and a great priest, but also a great community member. He didn't just think about St. Teresa parishioners, he co-founded the Community Counseling Center with the late Pat Bates. That has helped and will help Carson City for years and years.
"And he helped get Friends in Service Helping started. That has and will have a positive effect for years to come. Plus the Boys and Girls Club, the Rotary Club, and I'm sure there's dozens of other worthy causes he has helped.
"Last but not least, he is a great friend. He's not the kind of guy you might hang out with all the time, but he's always there. I could call him any time, day or night. Not just because he's a priest, but because he's a great man."
Father Jerry Hanley
Date of Birth: Oct. 16, 1936
1968: At age 32, enters seminary in Boston
1973: Ordained at home parish, St. Rita Parish in Detroit
1973, First assignment: Our Lady of Las Vegas and St. Francis de Sales, both in Las Vegas
1977: Came to St. Teresa of Avila to work under Father Larry Quilici
1981: Became priest of St. Teresa when Quilici went to Fallon
Nov. 26, 2001: Held last Mass at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community at 449 W. King St.
Nov. 22, 2001: Held first Mass (on Thanksgiving) at new St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community, 3000 N. Lompa Lane
Accomplishments: Began, with two other church leaders, Friends in Service Helping (First United Methodist Church and St. Peter's Episcopal Church; helped found the Community Counseling Center with the late Pat Bates.
Future involvement: Volunteer with the Community Counseling Center; celebrate Mass with military units in the area.