RUMFORD — The Rev. Philip A. Tracy has been on the job since Aug. 9 and has already officiated at two funerals and a wedding, and celebrated daily masses.

He was appointed to the Parish of the Holy Savior, which encompasses St. Athanasius and St. John Church in Rumford and Our Lady of the Snows in Bethel. The two churches represent many communities, he said.

Tracy, 48, comes to the River Valley area with extensive experience working with Catholic schools and bringing communities together.

“I expect to be at the school most days of the week,” he said, “talking with parents, working with the staff, going into the classrooms.”

Holy Savior School, which has a student population of just over 60 as the new school year begins, has suffered a dramatic loss of students over the years. However, the Portland diocese and the school have worked out a five-year plan to create more stability, Tracy said.

He was instrumental in bringing together the churches and their surrounding communities in the Waterville and Skowhegan areas before moving to the River Valley.

Ordained in 1988, he has also served churches in Rockland, Bangor and St. Francis, as well as being chaplain of Bates and Bowdoin colleges.

He said he wants to begin parish visits and focus much of his time on the Dixfield and Mexico areas, because of the pain still felt by many after the closure of their churches.

“I want to reach out personally and do some programs. I love to teach and want to gather people together of different demographics, such as young mothers,” he said.

He also wants to set up a pastoral council whose task would be to devise a vision for the area churches.

“I look at the needs of the parish. I have a lot of energy, and I’m a hard worker. Hopefully, people will ask questions and seek answers,” he said. “There’s a hard-working group of people here. We will work to create a common mission.”

Tracy is the oldest of five boys, but the only one who became a priest. An aunt was a nun, and an uncle, the Rev. Philip M. Tracy, was also a chaplain at Bates College and now conducts Hispanic ministry.

Tracy succeeds the Rev. Alfred Jacques, who had retired from the Parish of the Holy Savior a few years ago when the Rev. Angelo Levasseur arrived at the local parish.

When Tracy isn’t serving the more than 1,000 families in the parish, he enjoys golf, cribbage, reading, music and the sports teams in Boston and at the University of Notre Dame.

“I have an enthusiasm that says lets move forward together. I’m excited to be here,” he said.

Masses at St. Athanasius and St. John are held at 4 p.m. Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. Sundays, and 8 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They are held at Our Lady of the Snows at 6 p.m. Saturdays.

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