Parish welcomes new Missionary of La Salette pastor

Jan 18, 2024
Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette Father Phil “Skip” Negley becomes pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish in Orlando and receives the “Keys to the Kingdom” from Bishop John Noonan, January 14, 2024. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

ORLANDO | Blessed Trinity Parish in Orlando has a new pastor, La Salette Father Phil “Skip” Negley. Always led by the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, it is no surprise Father Negley is filling the shoes of the late La Salette Father Roland Nadeau. On Jan. 14, Bishop John Noonan installed Father Negley as pastor.

When the call came that Father Nadeau died, Father Negley and other priests present stopped and prayed. The La Salettes are a small community of less than 100 throughout the United States and most everyone knew the late priest.

Two days later and 16 days into his retirement, Father Negley received a call asking for his help.

“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” he laughed, joking he should be in the Guiness Book of Records for the shortest retirement ever.

Although taken by surprise, he accepted the move to Florida from Texas, looking forward to a new adventure which officially began Nov. 1, 2023. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Father Negley was ordained a Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette in 1973. His background in vocation and formation of priests, coupled with his vast leadership experience and Doctor of Ministry in Christian Spirituality, equips him to lead Blessed Trinity into its next phase of growth.

“It’s been wonderful,” he said. “The staff and the people are the most kind and generous, and warm and welcoming. I walked into a place that is very well run, very well operated, very good liturgies, very fine people and the bottom line was to see where I fit in and start bringing some renewal where it was needed. I really do believe in renewal.”

He will soon start a series of listening sessions to discuss ministry with parishioners — catechism, creation care, youth ministry, liturgy, and more. He especially wants to talk about vocations.

“If we want to have a good, solid presence in the parish, we’ve got to start having vocations from the parish,” he said.

He explained the core of the listening sessions is “to listen to the Holy Spirit, to ask everybody to begin in prayer, end in hospitality and have some sharing.

“That’s how you hear what people want and what the Holy Spirit wants,” he said. “When they ask me questions, I try to answer them openly and honestly, sharing what I believe the Holy Spirit calls me to do.”

The charisms of the La Salettes are the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. “I believe they go together. You’re nourished by Eucharist and you’re nourished by healing and forgiveness,” he said. “Those are primary ways I believe people are forgiven and nourished. The gift of Eucharist feeds the body’s soul, and the gift of reconciliation renews the body’s soul. You have to have both.”

Because of this, he hopes to do some remodeling to the church, “so there is an Adoration Chapel, to make the Eucharist and the Tabernacle more central.” He added, “The same with reconciliation areas, to renovate them to make them holy ground, where real prayer and miracles takes place.”

Daily Mass, meaning every day of the year, is also on his list, along with adding an ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology and Service) ministry. “That and LifeTeen for youth (which the parish already has) renovates the parish and brings about a great amount of grace.”

Despite God modifying his plans for retirement, clearly the Lord knew Father Negley still had much zeal to offer the Church. Now fully engaged in his new role, he laughs and says, “When I come around everyone goes running. But I assured them, I’m not looking for money. I’m looking for lives and commitment.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, January 18, 2024