Father Kevin Achbach

Farewell to Father Kevin Achbach

Father Kevin leaves Philip, heads to Winner


Father Kevin Achbach has been transferred from his position as priest at three local parishes to the parishes of Winner and Colome.
After his final Mass Tuesday morning, he drove away with his hunting dog Cody beside him and with his fishing boat trailered behind. Wednesday he began full duties at his new parishes. Father Gary Oreshoski, recently from parishes in Presho, Murdo and Draper, took over the Philip, Midland and Milesville parishes Wednesday. 
“As far as the life of the parish goes, there is supposed to be only a very slight bump in the road,” said Achbach. “This year the diocese has seen probably the biggest shifting of priest/parish assignments in its history. There’s always quite a few changes every year.”
Achbach said that six years in the same place is a healthy term for a priest. He said that he kind of knew the move requirement was going to happen. “You can’t move me somewhere without asking where that person is going to go. We had a lot of assignments coming to an end all at the same time.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I feel a lot of gratitude for the people and community. Philip is an awesome place to live. The three parishes are all their own unique communities. Each has its own strengths. I was pleased when the bishop said I was going to another rural community,” said Achbach. “There’s good memories here, and I’ll always have them.”
Achbach has left the congregations at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Philip (about 130 families), Midland’s St. William (about 35 families) and Milesville’s St. Mary’s (about 20 families). 
Achbach has visited with Father Oreshoski, who is replacing him. “He seems lighthearted and joyful, though more soft spoken then I probably am,” joked Achbach. “If you guys welcome Father Gary as warmly as you welcomed me, that’s the best everybody can hope for. Every time a new priest enters a congregation, he is eager to get to what he loves to do.
“I would warn Father Gary about altars falling on him,” joked Achbach, who recalled the stone backing of the altar tipped on him during one of his first Masses. Achbach would also warn about leaky flat roofs and keeping weeds out of the yard. “Father Gary is an avid Green Bay Packers fan. I believe there are people in this area whose blood is shaded green and gold, and they are nothing to Father Gary’s enthusiasm.
“Thank you to everybody whom I got to know, including those outside the parish,” said Achbach.
“People often ask me if I am sad to leave, if it is hard for me,” explained Achbach. “It is. It’s very hard to leave a place you call your home. From that point of view, it is hard. But at the same time, when you look at it with faith, this is where Jesus wants me to go. He has something in store for me and for the people here. I have to keep in mind what my priesthood is about. I go where I need to be, and I’m going to say ‘yes’ again. Basically, the excitement outweighs the sadness.”

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
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