After eight years of shepherding the more than 5,000 families of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Manteca, Father J. Patrick Walker is being called to shepherd another flock in Stanislaus County. On June 1, he will be taking over as pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock which has a membership of more than 6,000 families.
“He’s not going to be a complete stranger,” a staff member of the church office happily pointed out.
Before he came to St. Anthony’s, he served as associate pastor of Sacred Heart.
Father Walker announced his impending transfer in summer during his Sunday homilies two weeks ago.
“It is hard to leave St. Anthony’s,” he wrote in the March 13 Parish Bulletin’s Pastor’s Corner.
He reiterated what he told his parishioners when he made the announcement that he would have liked to have stayed another three years.
“I have experienced genuine love, joy and the support of so many parishioners,” further stated Father Walker who celebrated the silver anniversary of his ordination just three years ago with a Mass presided over by Bishop Stephen Blaire, followed by a dinner reception.
Father Walker leaves with a number of things accomplished during his eight-year tenure. Security has been beefed up at St. Anthony’s School, the church office, and throughout the church parking lot with the installation of security cameras. Just last year, the old Chickering grand piano was replaced by a new one which has greatly enhanced the church’s service music. The church also gained additional seating to accommodate more people by having some chairs replaced by pews. He also announced that most of the money needed to expand the conference room in the church’s Ministry Center has been collected.
Other important projects Father Walker plans to complete before June 1 include the installation of additional lighting in the parking lot and the renovation of the Adoration Chapel.
Besides serving at Sacred Heart parish in Turlock, Father Walker was pastor of St. Michael’s in Morada for 10 years, a parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s in Modesto, plus two years at Central Catholic High School in Modesto. He was a public school teacher prior to starting his seminary studies. In Manteca, he replaced Father Richard Morse who called to serve at a church in Ohio.