Members of the Saint John Neumann Catholic Church and Big Walnut community have grown so accustomed to Father Dave Sizemore as the spiritual leader of the parish and an active member of the community that he’s known as simply Father Dave.
That’s about to change. Father Dave will still be Father Dave, but in another parish. Saint John Neumann will have a new pastor starting on July 11; Father Dave’s final weekend at the church will be July 8 and 9.
During a conversation in his office last week, Father Dave explained that the Diocese of Columbus gives pastors a six year assignment, they can then apply for a six year extension, then they are moved to a new parish.
“I came here in 2005, but we have term limits and the Bishop hasn’t said where I will go yet,” Father Dave said. “There’s positives and negatives to term limits for pastors. One positive of staying with a congregation is you can grow in faith with families for 20 and 30 years. One positive of moving is you still have the challenge of growing your fellowship’s faith, but knowing that you’re going to leave in 12 years.”
Father Dave said that term limits also allows pastors the opportunity to take the experience they have gained in one parish to another community, helping that parish grow in faith.
“It’s going to be hard leaving this community; it will break my heart,” Father Dave said. “There’s many things I will miss – our lively liturgies, the masses, our family’s growing in their faith. I’m going to miss seeing them grow.
“One of the things I’m most grateful to God for is how many of our parishioners are involved in Bible studies and discipleship groups,” Father Dave continued. “Working together to bring more people to Christ. The Holy Spirit has engaged a lot of our parishioners here at Saint John Neumann. We’ve all grown closer to Christ.”
Father Dave said he would especially miss his interaction with members of the Big Walnut Ministerial Association.
“They welcomed me into this community 12 years ago,” Father Dave said. “We’ve been gathering monthly, praying with each other, praying about our congregations. I thank God that as different denominations we’ve all grown closer to Christ.”
Father Dave said the Diocese of Columbus includes parishes in 23 counties, so until the Bishop tells him where he will be serving it could be anywhere in that 23-county footprint.
“I’m hoping the Lord will send me to a place that’s not having the prosperity and growth we’re experiencing in this parish,” Father Dave said. “Instead of a place that’s thriving, I hope it’s a place that’s in need and wants to grow in faith. Christ didn’t concentrate his ministry on power and wealth; he concentrated on need.”
That said, Father Dave said he has really enjoyed the past 12 years serving families in the Saint John Neumann parish and the Big Walnut community.
“I’m grateful to God to have been a pastor in this community,” Father Dave said. “I pray every day for the pastor that follows me, and I pray for where I’m sent next. I know it’s going to be a great adventure.”
Fr. Dave Sizemore is originally from Columbus. He graduated from Groveport Madison High School, attended Ohio University as a business major. After receiving the call to serve in the ministry he attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, and went on to earn two additional degrees while studying in Rome.
He holds four college degrees in philosophy, systematic theology, spiritual theology, and business administration.
Fr. Dave was also an associate chaplain at Ohio Dominican University for four years, and for five years was the Catholic Chaplain and Campus Minister at Ohio Wesleyan University. Prior to becoming a pastor, Fr. Dave served as associate pastor in three other diocesan parishes, St. Brigid in Dublin, St. Joseph Cathedral, and St. Mary in Delaware, and an internship year at Resurrection.
When Fr. Dave came to Saint John Neumann Catholic Church 12 years ago the parish served 400 families. Today, he leaves a parish serving 1,650 families.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.