While he'll be making new friends and meeting new parishioners, the Rev. Timothy Navin also will be leaving behind some treasured relationships he's made over the years.
After eight years as pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church on Rattlesnake Hammock Road in East Naples, Navin known as Father Tim will take over his new post at the end of August.
"It's coming. Some people know about it. I've told a few," Navin said, adding that he and Bishop John Nevins of the Diocese of Venice discussed the switch before it was officially announced. "It was his idea," Nevins said.
Nevins made an official announcement of Navin's new assignment in a letter dated June 3, said Gail McGrath, the diocesan director of communications. Navin's official start date at San Marco will be Aug. 30, McGrath said.
Navin will replace the Rev. Eugene McCarthy, who has retired as San Marco's pastor after a year on medical leave. His retirement was announced May 2.
McGrath said McCarthy's retirement was a routine one.
The diocese, which oversees parishes in Southwest Florida, sent the Rev. Bernard Evanofski to fill in for McCarthy during his medical leave.
Navin, who joined St. Peter's parish in March 1996, said he felt good about his new assignment, although he'll be sad to leave many parishioners he was close to.
"I made a lot of good friends the eight years I was there," he said. "Marco is a whole different world. I already know a lot of people on Marco Island, so it won't be totally new. Father McCarthy was a great priest with a great record for a long time. I'll be following in the footsteps of a great priest."
Navin will be replaced by the Rev. Normando Feliz, assistant to Nevins at the Catholic Center in Venice, McGrath said. Nevins made the official announcement of that assignment at the same time as Navin's.
McGrath said Feliz, who also is the director of the diocesan Ministries Department, has been a parish priest at many parishes, including Our Lady, Queen of the Angles, in LaBelle.
David Nolan, a deacon and close friend of Navin's, said parishioners at St. Peter's will miss Navin.
"The parish is upset because he was a good priest, a good guy. A good priest is a treasure," Nolan said. "All the bad publicity the Catholic Church has had in the past couple of years has been nightmarish, so we know San Marco will be getting a good priest. But we're going to miss him."
Nolan said Navin knew about his new assignment "for a while," but didn't announce it before now because it wasn't officially announced by the bishop.
"He (Navin) wanted to keep it hush-hush for the time being," Nolan said. "But it's hard to keep something like that quiet. News like that travels like wildfire."
Nolan called Navin someone who was more than just a priest or a good friend.
"He got to be almost a member of the family," he said. "There wasn't a holy day or a holiday that he wasn't here at my house when the kids and grandkids came home."
Nolan said he had not heard that Feliz would be Navin's replacement.
"That's a news flash," he said. "I met him years ago, and he seemed like a nice man."
McGrath said the new assignments were met with acceptance and satisfaction.
"Everybody's happy," she said. "I understand Father Feliz is thrilled to be going to St. Peter the Apostle. He's eager to build on what Father Tim has done there. And I believe Father Tim will go into San Marco with joy and happiness."