WESTFIELD, NJ — Father Michael Saporito of will be stepping down from his role as Pastor of St. Helen’s Church of Westfield as he moves on to serve as a Regional Bishop for the Archdiocese of Newark, which encompasses Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union counties.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark announced the new appointment last month. The Bishop-Elect will have primary responsibility for one of the counties in the archdiocese, providing pastoral care and support to the priests, parish staff and parishioners.

“It’s always difficult to leave those you have come to know and love,” said Bishop-Elect Saporito, who has been with St. Helen’s for almost 10 years. “As a pastor, I have joyfully dedicated a great amount of time getting to know the people of our community and sharing in their joys and sorrows and everything in between. St. Helen’s is a wonderful community.”

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“So, there is a bittersweet part of this new appointment,” Saporito continued. “I was actively engaged with one specific parish community, but I’ve been called to a new office with new and broader responsibilities. It’s a part of the vocation I committed to, but it’s not always the easy part. I’m always excited about sharing the faith I deeply believe in and cherish with others.”

The parishioners of St. Helen’s are happy for the promotion, but sad to see Bishop-elect Saporito leave the community he has become a part of.

“I was there for the first Sunday mass after the promotion was announced,” said Brad Melvin, a member of St. Helen’s Church since 2000. “Many of us were in tears. I think he had a clear mission, and was able to learn from other parishes throughout the country. He is human, real, and has touched a lot of people.”

Melvin’s wife Jenny, whose parents have also worshipped at St. Helen’s, agreed about Saporito’s impact on the community.

“He’s always brought so much humility and passion to what he does,” said Jenny Melvin. “He’s been so welcoming. He wants to reach people and bring them together.”

Saporito will likely move on to his new position with the Newark Archdiocese in early May. A replacement has yet to be named.

“I hope I have led the community in a way that its vision and goals inspired by our faith will be pursued and deepened with the next pastoral leader,” Saporito said.

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