St. James pastor leaving Arlington Heights parish at end of the year

The Rev. Matt Foley, the popular pastor of St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, has announced his assignment at the Arlington Heights Catholic church will conclude at the end of the year.

In a letter to parishioners, Foley said he's been granted a six-month sabbatical by Cardinal Blase Cupich starting Jan. 1, 2021, before he is eligible to be assigned as a pastor again in July 2021.

Priests are allowed to take sabbaticals every seven years, which is generally the same amount of time their assignments last at a given parish. Foley has been at St. James since August 2013. His initial plan was to stay until June 2021, but Cupich granted the sabbatical earlier.

After 31 years as a priest, Foley said he is taking his first sabbatical “to pray, study and renew my priesthood.”

“St. James has been a source of faith and hope for me over the past seven years,” Foley told parishioners. “My heart and soul have been inspired by your support.”

It's been quite the journey for Foley, a Milwaukee native whose family moved to Libertyville when he was 13. He's shepherded congregations near and far, including five years as associate pastor of St. Agatha in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood, followed by six years as pastor of the Santiago Apostol Mission in Mexico, and then eight years as pastor of St. Agnes of Bohemia in Little Village. Starting in 2008, he did four tours of duty in Afghanistan as an Army chaplain, before becoming pastor of St. James in 2013.

Famously, his late friend and Marquette University rugby teammate Chris Farley named the iconic “Saturday Night Live” motivational speaker character after Foley.

Cupich has appointed the Rev. Ryan McMillin, St. James' associate pastor, as administrator of the parish effective Jan. 1. The archdiocese's priest personnel board could appoint a new pastor by July 1.

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Matt Foley
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