St. Agnes pastor named co-vicar, retaining Berkshire representation in diocese

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DALTON — A Berkshire priest will continue to play a key role in selecting new pastors and counseling fellow clergy throughout the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

The Rev. Christopher Malatesta, of Dalton, has been named to succeed Rev. Christopher "CJ" Waitekus as a co-vicar to assist the bishop, Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, in filling pastoral vacancies within the Western Massachusetts diocese and offer guidance to priests fulfilling their parish duties.

Rozanski chose Malatesta, pastor of St. Agnes Catholic Community, in part, because Waitekus recently left St. Ann Parish in Lenox to become pastor of St. Mary Parish in Longmeadow. Last July, the bishop had appointed Waitekus and the Rev. Robert A. Gentile from Holyoke to fill both vicars positions vacated by two monsignors.

"It was decided that having a co-vicar for clergy in the Berkshires area was still a good idea," Rozanski wrote in a letter.

"Although it is important to have a co-vicar in Berkshire County, I want to stress that either co-vicar is available to priests from any region."

Rozanski went on to thank Waitekus for stepping down from the position so a Berkshire priest could serve as one of the co-vicars.

Malatesta is pleased the bishop feels he is worthy of the position, while remaining pastor of St. Agnes that includes the parish pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade academy and St. Patrick Church in Hinsdale.

"I work hard to be involved in all aspects of my parish that encompasses the hilltowns that surround Dalton," he said in an Eagle interview. "You can do an office job or get out of the office to do your job."

"Father Chris," as he's known to parishioners, believes the need for vicars has increased in recent years given the consolidation of parishes within the diocese due to declining population and fewer men entering the priesthood.

"Our priests, more than ever, have greater demands on their time, more stress and a lot of challenges," he said.

A native of Northampton, Malatesta and his family eventually moved to Pittsfield, where he graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1985. He is also an alum of Fitchburg State College earning a business degree in 1989 before entering Saint John's Seminary and was awarded the Masters of Divinity Degree in 1993.

That year, Malatesta was ordained a priest having been assigned to several Western Massachusetts parishes before serving as the diocese's vocations director. He became pastor of St. Agenes in July 2002.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233.


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