JANESVILLE — Catholic parishioners in Janesville will have a new pastor as part of the city’s new pastorate announced by Diocese of Madison Bishop Donald Hying.

The bishop made the announcements Sunday about Pastorate 13, which now is comprised of the four Janesville parishes.

Fr. Eric Nielsen will be the pastor, and will be assisted by Fr. Rick Heilman, Fr. Vince Racanelli and Fr. Matthew Pearson.

Nielson currently is pastor at St. Paul’s University Center in Madison, a position he has held for the past 15 years or so.

Heilman has been pastor at St. Mary Pine Bluff for over 15 years.

Racanelli and Pearson currently are parochial vicars for St. John Vianney and Nativity of Mary in Janesville.

In an email to parishioners, Fr. Paul Arinze of St. John Vianney said he will become the pastor of Pastorate 7, which includes the parishes of  St. Cecelia, Wisconsin Dells, St. Joseph, Baraboo, Sacred Heart, Reedsburg, Holy Family, LaValle, and Camp Gray in Reedsburg. 

Fr. Drew Olson of St. Patrick’s will be the administrator in Pastorate 22, which includes Madison parishes St. Raphael and Good Shepherd, according to the diocese.

Fr. Jim Leeser of St. William’s will move on to Pastorate 16, which includes parishes in Lake Mills, Johnson Creek, Sullivan and Watertown.

The Diocese of Madison announced a plan in October to group its existing parishes into pastorates by 2024. 

Beginning in July, 2023, the current 102 parishes will begin working together in 30 “pastorates” or groupings of parishes, each under the leadership of a team of priests announced today. 


By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak of Janesville is founder of the Janesville News Report