The pastor of St. Mary Church in Riverside will leave the parish at the end of June to accept a post dealing with financial issues facing the Chicago Archdiocese.

Monsignor R. George Sarauskas, who has been pastor at St. Mary’s since 2004, announced he was accepting the new post in the parish bulletin on Jan. 16. Sarauskas said he has been serving on the Archdiocesan Finance Council, which advises Cardinal Francis George and develops “strategies and plans to address [financial] issues” facing the archdiocese and its parishes.

“Shortly before Christmas, the Cardinal called me to discuss a special project dealing with some of the financial issues of the diocese,” Sarauskas wrote in his announcement to the parish. “He asked if I would be willing to accept some major responsibilities for this project. In our discussion it became clear that I could not remain as pastor at St. Mary’s and also work on this project. Therefore, I will be leaving St. Mary’s at the end of June.”

The archdiocese will send a consultation team to St. Mary on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. to meet with parishioners and “discuss the needs of the parish and what they would like to see in a new pastor,” according to an announcement in the Jan. 23 St. Mary bulletin.

Ordained in 1973, Sarauskas came to St. Mary’s after serving as temporary administrator at Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Chicago. During the 1980s, Sarauskas served as director of research and planning for the archdiocese, appointed to that post by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

In Riverside, Sarauskas drew some fire from a segment of the parish for his plans to build a new rectory on the vacant parcel of land at Longcommon and Herrick roads, commonly referred to as Mary Park.

Sarauskas devised the first plan for a new rectory in 2007. However, after failing to come to an agreement with the owners of the home next to Mary Park, the location of the proposed two-story, 4,500-square-foot building changed in 2009. The parish pulled building permits that May and was scheduled to break ground by July.

Momentum ground to a halt in the face of resistance from some parishioners. The issue became so heated that at one point Sarauskas dissolved the parish’s school board. After that, Sarauskas held “listening” sessions with parishioners and ultimately decided to put the rectory on the backburner.

– Bob Uphues