Father Luke Wetzel, pictured alongside his wife, Natalie, and children, Frances and Andrew, will preside over his first Sunday services at St. Paul's in Riverside on May 20. | PROVIDED

St. Paul Parish in Riverside has announced that the Rev. Luke A. Wetzel has been appointed rector of the Episcopalian church, replacing the Rev. Thomas Fraser, who retired last year after serving as rector of the parish for 42 years.

Father Wetzel most recently served as curate of Trinity Parish in Columbus, Georgia, where according to a press release issued by St. Paul’s, “he taught adult formation and catechesis, organized and taught youth confirmation and initiated and led Episcopal college student fellowship.”

A 2009 graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Father Wetzel holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and received his Master of Divinity degree in 2012 from Duke University.

While at Duke, Father Wetzel worked with the Catholic Worker Community of the Franciscan Way, “where he was engaged in personal ministry to the poor and regularly served in various capacities at St. Joseph’s Parish.

For the first time in more than four decades, St. Paul Parish has a rector, with a family. Father Wetzel and his wife, Natalie, have been married for seven years and have two children, ages 4 and 2. A third child is expected in mid-July.

An avid camper, hiker and cyclist, Father Wetzel also “is an adventurous cook, has delved into wine- and beer-making, gardening and has even kept chickens.

Father Wetzel’s first Sunday at St. Paul’s will be May 20.

Stepping down

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel announced that he is stepping down from his post as chairman of the West Suburban Enhanced Drug/Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) task force, effective April 3.

Weitzel has led the special task force, which includes officers from Riverside, North Riverside, Brookfield, Berwyn, Forest Park, Oak Park, Rivers Forest and Elmwood Park, since April 2010.

The task force’s new chairman is River Forest Police Chief James O’Shea, who was sworn in as River Forest’s chief in January. He formerly was the department’s deputy chief.

“I have personally known Jim almost my whole career, and he is a true professional and has the leadership capabilities to lead the WEDGE task force to new initiatives throughout the years to come,” Weitzel said in a press release.

 WEDGE was the brainchild of its first chairman, former Berwyn Police Chief William Kushner, who is now the police chief in Des Plaines. The task force formed in 2006.

In 2017, officers assigned to special WEDGE patrols made 36 felony and 33 misdemeanor arrests, including the apprehension of Rolando Walker, who is suspected of stabbing to death his girlfriend, a Berwyn resident, at her residence.

On campus

Julia Keller, of Riverside, a member of the DePauw University swimming team has been named to the Tiger Pride Honor Roll for being one of 205 student-athletes achieving a grade-point average of at least 3.4 on a 4-point scale for the fall 2017 semester.

Samantha Miezio, of Riverside, was named to the 2017 fall semester dean’s list with distinction at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. To qualify for the dean’s list with distinction, a student must rank in the top 10 percent of their academic class.

Brookfield resident Isabella R. Nardi and Riverside resident Julia R. McCarthy were among the 5,700 undergraduate students at the University of Kansas to be named to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 2017 fall semester honor roll.

Lorel Meyer, of Riverside, a sophomore majoring in humanities at Clarkson University (Potsdam, New York) received the R. David Diederich Memorial Endowed Scholarship during the 2017-18 academic year.

Beth Lemerand, a Brookfield resident and sophomore at Lyons Township High School, placed second in painting and third in Latin derivatives during the Illinois Junior Classical League  state convention where more than 20 LTHS Latin students competed recently.