SUNNY HILLS - One local church has embraced a new pastor after the recent retirement of its former pastor of 32 years.

St. Theresa Catholic Church has announced its retired former pastor Msgr. Francis Szczykutowicz has been replaced by Fr. Dustin Feddon. As Szczykutowicz, 84, continues to serve as chaplain to the Vestiarki Sisters of Jesus in Sunny Hills and fills in at St. Theresa's when needed, Feddon aims to become acquainted with his new congregation.

"Fr. Feddon brings considerable background in religious studies to his vocation," the release stated, also noting Feddon "brings great enthusiasm and fresh ideas."

Converting from Methodism to Catholicism in 2007 and ordained to priesthood in 2016, Feddon, a Birmingham, Ala. native, earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in religion from Florida State University. Also, he has served as a missionary in Jerusalem with an Anglican church and spent four years becoming acquainted with priests and studying Catholicism, which led to his conversion.

Feddon was called an "instrument of mercy" in a summer issue of the Catholic Compass, the magazine of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and took the helm at the church in August last year. 

Feddon also has a prison ministry and teaches an online seminary class.

"For me, being a priest is really about service and committing my life to serving those most in need, in moments of great poverty in their lives, and being with people in grave moments of crisis," he stated in the magazine article.

As for his vision for serving at St. Theresa's, the first church he has been given charge of, Feddon said he wants to get to know the church and community so he can "best know how to lead the people of God."

In honor of the dedicated service of its former pastor, a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Msgr. Szczykutowicz's ordination is planned for late April, the news release stated.

St. Theresa Catholic Church, 2071 Sunny Hills Blvd. in Chipley, hold Sunday Mass at 9 a.m. and Saturday Vigil at 5 p.m.