The sacrament of confirmation is always a powerful one, as young people are “sealed with the Holy Spirit” and strengthened for service to the church. But Saturday’s confirmation liturgy at St. George Parish in Bourbonnais was powerful and bittersweet all in one.

Fr. Dan with parishioners at Summerfest last year

After 15 years as pastor of St. George, Fr. Daniel Belanger, CSV, is moving to his next assignment. He is moving back to Las Vegas this summer and will begin Sept. 1 as Parochial Vicar of St. Viator Catholic Community.

“I had watched all these kids go through their sacraments,” Fr. Dan says, “so it’s been nice to see them mature in their faith.”

This year’s class was 23 eighth graders, who have been preparing to be confirmed since last fall. Bishop Christopher Glancy, CSV, confirmed the students, with Fr. Dan concelebrating.

Since coming to St. George, Fr. Dan has revitalized the parish by encouraging such ministries as the Art & Environment Committee, Family Faith Formation, its Garden Club, Music Ministry, Peace &Justice, and that’s not to mention its many social activities, like the recent Trivia Night and Summerfest each July, to name just a few. Most recently, Fr. Dan initiated the Dragon’s Den Coffee Shop, as a hub for parishioners of all ages to gather.

Fr. Dan with young parishioners in the Dragon’s Den Coffee Shop

Over the years, parish members have valued Fr. Dan’s ministry and leadership. For the fifth straight year, he was voted “Best Pastor” this month, in the Kankakee Daily Journal’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

All of which makes it hard for Fr. Dan to leave the rural parish in the cornfields, whose parishioners have worked alongside him in advancing the ministries of the church.

“After 15 years, I’m melancholy about leaving,” Fr. Dan says, “but I’m excited to start a new ministry in Las Vegas.”