In recognition of nearly 25 years of service to the people of his parishes and greater community, the City of Lancaster honored Father Allan Wolfe with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oct. 13 meeting of City Council.

Father Wolfe is the pastor of San Juan Bautista and St. Joseph Parishes in Lancaster. He will become pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Chambersburg and Our Lady of Refuge Mission in Doylesburg, effective Oct. 26.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was also bestowed upon Carlos Graupera, founder and president of the city’s Spanish American Civic Association.

The awards were given during City Council’s virtual meeting, a video of which is available on the council’s YouTube page, and in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month to acknowledge the many contributions of the Hispanic community to the City of Lancaster.

Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace read the award’s proclamation, commending Father Wolfe for his dedication. Several members of City Council, including Sorace, spoke of Father Wolfe’s personal influence in their lives.

Father Wolfe

“Father Wolfe has impacted my family spiritually and allowed me to embrace the love for building community and the Hispanic community in Lancaster,” said Milzy Carrasco, Director of Neighborhood Engagement. “Thousands have been impacted, and I can’t tell you how emotional and exciting it is for me to be here to share this moment.”

In receiving the award, Father Wolfe expressed gratitude to Mayor Sorace, to the council, and to the city of Lancaster and its Latino community.

“It’s been a tremendous privilege and an honor to be living here and serving here in Lancaster for these 24 years in this awesome community,” he said.

“I’m also particularly grateful to the bishops of the Diocese of Harrisburg, from Bishop Dattilo who assigned me here, to Bishop Rhoades, Bishop McFadden and Bishop Gainer for their trust in me to care for this community,” Father Wolfe added. “Thank you to Father [Bernardo] Pistone, who prepared this community to be a community of such faith in the Lord Jesus and love for one another.”

“I’ve inherited a tremendous gift. I’ve been blessed in these 23 years at San Juan and I’m a better man and a better priest because of my time here,” he said.

Father Wolfe was born in 1965 in Des Moines, IA. His family moved to Annville when he was young, and he graduated from Annville-Cleona High School in 1983. After graduating from Gettysburg College in 1987, he completed a Masters of Divinity at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg by Bishop Nicholas C. Dattilo on May 30, 1992.

Father Wolfe has served in Lancaster City for nearly 25 years, with close to 25 years leading San Juan Bautista and six concurrent years as pastor of St. Joseph Parish. He also had assignments at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish and Lancaster Catholic High School.

San Juan Bautista is the only Hispanic parish in the Diocese of Harrisburg. The parish runs Plaza San Juan Bautista, a non-profit youth and cultural center that includes a thrift store, summer camp, and after-school program, providing the Hispanic community with free after-school and summer programs, religious education classes, computer lab services, clothing and furniture, free home-cooked meals and community partnerships that offer martial arts and cultural dance lessons.

Both the parish and the Plaza San Juan Bautista have flourished under Father Wolfe’s leadership.

City Council members considered the award as not only a fitting tribute, but a timely one as well, as Father Wolfe bids farewell to his Lancaster flock for a new assignment as pastor in Chambersburg on Oct. 26.

“Twenty-four years ago, I could never have imagined staying as long as I have, or experiencing the things that I have,” Father Wolfe said.

“I jest with the people of San Juan that God definitely has a sense of humor…. They put a Polish Wolfe in charge of Latino sheep,” he said, “and I’m all the better for it.”

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness