He’s 70 now, and he says he wants to do a few other things. July is probably as good a time as any for him to choose for his retirement, because by then he will have served as pastor of the historic South Toledo church for 14 years.
He says another reason he didn’t leave when he turned 65 was because no one in the Diocese wanted to take over his position. “But this time they’ve recruited a priest from México,” he explains.
Actually, this is his third go-around flirting with the idea of retirement, but this time it is clear that he means business.
“This has been a good experience and I’ve enjoyed my time here. I’m optimistic the parish can continue for a long time,” says Notter, who next year will have been a priest for 45 years (he was ordained May 15, 1963). However, he has been actively involved with the Latino communities since he was a student in the seminary near Columbus, beginning in 1960.
He adds that parishioners have been supportive of his decision to retire. “I will continue to be available to help and to participate in Hispanic celebrations, weddings, and quinceañeras.
“I’ll be living in Toledo so I’ll be in town, helping out. But during the cold weather I plan to be in South Texas. I have friends there, and that’s where I can park my trailer,” says Notter.
But what he really hopes to do is more ministering to the circus, something he’s only been able to do now in his spare time.
“This is my first year as chaplain for the Circus Fans of America (CFA) national organization,” says Notter, who recently returned from a three week vacation he spent ministering to circus people. “I was preparing a couple for their wedding sacraments in Florida,” he explains.
Circus and traveling show ministries have received more attention from the Catholic Church in recent years. In the United States, there are several nuns who have this fulltime responsibility through the Bishop’s Conference. There are also members of the clergy assigned to carnivals and the auto racing circuit, as well as a chaplain for bull riders.