The third time is the charm.
The Rev. Michael J. Kavanaugh has worked in Augusta churches twice before, and his return as the pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, comes during his 25th year as a priest and as the church prepares for its bicentennial in September.
Kavanaugh, 52, started last week. He replaced the Rev. Tim Donahue, who resigned in November.
"It's been pretty busy already, along with the move. Normally, we have a couple months. It was a matter of weeks here," he said. "Whirlwind, really."
Kavanaugh comes to Augusta from Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Port Wentworth, Ga. He's a native of Thunderbolt, Ga., on the eastern edge of Savannah, and is the youngest of five siblings.
He was ordained in April 1985 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Savannah.
Kavanaugh has served in Savannah and Augusta. Twice, he served as associate pastor of St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church in Augusta, from 1985-88 and 1994-96.
He also has worked as secretary to the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah.
The Rev. Michael Lubinsky, the parochial vicar who served as pastor in Donahue's absence, read of Kavanaugh's appointment in early January.
"The bishop of Savannah, Bishop Kevin Boland, sent me a letter that I received on Jan. 4," Lubinsky said. "I read that the bishop felt Father Kavanaugh's priestly ministry has been very effective, marked by strong leadership and pastoral care.
"I've come to see that the bishop was very accurate in his description. Indeed, all those talents and skills have been evident."
The Church of the Most Holy Trinity offers the largest staff that Kavanaugh has ever worked with. There are at least 10 paid staffers, in addition to a host of volunteers.
Kavanaugh will oversee Immaculate Conception School, which shares office space with Holy Trinity.
"It's a big community we've got here," Kavanaugh said.
The church has about 1,000 families -- about 3,500 to 4,000 people. The congregation is diverse, with single members, families and seniors, in addition to several ethnicities and backgrounds, he said.
The congregation is a result of the church's history: In 1971, three downtown parishes merged to form the present-day Holy Trinity.
"It's really a unique history," the priest said. "You see that influence still today."
In September, the church will celebrate its bicentennial.
"It's an exciting time to be a part of this church," Kavanaugh said. "I'm very glad to be back in Augusta. I've found Augusta and Savannah to be very similar places. Both are friendly and welcoming.
"It was a comfortable and fulfilling place to work previously, and I think it will be just as much this time around."
The pastor said his goals for the church are universal.
"They're the things every pastor does" he said. "We are ordained to teach, to preach and to pray, and in that order.
"That's the foundation of everything I'll do here."
Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the Rev. Michael J. Kavanaugh at (706) 722-4944.