The priestly formation process, for me, has been about developing a larger theological and ministerial toolbox. Almost a dozen years ago, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec ordained me a permanent deacon. The formation process I completed back then properly prepared me to do everything I needed to do as a permanent deacon in this diocese. Thanks to the generosity of Bishop Richard J. Malone, support of Father Joseph C. Gatto, president-rector of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora and Father Walter J. Szczesny, and the encouragement of Father Gerald L. Bartko, OSFS, and Father Peter M. Calabrese, CRSP, plus other persons too numerous to mention, I have been allowed to return to Christ the King Seminary to study for and discern the vocation of the priesthood.
The "hounds of heaven" have pursued me through the affirmation of many persons inside and outside of the Catholic Church to answer this holy calling. I pray to God that the many graces I have been given will remain steadfast within me as I strive through this humbling, growing edge, and life-changing process. Many of my fellow permanent deacons have told me that I must be brave to undergo a second formation process. Indeed, it takes much courage to endure the rigorous academic and formation processes.
The faculty and formation team has much to teach us. My seminarian classmates have been very helpful in their fellowship with me. My father and the good people of All Saints Parish in Lockport have given me their unwavering support along the way. I am currently enjoying my pastoral year assignment with Father Paul W. Steller and the many faithful parishioners at St. Mary Parish in Lancaster. In any event, this process is necessary to develop the skills needed for ministering five of the seven sacraments, along with caring for the countless needs of the faithful in whatever capacity the Lord and the Diocese of Buffalo call upon me to do in the years ahead.