Three men entered a special brotherhood Saturday morning, as Bishop Richard J. Malone ordained Father Lukasz Kopala, Father Thomas Michael Mahoney and Father Daniel Ehijiator Ogbeifun into the priesthood during a Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.
"Thank you very sincerely for hearing the Lord's Call, and for saying yes," Bishop Malone told the three new priests. "A 'yes' that you will repeat every day of your lives from this time on. I express as well my gratitude, and that of the Diocese of Buffalo once again, to everyone who's walked the journey of formation with you since you were little boys. Dear brothers, you know well, as men of deep faith, that something profoundly mysterious and radically transforming, is about to happen to your lives."
Saturday's ordination Mass felt like an international one, as Father Kopala emigrated from Poland and Father Ogbeifun is a native of Nigeria. Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu of Nicaragua and Bishop Donatus Ogun of Uromi, Nigeria, came to town to concelebrate the Mass with Bishop Edward U. Kmiec and Bishop Edward M. Grosz, both of Buffalo.
Family and friends of the three new priests sat in the front rows of the cathedral, holding their camera phones and iPads to preserve the moment, as dozens of diocesan priests and deacons joined the bishops in welcoming their new brothers. After the three men declared their loyalty to Bishop Malone, he and the assembled clergy laid their hands upon the newly ordained, then were formally welcomed by the assembly.
"As men commissioned as heralds of the Gospel, you will preach the Word and bear witness to the Good News and the joy of the Gospel," Bishop Malone said. "You will become stewards of the mysteries of God, exercising sacred power that comes from Christ inside. You will be doctors of souls, ministering the compassion of Christ, the Good Shepherd, in sacrament and pastoral challenges. Through you, Christ, the head of the body, will be present as leader of his people. Always rejoice in the gifts of the laity and the religious, with whom, Pope Benedict told us, we priests share co-responsibility for the life and mission of the Church. Do not fail to listen to them and collaborate with them even as we teach, lead and sanctify them."
Bishop Malone offered advice and recommendations for the new priests as they transition into their new roles, including regularly praying the Liturgy of the Hours but also a faithful discipline of personal conversations with the Lord.
"Pray faithfully and deeply," Bishop Malone said. "Prayer is how we remain gratefully aware that we are Christ's friends, as well as his priests and servants."
Father Kopala, who grew up in the Polish town of Ropczyce, has been assigned to St. John Vianney Parish in Orchard Park.
Father Ogbeifun will serve under Father Ronald P. Sajdak at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Harris Hill and St. Martin de Porres Church and St. Lawrence Church, both in Buffalo. He is the first African-born priest to be ordained in the Diocese of Buffalo.
A former accountant who completed his transition to the priesthood, Father Mahoney will serve at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Williamsville. He is a native of Depew.