Many Western New Yorkers remeber November 2014 because of the several feet of snow that blocked doorways and stranded motorists. For Father Marcin Porada, parochial vicar at St. John Gualbert Parish in Cheektowaga, that November was a time of new beginnings as he came to the United States from Poland.
Father Porada was born in Rzeszów, the largest city in southeastern Poland with more than 100,000 residents and a thriving international tourism industry.
"This is my city," Father Porada said. "It is not too far from Krakow. I have a younger sister and she lives in Norway with her husband."
Father Porada attended high school in his hometown and classes at the University of Rzeszów for one year, after which he entered the seminary in 2002 to study for six years.
One of his first impressions of the Buffalo area was the snow.
"I see all of the snow because I came in November," Father Porada said. "The next day the big storm came."
Aside from the snow, Father Porada has good things to say about the people he has met in Western New York.
"People in the U.S., in Buffalo and Cheektowaga, people are very friendly and smiling," he said.
Father Parads believes there are fewer people who regularly attend weekly Mass in the United States.
"In Poland, in my city and south Poland, church is huge," he said. "There are many people coming in the church."
Father Porada said he is easily able to understand people in the diocese when they speak to him. He works on his vocabulary because it has been harder for him to speak in English to other people. He visits the Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent of the Felician Sisters three times a week for help. The sisters have been able to help him with his English and language skills, and he has made further plans to study language at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
"Every day, I talk with my pastor and my secretary, and people in my parish," he said. "It is my practice of English. It is very helpful for me."
Father Porada has remained at St. John Gualbert Parish since coming to the United States. He has been impressed with how friendly people have been to him.
"They are very nice, and good people are here," he said. "It is a good parish and a good pastor."
Father Michael Burzynski, pastor of St. John Gualbert, has helped him each step of the way. Since arriving in Buffalo, Father Porada has also found other people who can speak Polish, since there is a significant Polish-American population in the diocese. Additionally, Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Cheektowaga offers a weekend Mass in the Polish language.
"I celebrated Mass in this parish," he said. "I met people who were coming to this Mass."
Father Porada said he enjoys celebrating Mass and talking to people and helping them. He also hears confessions and celebrates daily Mass for visitors. The process of becoming a priest has allowed him to continue helping people. In talking to people each day, he has found others are able to teach him many new things, especially about his faith.
Father Porada decided to come to Buffalo because he knows other priests from Poland who came to serve in the Diocese of Buffalo. Having other priests in the area who know his language and culture has helped him adjust more easily.
"I know Father Józef Dudzik (pastor of St. Brendan on the Lake Parish in Newfane) and Father Dawid Krzeszowski (parochial vicar of St. John the Baptist Parish in Kenmore)," Father Porada said. "Father Krzeszowski is from the same Polish diocese."
Father Porada is thankful that Bishop Richard J. Malone arranged for him to come to the diocese. He said hehas had a positive experience working with the bishop.
"He is very friendly and happy I am coming to this area," Father Porada said. "He is very nice. I like him."