Six men will receive the sacrament of holy orders on Saturday, Sept. 16, when Buffalo's Bishop Richard J. Malone ordains the men to the holy order of deacon. Two gentlemen will be permanent deacons and the other four will continue their studies for the priesthood. This special Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral, 50 Franklin St., Buffalo.
Edward M. Birmingham of Attica and Kenneth R. Monaco of Tonawanda are both married and have adult children. Following their ordinations, Bishop Malone will assign them to serve as deacons in parishes and in ministry of charity, possibly at local hospitals, nursing homes, human services agencies or prisons. As permanent deacons, they may officiate at weddings, baptisms, funerals and wakes. They also may preach and distribute Holy Communion.
Birmingham and his wife Karen are members of SS. Joachim and Anne Parish, Attica, where he has been involved with the religious education program. He is retired from the United States Army and has been employed with the Department of Homeland Security for 12 years where he serves as a management and program analyst. A graduate of Empire State College, Birmingham earned a bachelor's degree in business management. He has two daughters, Rhea Anne Smith and Jennifer Preston. During his formation, he worked at Cloister Nursing Home, Warsaw, and Gateway House of Attica.
Monaco, a chaplain resident at the St. Joseph Campus of Sister's of Charity Hospital, Cheektowaga, studied at the State University of New York at Fredonia and Canisius College where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1978. He and his wife Karen are members of St. Amelia's Parish, where he had served as a confirmation teacher for several years. As part of his formation, Monaco served at the Little Portion Friary, Buffalo, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, and Wende Correctional Facility, Alden. He has a son, Christopher, and two daughters, Maria and Megan.
Peter Nsa Bassey, Paul Stanislaw Cygan, Peter Santandreu and Gerard Skrzynski are seminarians from Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, who also will be ordained deacons. These four men, however, will continue their studies and will be ordained to the priesthood at a later date. During their studies, they have all had assignments in local parishes.
Bassey, a native of Nigeria, said he began to consider the priesthood when he was a 9-year-old. He attended a minor seminary, Immaculate Conception, and a major seminary, St. Joseph, both in Nigeria. He went on to study theology at Providence College in Rhode Island before entering Christ the King Seminary. His parish assignments have been at Church of the Annunciation, Elma, and St. Benedict, Eggertsville.
Cygan, who was born and raised in Olean, attended Franciscan University of Steubenville where he earned a bachelor's degree in theology and philosophy. He said he felt the calling to the priesthood at age seven. Following his graduation from college he entered the Conventual Franciscans, a religious order of priests, but discerned that this was not where God was calling him to be, so he applied to Christ the King Seminary. During his studies for the priesthood at Christ the King, he served at Sacred Heart Parish, Bowmansville; St. Gregory the Great Parish, Williamsville; and at St. Joseph Cathedral, Buffalo.
Santandreu, an alumnus of St. Francis High School, Athol Springs, earned a bachelor's degree in religious studies from St. John Fischer College in Rochester and a master's degree in theology from the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto. He has worked as a package handler for FedEx, Buffalo, and as a woodworker's assistant at Hangimals, Hamburg. Santandreu's ministerial assignments have been at Resurrection Parish, Batavia; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Dunkirk; and Blessed Sacrament, Buffalo. Santandreu also served at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa., and at the Maryknoll English Learning Center in Bangkok, Thailand. He was the recipient of a fellowship at Auschwitz for the study of professional ethics. Through his travels and studies, he has consistently come to the same conclusion, that God is calling him to be a priest in the Diocese of Buffalo.
Skrzynski, who grew up in Lackawanna, graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Prior to entering the seminary, he worked for SCIPAR, Inc., in Williamsville, as a computer engineer working on the automation of water/irrigation and hydroelectric plants. He also worked as a software engineer at Applied Science Group in Cheektowaga. For his ministerial assignments, Skrzynski was assigned to St. James, Jamestown; Good Shepherd, Pendleton; Infant of Prague, Cheektowaga; St. John the Baptist, Alden; and Immaculate Conception, Wellsville. He has been a member of Toastmasters International for 21 years and has been an instructor at the American Red Cross for two years.