• (Courier file photo)
    (Courier file photo)

Priests note 2018 jubilees

Catholic Courier    |    05.03.2018
Category: Vocations

The following priests are celebrating their 65th, 60th, 55th, 50th and 25th anniversaries of ordination in 2018.

65 Years

Father Bernard Dollen

Father Bernard Dollen has been celebrating Mass at parishes in Monroe County for 65 years and has no intention of stopping any time soon. He reached senior-priest status in 1998 but has continued to help out at parishes — mostly on Monroe County’s west side — whenever he is asked to do so.

A Rochester native, Father Bernard Dollen worshipped as a child at Immaculate Conception Parish. He attended Immaculate Conception School as well as Our Lady of Good Counsel School, also in Rochester, before studying at Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries.

He was ordained June 6, 1953, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He then served as assistant pastor at Holy Rosary, Rochester (1953-57); St. Francis Xavier, Rochester (1957-65); St. Salome, Irondequoit (1965-66); and Holy Ghost, Gates (1966-72).

In 1972, he became pastor at St. Andrew in Rochester where he remained until 1980, when he became pastor at St. John of Rochester in Fairport. After 10 years at the Fairport parish he became pastor at St. Christopher in North Chili in 1990, and he continued there until reaching senior status in 1998.

Father Dollen remarked that the eight years he spent in Fairport probably are the most memorable of his priesthood. That’s because under his leadership, the parish constructed a new church.

Father Frederick Eisemann

“That was one of the high points of my priesthood,” he recalled. “When we finished with that we built a parish hall.”

The Second Vatican Council began nearly a decade after Father Frederick Eisemann was ordained, yet he said the council had a tremendous influence on the way he’s lived his vocation.

A native of Rochester, Father Eisemann grew up attending Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, where he also was enrolled in the parish school. He later attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, both in Rochester, and was ordained June 6, 1953, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

After his ordination, Father Eisemann was assigned to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and served as assistant pastor at the Rochester parish from 1953-54. He later served as assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus in Auburn from 1954-58 and procurator at St. Bernard’s Seminary from 1958-61.

After leaving his position at the seminary, Father Eisemann was assistant pastor at St. Ann, Hornell (1961-64); Ss. Peter and Paul, Rochester (1965-67); and Our Mother of Sorrows, Greece (1967-74).

In 1974 he was appointed pastor at Rochester’s Holy Family, where he remained until he reached senior-priest status in 1990.

That year, Father Eisemann moved to Charlotte, where he regularly assisted at Mass at Holy Cross Parish. During his years by the lake he also regularly celebrated Mass at Grande Ville Senior Living Community in Greece.

In 2016, Father Eisemann moved to St. Ann’s Home, where he frequently assists at Mass.

“I also did a little series here on Resisting Happiness, which is a book by Matthew Kelly,” he noted.

Msgr. Gerard Krieg

Serving the people of God for 65 years has been a joy, remarked Msgr. Gerard Krieg, who continues to serve from his home base at St. Louis in Pittsford.

“My desire all throughout the priesthood was pastoral life,” he said.

Msgr. Krieg, who was born and raised in Rochester, where he attended St. Michael Parish and was enrolled in the parish school. After completing his studies at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester, he was ordained June 6, 1953, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Joseph, Wayland (1953-57), and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rochester (1957-58), before being sent to Washington, D.C., where he earned a degree in canon law from the Catholic University of America.

Upon his return to Rochester, he became associate pastor at St. Pius Tenth, Chili (1960-61) and also joined the staff of the diocesan tribunal. Over the course of the next 13 years he served as the tribunal’s defender of the bond (1960-61), secretary (1961-66) and vicar judicial (1966-73).

During his years on the tribunal, Msgr. Krieg frequently reminded the staff that upholding canon law was only part of their task.

“Our purpose was to, through the law, provide greater pastoral assistance to the individuals involved,” he explained.

After leaving the tribunal in 1973, Msgr. Krieg served as pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption, Scottsville (1973-83), and St. Stephen, Geneva (1983-99).

After reaching senior-priest status in 1999, Msgr. Krieg moved to his current home at St. Louis and has been assisting at Mass, hearing confessions and leading a Scripture-study class ever since.

Father Leo Mans

Father Leo Mans was assistant pastor at St. Philip Neri when a fire broke out at the Rochester church, and his memories from that experience have never faded. Father George Weinmann, the parish’s pastor, rushed into the burning church to rescue the Blessed Sacrament, and Sister Lilian Marie McLaughlin, SSND, soon followed. Both were killed. 

As tragic as that experience was, Father Mans was uplifted and inspired by the response of his parishioners.

“The people were extremely responsive and helpful, as were neighboring parishes,” he recalled.

A Rochester native, Father Mans grew up worshipping at St. Michael Church. After graduating from the parish school he attended Aquinas Institute as well as St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, all in Rochester. He was ordained June 6, 1953, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

After ordination, Father Mans was assigned to St. Ann in Hornell, where was assistant pastor from 1953-57. He then served as assistant pastor at the Rochester parishes of St. Ambrose (1957-58), Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (1958), Holy Rosary (1958-60), St. Philip Neri (1960-67) and Our Lady of Perpetual Help (1967-72).

He later served as pastor at Good Shepherd, Henrietta (1972-73); St. Anthony of Padua, Rochester (1973); and St. Ignatius Loyola, Hornell (1973-83).

Father Mans reached senior-priest status in 1983 and currently resides in the Brethren Home Community near Gettysburg, Pa.

“I’m grateful for all the friendship and support given to me over my years as a priest,” he said.

60 Years

Father Charles Curran

Father Charles Curran has been a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, for nearly three decades.

He continues as SMU’s Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, a position to which he was appointed in December 1990, teaching full time during fall semesters and conducting research and writing in the spring.

Father Curran, 84, was raised in St. Ambrose Parish and attended Nazareth Hall and St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, all in Rochester. He studied sacred theology at Pontifical Gregorian University and Academia Alfonsiana, both in Rome. He was ordained July 13, 1958, by Bishop Luigi Traglia in the Church of St. Alexis, Rome, and went on to teach moral theology at St. Bernard’s Seminary (1961-65). He then served as assistant professor, associate professor and ordinary professor of moral theology at the Catholic University of America (1965-89).

He has authored and edited more than 60 books and served as president of the Catholic Theological Society (1969-70), the Society of Christian Ethics (1971-72) and the American Theological Society (1989-90). He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.

Father Joseph Sasso

Father Joseph Sasso continues to help serve a church near his home in Le Roy even at age 87. 

“I do that right to this day when they need me … for daily Mass or weekend Mass” at Our Lady of Mercy Church in the Diocese of Buffalo, he said.

Father Sasso was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on May 31, 1958, at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Sasso attended public schools of Rochester, and graduated from Aquinas Institute in 1950 before going on to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries. His family attended St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rochester.

After ordination, he was assigned to St. Anthony Parish in Rochester, where he served as associate pastor from 1958-61. He left St. Anthony in 1961 and then served four years as associate pastor at St. Mary Parish in Canandaigua. In 1965, he began another four-year stint as an associate pastor at Good Shepherd Parish in Henrietta. He served as associate pastor for one year at St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Ontario in 1970.

While not officially on sabbatical, he then studied at the University of Rochester, earning a master’s degree in education in 1971 while spending a summer as a chaplain at the Sisters of St. Joseph infirmary in Pittsford. The then took on another associate pastor position at Rochester’s Holy Rosary Parish, and went on to receive a master’s degree in divinity from St. Bernard’s Seminary.

“I’m glad I did it,” he said of his studies. “It was very gratifying to have that background.”

Father Sasso then served as associate pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spencerport from 1973-76; administrator at St. Dominic Parish in Shortsville from 1976-77; and associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Corning from 1977-78 and at St. Boniface Parish in Rochester in 1978. He served as pastor at Holy Angels in Nunda and a mission church, Holy Name Church in Groveland Station, for 16 years before opting for senior status to take care of his ailing parents.

He continued in ministry, though, and assisted at St. Anne Church in Rochester for four years.

He will likely celebrate his jubilee with his family, to whom he remains close, and will attend celebrations for other jubilarians at the cathedral.

Father Thomas Statt

One of the proudest moments in 60 years of ministry for Father Thomas Statt was serving as the first full-time chaplain of the Newman Community at SUNY Geneseo and overseeing the creation of the college’s Interfaith Center.

“That was significant,” he said of his chaplaincy. “It was very exciting.”

The college will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Interfaith Center this fall, noted Father Statt, 85.

A Rochester native, Father Statt grew up in St. Augustine Parish and attended Nazareth Hall and Aquinas Institute before going on to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries.

Father Statt was ordained May 31, 1958, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He was associate pastor at St. Mary in Canandaigua (1958-61) and Corpus Christi in Rochester (1961-64). During the first year of his 12 years of service as chaplain of the Newman Community at SUNY Geneseo beginning in 1964, he assisted at St. Mary Parish in Geneseo. He also earned a master’s degree in religious studies from Catholic University of America in 1968.

He then served as rector of Becket Hall, the diocesan college preparatory seminary program (1976-81). In 1981, he became pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Greece, where he served until 2000 when he reached senior-priest status. Father Statt has served as a trustee/board member for St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, Camp Stella Maris, the Nazareth Schools and Monroe County Catholic Schools.

Father Statt continues to assist at St. Charles Borromeo in Greece and other parishes when needed. He lives on Honeoye Lake and has been spending February, March and April at his home in central Florida since 2001.

He will celebrate his jubilee with a Mass at 10:30 a.m. June 3 at St. Charles Borromeo and said all are welcome. A gathering with his immediate family will follow.

Father Winfried Kellner

55 years

Although he’s served in several parishes, Father Winfried Kellner also has carved out a niche as a chaplain in health-care facilities.

“It certainly was appreciated,” Father Kellner said of that ministry. “You’re there in key moments with people, and you establish relationships. To this day, I get out and meet people at wakes and they say, ‘You took care of my grandmother.’”

Father Kellner is a native of Germany, and his home parish in the Rochester Diocese is St. Columba in Caledonia. After attending St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, he was ordained June 1, 1963, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus, Auburn (1963-68); St. Cecilia, Irondequoit (1968-70); Church of the Assumption, Fairport (1970-73); and St. Boniface, Rochester (1978). He became administrator at St. Boniface in 1978 and served as its pastor from 1979-83.

In 1983, Father Kellner began a 13-year tenure as chaplain at Monroe Community Hospital. He also was administrator at Our Lady of Victory, Rochester (1996-2001), and served concurrently as sacramental minister at Our Mother of Sorrows in Greece and part-time chaplain at Unity Health (2001-07).

After reaching senior-priest status in 2007, Father Kellner continued to reside at Our Mother of Sorrows while ministering at Legacy and other Greece-area health-care facilities.

In November 2016, Father Kellner relocated to the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford, where he concelebrates daily Mass and also takes part in the “Powerhouse of Prayer” ministry.

Father James Lawlor

Father James Lawlor continues to thrive in the ministerial, rather than administrative, duties of priesthood.

Since reaching senior-priest status in 2007, Father Lawlor has assisted in the Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne cluster in Brighton and Rochester.

“I do basically the same stuff I’ve always done — it’s just that somebody else takes care of leaky roofs,” said Father Lawlor, who resides at St. Anne.

Father Lawlor was baptized at Rochester’s Blessed Sacrament Church and confirmed at St. Stephen in Geneva. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 1, 1963, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral, during the thick of the Second Vatican Council.

“There was all kinds of life and enthusiasm that the church hadn’t seen in years.” Father Lawlor recalled, adding that “(Pope) Francis has tried to renew that energy.”

He was assistant pastor of St. Helen, Gates (1963-65); assistant diocesan chancellor (1965-66); a graduate student at Catholic University of America (1966-67); assistant pastor, Guardian Angels, Henrietta (1967-68); Catholic chaplain, University of Rochester (1968-74); and assistant pastor, St. Charles Borromeo, Greece (1974-80).

In 1980, Father Lawlor began a 17-year pastorate at Rochester’s St. Mary Parish. In 1998, he became pastor at St. Catherine of Siena in Mendon, where he remained until becoming a senior priest. He also served from 2007-08 as temporary parochial administrator at St. Charles in Greece.

Regarding his 55-year priesthood, he said, “You keep running into people you’ve known all those years. It gives you great cause for gratitude.”

Father John O’Connor

Nearly half of Father John O’Connor’s 55-year priesthood was spent as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Brighton, where he served for 26 years until reaching senior-priest status in 2006. 

“You stayed with families from the cradle to the grave, practically. They were very pleasant years, and I had good people helping me, so I was always indebted to them,” Father O’Connor recalled.

Father O’Connor grew up in Greece’s Our Mother of Sorrows Parish. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester before being ordained June 1, 1963, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Charles Borromeo, Elmira Heights (1963-65); St. Michael, Newark (1965-70); St. Pius Tenth, Chili (1970-75); and Holy Trinity, Webster (1975-80) before beginning his lengthy pastorate at Our Lady of Lourdes in 1980. In addition, he organized many clergy conferences on behalf of the Diocese of Rochester. Father O’Connor also was a longtime U.S. Army Reserve chaplain; he served in that role for 25 years beginning in 1965 and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

For the past several years, Father O’Connor has resided at his home in Keuka Park and assisted in the Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community parish, primarily at St. Michael Church in Penn Yan. He also has enjoyed spending winters in Florida and assisting at parishes there; this past winter season he logged seven weeks at Delray Beach.

Regarding his 55 years of priestly service, Father O’Connor said, “I always wanted to be a priest. I think I have always enjoyed it, and I still do.”

50 Years

Father Richard Beligotti

Father Richard Beligotti will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination on multiple occasions this year.

Along with his twin brother, Father Robert Beligotti, he celebrated a March 10 Mass of anticipation with friends and neighbors in Venice, Fla., where he and his brother moved in 2015. The brothers then renewed their priestly vows in a concelebration of the Chrism Mass along with other jubilarians at Epiphany Cathedral in the Diocese of Venice.

“We were happy to do so,” he said, as the brothers celebrate Mass and hear confessions at the cathedral upon request.

Another celebration will be held locally at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Greece on June 3.

He was ordained on June 1, 1968, by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at Sacred Heart Cathedral after attending St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries.

Father Beligotti was then assisting priest at St. Cecilia, Irondequoit (1968-71); St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin (1971-72); Immaculate Conception, Ithaca (1972-73); Holy Cross, Rochester (1973-77); St. Agnes, Avon (1977-81); St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads (July-September 1981); St. Thomas More, Brighton (1981-84); St. Michael, Newark (1984-87); and St. Pius Tenth, Chili (1987-89).

He served as pastor at St. Charles Borromeo in Elmira Heights for five years. He served another five years as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, Leicester/St. Lucy, Retsof. He then was administrator of St. Bridget/St. Joseph, East Bloomfield (1999-2000); chaplain at Mercy Rehabilitation Center, Auburn (2000-01); administrator at St. John the Evangelist (Humboldt Street), Rochester (July-September 2001); pastor at St. Salome, Irondequoit (2001-07); and parochial vicar at Christ the King/St. Salome/St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit (2007-10). He served as parochial vicar for the cluster of St. Agnes, Avon/St. Paul of the Cross, Honeoye Falls/St. Rose, Lima, from 2010-13 when he reached senior-priest status and moved to Watkins Glen.

Father Robert Beligotti

Father Robert Beligotti and his twin brother, Father Richard Beligotti, celebrated a special Mass in March for the 50th anniversary of their ordinations. 

“It was the Feast Day of St. Scholastica, the twin of St. Benedict, and an appropriate occasion for us twins to rejoice in God’s wonderful blessings,” Father Beligotti said of the March 10 Mass of anticipation with friends and neighbors in Venice, Fla., where the brothers have lived since 2015.

The twins also renewed their priestly vows in a concelebration of the Chrism Mass along with other jubilarians at Epiphany Cathedral in the Diocese of Venice. They have been granted faculties to celebrate Mass and hear confessions at the cathedral upon request.

A third celebration is planned at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Greece on June 3.

Father Beligotti, 70, is a native of St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Watkins Glen. He attended Padua High School and St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries before being ordained June 1, 1968, by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He then served as assisting priest at St. Charles Borromeo, Elmira Heights (1968-73); Holy Family, Auburn (1973-77); St. Vincent De Paul, Corning (1977-81); and St. Mary Southside, Elmira (1981-83).

In 1988, after five years as assistant at St. Anthony of Padua, Rochester, he began his first pastorate at the same parish, where he stayed for another five years.

From 1993-2000, Father Beligotti was pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Auburn where he oversaw a church renovation. From 2001-02, he served as chaplain of Monroe Community Hospital — which he considers a highlight of his priestly ministry — and sacramental minister at St. Mary of the Assumption in Scottsville. He also was pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, Greece (2002-05); parochial vicar at St. Rita, Webster (2005-07); and parochial vicar at Church of the Assumption, Fairport (2007-10). From 2010-13, he served as sacramental minister at St. Marianne Cope Parish in Henrietta and Rush.

Father Beligotti and his brother moved to their family home in Watkins Glen upon reaching senior-priest status in 2013 before moving to Florida two years later.

Father Charles Latus

Father Charles Latus said all the pastoral assignments during his 50 years of priesthood have had their share of challenges and great blessings.

“The people I met, the priests I worked with, have been blessings in all of those (assignments),” he added.

A native of Rochester, he attended St. Ambrose School. He went to high school in Albany for two years before his family moved back to the Rochester Diocese and he went on to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries.

Father Latus was ordained by Bishop Fulton Sheen on June 1, 1968, and was first assigned as associate pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, where he had been baptized. In 1974, he became copastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Greece. Four years later, he became secretary to Bishop Joseph L. Hogan, and continued in that role in 1979 when Bishop Matthew H. Clark was installed as eighth bishop of Rochester.

He served as Bishop Clark’s secretary for three years and director of the diocesan office of Priest Personnel for four years. In 1986, he went to Rome for a sabbatical.

On the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena that same year, Father Latus learned of his assignment as pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mendon, where he served for 12 years and oversaw the building of a new church. In the fall of 1998, he took another sabbatical and spent a semester at the Washington Theological Union.

From 1999-2012, he served as pastor of St. Rita Church until reaching senior-priest status. Since then, he has been serving as a part-time chaplain at the Cherry Ridge complex in Webster, which is part of St. Ann’s Community. He also celebrates Mass every other Sunday at St. Rose of Lima Church in Sodus Point during the summer months.

Father Latus, 75, said he is planning a low-key celebration with family and friends with a lunch following a June 3 Mass at Cherry Ridge.

Father Kevin Murphy

Father Kevin Murphy, who reached senior-priest status in 2011, had been serving in ministry until last summer when he suffered an illness. He had been providing weekend Mass coverage at St. Benedict Parish’s St. Bridget/St. Joseph Church in East Bloomfield as well as offering courses on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sí on caring for the earth. Father Murphy, 75, is currently recuperating at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford.

He said he is having a harder time accepting that he has reached his 50th jubilee as a priest.

“I thought people who celebrated their 50th were a bunch of old codgers,” he joked. “I’m not as convinced today. But I’m glad I’m still a priest.”

He grew up in Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Greece and attended Sacred Heart Parish, as well as Sacred Heart Cathedral School and St. Andrew’s Seminary. He later earned a master’s degree in divinity at St. Bernard’s Seminary and a master’s degree in education from Boston College. He was ordained June 1, 1968, by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

After ordination, he was associate pastor at St. Mary, Canandaigua (1968-72), and a part-time chaplain at Community College of the Finger Lakes in Hopewell in 1970. From 1972-77, he worked in campus ministry at Cornell University.

He became copastor at St. Patrick Church in Elmira (1977-78) and administrator of the parish from 1978-79 and also served as regional coordinator of the Chemung-Schuyler region. He then was appointed associate pastor at St. Louis in Pittsford (1979-81). At St. John the Evangelist Parish in Rochester, he served as copastor (1981-91) and as pastor (1991-96). He was then pastor of St. Joseph Church, Penfield, from 1996-2005 and St. Louis again from 2005-11.

While he has many good memories, the staff and lay ministers at the Elmira and Rochester city parishes he led provided great examples of faithful service, he said.

“They gave a very good image of the church,” he said.

He said hopes to celebrate his jubilee with a Mass at St. Mary in Canandaigua in June as well as at a special gathering for fellow members of his class being planned for the end of May at Cherry Ridge in Webster.

Father Walter J. Plominski

Hospital ministry is among the highlights of five decades of priesthood for Father Walter J. Plominski.

From 2005-13, he served as a chaplain at area hospitals, including the facilities of Unity Health System as well as Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals.

Father Plominski said he has appreciated the chance to give people the sacraments when they needed them most. He reached senior-priest status in 2013 and is currently living at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford.

A native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Father Plominski said he came from a strong Catholic family and attended Catholic grade school, high school and Kings College in Wilkes-Barre for two years before entering St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton, Pa. He also earned a master’s degree in religious studies from Marywood College in Scranton, Pa.

He was ordained for the Diocese of Scranton at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick on May 25, 1968, and later moved to the Rochester area.

In 1993, Father Plominski began as assistant pastor in the Corning-Painted Post Roman Catholic Community, which comprised Immaculate Heart of Mary in Painted Post and St. Mary, St. Patrick and St. Vincent De Paul in Corning. In 1994, he became parochial vicar at St. Patrick, Seneca Falls. In 1996, he became priest administrator for St. Margaret Mary in Apalachin.

Later that year, he served as priest administrator of St. Columba/St. Patrick Parish in Caledonia, and among his accomplishments was bringing the Renew program of small Christian communities to the parish. Parishioners at the time credited the program with helping to revitalize attendance.

In 2000, he was appointed pastor of the parish and was incardinated into the Diocese of Rochester on Aug. 28 of that year. He served in Caledonia until 2005, when he was appointed assisting priest at Guardian Angels in Henrietta (2005-12). He also began serving as a hospital chaplain in 2005; he said he found hospital ministry to be very rewarding because it was clear that he was helping people.

In 2012, Father Plominski was appointed parochial vicar of St. Anne and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes in Rochester and Brighton.

Father James Schwartz

As he nears his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination, Father James Schwartz continues in active ministry as the pastor of two suburban parishes. 

“I experience the joy of the Gospels in the priestly ministry I’m engaged in,” he said. “Helping people to encounter the Lord is always a sacred privilege and really what energizes my spirit.”

Father Schwartz grew up in Rochester and attended Our Lady of Counsel School before going to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries.

Following his ordination on June 1, 1968, by Bishop Fulton Sheen, he served at St. Theodore Parish in Gates as associate pastor for four years then as chaplain at Rochester General Hospital (1972-79). Concurrently, he served as the director of ministry to priests (1979-87) and spiritual director and director of the former Becket Hall, a discernment program for candidates for the priesthood (1981-87).

In 1987, Father Schwartz went on sabbatical to Switzerland. Subsequently, he joined the staff for the Center of Human Development in Washington, D.C., which is the umbrella organization for diocesan priests programs (1987-90). From 1990-93, he served as pastor of Rochester’s Holy Family Church, then pastor of St. Louis Church in Pittsford (1993-2005). He has been pastor of St. Joseph Church in Penfield since 2005, and was named pastor of Holy Spirit Church in Penfield as well in 2014.

Additionally, he served as director of seminarians for the diocese from 2002-12 and has been a board member of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry for several years.

“I’ve had very good fortune in all of the various priestly assignments I’ve had,” Father Schwartz said. “I’ve enjoyed all of them.”

He said he also is proud that his family has had three generations of priests, a tradition he hopes will continue.

He will celebrate his jubilee with Masses June 2-3 at St. Joseph and June 9-10 at Holy Spirit. A dinner will follow the Mass at St. Joseph on June 2. A St. Bernard’s class reunion is planned for the end of May as well.

25 Years

Father Lee Chase

For all the ways a priest goes about his duties, Father Lee Chase has found one seemingly simple gesture to be perhaps most vital.

“Ninety-nine percent of ministry is showing up, being there,” said Father Chase, who serves as pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Greece. “A simple saying hello to someone, or stopping to ask how is someone’s family — it surprises me how much people appreciate that.”

Father Chase is a native of Amsterdam, near Albany. He graduated from Nazareth College in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, and added a master’s degree in systematic theology from St. Bernard’s Institute in 1988.

He was director of religious education at Rochester’s St. Anne Parish, then attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore before his June 5, 1993, ordination by Bishop Matthew H. Clark at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as parochial vicar at St. Mary, Auburn (1993-96), and St. Joseph, Penfield (1996-98). In 1998, he began at St. Thomas More in Brighton as parochial administrator, and was pastor there from 1999-2008. He also was sacramental minister at Nazareth College (1999-2001).

From 2008-12, Father Chase taught at Rochester Institute of Technology. He has taught religious studies and other subjects at St. John Fisher College since 2001.

In 2012, he began at St. Lawrence as parochial vicar, becoming parochial administrator in 2014 and pastor in 2015. Father Chase will note his 25th anniversary June 10 at the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Lawrence, followed by a reception there.

Father Brian Cool

Father Brian Cool’s priesthood has been marked by two passions: working with young adults and social-justice advocacy. 

For the past 19 years, Father Cool has been director of Catholic campus ministry at the University of Rochester. Since 2015, he has filled the same role at Rochester Institute of Technology, and he does likewise for Eastman School of Music.

He was longtime chair of the diocesan Public Policy Committee, on which he served from 1995-2017. His involvement in that arena, he said, was an extension of his collegiate focus: He earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Nazareth College in 1988.

Father Cool is a native of St. Mary Parish in Auburn. Following Nazareth College, he attended seminary at St. Mary University in Baltimore. He was ordained June 5, 1993, by Bishop Matthew H. Clark at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He was parochial vicar at St. John of Rochester, Fairport (1993-96); St. Mary, Canandaigua (1996-98); and St. Michael, Penn Yan/St. Andrew, Dundee as well as Catholic campus minister at Keuka College (1998-99).

He earned a master’s degree in mental-health counseling from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education in 2006 and is now working toward a doctorate in education there. In addition, he is a longtime high-school and college lacrosse official.

Regarding his silver jubilee, he said, “It’s mind-blowing, just simply mind-blowing, when you think about men I’ve respected and followed in their careers. And now I’m at that point in my journey.”

Father Cool will note his 25th anniversary of ordination with a noon Mass at St. Mary in Auburn on June 10. A reception will follow.

Father Lance Gonyo

Father Lance Gonyo has logged 25 straight years of parish ministry, and that suits him just fine.

“It’s been a great blessing,” said Father Gonyo, who is pastor of St. Rita Parish in Webster. “I love the priesthood, I love parish life. It’s been a real joy to walk with people in their journey, watch their kids grow up, and celebrate their marriages and baptisms, and to do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Father Gonyo was baptized at Sacred Heart Cathedral and confirmed at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Greece. He graduated from St. John Fisher College in 1982 with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and philosophy. He then attended Theological College in Washington, D.C., before completing seminary at St. Mary in Baltimore. Father Gonyo was ordained June 5, 1993, by Bishop Matthew H. Clark at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as priest intern at St. Mary, Elmira (1993-96); parochial vicar at St. Pius Tenth, Chili (1996-98); and parochial vicar at Holy Family Catholic Community in Steuben and Livingston counties (1998-99). He became temporary administrator in 1999 at St. Francis de Sales in Geneva, and moved on to the same role later that year at Church of the Epiphany/St. Rose of Lima in Sodus and Sodus Point before becoming pastor there in 2000.

His next pastorate was at St. John the Evangelist, Spencerport, beginning in 2005. He has been pastor of St. Rita since 2012, and on Jan. 1 of this year was appointed dean of the Diocese of Rochester’s Monroe East Deanery.

Father Gonyo will note his 25th anniversary with receptions after all weekend Masses at St. Rita Church June 9-10.

With nearly 15 years at Holy Family Catholic Community behind him, Father Stephen Karani has now spent almost 60 percent of his priesthood in a single parish. That’s quite a departure from his original intent to study in the Rochester Diocese for a couple of years before returning to his native Kenya. 

Father Stephen Karani

“God works in different ways,” reasoned Father Karani, the longtime pastor of Holy Family in northern Steuben and southern Livingston counties.

Father Karani was ordained in 1993 in the Diocese of Nakuru, Kenya. He arrived in the Rochester Diocese in 2000, where he assisted at Our Lady of the Lakes in Finger Lakes (2000-01); St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads (2001-03); and St. Mary, Elmira (2003).

He started out at Holy Family in 2003 as parochial vicar. Father Karani became the parish’s parochial administrator in 2006 — the same year he was incardinated into this diocese — and was named its pastor in 2007.

“I’m happy I’m here,” he said of Holy Family. “The people are very, very supportive.”

Father Karani became a United States citizen in 2011, and also has earned a master’s degree in education during his time here. In addition, he serves as dean of the diocese’s West Deanery.

Father Karani noted that he strives to base his priesthood on John 15:13: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

“I love that phrase and try to live by it,” he remarked.

He will celebrate his 25-year jubilee Sunday, May 20, at St. Joseph Church in Wayland with Mass at 4 p.m. and a dinner/reception to follow at the Wayland American Legion. Call 585-728-2228 by May 4 to RSVP.

Father Malachy “Eloo” Nwosu

Father Malachy “Eloo” Nwosu was never a parish priest in his native Nigeria, serving the first eight years of his priesthood as a seminary teacher.

But since his arrival in the Rochester Diocese, he has spent 17 consecutive years in parish ministry — including his current role as parochial vicar at St. Marianne Cope Parish, where he serves three churches in Henrietta and Rush.

“So far, so good,” he said of the parish assignment that began in June 2017. “I am busy; things are very active.”

Father Nwosu was born in Ichida, Nigeria. He was ordained a priest for his home Diocese of Awka on Aug. 21, 1993.

He came to the Rochester Diocese in 2001, serving for several months in the Roman Catholic Community of Geneva and a few more months at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in Tioga County before spending nearly a year at St. Rita Parish in Webster.

In August 2002, Father Nwosu began as pastor of the Northern Cayuga Cluster (now known as Our Lady of the Snow Parish.) During that six-year pastorate, he earned a master’s degree public leadership from the University of Rochester.

Father Nwosu then served from 2008-10 as parochial administrator at St. Helen Parish in Gates. From 2010-17, he was pastor of the Tompkins County cluster of All Saints Parish, Lansing; Holy Cross, Dryden; and St. Anthony, Groton. In 2012, he was incardinated as a priest of this diocese.

Father Nwosu, who said he has no firm plans yet for his silver jubilee, remarked that his 25-year priesthood has gone by quickly.

“I begin to ask myself where the time goes,” he remarked. “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

More jubilarians

Other priests celebrating ordination jubilees in 2018 are the following:

45 years: Father William G. Darling, pastor of Our Lady of the Snow, Weedsport; and Father Joseph A. Hart, pastor/coadministrator of Our Lady Queen of Peace and St. Thomas More, Brighton.

40 years: Father John A. DeSocio, who reached senior-priest status in 2017; Father John F. Gagnier, pastor of Holy Cross, Rochester; Father Christopher E. Linsler, pastor of St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads; Father Leo J. Reinhardt, pastor of Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community, Penn Yan; and Father Robert J. Schrader, pastor of Peace of Christ, Rochester.

35 years: Father Robert S. Bourcy, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, Mendon; and Father Patrick L. Connor, pastor of Ss. Isidore & Maria Torribia, Addison.

30 years: Father Timothy T. Brown, parochial vicar at Peace of Christ, Rochester.

20 years: Father Augustine Chumo, pastor of Immaculate Conception, Ithaca; Father Michael A. Mayer, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace, Geneva; and Father Timothy L. Niven, pastor of St. Alphonsus, Auburn.

15 years: Father Anthony B. Nketiah, parochial vicar at Our Mother of Sorrows, Greece.

5 years: Father Michael J. Costik, parochial administrator of St. Benedict, Canandaigua; Father Peter B. Mottola, pastor, St. John the Evangelist, Spencerport; and Father David M. Tedesche, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker.

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