The ranks of the Diocese of Rochester’s priesthood will grow by two early next month.
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will ordain Deacons Matthew Walter and Daniel L. White to the priesthood June 1 during a 10 a.m. liturgy at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester. Both men were ordained transitional deacons last May and currently are wrapping up their final year of study at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass. Both deacons also are natives of the Diocese of Rochester and are joining the diocesan priesthood after spending several years in religious communities.
Deacon Walter, 37, grew up in the City of Rochester, where he belonged to Our Lady of Victory/St. Joseph Parish and attended Aquinas Institute. The idea of becoming a priest was in the back of his mind even during his high-school years because he greatly admired his uncle, Father John Nacca, who was pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Auburn.
“His faith really radiated through all of our family. I had an enormous amount of respect for him,” Deacon Walter told the Catholic Courier.
Deacon Walter put the idea on the back burner and enrolled in Nazareth College in Pittsford. During his sophomore year there he experienced a “profound interior conversion.”
“That’s the moment when I really felt that God was calling me to the priesthood, although I didn’t go in (the seminary) immediately,” he said.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music, Deacon Walter became a professional church musician and in 2008 entered the Institute of Christ the King, a religious community in Florence, Italy. By 2015 he had discerned that his calling actually was to the diocesan priesthood rather than to religious life, and he soon became a seminarian for the Diocese of Rochester.
Deacon Walter said he’s eagerly looking forward to his ordination next month.
“I feel like the whole thrust of my life is leading up to this point, that everything is fitting into place finally. It is a good feeling,” he said.
Deacon Walter said he hopes to do much good in his vocation as a priest and is especially excited about presenting the faith to young people, who he said are growing up in a culture that breeds loneliness, isolation and a lack of hope.
“I’m very eager to share with everybody, but especially younger people, the truth of who they are in God, the truth of what their life means, and to be able to give them this hope that the culture can’t give them,” he said.
Deacon White, 35, likewise is eagerly anticipating his ordination. An Owego native, Deacon White belonged to St. Patrick Parish and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Buffalo. He soon discerned a calling to the priesthood, but was unsure exactly how to live out that vocation.
“I began my studies in what is now called the Priestly Discernment Program at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, while discerning where I was being called to go next,” he said.
In 2010, Deacon White entered the California-Arizona province of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, because he had always been attracted to Carmelite spirituality and had been impressed both by the writings of Carmelite saints and the example of several Carmelite sisters. He was a friar in that community until 2015, when he discerned a calling to the diocesan priesthood.
“When I found that I wasn’t being called to continue in religious life, I knew I was still called to be a priest, so it was natural that I would come home to the Diocese of Rochester,” he said.
Deacon White said he believes the seminary and formation process have prepared him well him for his vocation, but that he knows he still has much to learn after ordination.
“I’m looking forward to finally getting to work and being in ministry full time,” he said. “It’s certainly a humbling experience, but it’s also a source of confidence. I know that wherever I go, whatever success I have will be due to God’s grace at work.”
Deacon White said he is looking forward to being able to celebrate the sacraments, “particularly offering the sacrifice of the Mass and the forgiveness of sins.”
“Wherever I am called to go and whatever I am called to do, those sacraments must always be at the center of every priest’s ministry and life,” he said.Tags: Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, Holy Orders