Diocese of Rochester priests celebrate 2023 ordination anniversaries - Catholic Courier
A priest holds the Eucharist in this undated photo. (CNS photo by Bob Roller)

A priest holds the Eucharist in this undated photo. (CNS photo by Bob Roller)

Diocese of Rochester priests celebrate 2023 ordination anniversaries

Priests of the Diocese of Rochester look back on their many decades of ministry as they celebrate 2023 anniversaries of ordination.

70 Years

Msgr. Krieg: Priesthood is dear to him

Msgr. Gerard Krieg
Msgr. Gerard Krieg

Unwavering dedication to priestly ministry has guided Msgr. Gerard Krieg over seven decades.

“The inner drive, the exercise of priesthood, is as dear to me now as it was when I was ordained. It’s survived the 70 years,” said Msgr. Krieg, 95, now the oldest priest in the Rochester Diocese.

A priest’s vocation is not individualistic in nature, he pointed out. “It’s not his own. It’s the priesthood of Jesus Christ, bringing the priesthood into the lives of the people.”

Msgr. Krieg is a native of St. Michael Parish in Rochester. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 6, 1953, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He assisted at St. Joseph, Wayland (1953-57), and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rochester (1957-58), then completed graduate studies in canon law at Catholic University of America (1958-60). He assisted at St. Pius Tenth, Chili (1960-61), and served for 13 years with the diocesan Tribunal, as defender of the bond (1960-61), secretary (1961-66) and vicar judicial (1966-73). He was named a papal chamberlain in 1966 with the title of Monsignor.

Msgr. Krieg was pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption, Scottsville (1973-83), and St. Stephen, Geneva (1983-99). He also has been involved in prison ministry and the diocesan Cursillo movement.

After assuming senior-priest status in 1999, Msgr. Krieg moved to Pittsford’s St. Louis Parish where he actively assisted. He has resided at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford since 2019.

He will note his 70th jubilee at the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Louis Church on June 4, followed by a reception there.

65 Years

Father Curran: Wrapping up a 65-year educational career

Fr. Charles Curran
Fr. Charles Curran

The classroom has been a second home for Father Charles Curran for most of his life. He became a college professor after completing his own doctoral studies and, in May, he will wrap up a 65-year educational career when he retires from his teaching position at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

“I started going to school in 1939, and I’ll finish in May, and then I’ve got to find out what I’m going to do when I grow up,” Father Curran quipped.

A native of Rochester, Father Curran belonged to St. Ambrose Parish and attended Nazareth Hall. He studied at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester before heading to the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome to finish his theology studies. Father Curran was ordained July 13, 1958, by Bishop Luigi Traglia in the Church of St. Alexis in Rome.

After ordination, Father Curran went back to school, earning doctorates in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and Academia Alfonsiana before returning to the United States in 1961. Upon his return, he served as a professor of moral theology at St. Bernard’s Seminary until 1965.

Father Curran then taught moral theology at Catholic University of America until the late 1980s. In 1991, he became the Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University and has held that post ever since. He will retire from that position at the completion of this spring semester.

“I probably should have retired years ago, but I liked what I was doing. I enjoyed it,” Father Curran said.

Father Curran has written and edited more than 60 books. He also has served as president of the Catholic Theological Society (1969-70) as well as the Society of Christian Ethics (1971-72) and the American Theological Society (1989-90).

Father Sasso: Enjoyed being a priest very much

Fr. Joseph Sasso
Fr. Joseph Sasso

Though he turns 91 on May 5, Father Joseph Sasso isn’t slowing down.

Father Sasso lives on Oatka Creek in LeRoy in a house that he built himself. He still takes care of the home, cuts the grass, gardens, and enjoys having family and friends over.

“I feel lucky that I’m still alive,” he said.

Father Sasso grew up in Rochester, where his family attended St. Francis of Assisi Parish. He graduated from Aquinas High School in 1950 and then went on to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries. He was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney May 31, 1958, at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Following ordination, Father Sasso was associate pastor at St. Anthony, Rochester from 1958-1961. He also was associate pastor at St. Mary, Canandaigua (1961-65); Good Shepherd, Henrietta (1965-69); and St. Mary of the Lake, Ontario (1969-70).

In 1970, Father Sasso took a sabbatical year to study at the University of Rochester, earning a master’s degree in education in 1971. That same year, he also spent several months as chaplain at the Sisters of St. Joseph infirmary in Pittsford before taking on another associate pastorate at Rochester’s Holy Rosary Parish.

Father Sasso was associate pastor at St. John the Evangelist, Spencerport (1973-76); administrator at St. Dominic Parish in Shortsville (1976-77); associate pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Corning (1977-78) and associate pastor at St. Boniface Parish in Rochester for several months of 1978.

In 1978, Father Sasso became pastor at Holy Angels, Nunda, and Holy Name Church in Groveland Station. He served there until he was granted senior status in 1994 to care for his ill parents.

Father Sasso assisted at St. Anne Church in Rochester for three years before moving to St. Peter Parish in LeRoy in 1998. He still helps out with Masses at Our Lady of Mercy and St. Brigid in LeRoy and Bergen. Father Sasso said he will celebrate his 91st birthday with his niece.

“I have enjoyed being a priest very much,” he remarked.

60 Years

Father Lawlor: Ministry has been joyous, fruitful and rewarding

Fr. James Lawlor
Fr. James Lawlor

Father James Lawlor considers it a blessing that his priesthood began right during the Second Vatican Council.

“What the council did, really, was to energize,” he said. “To have been a part of the renewal of the church, it’s had a tremendous impact on how I relate to people — that we’re in this together. It’s not a ‘priest up here and people down there’ kind of thing.”

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.

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); 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 St. Mary Parish in Rochester. In 1998, he became pastor at St. Catherine of Siena in Mendon, where he remained until assuming senior status in 2007. He was temporary parochial administrator in 2007-08 at St. Charles in Greece.

For the past 15 years, Father Lawlor has assisted in the Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Anne cluster in Brighton and Rochester, where he remains active.

“Whatever parish I’ve been in, it’s been rewarding, joyous and fruitful,” he said.

Father Lawlor will preside and preach at a 60th-anniversary Mass on June 4 at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes, with a coffee hour to follow. A reception also will take place at St. Anne from 1 to 4 p.m. that day.

55 Years

Fathers Richard and Robert Beligotti: Twins grateful for priestly ministries

Fr. Richard Beligotti
Fr. Richard Beligotti

Not many priests they share 55th jubilees with their twin brothers — that is, except for Fathers Richard and Robert Beligotti.

“It has been wonderful,” Father Robert Beligotti remarked.

Fathers Beligotti attended St. Anthony of Padua Minor Seminary and Prep School in Watkins Glen, and Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries. They were ordained June 1, 1968, by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Richard Beligotti was assistant pastor at St. Cecilia, Irondequoit (1968-71); St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin (1971-72); Immaculate Conception, Ithaca (1972-73); and Holy Cross, Rochester (1973-77). He was associate pastor at St. Agnes, Avon (1971-81); St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads (June-September 1981); St. Thomas More, Rochester (1981-84); and St. Michael, Newark (1984-87). He served as parochial vicar at St. Pius Tenth, Chili (1987-89).

In 1989, he assumed his first pastorate at St. Charles Borromeo, Elmira Heights. After five years there, he became pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas, Leicester, and St. Lucy, Retsof. He was administrator at St. Bridget/St. Joseph, East Bloomfield (1999-2000); chaplain at Mercy Rehabilitation Center, Auburn (2000-01); administrator at St. John the Evangelist, 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). In 2010, he became sacramental minister for the cluster of St. Agnes, Avon/St. Paul of the Cross, Honeoye Falls/St. Rose, Lima. He served there until he attained senior status in 2013.

Fr. Robert Beligotti
Fr. Robert Beligotti

Father Robert Beligotti was assistant pastor at St. Charles Borromeo, Elmira Heights (1963-1973), and Holy Family, Auburn (1973-1977). He was associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul, Corning (1977-81), and St. Mary Southside, Elmira (1981-83).

In 1988, after five years serving as associate pastor at St. Anthony of Padua, Rochester, Father Robert Beligotti became its pastor and remained there for another five years. In 1993, he became pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Auburn. From 2001-02, he served as chaplain of Monroe Community Hospital 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). In 2010, he became sacramental minister at St. Marianne Cope Parish in Henrietta and Rush, where he served until he attained senior status in 2013.

The Beligotti brothers, who will turn 81 on Sept. 8, live in Venice, Fla., where they continue to assist at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

“As I continue forward, the depth grows even more deep of understanding God’s love that is ever present,” Father Richard Beligotti said. “So any small service that I continue to do expresses that everlasting love of God.”

The brothers also will celebrate their 55th jubilees this summer when they travel with Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice and youths of the diocese to World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal.

“Giving to the Lord, keeping us feeling well, all these years, I can’t help but be grateful and thankful,” Father Robert Beligotti said. “I never imagined we be where we are now.”

Father Latus: Enjoyed meeting people and administering sacraments

Fr. Charles Latus
Fr. Charles Latus

One of Father Charles Latus’ favorite memories as a priest was working as priest-secretary to Bishop Matthew H. Clark, a position he held for four years.

“He was wonderful to work with, and he was a great pastor,” he said of Bishop Clark, noting that he had attended Bishop Clark’s ordination in Rome.

Father Latus was ordained June 1, 1968, by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Following ordination, he was associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church, Rochester, where he served for six years. In 1974, Father Latus became co-pastor at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Greece. Before he became secretary for Bishop Clark, Father Latus served as secretary to Bishop Joseph L. Hogan, the seventh bishop of Rochester.

In 1982, Father Latus became director of the diocesan office of Priest Personnel. In 1986, he went to Rome for a sabbatical, where he met priests from all over the world. Father Latus returned to the diocese and became pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mendon where he served for 12 years. In the fall 1998, he took another sabbatical, spending a semester at the Washington Theological Union.

In 1999, Father Latus became pastor at St. Rita Church in Webster and served there until obtaining senior status in 2012. As a senior priest, he served as part-time chaplain at Cherry Ridge in Webster and also helped out at St. Rose of Lima Church in Sodus Point during the summer months. Father Latus now resides at the St. Ann’s Care Center at Cherry Ridge.

“I have enjoyed meeting people, working with people and celebrating the sacraments with them,” he said.

Father Schwartz: Still enthusiastic and energized to serve

Fr. James Schwartz
Fr. James Schwartz

It’s been 55 years since Father James Schwartz’s ordination, but the priest’s devotion to his vocation has not waned.

“On the day of ordination, I was ordained to serve, and I still have that initial enthusiasm and energy to serve,” Father Schwartz remarked. “I’m not anxious or looking forward to the day I can retire, because I very much enjoy the ministry I’m engaged in.”

Father Schwartz grew up in Rochester, where he belonged to Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish and attended the parish school. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 1, 1968, by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

After ordination, Father Schwartz served as associate pastor at St. Theodore Parish in Gates from 1968-72, then as chaplain at Rochester General Hospital from 1972-79. In 1979, he was named diocesan director of ministry to priests and served in that capacity until 1987. During this time, he also was spiritual director and later director of Becket Hall, the former diocesan pre-theology program for men discerning priestly vocations.

Following a 1987 sabbatical to Switzerland, Father Schwartz moved to Washington, D.C., where he spent three years working for the Center for Human Development. In 1990, he returned to his home diocese and served as pastor of Rochester’s Holy Family Parish from 1990-93.

Father Schwartz later served as pastor of St. Louis Parish in Pittsford from 1993-2005, when he became pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Penfield. In 2014, he also became pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Penfield, and currently leads both parishes.

Father Schwartz also was diocesan director of seminarians from 2002-12 and has served on the board of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.

Holy Spirit and St. Joseph parishes will celebrate Father Schwartz’s jubilee on May 27 at the 4:30 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church. A reception will follow the Mass.

50 Years

Father Hart: Has been happy in all of his many ministries

Fr. Joseph Hart
Fr. Joseph Hart

“I am happy at everything I’ve done. I’ve never had a miserable day,” Father Joseph Hart said of his half-century as a diocesan administrator, educator, parish priest and chaplain.

Father Hart is a native of St. Patrick Parish in Seneca Falls and a graduate of Geneva DeSales High School. He attended St. Andrew’s Seminary, St. John Fisher College and St. Bernard’s Seminary, earning a bachelor’s and three master’s degrees. At Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, he earned a licentiate of sacred theology in 1978 and doctorate in sacred theology in 1981, graduating summa cum laude.

He was ordained April 28, 1973, by Bishop Joseph L. Hogan at Canandaigua’s St. Mary Church. He assisted at St. Mary (1972-73) and St. Anne, Rochester (1973-76). Also during the 1970s, he served as chaplain of Monroe County Children’s Center, a regional director of family life, and a U.S. Navy chaplain in Italy.

Father Hart taught at St. Bernard’s Seminary from 1979-81 and St. Bernard’s Institute (now St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry) from 1981-98, where he also was business and finance director. He directed the diocesan Synod from 1990-93 and was a longtime weekend assistant at St. Paul in Webster.

From 1995-98, Father Hart was pastor of Brighton’s Our Lady Queen of Peace. He became diocesan vicar general and moderator of the Pastoral Center in 1998 — effectively serving as the diocese’s chief operating officer — and held both roles until 2015.

While in diocesan administration, he assisted at Our Lady Queen of Peace and Brighton’s St. Thomas More. In 2015, he became pastor of both churches, a role he still holds.

His jubilee celebrations took place April 28 and 30.

25 Years

Father Chumo: Grateful to all who have helped him grow in faith and service

Fr. Augustine Chumo
Fr. Augustine Chumo

Father Augustine Chumo prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination, he can’t help but think of the 40 young men he helped to discern their own priestly vocations.

“It’s very good to see a person who was not likely to join the seminary, joining and becoming a very effective priest,” Father Chumo remarked.

Father Chumo said he felt the first stirrings of his vocation while he was a teen growing up in Olenguruone, Kenya. The Catholic missionary priests serving in nearby communities inspired him, and he spent a month living with a missionary group before his high-school graduation. After high school, however, he opted for two more years of schooling and then taught in local high schools for a few years.

In 1990, he entered the seminary, and on Nov. 14, 1998, he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Nakuru, Kenya. After ordination, he served for a year at St. John Parish in Subukia, Kenya, and then spent seven years working with the Diocese of Nakuru’s young people, particularly those considering priestly vocations.

In August 2006, Father Chumo’s bishop sent him to study at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. Upon his arrival in the Diocese of Rochester, he lived and assisted first at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mendon, later followed by Church of the Good Shepherd in Henrietta and St. Joseph in Rush.

In 2011, he became sacramental minister at St. John the Evangelist in Clyde, St. Patrick in Savannah and St. Michael in Lyons. Those parishes came together in 2012 to form the new St. Joseph the Worker Parish, with Father Chumo as the parish’s first pastor. In May 2012, he was incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Rochester.

Father Chumo led St. Joseph the Worker until 2016, when he took on his current assignment as pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Ithaca.

“I’m really very grateful to so many people who have helped me to grow in my faith and strengthen me in my ministry as a priest through their prayers,” he remarked.

Father Niven: Loves the Eucharist and being a priest

Fr. Tim Niven
Fr. Tim Niven

It’s easy for Father Timothy Niven to sum up his sentiments about his vocation: “I love being a priest,” he recently remarked.

As a child, Father Niven belonged to St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greece. He studied at St. Charles Borromeo School and Cardinal Mooney High School, also in Greece. He then went on to SUNY Geneseo, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics.

After graduation, he served as a youth minister in the Buffalo area for two years, then taught at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs in Erie County. He earned a master’s degree in divinity from Catholic University of America in 1998.

Father Niven was ordained June 6, 1998, by Bishop Matthew H. Clark at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester. After ordination, he served as assisting priest at the Tioga Catholic Community, which comprised St. John the Evangelist in Newark Valley, St. Francis of Assisi in Catatonk and St. Patrick in Owego.

He spent about three years at the Southern Tier parishes before heading to the Finger Lakes region to serve at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community, which then had worship sites in Penn Yan, Naples, Prattsburgh, Dundee, Stanley and Rushville.

In 2003, Father Niven became pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Victor, which he led until 2015. That year, he became pastor at St. Alphonsus Parish in Auburn. In 2019, he left Auburn to take on his current pastorate at St. Rita Parish in Webster.

St. Rita parishioners will help Father Niven celebrate his 25th jubilee with a picnic on the parish grounds on June 4.

Father Niven said he’s always enjoyed youth ministry and has come to be passionate about racial justice as well. Throughout his years of ministry, however, “my big love has been the Eucharist,” he said.

Father Mayer: Passionate about evangelization and pro-life ministry

Fr. Michael Mayer

As a child, Father Michael Mayer worshipped at St. Rita Parish in Webster and St. Anne Parish in Rochester. After graduating from McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English from LeMoyne College in Syracuse.

After college, he joined the Paulist religious order in 1976. He was ordained a deacon and served in that capacity until he left the order in 1982. After leaving the Paulists, he taught high-school students in Washington, D.C., and served as program director for the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

In 1998, Father Mayer earned a doctorate in ministry from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.. He was ordained to the priesthood June 6, 1998, by Bishop Matthew H. Clark at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester.

After ordination, Father Mayer served at St. Pius Tenth Parish in Chili for several years before becoming pastor at St. Andrew Parish in Rochester. In 2004, he also became pastor at Rochester’s Church of the Annunciation. In 2008, St. Andrew and Annunciation parishes joined together to form the new Light of Christ Parish, with Father Mayer as the parish’s first pastor.

After leaving Light of Christ, Father Mayer returned to St. Pius Tenth Parish, serving as parochial vicar from 2011-13. In the following years, he also served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva, followed by St. Rita in Webster and then the Rochester parishes of Blessed Sacrament, St. Boniface and St. Mary.

Father Mayer currently is parochial vicar at St. Marianne Cope Parish in Henrietta. The parish is planning to celebrate his jubilee in June.

Throughout his ministry, Father Mayer has been passionate about evangelization and pro-life ministry. He helped found The Margaret Home, which is a long-term residential program in East Rochester for unmarried pregnant women, and is involved in St. Paul Street Evangelization.

“The church was created for evangelization, especially nowadays with so much going on in the world and other voices that really aren’t focused on the welfare of people,” he remarked. “I think the church can really step into that if we kind of get out of the comfort of our parishes and get out into the public square and let people know who we are.”

Tags: Priests
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