Ordination slated for June 12 - Catholic Courier

Ordination slated for June 12

Bishop Matthew H. Clark will ordain Deacon William G. Coffas to the priesthood at 10:30 a.m. June 12 at Rochester’s St. Ambrose Church.
Following ordination, Deacon Coffas, 33, will serve as priest-intern at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community, which comprises faith communities in Dundee, Naples, Rushville, Penn Yan, Prattsburgh and Stanley.

A native of the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit, Deacon Coffas grew up attending St. Ambrose Church. He noted that he had an interest in the priesthood even as a boy.

“I’d entertain company on Sunday afternoons as my mom was getting dinner,” he said. “I would play priest for them. I would picture myself on the altar, even as a child.”

He added that he was attracted to the priesthood because of its sacred nature.

“I just had a really deep sense that this was a holy thing,” he said. “It was something different than any other thing you would do.”

Deacon Coffas noted that he was attracted to politics as well, serving as student-government president during high school, and said public service appealed to some of the same aspirations that led him to priesthood.
“I think there is within me a desire to serve people in a public way, to represent them, to intervene for them,” he said.

Among those inspiring his vocation, Deacon Coffas listed Father Thomas Mull, who served at St. Ambrose from 1976 to 1982 and currently is pastor of St. Mary Parish in Canandaigua. Deacon Coffas also said his sister, Carol, inspired him to serve the church when he worked with her in music ministry at St. Ambrose.

“Just seeing her and her role as minister got me more into seeing what happens behind the scenes of the church,” Deacon Coffas said.
He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Following graduation, he worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor with people who had brain injuries. One of his clients actually moved him toward serious consideration of priesthood by asking Deacon Coffas what he wanted to do with his life. That conversation made him realize that he was seeking a dimension of service that was different than the one in which he was then engaged, Deacon Coffas said.

“While I was helping (clients) on a physical level – there was a part of me that wanted to help them on a spiritual level,” he said.

Deacon Coffas said he also was impressed by the priests who ministered to his father as he struggled with a terminal illness before dying in 1996. “I could see that God was doing very powerful works through (priests), and I guess I wanted to be a part of that.”

Deacon Coffas entered the Diocese of Rochester’s pre-theology program at Becket Hall in Rochester in 1997. From May 2001 to May 2002 he spent his pastoral year at St. Mary’s Parish in Auburn. In addition to obtaining a master’s degree in divinity at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., over the last two years, Deacon Coffas also served during his seminary training at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester; St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mendon; St. Thomas More Parish in Brighton; and St. Helen’s Parish in Gates.

Being able to provide the sacraments for his fellow Catholics would be a major force in his priestly career, he remarked.

“Pastoral ministry, for me, is what I look forward to the most,” Deacon Coffas said. “Being with the people during their ordinary and extraordinary moments in life – leading them in prayer during the daily Mass; presiding at their marriages; anointing them when they’re sick; baptizing them when they come into the faith.”

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