Priest jubilarians mark decades of service - Catholic Courier

Priest jubilarians mark decades of service

65 Years

Father Joseph McNamara is originally from St. Michael’s Parish in Montezuma. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 3, 1939.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Mary’s in Auburn from 1939-43; chaplain at Cornell University from 1943-46; assistant pastor of Sacred Heart pro-Cathedral in Rochester from 1946-47; assistant pastor of St. Charles Borromeo in Elmira Heights from 1947-49; chaplain at Elmira Classification Center, which served men between the ages of 16 and 21 who were headed to prison or a reformatory, from 1949-61; and pastor of St. Anthony’s in Groton from 1961 until his retirement in 1981.

During his two decades of leadership, he oversaw the building of a new church, rectory and hall. After his retirement, he remained at St. Anthony’s until 1996, when he moved to St. Pius Tenth in Chili.

60 Years

Father Gennaro Ventura grew up in Holy Apostles Parish in Rochester and attended Aquinas Institute, St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, all in Rochester. Although he is a member of the ordination class of 1944, he was ordained Dec. 18, 1943, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Ventura served as assistant pastor at Rochester’s Our Lady of Mt. Carmel for two months in 1944; assistant pastor at St. Francis Xavier in Rochester from 1944-47; assistant pastor at Mt. Carmel from 1947-56; administrator of St. Lucy’s in Rochester from 1956-57, then pastor from 1957-61; pastor of Mt. Carmel from 1961-68, as well as consultor for the Rochester Housing Authority in 1968; pastor of St. Francis DeSales in Geneva from 1970-80; and pastor of Holy Ghost in Gates from 1980 until his retirement in 1989.

Father Ventura is well-known in the diocese for his involvement with youth and participation at teen retreats, where he is known as Father "Ace" Ventura. He’s also stayed busy since his retirement by creating stained-glass windows and lamps, making wine, gardening and doing carpentry work.

Father John Walsh is originally from St. Stephen’s Parish in Geneva. He attended Geneva’s St. Stephen’s School and DeSales High School, as well as Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries. He was ordained on June 3, 1944, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. He completed his graduate studies at Catholic University, the universities of Ottawa, Villanova and Marquette, Boston College, the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Father Walsh served as assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception in Ithaca from 1944-50; Holy Cross in Rochester from 1950-51; St. Margaret Mary’s in Irondequoit from 1951-54; St. Mary’s in Elmira from 1954-59; St. Joseph’s in Penfield from 1959-60; and St. Mary’s in Auburn from 1960-67. He founded the campus-ministry programs at Ithaca College and Elmira College, and served as Ithaca’s chaplain from 1944-50 and Elmira’s chaplain from 1955-59. From 1960-67 he was chaplain at Auburn Community College, which is now known as Cayuga Community College.

In 1967 Father Walsh became founding pastor of St. Paul in Webster, and remained there until his retirement in 1988, when he moved to St. Margaret Mary in Irondequoit. In 1998, he took up residence at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Rochester.

Although he enjoyed all his ministries, Father Walsh said that campus ministry was especially rewarding and challenging at the same time. "Young people are starting to gain knowledge and they’re very curious about learning, so they have a lot of interesting questions," he said.

55 Years

Father James Doyle is a native of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Rochester. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 11, 1949, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Mary of the Lake in Watkins Glen from 1949-51; Holy Trinity in Webster for three months in 1951; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brockport from 1951-57; Holy Rosary in Rochester from 1957-62; Holy Redeemer in Rochester from 1962-65; and St. Ambrose in Rochester from 1965-69.

In 1969, he was named pastor of St. Rose in Lima, where he remained until his retirement in 1999. Being able to help and listen to parishioners has been one of Father Doyle’s favorite parts of ministry, he said.

Father Doyle served as chaplain for the Lima Fire Department while he was pastor of St. Rose, and was also chaplain for the Rochester Fire Department while he was assigned to parishes in Rochester. Whenever there was a fire call, he would go to the scene and work with the other firemen, sometimes directing traffic. Father Doyle said it’s important for priests to "practice what they preach" and have a visible and positive presence in the community.

It’s important "to be involved on the outside, beyond your church, as well as involved in the community. Reach out to those beyond your own church," Father Doyle said.

Father Elmer McDonald was raised in Rochester’s St. Monica’s Parish and attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, also in Rochester. He was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral on June 11, 1949.

He served as assistant pastor at Holy Rosary in Rochester until 1953, when he was released to become a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. In 1955, he became assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral, and was again released for Navy chaplaincy in 1956. He was assistant pastor at St. Francis DeSales in Geneva from 1960-64; assistant pastor at St. Augustine’s in Rochester from 1964-68; and founding pastor of St. Christopher’s in North Chili from 1968-75.

"I enjoyed starting St. Christopher’s. It’s every priest’s dream to start a parish," Father McDonald said.

From 1975-77 he was pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Greece. In 1977 he became administrator of St. Mary’s in Dansville. In 1978 he returned to St. Augustine’s, this time as pastor. In 1979 he became chaplain for the Veterans Administration in Waco, Texas, where he served until 1982, when he moved to Bay Pines, Fla., to serve as chaplain for the VA there. In 1989 he returned to New York and again served as pastor of St. Christopher’s for several months before returning to Florida to continue his VA chaplaincy. In 1991, he began assisting with Mass at St. John’s in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Father McDonald retired in 1995, but continues to work at the VA twice a week. He also says weekday Mass twice a week and helps with weekend Masses at St. John’s.

Father Edward Steinkirchner is originally from St. Augustine’s Parish in Rochester. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 11, 1949, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at Holy Trinity in Webster from 1949-51; St. Boniface in Rochester from 1951-57; St. Michael’s in Rochester from 1957-59; and Holy Apostles in Rochester from 1959-68. In 1968 he was named pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Gates. In 1971, he also founded and became director of the Deacon Internship Program, which he ran for 12 years. In 1980 he left Holy Ghost and became pastor of St. Michael’s in Newark, where he remained until his retirement in 1995.

50 Years

Father William Amann was raised in St. Boniface Parish in Rochester. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester, as well as Catholic University of America. He was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on June 5, 1954, at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Andrew’s in Rochester from 1954-58; assistant pastor at Holy Trinity in Webster from 1958-62; chaplain of Bishop Kearney High School in 1962-65; assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mercy in Greece from 1965-74; co-pastor at Mercy from 1974-78; and pastor at Mercy from 1978-81. In 1981 Father Amann became administrator of St. Cecilia’s in Elmira for several months before taking a sabbatical to study in Rome. Upon his return in 1982, he was named pastor of a new parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hamlin.

"We built the church out of stone from the fields and wood and glass. Everyone contributed and we started our own traditions and own ways of doing things based on the new laws (of Vatican II)," Father Amann said. Father Amann took another sabbatical in 1990, this time to study liberation theology and enculturation in Kenya and Tanzania.

"It was an eye-opener and a great experience. I gained a new confidence and competence in my priesthood," Father Amann said.

Father Amann retired from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1998, when he moved to Our Lady of Lourdes in Brighton. In 2001 he moved to St. Thomas More, also in Brighton, where he currently resides.

Father Bruce Ammering grew up in St. Monica’s Parish in Rochester. He completed his seminary studies at Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Patrick’s in Owego from 1954-57; St. Aloysius in Auburn for a short time in 1957; and St. Mary’s in Waterloo from 1957-58. In 1958, he became chaplain at Monroe Community Hospital, where he remained until 1983.

"It was a wonderful time to be chaplain," Father Ammering said, noting that every assignment was enjoyable, regardless of the length of time he spent there.

In 1983 Father Ammering was named pastor of Blessed Sacrament in Rochester, where he remained until his retirement in 2000. He currently resides at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Rochester.

Father Joseph Brennan was raised in Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish and attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, also in Rochester. He was ordained in Rome on Dec. 8, 1954, by Bishop Martin J. O’Connor. He received his licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1955 and his licentiate in sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1957.

Later that year, he became assistant pastor at St. Jerome’s in East Rochester. In 1958 he became a professor of sacred Scripture at St. Bernard’s Seminary, then was named its rector in 1966. In 1980 he was named dean of St. Edmund’s College, a graduate college of the University of Cambridge, England. Father Brennan served as pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption in Scottsville from 1983-86 and as temporary administrator of the parish for one month in 1988. He was named director of religious affairs at the University of Rochester in 1986.

Father Brennan retired in 1996 but continues to teach courses at Temple B’rith Kodesh, and is known locally as a leader in Jewish-Christian relations. He has found both his scholastic and pastoral ministries to be very rewarding, he said.

"I’ve always loved teaching Scripture and continue to do that. When I was still a student in Rome I spent some time in Israel studying. I studied modern Hebrew, and that kind of got me interested in the Jewish community today, not just the Jewish community of 2,000 years ago," Father Brennan said.

Father Gerald Connor was raised in Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Rochester and completed his seminary studies at Rochester’s St. Bernard’s Seminary. He was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on June 5, 1954, at his home parish.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Monica’s in Rochester from 1954-58; St. Alphonsus in Auburn from 1958-64; St. Ann’s in Hornell from 1964-68; and St. Joseph’s in Penfield from 1968-71.

In 1971, Father Connor became diocesan director of vocations and spiritual director of Becket Hall. He served in these positions until 1977, when he became pastor of St. Pius Tenth in Chili. He remained there until his retirement in 1998.

Parish work, and especially celebrating Sunday Mass, has always been one of his favorite aspects of his vocation, Father Connor said. He enjoys building relationships with parishioners and being there for them, many times at milestones in their lives.

"You belong to them and they belong to you; it’s a very strong relationship. There’s a tremendous variety in a parish. You cover the whole gamut of human emotions and feelings. It’s a whole experience of life," he said.

Father Robert Egan grew up in St. Alphonsus Parish in Auburn, attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Egan served as assistant pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Rochester from 1954-58; St. Mary’s in Waterloo from 1958-59; Immaculate Conception in Rochester from 1959-62; St. Jerome’s in Rochester from 1962-67; and St. John the Evangelist in Clyde from 1967-72.

In 1972 Father Egan was named pastor of St. Bernard’s in Scipio Center and its mission parishes, St. Hilary in Genoa and St. Isaac Jogues in Fleming. He became pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Groton in 1981 and remained there until his retirement in 1997.

Father Francis Erb is a native of St. Ambrose Parish in Rochester. He attended Aquinas Institute and St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, all in Rochester, and was ordained June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Erb served as assistant pastor at St. Patrick’s in Elmira from 1954-60; St. Michael’s in Rochester from 1960-61; and St. Rita’s in Webster from 1961-68. He was assistant pastor at Sacred Heart in Auburn for four months in 1968; at St. Mary’s in Elmira from 1968-72; and at St. Anthony’s in Rochester from 1972-73.

In 1973 he became pastor of St. Pius V in Cohocton, and in 1975 he was named pastor of St. Joachim in Canisteo and St. Mary’s in Rexville. Father Erb was named pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Addison in 1976, and he retired in 1993.

Father Robert Kreckel’s home parish is St. Boniface in Rochester. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus in Auburn from 1954-60; assistant pastor of Immaculate Conception in Rochester from 1960-66; pastor of Immaculate Conception from 1966-73; founding pastor of Fairport’s Church of the Resurrection from 1973-85; and pastor of St. Mary’s of the Lake in Ontario from 1985-92. In 1992 he took a sabbatical to Mexico to learn Spanish so he could minister more effectively to the area’s migrant community.

Working with minority groups was enriching, he said. "They just have so much to offer. I got more out of working with them than they got out of my ministry," Father Kreckel said.

Father Kreckel retired in 2003 and has since been living and assisting at St. Joseph’s in Penfield.

Father David Murphy grew up in St. Mary’s Parish in Auburn and attended St. Andrew’s Seminary in Rochester. Although he is a member of the ordination class of 1954, he was ordained in Rome by Bishop Martin J. O’Connor on Dec. 19, 1953. He received a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1954, a master of arts degree from Cornell University in 1956, a philosophy doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 1971 and a doctorate of sacred theology from St. Paul University in 1973.

In 1964, Father Murphy became academic dean at St. Andrew’s Seminary, where he taught from 1956-65. During that time he also served as director of campus ministry at Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and Wells College in Aurora. In 1959 he became administrator of St. Patrick’s in Aurora and St. Michael’s in Union Springs. From 1966-72 he served as academic dean at St. Bernard’s Seminary, where he was a professor of dogmatic theology. He has held various other positions at St. Bernard’s, including vice rector, procurator and assistant treasurer, and has taught at many other universities, including Northeastern University, Emerson College and Boston University.

From 1967-72 and 1976-90 Father Murphy served as a consultant to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Priestly Formation, and from 1972-76 served as executive director of the seminary department of the National Catholic Education Association. In 1979 he became one of the founding members of the National Academy of Ecumenists. Over the years, Father Murphy has produced more than 150 television programs, including a series on searching for meaning, and authored many articles on a variety of topics, including Catholic education, theology and communication.

"I’ve just always enjoyed the process of learning and then using that learning I’ve received to impart to others," Father Murphy said. Father Murphy currently lives in Massachusetts.

Father John Rosse grew up in St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Rochester. He attended Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained on June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Mary’s in Canandaigua from 1954-58. He was assistant pastor at St. Joseph’s in Cayuga and its mission parish of St. Aloysius in Auburn for six months in the summer of 1958, and while he was there he also served as chaplain of Auburn Correctional Facility. In October 1958 he became assistant pastor at St. Andrew’s in Rochester, where he stayed for three months.

Father Rosse became chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital in 1959 and served the hospital community for almost 25 years. While he was chaplain, he also taught religion and medical ethics at St. Mary’s School of Nursing and was chaplain at the Monroe County Jail.

"Not only did you take care of the spiritual needs of the patients, but you also had a great deal to do with the staff — the medical staff, the nursing staff, the auxiliary staff. You took care of all those needs, their spiritual needs. It was a full job and it was very interesting," Father Rosse said. In 1983, Father Rosse was named pastor of Holy Name of Jesus in Rochester, where he remained until his retirement in 1998. After he retired, he took up residence at St. Margaret Mary’s in Irondequoit, where he helps celebrate the sacraments.

25 Years

Father Michael J. Bausch, pastor of Pittsford’s Church of the Transfiguration, grew up in St. Mary’s Parish in Batavia, and studied at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester. He was ordained on April 27, 1979, by Bishop Joseph L. Hogan at St. Ann’s Church in Hornell.

He served as priest intern at St. Patrick’s in Seneca Falls from 1979-82; co-chaplain at Strong Memorial Hospital from 1982-83; and director of the Southern Tier Office of Social Ministry (now Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier) from 1983-85. In 1985, he was named director of the Genesee Valley Office of Social Ministry (now Catholic Family Center). He had been involved in social-work ministry prior to his ordination and wanted to continue that work as a priest, he said.

"I wanted to work more directly with the social Gospel, and there was fortunately an opening at that time," Father Bausch said. In 1988, Father Bausch was assigned to his first pastorate at St. Helen’s in Gates. He remained there until 1994, when he became pastor of Henrietta’s Church of the Good Shepherd. Father Bausch was assigned to his current pastorate in June 2002.

"I am extremely grateful for the many people who have passed through my life and blessed my life in my time in ministry," Father Bausch said. Father Thomas Celso grew up in St. Michael’s Parish in Newark. He attended Becket Hall, as well as St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, all in Rochester. He was ordained on March 9, 1979, by Bishop Joseph L. Hogan at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Rochester.

Father Celso served as assistant pastor of Sacred Heart in Auburn and St. Ann’s in Owasco from 1979-80; St. Francis DeSales in Geneva from 1980-82; and St. John the Evangelist in Spencerport from 1982-85; parochial vicar at St. Mary’s in Canandaigua from 1985-88; priest-in-residence at St. Mary’s in Bath for five months in 1988; and priest-in-residence at Blessed Sacrament in Rochester from 1988-95. In 1995, Father Celso was sent outside the diocese on a special assignment having to do with the movement to beatify Luisa Piccaretta.

Father Timothy Horan, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Irondequoit, was born in Akron, Ohio. He attended Becket Hall and St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester and was ordained by Bishop Joseph L. Hogan at St. Pius Tenth Church in Chili on May 11, 1979.

Father Horan served as assistant pastor at Church of the Assumption in Fairport from 1979-82; associate pastor of Holy Rosary in Rochester from 1982-87; parochial vicar at St. Michael’s in Newark from 1987-93; and pastor of St. Andrew’s in Rochester from 1993-2001 as well as pastor of St. Philip Neri in Rochester. He became pastor of St. Margaret Mary in 2001, and in December 2003, he was appointed diocesan director of priestly vocations awareness.

Father Horan said he has enjoyed his vocation, and finds representing Christ in the sacraments and preaching for God’s people to be especially rewarding.

"There have been many, many moments when I’ve realized that this is exactly why I became a priest," he said.

Father Robert Werth, originally from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greece, didn’t always know he wanted to be a priest. After finishing graduate school, he was a social worker for five years before realizing that he wanted and was being called to something more.

"I felt as a social worker that I was serving too few people. Look what I can reach in 35 hours on this job, look what you can reach in one Mass," he said. "I did all I could do as a lay person, and I felt called to leadership in the church."

Father Werth enrolled in St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, and was ordained at Rochester’s St. Andrew’s Church on May 25, 1979, by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Costello of the Diocese of Syracuse.

Father Werth served as priest intern at St. Andrew’s until September 1979; priest intern at St. Mary’s in Auburn from 1979-82; assistant pastor at St. Ambrose in Rochester from 1982-83; pastor of St. Bridget in Rochester from 1983-92; co-administrator of St. Michael’s in Rochester for six months in 1992. That year, he began his current position as pastor of the Roman Catholic Community of the 19th Ward. He has also served as chaplain for Nazareth Hall Middle School since 1992 and has been pastoral moderator at Ss. Peter and Paul in Rochester since 2000.

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