Priests note many decades of service - Catholic Courier

Priests note many decades of service

The following diocesan priests are marking 25, 50 and 50-plus years in ministry in 2014.

65 Years

Father Elmer McDonald stays active in retirement by celebrating Mass every Saturday and Sunday and even one day a week at St. John Vianney Parish in St. Pete Beach, Fla.

Father McDonald, who retired in 1995, has served in ministry around the country and now lives in St. Petersburg. Keeping busy helps keep him young, he said. He will turn 90 in August.

"You’re called to the priesthood so you spend your life helping others, that is what I like to do," added Father McDonald. "God has blessed me, my mind is pretty good."

Following his ordination on June 11, 1949, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Rochester native served as assistant pastor at Holy Rosary in Rochester until 1953; that year he also became a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. Two years later, he became assistant pastor at the cathedral, and was subsequently released for Navy chaplaincy in 1956. He later served as assistant pastor at St. Francis de Sales, Geneva, from 1960-64 and then as assistant pastor at St. Augustine, Rochester, from 1964-68. In 1968, he became the founding pastor of St. Christopher in North Chili where he served until 1975.

For the next two years, he was pastor of St. John the Evangelist, Greece. In 1977, he completed a six-month stint as administrator of St. Mary, Dansville, which was followed by serving as pastor at St. Augustine (1978-79). He moved to Waco, Texas, in 1979 and served as chaplain for the Veterans Administration for three years. He moved to St. Pete in 1982 to serve as chaplain at the VA Medical Center there.

He returned to New York in 1989 and served again as pastor of St. Christopher for several months before he returned to Florida to continue work as a VA chaplain, where he counseled many veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. In 1991, he began assisting with Mass at St. John, where he also assists with counseling people in need as well as hearing confessions. He also ministered in past years at Tampa Air Force base.

60 Years

Father William Amann grew up in St. Boniface Parish in Rochester. He later attended Stella Niagara Cadet School in Lewiston, N.Y., and Rochester’s Aquinas Institute and St. Andrew’s Seminary before earning a philosophy degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. After returning to Rochester he studied at St. Bernard’s Seminary and was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on June 5, 1954, at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Andrew, Rochester (1954-58), and Holy Trinity, Webster (1958-62), before becoming chaplain at Bishop Kearney High School (1962-65). He then served as assistant pastor (1965-74), copastor (1974-78) and pastor (1978-81) of Our Lady of Mercy in Greece. He then served as administrator at St. Cecilia in Elmira for several months before taking a sabbatical in Rome to study changes in the church after Vatican II. When he returned in 1982 he helped found St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hamlin, which he said is one of his favorite experiences.

"Seeing it prosper today is exciting," he said.

In 1990 he took another sabbatical, this time to Africa to study enculturation and liberation theology. After retiring from his pastorate at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1998 he lived and ministered at Our Lady of Lourdes (1998-2001) and St. Thomas More (2001-09) in Brighton. Since 2009 he has lived and ministered at St. Joseph, Penfield.

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

After his ordination, Father Ammering served as assistant pastor at St. Patrick, Owego (1954-57); St. Aloysius, Auburn (1957); and St. Mary, Waterloo (1957-58). In 1958 he arrived at Monroe Community Hospital for what would become a 25-year term as the hospital’s chaplain. In 1983 he left that post to become pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Rochester.

He retired from his pastorate at Blessed Sacrament in 2000. Since then he’s been living at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford where he frequently says Mass and helps out in any way he can.

Father Ammering said his 60 years of ministry have been filled with many wonderful experiences, and he always found visiting the sick to be especially fulfilling. His years at Blessed Sacrament and Monroe Community Hospital also stand out as highlights of his vocation, he added.

"It’s been wonderful. I’ve been very happy," he said.

Father Ammering will mark the 60th anniversary of his ordination with a June 5 celebration at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse.

Father Francis Erb has spent most of his priesthood ministering in the Southern Tier, but he grew up in Rochester, where he belonged to St. Ambrose Parish and attended Aquinas Institute and St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries. He was ordained June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

After ordination he served as assistant pastor at St. Patrick, Elmira (1954-60); St. Michael, Rochester (1960-61); St. Rita, Webster (1961-68); Sacred Heart, Auburn (1968); St. Mary, Elmira (1968-72); and St. Anthony, Rochester (1972-73). He served as pastor at St. Pius V, Cohocton (1973-75); St. Joachim, Canisteo, and St. Mary, Rexville (1975-76); and St. Catherine of Siena, Addison (1976-1993).

After retiring in 1993 Father Erb spent 15 years traveling the diocese and filling in for priests who were ill, on vacation or on sabbatical. He currently is a per diem chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira and assists at Ss. Isadore and Maria Torribia Parish, which was formed in 2010 through the merging of St. Catherine of Siena in Addison, St. Stanislaus in Bradford and St. Joseph in Campbell. The parish will celebrate his anniversary with receptions after its weekend Masses sometime later this spring.

"I am very grateful to almighty God for all of the places he’s sent me," Father Erb said. "I had many wonderful experiences and am very grateful for all the people I met and how good they were to me."

Nearly a quarter century ago, Father Robert Kreckel began serving migrant farmworkers while he was pastor of St. Mary of the Lake in Ontario.

He said the work was a continuation of his connection to other cultures that began at Rochester’s Immaculate Conception Parish, where he served the African-American community as a priest from 1960-73.

"Every culture has its values and its history," said Father Kreckel, who will turn 86 on May 11. "For me, working with different cultures is an eye-opening experience and has been a real growth experience."

Originally a parishioner of St. Boniface in Rochester, Father Kreckel attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 5, 1954, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He was assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus, Auburn (1954-60); and assistant pastor of Immaculate Conception, Rochester (1960-66), then pastor of that parish (1966-73). Father Kreckel then became founding pastor of Fairport’s Church of the Resurrection in 1973. In 1985 he began his 18-year pastorate in Ontario.

Retirement a decade ago from St. Mary has not slowed him, as he also assists with celebrating Mass and hearing confessions at St. Joseph, Penfield. He also says Mass at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse. Most recently, he participated in a "Residents Encounter Christ" at Attica prison.

He also celebrates Mass monthly for the migrant community at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission at St. Gregory Church in Marion. And he also teaches English as a second language at St. Joseph, where he resides.

55 Years

Father Gerald Appelby grew up in St. John the Evangelist Parish on Humboldt Street in Rochester and attended the parish school. He also attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and received a master’s degree in education from the University of Rochester.

He was ordained June 5, 1959, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

After ordination, he was assistant pastor at the cathedral (1959-66); chaplain at Rochester Institute of Technology (1966-83); diocesan director of campus ministry (1968-77); and director of the Diocesan Special Ministries Division, which included liturgy, black ministries, the Spanish Apostolate, campus ministry and ecumenism (1977-83). He also chaired the state board of diocesan directors and the Catholic Campus Ministry Association.

In 1983, he moved from working with diocesan administration and college students to founding Pittsford’s Church of the Transfiguration. He served as Transfiguration’s pastor until his retirement in 2002.

"The whole 55 years have been very rich and very rewarding," he said.

Since retiring, Father Appelby served as sacramental minister at St. Agnes Parish in Avon for seven years, and he now serves as sacramental minister of St. Marianne Cope Parish in Henrietta. In his spare time, he golfs and reads.

No matter where in the world he has served, Father Paul Freemesser said he has been a "simple parish priest."

He grew up and attended school at Blessed Sacrament in Rochester. He also attended Aquinas Institute, St. Andrew’s Seminary and St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, and was ordained June 5, 1959, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. Alphonsus, Auburn (1959-63); St. Anthony of Padua, Rochester (1963-66); St. John the Evangelist, Rochester (1966-68); and Immaculate Conception, Ithaca (1969-71). He was a missionary in Bolivia (1968-69 and 1971-72) and a chaplain at Rochester General Hospital (1973).

He was assistant pastor at St. Francis Xavier, Rochester (1973-74); copastor at St. Michael, Rochester (1974-80); administrator at St. Aloysius, Auburn (1980-82); assistant pastor at Holy Family, Rochester (1982); pastor of St. Patrick, Cato, St. Thomas, Red Creek, and St. Jude, Fairhaven (1982-84); and a missionary in Mexico (1984-85). He also filled in for priests on sabbaticals (1985-87).

A member of the U.S. Army Reserves from 1963-93, Father Freemesser was on active duty in Panama (1987-90), including during the 1989 U.S. invasion, and also served at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas (1990-92).

He returned to Rochester to fill in at parishes from 1992-95 and was chaplain at Auburn’s Mercy Health and Rehabilitation Center (1995-2000). After retiring in 2000, he lived at St. Alphonsus in Auburn. He moved to St. Theodore in Gates in 2007 and assists where needed.

Father Gerard McMahon grew up in St. Monica and St. John the Evangelist in Rochester and attended the parishes’ schools, as well as Aquinas Institute, St. Andrew’s Seminary and St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester. He said becoming a priest was a natural transition.

"I admired the priestly vocation," Father McMahon said.

He was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on June 5, 1959, at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He served as assistant pastor at St. Anthony of Padua, Rochester (1959); Our Lady of Mercy, Greece (1959-60); St. Mary of the Lake, Ontario (1960-69); and St. Mary, Corning (1969-75). He was associate pastor at Corpus Christi, Rochester (1975-76); pastor at St. Patrick, Moravia (1976-85); and pastor at St. Gabriel, Hammondsport, and St. Patrick, Prattsburgh (1985-93).

He relocated to Scranton Pa., in 1993 and served as administrator of several parishes in the Diocese of Scranton. He returned to Rochester in 1998 and retired, living first at Our Lady of Victory in Rochester and then living and serving for about nine years at Holy Spirit in Penfield.

Father McMahon now lives at McAuley Residence with the Sisters of Mercy in Brighton, where he spends his days in prayer.

"I say my breviary — the Liturgy of the Hours — and I sometimes hear confessions of individuals," Father McMahon said, noting that he also fills his day with reading and calisthenics.

50 Years

Father James Burke is only in this diocese part time, but he enjoys ministering all year long.

"It’s a great privilege you have, serving the people," he said.

Father Burke, who retired in 2005, provides summer assistance at Auburn’s St. Francis of Assisi and St. Hyacinth churches. Winters are spent in Cape Coral, Fla., where his help is greatly welcomed: St. Andrew Parish has 7,000 families.

Father Burke grew up in Rochester’s St. Augustine Parish. He attended Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained June 6, 1964, by Bishop Lawrence B. Casey at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He was assistant pastor at St. Mary, Waterloo (1964-68); Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Brockport (1968-74); and Church of the Annunciation, Rochester (1974-75).

In 1975 he attended the U.S. Army Chaplain’s School. He then was parochial administrator at St. Alphonsus, Auburn (1976); assistant pastor, Holy Ghost, Gates (1976-78); copastor, St. Rita, Webster (1978-81); and chaplain, Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital (1981-82).

He was pastor of St. Mary, Canandaigua (1982-90); and St. Agnes, Avon (1990-99); and priest administrator at Holy Family, Auburn (1999-2005). He was an Army Reserve chaplain from 1971-94.

Father Burke will celebrate a 10:30 a.m. Mass of Thanksgiving June 8 at St. Hyacinth Church, with a reception to follow there.

From Rochester to the Finger Lakes to South America, Father Peter Deckman has spent most of his 50-year priesthood serving the poor — a trend that did not cease with his 2008 retirement.

He continued to assist at Rochester’s Holy Apostles until being slowed by Parkinson’s disease and moving two years ago to his current residence at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse.

A native of Rochester’s Our Lady of Good Counsel, Father Deckman attended Rochester’s Aquinas Institute, St. Andrew’s Seminary and St. Bernard’s Seminary. He was ordained June 6, 1964, by Bishop Lawrence B. Casey at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He was assistant pastor at St. Thomas More, Brighton (1964-66), and then spent eight years serving in Bolivia. Beginning in 1974 he ministered to Hispanic Catholics in Geneva and then became copastor of St. Michael, Newark. In 1979 he returned to Bolivia, staying until the mid-1980s.

From 1987-94, Father Deckman was pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Rochester. He then served in several capacities at St. Michael, Penn Yan/St. Andrew, Dundee (1994-99); as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Auburn (1999-2002); pastor, Rochester’s St. Michael and Our Lady of Perpetual Help (2002-05); and parochial vicar, Rochester’s City West parishes (2005-08).

"It’s been a privilege to participate in people’s lives — in their community lives, in their church lives," he said.

Father Albert Delmonte, who retired in 2004, has remained active providing ministerial support at St. Louis Parish in Pittsford, where he resides, as well as "elsewhere when I’m asked to." In June he will relocate to Chapel Oaks in Rochester, becoming part of the pastoral team there and at St. Ann’s Home.

He noted that in recent years he also volunteered at WXXI Reachout Radio as a reader for the visually impaired.

"I enjoyed it. If I didn’t study for the priesthood I was going to go into broadcasting," he said.

Father Delmonte grew up in Auburn’s Sacred Heart Parish. He attended Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 6, 1964, by Bishop Lawrence B. Casey at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He was assistant pastor at Corpus Christi Parish, Rochester (1964-67), then taught theology at King’s Preparatory School (1967-69). From there he assisted at St. Ann, Hornell (1969-72); Christ the King, Irondequoit (1972-75); and Guardian Angels, Henrietta (1975-77).

From 1977-82 he was pastor of St. Anthony, Elmira. He was then pastor of St. Salome, Irondequoit (1982-94); and St. Jerome, East Rochester (1994-99). He was sacramental minister at Blessed Sacrament, Rochester (1999-2000), and pastor of Holy Ghost, Gates, from 2000 until his retirement.

Father Delmonte will note his jubilee at the 11 a.m. Mass on June 8 at St. Louis. A reception will follow in the church hall.

Father William Donnelly, who retired in 2011, has since assisted with chaplaincy duties at St. Ann’s Community, where he also resides in Chapel Oaks apartments.

"It’s a wonderful ministry in terms of that particular population, and I like very much the involvement," he said.

A native of Holy Family Parish in Auburn, Father Donnelly attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 6, 1964, by Bishop Lawrence B. Casey at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assisting priest at St. John the Evangelist, Rochester (1964-69), and chaplain at Monroe Community College (1969-76) before taking a 10-year leave of absence doing social-service work. Returning to priestly duty in 1986, Father Donnelly ministered in two Long Island parishes.

He came back to the Rochester Diocese in 1990, serving as temporary parochial vicar at St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads (1990), and parochial vicar at St. Mary, Canandaigua (1990-92). In 1992 he became pastor of St. Mary, Elmira, staying until December 1996. Following a sabbatical, in 1997 he took over the pastorate at St. Mary, Rochester, staying in that position for 10 years and also serving as rector of Becket Hall (2002-05). In 2007 he began as sacramental minister at St. Mary, retaining that role until his retirement.

"I have been blessed to be in ministry," Father Donnelly commented.

Father Roy Kiggins, retired since December 2008, said he enjoys the balance his current schedule affords.

"That unseen back-office work that takes so much time is not a part of my routine anymore. I’m more pastorally focused," he remarked.

A Rochester native, Father Kiggins graduated from St. James School in Irondequoit. He attended Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 6, 1964, by Bishop Lawrence B. Casey at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He served as assistant pastor at St. John of Rochester, Fairport (1964); Our Lady of Lourdes, Elmira (1964-71); Good Shepherd, Henrietta (1971-72); and St. Mary, Canandaigua (1972-73). In 1973 he became copastor of Good Shepherd and stayed in that role until 1987.

He then became pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Brockport, staying until 1999. Following a sabbatical in El Salvador, in January 2000 he became pastor of Geneva’s St. Stephen and St. Francis de Sales churches — now known as Our Lady of Peace Parish — where he served until his retirement.

Father Kiggins currently assists at St. Francis and St. Clare Parish, Seneca Falls/Waterloo. He will celebrate his 50th jubilee with a 2 p.m. Mass on June 8 at St. Patrick Church in Seneca Falls followed by a reception at St. Mary Church in Waterloo.

"I appreciate the grace of God that’s gotten me here, and the support of many people," Father Kiggins said.

Since his 2008 retirement, Father John Mulligan — a longtime diocesan administrator — has enjoyed getting back to his ministerial roots, staying active with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and adult-education programs. He also assists at Holy Trinity, Webster, where he has resided since June 2013.

Father Mulligan grew up in Rochester’s Sacred Heart Parish and attended Rochester’s St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries before being ordained June 6, 1964, by Bishop Lawrence B. Casey at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

He was assistant pastor of Immaculate Conception, Ithaca (1964-66); St. Patrick, Corning (1966-71); and St. Mary, Auburn (1971-73); copastor of St. John the Evangelist, Rochester (1973-81); and pastor of St. Stephen, Geneva (1981-83), and St. Anthony of Padua, Rochester (1983-88). He was head of the diocesan Division of Urban Ministry from 1983-88 as well.

He served as first-ever moderator of the diocesan Pastoral Center from 1988-98. In 1988 he also was named one of two diocesan vicars generals, staying in that position until Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark’s 2012 retirement. In addition, he was pastor of Most Precious Blood, Rochester (1998-2000); Sacred Heart Cathedral (2000-05); and the Cathedral Community (2005-08).

He said his milestone in ministry is "not so much a tribute to me, but the people who helped me through it."

25 Years

Father Fred Asuming, a native of Ghana, has covered several bases since arriving in the Rochester Diocese in 2009. Currently he’s a chaplain for Unity and Strong health systems. He also provides sacramental assistance at St. Columba/St. Patrick, Caledonia; St. Mary of the Assumption, Scottsville; and St. Vincent de Paul, Churchville.

"All the places I have been to, they welcome me and accept me as I am," he said. "I am lucky to be here."

Father Asuming was ordained a priest June 29, 1989, in the Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana. He logged four parish assignments there over the next 16 years, two as a parochial vicar and then two as a pastor.

He came to the United States in June 2005 to study at Loyola University in New Orleans. However, he noted that after Hurricane Katrina struck that August, he spent considerable time consoling victims as well.

In 2006 he completed his master’s degree in pastoral studies. During his time in New Orleans Father Asuming also assisted in two parishes, did clinical pastoral education at New Orleans hospitals and was a hospital chaplain.

In November 2009 he came to this diocese. Three months later he became assistant at St. Catherine of Siena, Ithaca, and in June 2010 was appointed sacramental minister at All Saints, Corning/Painted Post. This past November he moved to Rochester and began his present duties.

Ministering in four churches and three prisons means you don’t often catch Father Michael Brown behind a desk.

"My office has been at the altar, in the confessional, around the baptistry, in a hospital room, at the cemetery, in front of a prison cell. This is where the people are," Father Brown said.

He is currently a chaplain at Auburn Correctional Facility and has provided sacramental help since 2001 at the Livingston and Groveland prisons in Livingston County. He also assists at Auburn’s Ss. Mary and Martha Parish (St. Francis of Assisi and St. Hyacinth churches) as well as Sacred Heart, Auburn, and St. Ann, Owasco.

A native of St. Pius Tenth, Chili, Father Brown attended Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, N.J., and was ordained a priest April 8, 1989, by Bishop Matthew H. Clark at Mendon’s St. Catherine of Siena Church.

He served as priest intern, St. Mary, Elmira (1989-93); parochial vicar, Sacred Heart Cathedral (1993-96) and Corning-Painted Post Roman Catholic Community (1996-99); and pastor, St. Patrick, Mount Morris/Holy Angels, Nunda (1999-2005).

Since 2005 Father Brown has ministered at the Auburn prison and Sacred Heart/St. Ann. He was temporary parochial administrator at St. Hyacinth from 2005-06, and in 2009 began regular sacramental duties for Ss. Mary and Martha.

He celebrated his 25-year jubilee April 5-6 at the Auburn-area parishes where he serves.

More priestly milestones noted

EDITOR’S NOTE: Space limitations allow us to highlight 25th, 50th and 50-plus anniversaries, but the following priests also are marking ordination jubilees this year:

Five years: Father Brian Carpenter, parochial vicar, Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes, Tioga County.

Ten years: Father William Coffas, director, Becket Hall, and assisting priest, St. Thomas More and Our Lady Queen of Peace parishes, Brighton; and Father Bernard Dan, assisting priest, St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Livingston County.

Fifteen years: Father Steven Lape, assisting priest, St. Columba/St. Patrick, Caledonia; St. Mary of the Assumption, Scottsville; and St. Vincent DePaul, Churchville.

Twenty years: Father Paul Gitau, pastor, St. Paul Parish, Webster; and Father Leo Vu Huyen, CMC, parochial vicar, St. Helen Parish, Gates.

Thirty years: Father Peter Enyan-Boadu, pastor, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Greece; Father Richard Farrell, pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Elmira; and Father Scott Kubinski, pastor, Christ the Redeemer Parish, Elmira.

Thirty-five years: Father Michael Bausch, pastor, Church of the Transfiguration, Pittsford; Father Timothy Horan, pastor, Holy Trinity Parish, Webster, and director, Office of Priesthood Vocation Awareness; and Father Robert Werth, pastor, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, Rochester.

Forty years: Father James Hewes, parochial vicar, St. Jude the Apostle, St. Helen and Holy Ghost parishes, Gates; Father Robert Kennedy, pastor, Blessed Sacrament and St. Boniface parishes and assisting priest, St. Mary Parish, all in Rochester; Father Ronald Antinarelli, pastoral administrator, Our Lady of Victory/St. Joseph Parish, Rochester; Father William Spilly, pastor, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Hamlin; Father Robert Gaudio, pastor, St. Christopher Parish, North Chili; Father Louis Sirianni, pastor, St. Mark Parish, Greece, and judicial vicar, Diocesan Tribunal; and Father William Leone, pastor, St. Jerome Parish, East Rochester.

Forty-five years: Father William Endres, who retired in 2013; and Father Richard Shatzel, who is retiring this year from his pastorate at Good Shepherd Catholic Community, southern Cayuga County.

 

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