Priests of Rochester Diocese reflect on many decades of ministry - Catholic Courier

Priests of Rochester Diocese reflect on many decades of ministry

Priests of the Diocese of Rochester look back on their many decades of ministry as they celebrate 2022 anniversaries of ordination.

60 Years

EDITOR’S NOTE: For an article on Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark’s anniversary of priestly ordination, visit

Finding joy in the service of priesthood: Father Bradler

Father Robert C. Bradler thrives on social connections, having always served in parish assignments over his six decades.

“The joy of priesthood has been able to serve the needs of the people. I enjoy people, and that’s my hallmark,” he said.

Father Bradler is a native of Rochester’s Holy Redeemer Parish. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 2, 1962, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He then was assistant pastor at Holy Family, Rochester (1962-64); Immaculate Conception, Ithaca (1964); St. Anne, Rochester (1964-71); St. Augustine, Rochester (1971-73); and Holy Rosary, Rochester (1973-79).

His first pastorate was at St. James Parish in Irondequoit from 1979 to 1995. He spent the next 12 years as pastor of Irondequoit’s St. Thomas the Apostle until reaching senior status in 2007.

Father Bradler, who still lives in Irondequoit, has remained busy as a senior priest. For the past 40 years, he has been diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which supports worldwide mission work, and he has served for 53 years as chaplain of the Rochester Fire Department. In addition, he has assisted for more than a decade at Rochester’s Immaculate Conception/St. Bridget Parish.

Despite some recent health difficulties, Father Bradler said he’d like to return soon to Immaculate Conception where he also hopes to have a “low-key” celebration of his 60 years as a priest.

Happy that God chose him to be a priest: Father Weis

Five years ago, Father Eugene Weis wrote his autobiography, Portrait of a Happy Priest, which details his vocation along with many interests and activities.

Today, he remains as joyful as ever in his priesthood.

“It’s delightful, to think of how you’ve helped so many other people,” Father Weis said. “I’m so happy that God chose for me to become a priest.”

A native of Rochester’s Blessed Sacrament Parish, he attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 2, 1962, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He assisted at Our Mother of Sorrows, Greece (1962-68); Holy Apostles, Rochester (1968-72); St. Salome, Irondequoit (1972-74); and St. John the Evangelist, Greece (1974-77).

His pastorates were at St. John the Evangelist, Newark Valley/St. Francis of Assisi, Catatonk (1977-82); St. Anne, Palmyra (1982-86); St. Casimir, Elmira (1987-94); St. Patrick, Owego (1994-97); and St. Mary, Waterloo (1998-2004).

Over the years, Father Weis was involved with Worldwide Marriage Encounter and the Rochester Cursillo Movement. He also answered 1,000 calls as a volunteer firefighter and played softball until he was 60.

After becoming senior priest in 2004, he assisted at St. Timothy Parish at The Villages in Florida. In 2012, he moved to his current residence at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford, where he plans to note his 60th priestly anniversary in June.

55 Years

Planting the seeds of vocation: Father Lioi

What are the fruits of 55 years of priestly ministry?

The answer to this question is elusive, according to Father Frank Lioi.

“The ministry of a priest is difficult to quantify, and the effects of all our activities are impossible to measure,” he remarked. “We only plant. Others water, and God gives us the growth.”

The seeds of Father Lioi’s own vocation were planted in childhood. He attended St. Francis of Assisi parish and school and St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, all in Rochester, and was ordained June 3, 1967, by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

After ordination, Father Lioi served as assistant pastor at St. John the Evangelist, Greece (1967-72), and Church of the Annunciation, Rochester (1972-74). In 1974, he traded parish ministry for academia, teaching liturgy courses at St. Bernard’s Seminary (1974-81) and serving as the seminary’s rector (1977-81). He also was chaplain at Rochester’s Eastman School of Music (1972-76).

In 1981, he began an eight-year stint at the American College of the Immaculate Conception in Louvain, Belgium, serving first as assistant to the rector for planning and development (1981-84) and later vice rector and director of development (1984-89).

Upon returning to the United States, Father Lioi served as pastor first at St. Anne, Rochester (1989-2002), and then at St. Anthony, Groton, and Holy Cross, Dryden (2002-04).

In 2004, he took on his current pastorate at St. Mary, Auburn. He also became pastor of the neighboring parishes of Ss. Mary and Martha, Auburn,and Our Lady of the Snow, northern Cayuga County, in in 2014 and 2020, respectively.

At 80, Father Lioi tries to plant the seeds of future vocations in those around him.

“I try to be a good example and a happy priest,” he said.

50 Years

Relationships are key to his priesthood: Father Palumbos

Father Edward Palumbos has consistently loved his priesthood, thanks largely to the human connections he’s made.

“The most important thing, to me, is the network of relationships,” he said.

Father Palumbos is a native of Irondequoit’s St. Cecilia Parish. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained March 24, 1972, by Bishop Joseph L. Hogan at Greece’s St. Charles Borromeo Church. He was assistant pastor at Auburn’s St. Alphonsus Parish from 1972-76, diocesan executive priest for Worldwide Marriage Encounter from 1976-79, and assistant pastor at Rochester’s Church of the Annunciation from 1979-80.

He served as copastor of Henrietta’s Good Shepherd Parish from 1980-87 and as its pastor from 1987-92. He then returned to St. Charles Borromeo, where he was pastor for nine years. In 2001, he became pastor of Fairport’s Church of the Assumption, adding the pastorate at Church of the Resurrection in 2014. He also was diocesan director of priest personnel from 2010-16. He reached senior-priest status in 2018.

Father Palumbos was temporary administrator of St. Christopher in North Chili in early 2019. Since then, he’s resided at St. Mary Church in Rochester, assisting there and at nearby Blessed Sacrament and St. Boniface. He also gives retreats and is involved in Ignatian spirituality.

He will note his 50-year jubilee at the 10:45 a.m. Mass on June 19 at St. Mary Church, with a public reception to follow.

Thankful to have served in two countries: Father Pathmarajah

Father T. Pius Pathmarajah’s priestly ministry has spanned two countries over the past 50 years.

Born in Sri Lanka, Father Pathmarajah attended National Seminary of Our Lady of Lanka in Ampitiya, Sri Lanka, and also studied under the Society of Jesus in Poona, India. He was ordained by Bishop Ignatius Philip Trigueros Glennie, S.J., of the Diocese of Trincomalee-Batticaloa on Sept. 21, 1972, in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.

While completing canon law studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada (1978-80), Father Pathmarajah was invited by an American priest friend to minister in the Diocese of Rochester during the summer months.

From 1972 to 1998, Father Pathmarajah served as an associate pastor, pastor, vicar general and judicial vicar in the Tribunal in the Diocese of Trincomalee-Batticaloa. He celebrated 25 years as a priest in his home country before coming back to the Diocese of Rochester as a judge in the diocesan Tribunal, where he has worked for the last 25 years.

In addition to serving in the diocesan Tribunal, Father Pathmarajah has served as sacramental minister at Most Precious Blood Church, Rochester, and St. Joseph Church, Penfield (1998-2003), and at St. Mary Parish, Bath, and St. Gabriel Parish, Hammondsport (2003-05). He was incardinated into the Diocese of Rochester on May 18, 2003.

Father Pathmarajah was parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist, Greece (2005-12), and the Cathedral Community, Rochester (2012-2015). Since 2015, he has served as parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo, Greece, while continuing his role in the Tribunal.

Father Pathmarajah also has been involved in healing ministry, recently celebrating a Healing Mass at St. John the Evangelist in Greece April 13.

He said the past 50 years as a priest have been wonderful.

“I’m thankful to God that I’m alive and healthy and able to give my service to this diocese,” he told the Catholic Courier April 19.

The faithful’s example strengthened his ministry: Father Vasile

Though he reached senior status in 2015, Father Louis Vasile remains as busy as ever, assisting on weekends at St. Alphonsus Church, Auburn, and St. Mary of the Lake Church, Skaneateles; presiding at Masses every other month at Auburn’s Tyburn Academy; and celebrating weddings and funerals.

A native of Auburn, Father Vasile graduated from St. Francis of Assisi School and Mount Carmel High School. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained April 8, 1972, by Bishop Joseph L. Hogan at Auburn’s St. Francis of Assisi Parish. After ordination, he served as assistant pastor at St. Philip Neri, Rochester (1972-74), St. Christopher, North Chili (1974-75), St. Patrick, Corning (1975-77), and St. Lawrence, Greece (1977-82).

From 1982-86, Father Vasile served as secretary to Bishop Matthew H. Clark, spending those years coordinating the bishop’s schedule and traveling with him to various parishes throughout the Diocese of Rochester. In 1986, he became pastor of the clustered parishes of St. Anne in Palmyra and St. Gregory in Marion. He left those parishes in 1992 and spent a year serving other parishes in need of temporary leadership.

In 1993, Father Vasile became pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Fairport, where he remained 1998, when he returned to his hometown as pastor at Auburn’s St. Alphonsus Church. He remained in that role until he reaching senior status in 2015.

“I wouldn’t want to be any place else,” he said about Auburn.

Father Vasile celebrated his 50-year jubilee during an April 30 Mass at St. Alphonsus.

“I wouldn’t be a priest of 50 years if it had not been for the selfless examples and ministry of the people that I found in every parish,” he remarked.

More 2022 jubilarians

45 years: Fathers John Firpo, John Forni, Joseph McCaffrey, Kevin McKenna
40 years: Fathers Joseph Catanise, Raymond Fleming, William Moorby, Robert Ring, Mitchell Zygadlo
35 years: Father John Hayes
20 years: Father James Fennessy
15 years: Fathers Sylvester Bioh, Hoan Dinh, Jeffrey Tunnicliff
5 years: Fathers Anthony Amato, Michael Merritt

Tags: Holy Orders
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