Bishop Scharfenberger Ordains Four New Priests For Albany Diocese
Joy and hope flooded the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on June 18, when Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger ordained four men to the priesthood for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. Some 700 people, along with 65 priests and 25 deacons, filled the Cathedral, which was standing room only for the Mass and Rite of Ordination for Brian Kelly, Steve Matthews, Patrick Rice, and Francis Vivacqua.
The newly ordained have since received their first assignments: Father Kelly to Blessed Sacrament, Albany; Father Matthews to St. Pius X, Loudonville; Father Rice to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Niskayuna; and Father Vivacqua to St. Mary’s, Ballston Spa.
“It’s not about the vestments, as beautiful as they may be. Everything a priest wears on the outside has to reflect what he is on the inside,” Bishop Scharfenberger said during his homily. Referring to priests wearing a collar in public, he added: “These are signs to the world that nothing else matters to me than you. Don’t look at me, don’t look at my clothes, look at my heart…A priest is a man for others.”
Father Brian Kelly, 35, grew up in Latham, attended La Salle Institute and Hudson Valley Community College, and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Siena College. Beginning in high school, he worked for more than 13 years at his home parish of Holy Trinity in Cohoes, serving in a variety of capacities, from cemetery groundskeeper to business manager. He also served as a bookkeeper at St. Rita’s/Sacred Heart and St. Bernard’s in Cohoes. A self-proclaimed part-time Catholic during his young adult years, his faith lurked in the shadows until he realized that it was Christ gently guiding him through the difficult times in his life. At that time, he began seriously considering a vocation to the priesthood and went on to receive a Master of Divinity from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, in Illinois.
Father Steve Matthews, 59, was born in Queens, New York, grew up on Long Island and later earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. John’s University. He began considering the priesthood in his early 20s, even earning a master’s degree in theology from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. He was not convinced the priesthood was his calling, so he pursued a career in banking and finance both in New York and California. Throughout that time, however, he could not shake the quiet feeling that the priesthood might be where he was called to be. After years of discernment and working in California, he moved to St. Peter’s parish in Saratoga Springs and made the decision to enter the seminary once more, receiving his final formation from the Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.
Father Patrick Rice, 57, was born in Teaneck, New Jersey, graduated from Manhattan College with a degree in business and marketing and spent more than 27 years in the commercial tire industry. It was through the Church, rather than the business world, however, that he felt an overwhelming sense of peace and belonging, finding a home at St. Pius X parish in Loudonville. It was while at St. Pius parish that he realized there was a pull at his heart to enter the priesthood, and he went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary.
Father Francis Vivacqua, 42, is from Frankfort, New York, and holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the State University of New York at Oneonta. He served as an elementary school teacher and administrator in North Carolina, Virginia, and New York, and spent years discerning how to best contribute to society. He found his answer while helping his mother battle cancer, realizing there was no greater calling than bringing the love and compassion of Christ to those in need of comfort and healing. He received his Master of Divinity from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.