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Seminarian Spotlight

 

We reached out to the five seminarians who will be ordained for the diocese of Albany by Bishop Scharfenberger on June 19, 2021 to ask them about their journey to the priesthood. Please keep these men in your prayers as they make final preparations for their ordination!

 

Deacon Matt Duclos:

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1. When do you feel closest to God?

God is present everywhere and at all times, but it’s natural to feel closer to Him in particular circumstances. For me, certainly the Mass and the Eucharist are prime instances, but there are two other examples that come to mind which are just as powerful in their own ways. First is in the intimate setting of a hospital room during the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick during which God’s presence is so palpable when the priest prays the prayers over the ill. Second is when I’ve found myself sitting in a stunningly beautiful church in Rome listening to a choir of heavenly voices during a concert. The sacred sights and sounds during these concerts are truly an example of God’s beauty in our midst.

2. How did your journey to the Priesthood begin?

My journey to the priesthood began long before I even knew what the word “vocation” meant as my parents took my family to church on the weekend and I started playing piano in the Contemporary Music Ensemble at St. Mary’s, Crescent for the Sunday evening Mass. Music is what kept me in church by playing piano and organ for Masses and weddings and funerals throughout high school and college. But the official discernment process with the Diocese started in January of 2013 at the “Called By Name” retreat offered at the Cathedral by Bishop Hubbard. From there, my former pastor Fr. Jim Clark at Corpus Christi trusted me with some key parish responsibilities that offered me the opportunity to better understand what the life of a priest really looked like. The support of the Corpus Christi community and other parish families along the way have helped fuel the years-long process of seminary formation since then.

 

3. Who inspires you the most?

St. Matthew is the archetype of a disciple of Jesus. He drops everything and trustingly turns to Christ when he hears the words “follow me.” I am inspired by anyone who commits themselves to a path in life, and especially I look up to many of my fellow seminarians, my friends who are starting new families, my sisters as they continue their studies, and my parents for their lifelong devotion to each other. It’s impossible for me to give you just one answer to that question!

 

Deacon Nathaniel Resila:

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1. When do you feel closest to God?

Last March, during my two-month Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with my classmates from Mundelein Seminary, I had the supreme privilege of spending an overnight vigil in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. For those who do not know, this Basilica is home to both the site of Our Lord’s Sorrowful Crucifixion and death on Calvary as well as the site where His body was laid in the tomb. This tomb, the “Sepulcher,” is, of course, the earthly site of Our Blessed Lord’s glorious Resurrection. That I was able to spend an entire night in quiet prayer, reflection and contemplation at the places where these supremely important sacred events occurred is still profoundly moving. Though it is one thing to visit these places during the day with thousands of people noisily milling about shoulder to shoulder, it is an altogether different thing to actually have the place to oneself—with perhaps another dozen people or so throughout the entire Basilica permitted at night—in the calm, quiet, peaceful hours of night. The prayer was incredibly powerful, focused and deep and the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable. I recall being mesmerized knowing that the Divine Creator of the cosmos and of each and every one of us also suffered, died and conquered sin and death out of love for us in the exact same place in which I had been praying. This enfleshed, concretized and vividly brought to life the four Passion and Resurrection accounts in the Gospels that I recall reading that night in a truly poignant manner. 

2. How did your journey to the Priesthood begin?

I first began experiencing a call to the priesthood in high school. I always found myself being one of the few in public school to stand up for the Church’s position on all the hot button moral issues… though I never sought these less than socially expedient situations out, they always seemed to seek me out! Though I would often be alone, or near-alone, in doing so, I know now that it was the Holy Spirit guiding, empowering and encouraging me to stand up lovingly for the truth. Thus, when I began thinking about the priesthood as a knight who gladly gives himself in self-sacrificial loving service and defense of his King (Christ), His Queen (Our Lady) and the Kingdom (the Catholic Church), one can hopefully see why I was so attracted to the priesthood and why I began actively discerning it in high school and in college.  

The call to the priesthood became much stronger when I studied abroad in Paris during my sophomore year at Niagara University. I fell in love with the sublime beauty of the Church as incarnated in the magnificent churches, cathedrals (I often attended Notre Dame Cathedral for Sunday Mass!), sacred art and breathtaking sacred music of the homeland of my paternal grandmother. I not only was smitten and moved to tears at times by the overwhelming beauty of the sacred tradition, buildings, art and music in France and, indeed, throughout the other 11 European countries I visited, but was enraptured knowing that God alone, the Source of objective beauty, goodness and truth, could inspire such mesmerizing beauty.

As a lover of history and culture, I also began to truly appreciate how the Catholic Church built Western Civilization through not only its breathtaking art, architecture and music but through its patrimony of philosophy, theology, morality, Catholic social teaching, charity, universities, hospitals, orphanages, literature, law and so forth firsthand while studying in Europe! Though I always loved and respected the Church, thanks to the love for God, the Church, Our Blessed Mother and the Sacraments instilled in me by my parents and grandparents growing up, it took me studying abroad, I believe, to truly fall in love with the Church. My love for the Church became much more personal, concrete and visceral while in Europe.

Though I needed a little bit more time to finally commit myself to what I was born to do, to be, I finally entered the seminary after studying theology at St. John’s University in Queens.

3. Who inspires you the most?

Though I could respond in one of several ways to this question, because there really are several people (notwithstanding, of course Our Lord, Our Lady and St. Joseph who are givens) who I could say “inspire me the most,” I think that given current circumstances I will go with the 11thcentury English Saint and Martyr, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Though he easily could have acquiesced to the demands of the royal powers-that-were and surrendered the liberty of the Church and, indeed, compromised the dignity of his own priesthood and episcopal spiritual and moral authority, St. Thomas Becket held fast to Christ and remained true to Him and His Church to the point of holy martyrdom. He vigorously defended his own priests and his broader flock against the encroachments of the civil authorities into the life of the Church with fire in his belly, wit and humor. Though I need not spell out how and why this is incredibly timely and applicable to not only today but, indeed, to much of history, I am continually inspired by St. Thomas Becket’s zeal for souls, self-sacrificial love for Jesus Christ, His Church and the truth, his virtue, his winsome personality, his gracious nature, his sharp wit and his courage. Holy Mother Church needs heroic, saintly crusaders for the faith like St. Thomas Becket. Through the intercession, example and inspiration of St. Thomas Becket, may God raise up many great and holy priests and bishops similarly ablaze with love for Our Blessed Lord!   

Deacon Kyle Gorenski:

1. When do you feel closest to God?

It's hard to narrow down when I feel close to God there are so many times that I do. Times such as  Mass and when I'm praying. Often I feel close to God when helping and spending time with others. Whether it be simple little things like simply listening and talking to someone, or something bigger like helping someone talk about the loss of a loved one. I also feel close to God when I'm going through a tough time and friends and family are there for me.

2. How did your journey to the Priesthood begin?

The idea of being a priest first came to me around the age of 14. I didn't give it too much thought at that time, it was just an idea that randomly came to me one day. After high school I joined the US Army and then worked as a RI state Trooper. However the idea was always in the back of my mind. I entered seminary 10 years ago. I completed my college seminary at Our Lady of Providence seminary in Providence RI and then spent a year at Holy Trinity parish in Cohoes, NY and for the last 6 years I have studied at St. Mary’s seminary in Baltimore, MD.

3. Who inspires you the most? 

There are so many people who have inspired me throughout life and my journey to priesthood It would be impossible for me to list just a few people. My Parents, grandparents, brothers, friends I grew up with, teachers, coaches, the people I served with in the Military and Police, my fellow Seminarians, the priest that have mentored me, and all the parishioners I have met at the various parishes I have served at have all inspired me and continue to do so.

Deacon Stephen Yusko:

 

  1. Can you describe a moment where you felt close to God?

This is an interesting question. There have been various moments throughout my life, but more specifically, throughout my journey toward the Priesthood where God's presence was felt beside me. These unmistakable moments occurred, more often than not, when I was experiencing some sort of trial. This is not surprising given the fact that it normally takes those moments of trial to break us out of our stupor and elicit in us the desire to turn toward Him, who is ceaselessly seeking us. Therefore, with surprising joy I can say I have felt close to God whenever I have felt the weight of my cross. 

  1. How did your Journey to the priesthood begin?

I would say my Journey toward the Priesthood began in an abstract way when I was a child. From a young age I always had the desire to fight for God and was drawn to self-sacrifice. However, my journey began in a more concrete way when I was a sophomore in college. After suffering an injury during baseball practice, God gave me the grace of a deeper conversion, accompanied with the desire to know him more. This was gradual, and inevitably involved ups-and-downs, but with God's grace, obtained through the prayers of countless people, many of whom I will only know after death, I have been graciously led to this joyous occasion. 

  1. Who inspires you the most?

First, I have always been inspired by the Martyrs, first of whom, in my heart, is St. Stephen. Being named after such a saint, I have always been inspired by such a complete imitation of Christ, even to the point of dying for him. In a world that believes in nothing, but self-satisfaction, the Martyrs provide refreshing examples of lives lived completely for Christ and for others. Next, I must mention my parents, whose love for one another, for myself and my siblings, and for our family and friends, never ceases to inspire me. They are testaments of parents who live for and give all they can to their children. A testament that is incredibly important for the Priest. Third, there are numerous priests throughout this Diocese, and many others whom I have met throughout my time in seminary that have supported me, and who I admire greatly. Fourth, my brother and my sister, as well as my friends, whose talents and gifts they may not recognize, but which are obvious and inspiring to me. Finally, I am inspired by the people of God. Their prayers, support, and fidelity to Christ and his Church during such difficult times is incredible and encouraging. And I pray that God may grant me the grace to serve them well. 

Deacon Dan McHale

  1. Can you describe a moment where you felt close to God?                                          Without fail, I always feel close to God following the Sacrament of Penance.  As a seminarian, I tried to go to confession every other week just to keep close to the forgiveness that God gives us through the ministry of the Church.  During Eucharistic Adoration is another time I feel especially close to God.  There, in front of us in the monstrance, is the Lord of the universe for us to adore.  I remember the first time blessed the people with the Eucharist in benediction.  It was a humbling experience for sure.  And finally—and yes, I know this last one is cliche—but I feel close to God when on nature walks.  Sometimes I say the rosary on these walks, but most of the time I just clear my mind of all my worries and appreciate the natural world that God created. 
  2. How did your journey to the priesthood begin?                                                              Back in my junior year of college at Mount St. Mary in Newburgh, New York.  I was in bed one weekday morning and heard a voice that told me to go to Mass.  I listened to the voice.  The psalm antiphon that day was from Psalm 110: "You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek."  Needless to say, I was floored!  Then I proceeded to push that call out of my mind for more than a decade.  A health crisis—chronic headaches—made me reevaluate my life's path, and eventually I returned to discernment.  And then on to seminary.  And now just a few days away from ordination to the priesthood!
  3. Who inspires you the most?                                                                                    Those people who persist in keeping the faith despite persecution.  The martyrs of course come to mind, but also those in the world today who suffer for Christ.