Cardinal George to ordain 16 men for archdiocese on May 21
When 16 men receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders from Cardinal George at Holy Name Cathedral May 21, they will bring to the Archdiocese of Chicago a wealth of gifts. The largest ordination class of any U.S. diocese includes six men from Poland, two from Mexico, Ecuador, the Philippines, Southern Illinois and the archdiocese itself.
They range in age from 25 to 46, with an average of 30. While someespecially those from Polandentered the seminary immediately after high school, another worked as a bartender and emergency response operator, others as teachers, another as an engineer. In the end, the call to priesthood outweighed the attractions of any other pursuit.
The Chicago ordination class is younger as a group than the 251 archdiocesan ordinands and 35 religious order ordinands who responded to a survey by Dean R. Hoge of the Catholic University of America. Their average age was 37, according to the study. They are also more likely to have been born outside the United States (10 out of 16, or 63 percent, compared to 27 percent of the national sample). The newly ordained Chicago priests also are more likely to be Hispanic or Latino, with three out of 16, or 19 percent, compared to the national sample’s 10 percent.
For these profiles of Chicago’s newest priests, The Catholic New World asked each a little about themselves and about the new pope, Benedict XVI.
Robert Fedek, 25
First assignment: St. Mary of the Annunciation, Fremont Center
Education: Elementary, high school and seminary in Poland
Parents: Jozefa Robak and Roman Fedek
First Mass: 2 p.m. May 22 at St. Blasé, Summit
Robert Fedek credits his family in Poland with preparing for life as a priest, albeit one far from his original home. “I come form a very strong Catholic family,” he said. “And from an early age I was involved in many ministries and activities in my home parish in Poland.” Now he wants to take that experience and use it to “respond generously to whatever are the greatest pastoral needs” of the parishioners he serves. Fedek and nearly all of his classmates said the best way Pope Benedict XVI can connect with the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago is to visit.
“I would say come to Chicago and get to know us and all the good things that are happening in our archdiocese,” he said.
Piotr Gnoinski, 26
First assignment: St. Francis Borgia
Education: Elementary school in Olesno, high school in Bren, both in Poland; Tarnow Major Seminary, Poland
Parents: Maria Zych and Jan Gnoinski
First Mass: noon May 22 at St. Francis Borgia
Piotr Gnoinski, the second of four children from a farming family in Poland, credits his parents for developing his vocation. “Both taught me how to change prayer into service and service into love,” he said. His parish community, where he was an altar server for 12 years, also encouraged his vocation. In Polandstill 75 percent Catholiche had many models for his faith, he said. Gnoinski decided to come to Chicago after considering whether to become a missionary priest while he was in seminary. He considered the visit of two Chicago priests an answer to his prayers for discernment, he said.
“I don’t call priesthood a ‘career,’” he said. “I don’t plan to climb the ladder of titles or degrees. I simply would like to serve God’s people in sacramental ministry at my parish, to heal the wounds of sin and division in their lives with God’s amazing grace.”
Gnoinski sees potential for Pope Benedict, a German following a Pole in the seat of Peter, to help heal the wounds left by two world wars.
“I would encourage him to be himself: a ‘German shepherd’ of God’s flock, to protect it against wolves from outside and from inside,” he said.
Grzegorz Gorczyca, 27
First assignment: St. Pascal
Education: Elementary and high school in Strzyzow, Poland; Rzeszow Seminary
Parents: Aniela Domanski and Jan Gorczyca
First Mass: 11 a.m. May 29 at St. John the Evangelist, Streamwood
Grzegorz Gorczyca’s faith grew in the fertile soil of his Polish homeland, nourished by his family, priests he was close to, the papacy of John Paul II and the education he got there. His goal as a priest, he said, is simple service.
“I do not consider priesthood as a career, it is a humble service to God’s people, and if by my priestly life witness, preaching and sacramental ministry I bring people closer to God that will be enough for me,” he said.
Gorczyca joined his classmates in hoping for a visit from Pope Benedict, and saying the new pontiff should follow the course he has laid out.
“My advice to him would be to always listen to God rather than to the world,” Gorczyka said. “I would also ask him to address the issue of growing secularization of our daily life and our culture, which kills the spirit of our dependence upon God.”
James Patrick Hearne, 25
First assignment: St. James, Arlington Heights
Education: St. Jude the Apostle School, South Holland; Mount Carmel High School; St. Joseph College Seminary
Parents: William P. Hearne Sr. and the late Dona Jean Fox
First Mass: 1:30 p.m. May 22 at St. Jude the Apostle, South Holland
James Patrick Hearne is used to being the youngesthe’s the youngest of seven brothers and sisters in his family and the youngest in his ordination class. “Catholicism is very much the center of my familymy dad, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.” Hearne began dreaming of being a priest in the first grade, and his vocation intensified after his mother died suddenly when he was in sixth grade. “It was the priests and nuns of my parish who really helped me see God in the midst of tragedy,” he said. “I saw priesthood at its best.” Because of that experience, he said, he would love to be involved in a parish school and in bereavement ministry.
Hearne said the people of the archdiocese will give Pope Benedict a chance to win their hearts if he is himself. “Benedict would do well to engage the modern world and Catholics with a firm love and a fatherly presence,” he said. “He ought be transparenthe has work to do rebuilding the trust lost over the scandals.”
Krzysztof Janczak, 28
First assignment: St. John Brebeuf, Niles
Education: Elementary, high school and seminary in Krakow, Poland
Parents: Maria Szklarczyk and the late Josef Janczak
First Mass: noon June 5 at St. Jadwiga Krolowa, Krakow, Poland
Krzysztof Janczak feels fortunate to have grown up in Krakow, a center of Catholic culture in Poland. He hopes to be able to share the enthusiasm for the faith that he developed there with parishioners in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“There are so many people who would be attracted to our Catholic faith if only they knew more about it and what it stands for,” he said. “Communication and the arts are powerful ways to reach whole sections of society that are looking for value and understanding.”
To attract people, Janczak said, Pope Benedict “should reach out to the young and to young adult Catholics and give them the chance to express their hopes and struggles with being a Catholic in the world today. He should be a ‘pastor’ to all the people of the church.”
Brendan Lupton, 27
First assignment: St. John of the Cross, Western Springs
Education: Deerpath Middle School, Lake Forest High School, Catholic University of America
Parents: Therese Brennan and Patrick Lupton
First Mass: 1:30 p.m., St. Mary, Lake Forest
Brendan Lupton learned early the importance of reverence for God. “Once when I was in the fifth grade, I misbehaved at Sunday Mass,” Lupton said, explaining how significant his family was to his priestly formation. “When we arrived at home, my father made me walk back to church, which was around a mile and a half, and attend another Mass!”
His family also worked at a soup kitchen together on occasion, he said.
“As a priest, in general, I hope to point towards the beauty of Christ,” Lupton said. “In terms of ministries, I hope to work a lot with the youth, visit the sick, and teach in RCIA. I also hope to discuss and learn more about our rich Catholic faith.”
William McFarlane, 39
First assignment: St. George, Tinley Park
Education: St. Gabriel School, Leo High School, Governor’s State University
Parents: Joann Butler and the late Ronald McFarlane
First Mass: 1 p.m. May 22 at St. Gabriel
Bartenders might hear as many or more confessions as priests. William McFarlane said he will draw on his experience behind the bar at the Kerry Piper Irish Pub in Willowbrook as he starts his priestly ministry, as well as his work answering emergency phone calls being made to the Chicago Police Department. While police officers have their own chaplain, McFarlane said he would like be a chaplain for the emergency operators and dispatchers. “Since I have actually performed the job that they do, I think I would be able to connect with the operators and the dispatchers in a unique way,” he said.
McFarlane said he would not presume to give advice to any pope, but joined his classmates in inviting Pope Benedict to visit the archdiocese.
René Mena-Beltrán, 30
First assignment: St. Agnes of Bohemia
Education: Abraham Castellanos School in Mexico, Mundelein High School, St. Joseph College Seminary
Parents: Antonia Beltrán-Mata and Andrés Mena-Arizmendi
First Mass: 3 p.m. May 22 at Santa Maria del Populo, Mundelein
One of 16 children in a relatively poor Mexican family, René Mena-Beltrán did not find community life in the seminary too difficult. His family also prepared him for the priesthood in more profound ways. “This reality also helped me to understand that in this life we cannot have everything we want, and that the value of a person depends on what one is and not on what one has,” said Mena-Beltrán, who immigrated from Mexico at age 18. “Both of my parents taught me the value of work and the value of prayer.”
As a priest, he hopes to encourage parishioners to participate in ongoing Christian formation because, he said, “what one learns when one is a child has in most cases proven not to be enough. Today’s people need to be conscious of what being a true Christian is really about, and to raise consciousness the church needs to implement different education programs that help Christian families to advance on the path of Christ.”
That would include education programs for parents, to help them serve effectively as their children’s first teachers, he said.
Armando Morales Martínez, 36
First assignment: St. Turibius
Education: Elementary and high school in Mexico; St. Joseph Seminary in Guadalajara
Parents: Beatriz Martínez Becerra and Javier Moralez Iniguez
First Mass: 3:30 p.m. May 22 at Our Lady of Lourdes
Armando Morales Martínez is the fifth of eight children in a family from Guadalajara. He began to discern a vocation to the priesthood after participating in several parish missions and being encouraged by priest friends. Now, after spending nearly 10 years in seminary settings, he said he needs to be with the people of a parish. “They are the second part of my formation,” Morales said. “I have been learning many things in the seminary, but I need to learn now from the people who, in some way or another, can also be my teachers.”
He hopes to become involved in ministries such as the pro-life movement, charismatic and youth groups. “I think I would accomplish my priesthood if I fulfill the needs of these ministries, or at least I do what I can,” he said.
Norman Hernan Morán Rosero, 28
First assignment: St. Jerome
Education: Elementary and high school in El Triumfo, Ecuador; Seminario Mayor Francisco Xavier de Garaycoa, Ecuador
Parents: María Rosero and Lorenzo Morán
First Mass: 6 p.m. May 22 at Holy Family, Waukegan
Norman Hernan Morán Rosero went directly into the seminary in Ecuador after high school, and completed three years of philosophy and three years of theology there before deciding to take a break to think more deeply about his vocation. “In spite of that decision I never left the idea of priesthood,” he said. During his time away from the seminary, he worked as a high school teacher and counselor. He also met a Chicago priest working with the St. James Society and learned of Casa Jesus. Since Chicago had sent a priest to serve the people of Ecuador, he decided to come from Ecuador to serve the people of Chicago. He spent a year at Casa Jesus starting in August 2001, then completed his studies at Mundelein Seminary.
“One thing that strikes me the most is the diversity,” Moran said. “It is amazing how many people and nationalities are in this archdiocese, which is a challenge for me and for all the church to be ready to attend them as much as we can. …
“I want to say that I am very, very happy to be here, serving you. It is worthy to leave everything behind and follow the calling of Jesus. I encourage you also to listen to his calling. It is a calling to happiness, maybe in the priesthood, maybe in marriage, maybe as a missionary, in lay ministry, and many other vocations, but God is in need of you. Just be generous and he will give you more than you ever expect.”
Krzysztof Paluch, 25
First assignment: Transfiguration, Wauconda
Education: Undergraduate and high school in Poland; Krakow Seminary
Parents: Emilia Karkoszka and Eugeniusz Paluch
First Mass: 9:30 a.m. May 22 at Transfiguration, Wauconda
Krzysztof Paluch has already had to learn English as a second language. Now, one of his goals as a newly ordained priest is to learn Spanish to better communicate with his parishioners. Paluch credits his family, including a cousin who is a priest and two sisters who are nuns, with encouraging his vocation. “They showed me how to be a joyful witness of Christ,” he said. Catholics in the archdiocese should develop the same kind of unity in their families to come together as a wider Catholic community in support of Pope Benedict, Paluch said.
“We know that everything begins in our families, so we should not try to build the house of unity from the roof,” he said. “The Catholics should see the pope as the shepherd and foundation of faith. It doesn’t matter what country he is from. He is for all, and he wants to lead us to salvation, and not to change everything to satisfy our desires.”
Noel Reyes, 27
First assignment: St. William Parish
Education: Tayabas East Elementary School and Luis Palad National High School, in the Philippines; Rogationist Fathers College Seminary
Parents: Cristeta Beltran and Juanito Reyes
First Mass: 4 p.m. May 22 at St. Josaphat
Born and raised in the Philippines, Noel Reyes spent two years working as a lay missionary to Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan before coming to the United States to continue his studies for the priesthood. After that experience, he said, he would like his priestly ministry to focus on immigrants and on poor people. “I've seen people suffering in loneliness due to separation from their families,” he said. “As a foreigner myself, I can relate to their sorrows. But most importantly, I would like to work for the poor. Perhaps most of us are aware that the poor in this country are being neglected in some ways, not because people are negligent of their presence but because of the culture of materialism that neglects what is primarily important, i.e. the people.”
Reyes recalls his grandmother telling him when he was only 4 or 5 years old that he would one day be a priest, and credits his mother’s example of faith with inspiring his vocation.
Reyes suggested that Pope Benedict could best stay connected with Catholics in Chicago and around the world by using the media.
David J. Simonetti, 38
First assignment: Queen of Martyrs, Evergreen Park
Education: St. Agnes School, Chicago Heights; Bloom Township High School, Eastern Illinois University
Parents: JoAnn (Amadio) and Louis Simonetti
First Mass: 1 p.m. May 22 at St. Agnes, Chicago Heights
David Simonetti, who was raised in the Southwest suburbs, believes his experiences before entering the seminary will help him in ministry.
“My experience as a teacher serves me well as a priest, who is a teacher of the faith,” he said. “Both of the years spent in hospital ministry as well as when I was a patient myself, will be invaluable in the service of the people of God.” With that experience, Simonetti expects to focus on how God can help people find healing.
“I am particularly passionate about the healing ministry of Christ, which the church carries on in his name,” he said, “I want to be a visible presence of the Lord to those who are suffering in body and soul, bringing them the healing touch of Divine Mercy, one person loved by God at a time.”
Brian Welter, 34
First assignment: St. Elizabeth Seton, South Holland
Education: Glenbrook Elementary School, Streamwood High School, Bradley University
Parents: Margaret Collins and Bill Welter
First Mass: 11 a.m. May 22 at St. John the Evangelist, Streamwood
Brian Welter worked as a carpenter before entering the seminary. But his preparation for the priesthood goes back further than the time he spent plying the trade of St. Joseph, he said, crediting his family and friends with putting him on a solid footing. “My brother and I had good religious upbringing, a good model for moral living, and (we were) especially taught to take responsibility for our actions,” Welter said. “My friends and I share common values and a respect for one another. Basically, I was raised with regard for the two greatest commandments: love of God and love of neighbor.”
Luke E. Winkelmann, 46
First assignment: St. Peter, Skokie
Education: St. Joseph School and St. Bede Academy, Peru, Ill.; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Parents: John Winkelmann and the late Mary Maybanks
First Mass: 1:30 p.m. May 22 at St. Joseph, Peru, Ill.
Luke E. Winkelmann had a career as an electrical engineer for Rockwell International and Motorola before entering the seminary. He credits his family, friends and several mentors with helping him discern a vocation to the priesthood.
“To live the Christian life in a secular world, a world truly hostile to Catholic values, good habits of life and good Catholic friends are essential,” he said. “The Lord has always seemed to place people in my life wherever I have been to help me along the way.
“Also to advantage in preparing for priesthood have been the numerous encounters with individuals along the way of life who have challenged the faith and have forced me to study the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the truths of the Faith. Finally, being a sinner and having recourse to the Sacrament of Confession many times in life has helped me to know the Lord’s mercy and has created within myself the desire to bring the Lord’s mercy to others.”
Winkelmann, who met the future Pope Benedict XVI in Rome last year, calls himself a “big fan” of the pontiff and his writings. “He is a very kind and sincere priest, he knows very well the causes of so much sadness in the world today, and he is remarkably intelligent. I trust him completely,” he said.
Pawel Zemczak, 27
First assignment: St. Louise de Marillac, LaGrange Park
Education: Elementary, high school and college in Poland
Parents: Ludwik Zemczak and Katarzyna Noga
First Mass: 5 p.m. May 21 at St. Fabian, Bridgeview
“The faith which my grandparents and parents taught me” brought Pawel Zemczak to the seminary and to ordination. “This faith has deepened over the years to now when, in faith, I can commit my life to the service of the Lord.” One of his strengths is his ability to listen to people, a skill he hopes to put to use in the service of parishioners. “I especially see the future of the church in the lives of the young, those preparing to be confirmed, as well as those young adults thinking about their marriage in the Catholic Church,” he said. “I want to help them make these important decisions with trust in God.”
If Pope Benedict asked his advice, Zemczak said, he would go back to one of Pope John Paul II’s favorite themes: “Just be who you are and do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, and do not be afraid.”