13 men to be ordained for archdiocese
Cardinal George is expected to ordain 13 new priests for the archdiocese May 19 at Holy Name Cathedral. Ranging in age from 26 to 42, all have long vocation journeys-and most had to travel long distances to get here. Four are from Poland, four from Tanzania and Kenya, two from Mexico and two from Peru-and one was born here in Chicago.
Those coming from outside the United States were able to find welcome at the archdiocese's three houses of formation: Tuite House at St. Joseph Seminary for men from Africa; Bishop Abramowicz Preparatory Seminary for Polish men; and Casa Jesus for men from Latin America.
The Catholic New World congratulates all of them.
Marcin Bulinski, 26
- First assignment: St. Linus, Oak Lawn
- Education: Elementary and high school in Poland; Nizsze Seminarium Duchowne w Czestochowie
- Parents: Franciszek Bulinski and the late Barbara Bulinska
- First Mass: 4 p.m. May 20 at St. Linus, Oak Lawn
Marcin Bulinski began to think about becoming a priest as a young boy, even before he really understood what a vocation meant. "I did not really know what it meant to be called to the priesthood," Bulinski said. "The only thing that was always before my eyes was my family praying with me everyday and my pastor slowly walking around the church and praying the Liturgy of the Hours."
Because of the influence of his family and pastor, Bulinski entered a high school seminary in Poland. During his four years there, he realized his vocation to become a priest. After spending three years at a major seminary in Poland, Bulinski said "God wanted me to come to the United States to support the shortage of vocations."
Bulinski hopes the education he received from his parents will benefit him as a priest. In addition, he thinks the different experiences in his life, such as the death of his mother, will help him to minister to others.
"The one thing I would like to achieve in my priesthood ministry is to be present to the people of God; to be with them in the time of happiness as well as in the time of sorrow," he said.
Krzysztof Dominik Ciaston, 26
- First assignment: St. Tarcissus
- Education: Elementary and high school in Poland; the Papal Academy of Theology in Krakow; the Higher Spiritual Seminary in Tarnow; Bishop Abramowicz Preparatory Seminary
- Parents: Anna Krolikowska and Stefan Ciaston
- First Mass: 2 p.m. May 20 at St. Ferdinand; 11 a.m. May 27 at Sts. Peter and Paul, Tylicz, Poland
Krzysztof Dominik Ciaston recognized the call to the priesthood during a silent retreat in 1999 when he was in high school. During this retreat, "I somehow felt a great desire to serve God, to give my life totally to him," Ciaston said. "At that time, a flame was ignited in my heart-the flame of God's love."
Ciaston appreciates that through his vocation, he is given the privilege of becoming part of the lives of people he serves. "I am welcomed into their life, their story, their struggle at a very great depth," he said. "It is a great privilege to be able to share meaning, the divine meaning with others."
In his vocation, Ciaston looks to the example of the Good Shepherd. "I would like to devote myself to caring for the faithful with concern and generosity like the Good Shepherd," he said. "As a priest, I'd like to dedicate my life with self-denial to the service of God and my brethren." It is also important to Ciaston that he doesn't lose the enthusiasm that he now has as a young priest. "I wish to sustain each other in the fraternal priesthood that draws its strength from the same sacrament," he said.
Jorge Estrada, 34
- First assignment: St. Blase, Argo
- Education: Elementary and high school in Peru; Universidad del Valle, Cochabamba, Bolivia
- Parents: Mery Arroyo and Jorge D. Estrada
- First Mass: 6:30 p.m. May 19, St. Clare of Montefalco
Jorge Estrada has felt God calling him to the priesthood since an early age.
"It was since my childhood when I went to Catholic elementary school," he said.
Estrada hopes that his experience in youth ministry will aid him in his ministry as a priest. Estrada also said that his devotion to Mary, Help of Christians, will help him as a priest. As a priest, his goal is to simply love and serve others.
"I would like just to show God's love to those the Lord sends me to serve," he said.
Juan Carlos Gavancho, 31
- First assignment: Queen of the Universe
- Education: Elementary and high school in Peru; Facultad de Teologia Pontificia y Civil de Lima, Peru, Saint Toribius of Mogrovejo Seminary, Peru
- Parents: Rosa P. Hurtado Morales and Pedro Ricardo Gavancho
- First Mass: noon May 20, St. Mark
For Juan Carlos Gavancho, the example of the priests in his life influenced his decision to become a priest himself. "In 1992 after I graduated high school, I joined a group of altar servers. God was calling me through the testimony of the priests in my parish," he said. "After a while in the seminary, I realized it was my vocation."
Gavancho is also a talented singer and he studied music in the seminary for a while. Gavancho believes his musical gifts will aid his ministry since music is so important in church. "It will help me a lot in my vocation as a priest," he said.
Gavancho has several goals for himself in his priestly ministry. "One of the challenges in today's church is to be a holy man," he said. "I want to do that-to be a holy man, to give God to the people, to give testimony."
But Gavancho does not want to stand above the people who he serves. "I want to be close to the people," he said. "I want people to feel that I am human just like them."
Martin Ibarra, 39
- First assignment: St. Agnes of Bohemia
- Education: Elementary, high school and college in Aguascaliente, Mexico
- Parents: Juana de Lara and the late Jose Ibarra
- First Mass: 4 p.m. May 20 at St. Nicholas of Tolentine
Martin Ibarra has felt God's call to the priesthood since childhood. "God has called me since I was a child, yet I did not realize that until I was 18," he said. "He touched my heart and my mind so deeply that he made me to think about priesthood." He attributes both his involvement in religious education and his time as an altar server as influencing his vocation.
Ibarra hopes that his "devotion to Mary, the joyful celebrations of Mass, and the great brotherhood and camaraderie among Hispanic people" will all help him in his life as a priest.
As a priest, Ibarra wants to serve both God and God's people. "I think God is leading and guiding me," he said. "I want first to be able to be faithful to God, to the church and to the people of God. I want to be a vehicle for God's grace."
Krzysztof Kulig, 27
- First assignment: St. James, Arlington Heights
- Education: Elementary and high school in Poland; Tarnow Seminary, Poland
- Parents: Janina Skalniak and Adam Kulig
- First Mass: 11 a.m. May 20 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Krzysztof Kulig has experienced several moments in his life when he felt God's call to the priesthood, but one significant moment was the 1999 canonization Mass of St. Kinga in Stary Sacz, Poland. During that Mass, Pope John Paul II said, "Saints draw life from other saints." These words struck a chord with Kulig. "Being deeply touched by the life, dedication, and service of Pope John Paul II, without any delay I decided to be a priest," Kulig said.
Kulig thinks that the priesthood is a call and not a job. "I want to be faithful servant for all people to whom God will send me," he said. "I want to be a priest for always and for all times and for all people."
Jesus Eduardo Martinez Solis, 37
- First assignment: St. Colette, Rolling Meadows
- Education: Elementary and high school in Mexico; Instituto Technologice de Monterrey, Mexico
- Parents: Maria del Carmen Solis and Eduardo Martinez
- First Mass: 6 p.m. May 20 at St. James, Arlington Heights
Ask most priests when they knew they had a vocation to the priesthood, and they will tell you that God had some help asking them to consider it. For Eduardo Martinez, it was a priest friend in Monterrey, Mexico, that gave him a nudge in 1997.
"It made me start to think about God's plan for me," Martinez said. "I decided at least to give it a try and it worked."
But the ministry will not be Martinez's first career. He went to university and majored in communications and public relations, then worked for five years as a communications manager for a Monterrey brewery. He took that experience and used it to build a business as an event planner- a business he kept going for three years.
"All those experiences are, in some way or another, helpful to better understand the needs of the people of God," Martinez said, "Also, my own experience as an immigrant, as a Catholic growing in my faith, etc., I know that I am walking with people and for the people of God."
Martinez said he wants to be able to help people feel the love and mercy of God in their lives. "It will be my goal that every person that I meet come to realize that God really cares for them, as he cares for me. To share my own faith, life and love is everything that I want."
Charles E. Musula, 33
- First assignment: St. Paul of the Cross, Park Ridge
- Education: Elementary and high school in Tanzania; Consolata Institute of Philospohy, Nairobi
- Parents: Elias Saanane and Theresa Musula
- First Mass: 12:15 p.m. May 20, St. Bruno
Charles Elias Musula was the fifth of seven living children in his family in the northwest part of Tanzania, and says his family has strong values. "Being a middle child has enabled me to be free of any pressure of looking after my young ones," Musula said. "I can rightly say this has so much to do with my choice of priestly vocation. I am a well-balanced guy. I interact very well with all of them. I look at them as my role models regardless of their position of birth. I have love and concern for my siblings and my parents. I take it as my personal responsibility. The love and concern they give to me I too reciprocate it in the same way. To a large extent, this has cultivated my sense of reaching to others with easiness, openness and warm-heartedly. At the same time it has helped me to stand on my own and relate with anyone freely."
He looks to his next oldest sister, now known as Sister Consolata of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, as an example of religious devotion, as well as the missionaries that served at his home parish.
"I can say that they impressed me as a child and I aspired to be a priest since then, Musula said. "I have never doubted this despite my cultural and traditional demand that male children have the responsibility of carrying on the name of the family."
Growing up in a multi-lingual area will serve him well, he believes, as it has trained him to learn new languages and switch between them fluently.
"I feel at ease and at home working in foreign or unfamiliar ground. I always feel I can do it," he said. "I have a positive approach towards people who are of different backgrounds than myself. In a broader sense, it has helped me to be tolerant with people with language difficulties. I try to sympathize with them at the level of their feeling. And this belief will help me much in my priestly vocation."
But Musula also counts on the saints for help, especially his favorites: Therese of Lisieux, John Vianney, Charles Borromeo and the martyrs of Uganda. "They inspire me so much," he said. "They challenge me to do more than merely talk. I tend to be more practical when it comes to working on my spiritual growth. I constantly reflect on my life, constantly thanking God for who I am."
After attending minor seminary and high school, Musula went to do his philosophical studies with Divine Word Missionaries in Nairobi. That was where he encountered Father Thomas McQuaid, and learned of the need for priests in Chicago.
"Trusting in God I look forward with faith filled optimism," he said. "I intend to serve God wholeheartedly, unselfishly, with an open heart and mind and I believe God will bless and bring to fulfillment my endeavors. Here I come to do God's will."
Sande Michael Oduor, 32
- First assignment: St. Francis of Assisi, Orland Park
- Education: Elementary and high school in Kenya; Consolata Institute of Philosophy, Nairobi
- Parents: Anjelina and the late Joseph Sande
- First Mass: noon May 20 at St. Francis of Assisi
Sande Oduor knew he wanted to be a priest from the time he was in high school, so he joined the Montfort Missionaries. But after spending six years there, he decided that his vocation was not to their charism. "I like their spirituality," said the Nairobi native, who grew up in Our Lady of Visitation Parish and shares the Montfortians devotion to Mary. "But their apostolate was itinerant. They would spend two weeks preaching a mission at St. Mary, then a week at Resurrection, then two weeks at the cathedral. I wanted to be with the people."
But he also wanted to be a missionary, not a priest of his home diocese. An American Maryknoll priest suggested he look to Chicago.
"That is what brings me here," said Oduor. "That and my missionary zeal."
It's a zeal he perhaps learned from his teachers of the faith-Irish nuns and a German priest. They cultivated a love of Mary, a love that increased when his father passed away, leaving his mother as the only surviving parent.
"She was father and mother, she was everything," Oduor said. "That made me see the love of Mary more clearly. Somewhere, I know, she is interceding for me."
When he was with the Montfortians, Oduor spent a lot of time with poor and suffering people, especially those in hospitals and homeless shelters.
"I see Jesus Christ as a manifesting himself truly in the people of society," he said. "These are all things I am bringing to the priesthood."
George O. Omwando, 33
- First assignment: Our Lady of the Ridge, Chicago Ridge
- Education: Elementary and high school in Kenya; Consolata Institute of Philosophy, Nairobi
- Parents: Mellen Nyaboke and Charles Omwando
- First Mass: 11 a.m. May 27 at St. John the Evangelist, Streamwood
George Omwando grew up in Kenya, but he was inspired by an Irish priest at his parish, he said.
"The idea kept going and coming but after completing my high school, I gave it a shot and joined a major seminary and I have never regretted it," he said.
He comes from the part of the world that came up with the saying, "It takes a whole village to raise a single child," and that emphasis on reaching out to people will serve him well in his ministry at Our Lady of the Ridge, Omwando said. "My cultural background puts a strong emphasis on the need to reach out to people, help the needy, be hospitable, warm and kind," he said.
And while doing so, to watch and learn, he said.
"I am entering the priestly ministry with open mind to learn," he said. "As the sages used to say, 'When the cow is chewing the cud, its young calf watches.' My biggest ambition is to get fully and actively involved with all sorts of people. I will be keenly watching the pastor as he chews the cud until I start chewing the cud by myself and this takes time, patience and commitment. That is my prayer."
Robert Pajor, 30
- First assignment: St. Thecla
- Education: Elementary, high school and college in Poland
- Parents: Danuta Duda and Jan Pajor
- First Mass: 12:30 p.m. May 20 at St. Thecla
Robert Pajor was in seminary in Poland when he heard Cardinal George speak at an ordination about the need for priests in Chicago.
The thought stayed with him, and, a few years later, when he decided he wanted to be a missionary priest, he again considered Chicago.
The difficulty for him was making the decision to come as a seminarian, to finish his formation and be ordained a priest here.
"If I was ordained a priest in Tarnow, I could go be a missionary and then come back to Tarnow," he said. "To be ordained here, it was a lifelong decision."
But not one he regrets.
"I am very happy to be here," he said.
Pajor credits his parents with cultivating a deep faith, and a parish priest with planting the idea of the priesthood.
"After church, he would say I was going to be a priest, but I didn't believe him," Pajor said, "But I thought of that when I decided to become a priest."
He also thought of Pope John Paul II, whom he once encountered only a few feet away.
"He just looked at me, and it was so powerful," Pajor said.
Pajor hopes to help people see Christ in him, when he does what Christ asks of him.
"I hope they will find comfort," he said. "I hope they will find help."
Michael Scherschel, 42
- First assignment: St. William
- Education: Sts. Peter and Paul School, Cary-Grove Community High School, University of Dayton, Ohio
- Parents: Dorothy Sabo and the late Frank Scherschel
- First Mass: 1:30 p.m. May 20 at St. James, Arlington Heights
Michael Scherschel pursued a career in advertising before listening to God's call to be a priest-a call he first heard in the fourth grade. "One night, I remember it very clearly, in my prayer I knew God asked me to be a priest. But instead of saying 'yes,' I asked God if I could serve him in another way," he said. "Even though I felt like God gave me the opportunity to pursue different goals, deep down I knew what he wanted me to do.
"It seems obvious now, but it took me over 25 years to realize that what I was doing was pursuing my own will for my life instead of God's will for me; ultimately I was resisting and rebelling."
Now that he has trusted God's call, Scherschel said, he has found peace-the peace he imagines the prodigal son felt when he decided to go back to his Father, and was greeted with open arms.
"I just feel very blessed that the door was still open to me," Scherschel said.
At 42, Scheschel said, he knows what it is like to be a member of a parish, and as brother to five married sisters, with 14 children between them, he has some insight into family life. "Because of my background in the business world, I feel I can relate to the everyday struggles we all face in just trying to make a living in a world that constantly gives us mixed messages," Scherschel said. "The Gospel is one of many messages out there, but it's the most critical. Hopefully, with God's grace, I will help to reinforce the mission of the church-the Gospel truly is good news."
Patrick Wangai, 35
- First assignment: Our Lady of the Wayside, Arlington Heights
- Education: Elementary and high school in Kenya, Consolata Institute of Philosophy, Nairobi
- Parents: Ann Wanjiku and George P. Wangai
- First Mass: 10 a.m. May 20 at St. Philip Neri
Patrick Wangai began serving at the altar in fourth grade, and it was not long before his pastor in Nairobi asked him if he wanted to be a priest. But he said no.
"I answered in the negative for some time," said Wangai, "and then when I was a senior in high school, I told him yes." Many priests report that that they first considered whether God was calling them when someone else- most often a priest-asked them.
"Other people sometimes see things in people that we don't see in ourselves," Wangai said.
After his pastor helped him get into the seminary, he was in Rome during the Millennium Jubilee year, with a religious congregation that offered formation for brothers, but not priests. It was there that he began looking for a diocese in need of priests, and when he called a friend who was a priest in Chicago, his friend invited him to apply to the seminary program here.
Wangai said his prayer life-especially his devotion to the rosary-will help support him in his priestly ministry.
"I also have a lot of good friends who are priests that I can turn to for advice," he said.