Editor’s Note: In honor of the Oblate Year of Vocations, all Oblate Fathers and brothers, and those men in Oblate formation are invited to “Tell Their Vocation Stories.” In addition, all members of the “Mazenodian Family,” Associates, Partners, employees and friends are welcome to tell their vocation stories as well. You may submit your stories in written form (please include photos,) or on video from your computer’s camera or external camera. We will endevour to run a vocation story each week during the Year of Vocations.
Born on January 27, 1940 to two first-born parents as the oldest of eight siblings in Buffalo, N.Y. I received Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation at St. Gerard Church. In 1953 I graduated from its parochial school. Sensing a vocation to the priesthood as early as the 4th grade I was ready to enter the diocesan seminary but my parents thought I should go to a more normal high school. So I went to Bishop Fallon High, an all-boys school of 400 staffed by 20 OMI’s.
While attending Bishop Fallon, I was attracted by the camaraderie among the Oblates and by the variety of ministries in which the congregation was engaged. Within the community I absorbed its Marian spirituality and its “preference for the poor with its many faces.”
I entered college at Our Lady of Hope Mission Seminary, Newburgh, NY, completed novitiate in Essex, NY by making my first oblation on Sept. 8, 1960, and then pursued philosophy and theology at Oblate College, Washington DC where I was ordained May 31, 1967 by Francis McSorley, OMI, bishop of Jolo, Philippine Islands.
In the fifty years since I was ordained I have spent 13 in parish work, 4 as a youth minister, 7 as a hospital chaplain, 3 in shrine ministry, 2 on sabbatical and 21 as an itinerant preacher, my current assignment. The Oblate charism of being good news to the poor is the thread that weaved its way through these years. When I gave classes on world poverty I took to heart a slogan of the ’60’s, “If you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” This was matched with “Live simply so that others may simply live,” and “Action on behalf of justice is constitutive of the gospel.”
During the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy Pope Francis designated me along with 7 other Oblates to be among several hundred Missionaries of Mercy world wide who, in his words, are to be joyful proclaimers of divine mercy and its faithful dispensers. This authorization adds impetus to my work of preaching Marian renewals, conducting parish missions based on Pope Francis’ messages on the joy of the gospel and care of creation, and making weekend appeals for sponsors of poor children and aged adults through Unbound. .