The Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, will ordain three men on Friday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. in St. Joseph Cathedral, 50 Franklin St., Buffalo. John W. Adams and Bryan J. Zielenieski will be ordained transitional deacons, the next step in their journey toward the priesthood, and Frank S. Kedzielawa will be ordained a permanent deacon.
Men come to the priesthood via various routes. Many seminarians nowadays have had careers in the secular world before making the move to the seminary. Adams and Zielenieski are no exceptions. Adams spent decades working with families and individuals with special needs or teaching and/or counseling in several colleges. He has been a school psychologist, college professor, psychological consultant and a psychologist counseling primarily families with members who were deaf or developmentally disabled.
At 56 years old, Adams also has a full educational background with a bachelor’s degree in special education from Pennsylvania State University and both a master’s degree and doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to being licensed or certified in California, Pennsylvania and New York, he has presented at both national and international conventions.
He loved the work he did, but he felt something was lacking in his life. “I felt a strong need to bring people closer to God and live my life in faith.”
His family, which resides in the Pittsburgh area, was supportive of his change in direction. “After my sister visited me at the seminary, she said, ‘I know this is where you should be.’”
Adams became involved in his parish here, St. Anthony, Farnham, serving on the parish council and as a Eucharistic minister, leading retreats, teaching religious education and directing the spiritual life committee.
As a seminarian, he was assigned to St. Mary of the Angels, Olean, and Resurrection Parish, Cheektowaga, but also loved his time studying at Christ the King, the diocesan seminary in East Aurora.
“Maybe it’s an indicator of my age, but I find the serenity and beauty of the campus a wonderful place to study and learn about our Lord. Where else would I rather be than at the seminary as I learn and grow in knowledge and relationship about what is most important in my life – to serve my God,” he said.
The idea of becoming a priest first hit Zielenieski when he was an altar boy serving at Mass. “I remember watching the priest at the altar and saying to myself, ‘I could do that!’ Then I pretty much forgot about priesthood until I went to college and became active in the local parish there.” After college, Zielenieski became more active in his home parish.
The 34-year-old Arcade native is a graduate of the State University of New York at Cobleskill where he earned an associate’s degree in dairy management and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business and has a teaching certificate in agricultural education from Buffalo State College. He has worked on the family farm and as an agricultural teacher as well as in various positions in parishes, from music director to pastoral associate to confirmation coordinator.
When he left teaching, the thought of becoming a priest came to light again. “It was because of the encouragement of others that I seriously considered priesthood and entered the seminary.”
The decision to become a priest has been positive for him as he has thoroughly enjoyed his time at the seminary. “The assignments that I have been given have all provided me with a passion for bringing Jesus Christ to the people. I have continually been encouraged by the faithfulness, holiness and prayerfulness of many people along the way who inspire me to become a good, holy priest.”
During his years of study at the seminary, Zielenieski’s ministry assignments were at Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish, West Seneca; St. Vincent De Paul, Niagara Falls; Christ the King, Snyder; and SS. Peter and Paul, Hamburg.
Kedzielawa, the candidate for the permanent diaconate and a parishioner at St. Stephen Parish in Grand Island, is a partner and one of the founders at the law firm of Abbarno, McLaughlin & Kedzielawa. He has been active in his parish serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, working with the confirmation and RCIA programs as well as serving on the school advisory board. During his years of study for the diaconate, the Grand Island resident completed his pastoral field ministry at Buffalo General Hospital’s pastoral care department, Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services program and at the Central City Practicum.
Kedzielawa is single and describes himself as the “proud uncle of two nieces, a grand-nephew and grand-niece.”
Permanent deacons’ main ministry is one of charity although some are involved in parish administration. Very often, permanent deacons are married with children and have outside employment. Following his ordination Kedzielawa will receive his ministry assignment and will be able to officiate at weddings, baptisms, funerals and wakes.