It has been nearly a year since Seán Paul Flemng, Andrew Lauricella and Jeffrey Nowak were ordained as new priests in the Diocese of Buffalo. In that time, these alumni of Christ the King Seminary have taken on assignments at local parishes and are well on their way in their priestly journeys. While each priest brings different talents and gifts to their vocation, they share the experience of preparing for parish ministry at the Seminary. And each priest said the Seminary prepared them well.
Rev. Seán Paul Fleming (left) was assigned to St. John the Baptist in Kenmore where he serves as parochial vicar with Rev. Michael Parker, the pastor of the church. On any given day, Fr. Fleming will interact with the pastor, the parish pastoral associate, the director of faith formation, the school principal, and the youth minister, not to mention numerous parishioners.
He noted that the collaborative model of priestly formation at the Seminary – whereby seminarians train and take classes with deacons and lay persons – has made the transition to parish ministry much smoother.
“The parishioners here take great ownership of not only their faith but of their parish community,” he explained. “They have been very open and very helpful in collaborating with me. They have helped me continue my own human and spiritual formation, and the focus on working together, that was stressed at Christ the King Seminary.”
Rev. Andrew Lauricella (right) serves as parochial vicar at St. Vincent de Paul in Niagara Falls with pastor Rev. Robert Hughson. The faith community has two worship sites following the merger of Prince of Peace in Niagara Falls and St. Leo in the Town of Niagara, which adds to the challenge of ministering on the parish level. Fr. Lauricella said his Seminary training helps him in working with Fr. Hughson and the laity of the parish to get things done.
“In the short time that I have been a parochial vicar here, I could see that there was a lot to be done, with two campuses and so forth,” he explained. “The laity not only help but they make it possible – parish programs and other things could not happen without them. Having studied under the collaborative model at the Seminary was very reassuring to me as I started my parish ministry.”
Rev. Jeffrey Nowak (left) had several new experiences to contend with when he was assigned as parochial vicar at St. John Vianney in Orchard Park. Rev. Robert L. Gebhard, Jr. had just been appointed new pastor at the parish, there was a new school principal and a new school secretary. Serving at the largest parish in Orchard Park with over 2,700 families, Fr. Nowak found his Seminary training to be invaluable.
“The Seminary taught us not only how to collaborate with others in the parish, but also how to delegate tasks and allow the people to use their gifts and talents to support the church,” he said. “When you start empowering the people, that is really what the church is – all of us gathered together to support Christ’s ministry.”
All three priests agreed that the dynamic of ministry in their parish can be quite different from another faith community. The culture may be different. There are often unique traditions. The pastors may have distinctive leadership styles. For these and many other reasons, Fr. Fleming, Fr. Lauricella and Fr. Nowak noted they are grateful that Christ the King Seminary gave them the education and tools they need for successful parish ministry.
Photos courtesy Tom Wolf Imaging