Journeywork: A Calling to Faith
Rev. Michael P. LaMarca
From sports management and promotions to
priesthood, Michael LaMarca's faith journey has been an interesting, inspired,
and sometimes unexpected path. On Saturday, May 28, LaMarca reached his long
sought-after goal of becoming ordained as a priest in the Catholic Diocese of
Buffalo and his mission of service is beginning anew.
Growing up in a family of faith in West
Seneca, NY, and being immersed in his parish community at St. Gabriel's in
Elma, LaMarca was surrounded by loving support from the beginning. His parents
and two older siblings set a strong example by being involved in the Holy Name
Society, the Ladies Guild, and the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).
"Helping out at parish events like St.
Gabriel's fish fries and chicken barbecues was always a fun family affair,"
said LaMarca. "Having faith be a part of our upbringing was what my parents
LaMarca's interest in following a spiritual
path and serving in his parish community continued to grow as he matured. He
started as an altar server, and then followed in the footsteps of his older
siblings when he became involved in the youth group. Soon after, he set a goal
of becoming a lector at Mass and began doing so during his freshman year of
high school. After receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, he became a
Eucharistic Minister. The pinnacle of his early path was participating in the
2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.
Along the Way
After graduating from West Seneca East High
School in 2005, LaMarca attended St. Bonaventure University where he studied
business administration. He later transferred to Medaille College where he
received a degree in sports management in 2009.
Throughout his high school and college
years, he learned the value of hard work while working at Wegmans and doing
maintenance work for St. Gabriel's and Our Lady of Pompeii in Lancaster. In
addition, he interned as a volleyball coach for West Seneca East High School,
and completed internships with the Buffalo Bandits and Buffalo Bisons—even
working as Buster Bison for one summer.
Points & Highlights
was a big baseball fan," said LaMarca, "so when I was interning at the Bisons,
I thought this is what I'm going into for the rest of my life. But during that
summer, I was asked by my pastor at St. Gabriel's to take over the youth
program. And I realized that while I enjoyed both, there's something more to
working with the church."
In August of 2008, LaMarca began the
application process to attend Christ the King Seminary and was accepted during
Holy Week of 2009. His education at the seminary has provided him with
extensive opportunities to learn and serve with priests, deacons, seminarians
and lay people throughout the Buffalo diocese where he will soon serve as a
priest, as well as providing him with life-changing experiences outside of the
Three particularly impactful experiences during
his time at the seminary were:
• 2011 World Youth Day, Madrid—LaMarca served as
an advisor to a youth group travelling to World Youth Day. He said, "They were
so filled with faith, it helped inspire me and push me into the next stage of
my seminary career."
• Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional
was the first seminarian from Christ the King Seminary to be accepted into the
FASPE program where he travelled with seminarians from many different faiths to
study the Holocaust. While reflecting on his experience, he said, "Travelling
with other Christians and people of faith and having a dialogue with them
helped me further understand who I am and who I will become in my ministry."
• Papal Mass, Washington, D.C.—When Pope Francis visited
the U.S. in September 2015, LaMarca joined his fellow seminarians in
distributing communion at the Papal Mass. "To be a diaconate at a Mass with the
Pope," he said, "and to hold the host and wine as it was consecrated was a
great opportunity. We were able to be a part of it because of the support of
Christ the King Seminary and the people of the diocese."
After more than six years of rigorous
studies, field experiences, and ministering throughout Western New York,
LaMarca became ordained as a deacon on September 24, 2015; graduated from Christ
the King Seminary on May 13 with a Master of Divinity degree, and was ordained
as a priest on May 28.
During the ordination
ceremony, LaMarca and his fellow classmates received their assignments
where they will begin their lives as priests in the Diocese of Buffalo. Father LaMarca has been assigned as
Parochial Vicar at Saint John Paul II Parish, Lake View NY, for a term of three
years, beginning June 21. Rev. Michael K. Brown will serve as Parochial Vicar at Saint
Gabriel Parish, Elma NY, and Rev. Samuel T.
Giangreco, Jr., will be Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Victory Basilica Parish in Lackawanna NY. We congratulate and pray for Father Michael LaMarca and his classmates as they begin this new step on their faith journey.