By Connie Berry / Claudia Mathis
Catholic Sun Staff
Father James Serowik, pastor at St. Anthony’s Church in Endicott, is celebrating 25 years of priesthood since his ordination on June 13, 1987.
A native of Endicott, Father Serowik’s home parish is St. Casimir. After attending Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary School, he studied at Seton Catholic High School for one year before graduating from Union-Endicott High School in 1978.
After graduating from St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, Mich. in 1982, Father Serowik completed his seminary studies at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y.
Father Serowik’s first assignment was as associate pastor of Sacred Heart in Syracuse from 1987 to 1992 and he served in the same capacity at St. Rose of Lima from 1992 to 1994. From 1994 to 1997, he served as pastor at St. Patrick’s in Whitney Point and from 1997 to 2008 as pastor at St. Joseph’s in Endicott prior to his assignment as pastor at St. Anthony’s.
Father Serowik said that serving as a priest has been a great experience for him. “What I like the most is being invited into people’s lives when they need us the most,” Father Serowik said.
A Mass of Thanksgiving to celebrate his jubilee will be held on May 27 at St. Anthony’s.
Father Douglas Cunningham, administrator at the Catholic Community of St. Stephen in Marathon/St. Patrick in Whitney Point and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission in Cincinnatus, was ordained 25 years ago on June 13, 1987.
Father Cunningham’s home parish is Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville.
After graduating from Fayetteville- Manlius High School in 1975, he attended Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, W. Va. He completed his seminary work at Andover-Newton Theological School in Newton, Mass. and at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y.
His first assignment was as associate pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal. Then, after being released from the diocese, he served in the Weston Priory from 1990 to 1991. From 1991 to 1993, Father Cunningham was associate pastor at St. Ambrose in Endicott and Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal. He served as pastor at St. Patrick’s in Whitney Point and as chaplain at Binghamton Nursing Homes from 1993 to 1994, when he was assigned to St. Paul’s in Norwich as pastor. He was assigned the additional duties of pastor for St. Joseph’s in Oxford in 1997. From 2003 to 2009, he served as pastor at Church of the Holy Apostles in Norwich. From 2009 to 2010, he was parochial vicar at St. Anthony’s in Endicott and St. Patrick/St. Thomas in Binghamton and then began to serve as assistant pastor at St. Mary’s and St. Augustine’s in Baldwinsville on weekends in 2010 before coming to his current parishes.
Father Cunningham currently serves as chaplain for the National Guard at Hancock Air Force Base in Mattydale, N.Y., a position he has held since 2010.
A special Mass with a reception afterward will be held on June 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the Catholic Community of St. Stephen/St. Patrick Church to commemorate Father Cunningham’s jubilee.
Father Daniel O’Hara is celebrating his 25th year in the priesthood. His home parish is St. Joseph’s in Camillus. After graduating from West Genesee High School in 1977, Father O’Hara attended Cayuga Community College in Auburn, N.Y. prior to graduating from Le Moyne College in 1982. He completed his seminary work at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y.
After his ordination on June 13, 1987 Father O’Hara was assigned to St. John’s in Liverpool as an associate pastor. He continued serving as associate pastor at St. Paul’s in Rome from 1992 to 1993 and at St. James in Syracuse from 1993 until 1998 when he took over as pastor. In 2008, he was assigned to Immaculate Heart of Mary in Liverpool as pastor, his present position. In 2011, Father O’Hara took on the additional responsibilities of pastor at St. Joseph the Worker in Liverpool.
Father O’Hara has enjoyed the relationship with his parishioners over the last 25 years. “I’ve enjoyed walking with the people of God, experiencing their ups and downs,” reflected Father O’Hara.
Father Paul Mathis is celebrating his 40th year in the priesthood. His home parish is St. Mary’s in Rome. After attending St. Mary’s School and St. Aloysius Academy in Rome, he graduated in 1963. He attended St. Andrew’s Seminary in Rochester, N.Y. and Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburg, N.Y. He completed his graduate seminary work at Christ the King Seminary in Olean, N.Y.
After his ordination on May 13, 1972, Father Mathis was assigned to St. Andrew’s in Rome as assistant pastor. From 1974 to 1977, Father Mathis served as associate pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal. He then served as associate pastor at St. Rose of Lima in North Syracuse from 1977 to 1982, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse from 1982 to 1987 and at St. Joseph’s in Camillus from 1987 to 1989. He was named pastor of St. Joseph’s in Lee Center in 1989. He served in the same position at St. Mary of the Assumption in Rome from 1998 to 2001.
In 2001, Father Mathis was called to active duty during the Gulf War to serve as a chaplain with the National Guard. In 2003, Father Mathis took over as pastor at St. Mary’s in Cleveland and St. Bernadette Mission in Constantia, where he serves today.
Father Mathis’ special assignments include serving as chaplain for the Knights of Columbus in Binghamton and in North Syracuse and for the Binghamton Fire Department. He has also devoted 28 years of military service to the National Guard as a chaplain. “I felt I owed my country something,” commented Father Mathis. He has been retired from military service for eight years, but is still frequently called upon to perform funerals and weddings.
Father Mathis said he truly enjoys celebrating the sacraments and life with people. “I love the sacramental church,” he said.
Father Henry Pedzich, pastor at St. Michael-St. Peter Parish in Syracuse, will celebrate 40 years of priesthood with a reception on June 3 after the 11:15 a.m. Mass at the parish. He was ordained on May 13, 1972.
A native of Syracuse, Father Pedzich’s home parish is Blessed Sacrament and he attended his parish elementary school in addition to Transfiguration of Our Lord School in Syracuse. He graduated from St. John’s Catholic Academy in Syracuse in 1963.
Father Pedzich completed his seminary work at St. Andrew’s Seminary in Rochester, N.Y., Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburgh, N.Y. and Christ the King Seminary in Olean, N.Y.
After his ordination, he was assigned to St. James in Cazenovia as associate pastor. He then served in the same position at St. Michael’s in Syracuse from 1974 to 1979, St. Ann’s in Syracuse from 1979 to 1984 and St. John’s in Liverpool from 1984 to 1987. At that time, he was assigned as pastor to St. James in Cazenovia. In 1999, he began to serve at St. Michael-St. Peter.
Reflecting on what he enjoys most about his priesthood, Father Pedzich mentioned the sacramental ministry of the church and its people.
“For over 40 years I’ve been able to experience the generosity of God through all the parishioners,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary experience.”
Father John Rose, director of the spirituality program for priests and religious at St. Luke’s Institute in Silver Springs, Md., is celebrating his 40th jubilee. His home parish is St. Thomas in New Hartford. After graduating from New Hartford Central High School in 1964, he attended St. Andrew’s Seminary in Rochester, N.Y., Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburgh, N.Y. and Christ the King Seminary in Olean, N.Y.
Father Rose served a number of parishes in Syracuse, Utica and Baldwinsville after his ordination on May 13, 1972. From 1972 to 1976, he served St. Charles Borromeo in Syracuse as associate pastor and then served in the same position at Most Holy Rosary from 1976 to 1984 and at St. Margaret’s in Mattydale from 1984 to 1988. From 1988 to 1991, Father Rose was the director of St. Thomas Aquinas House in Syracuse.
His first assignment as pastor was at St. Augustine’s in Baldwinsville, where he served from 1991 to 2003. Then he held the position of pastor at St. Mary of Mount Carmel and Blessed Sacrament in Utica from 2003 to 2009 and then he assumed the position of director at St. Luke’s Institute.
Father Rose has had many special assignments. He has been a participant in the Mentoring Program for Training Spiritual Directors at the Spiritual Renewal Center in Syracuse since 1984. From 1974 to 1978, Father Rose served as Sister Confessor at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse, priest leader for the Pre-Cana program at Holy Family in Syracuse and was a member of the Seminary Review Board. From 1978 to 1982, he served on the Permanent Diaconate Committee and from 1979 to 1984 he held the position of chaplain at Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital in Syracuse. He was director of Continuing Education for Clergy from 1988 to 1993.
In addition, Father Rose earned a Certificate of Spiritual Direction from the Center for Religious Development in Cambridge, Mass. in 1984.
Looking back on his years of priesthood, Father Rose said the experience has been very humbling. “I’ve met many people who have strengthened my faith,” Father Rose said. “Being a priest is far better than what I anticipated. This journey has been a real joy for me — to be welcomed by my parishioners and to help them realize their gifts and to use them to be part of God’s calling.”
Father Peter Reddick is celebrating 40 years of priesthood. He was ordained on May 13, 1972. A native of Utica, Father Reddick’s home parish is Blessed Sacrament. He attended his parish’s elementary school and graduated from Notre Dame Jr./Sr. High School in Utica in 1963. After graduating, he attended Utica College and completed his seminary work at Wadams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburgh, N.Y. and Christ the King Seminary in Olean, N.Y.
After his ordination, Father Reddick served as parochial vicar at St. Paul’s in Whitesboro. He then served in the same position at St. Rose of Lima in North Syracuse from 1972 to 1977, Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville from 1977 to 1982, St. John the Evangelist in Binghamton from 1982 to 1986 and St. Joseph the Worker from 1986 to 1990. He then served as pastor at St. Mary, Star of the Sea in Mexico from 1990 to 1995, St. Patrick’s in Syracuse from 1995 to 2007 and Blessed Sacrament from 2007 to the present.
Father Reddick’s special assignments include serving as Defender of the Bond in the diocesan Tribunal Office since 1980, chaplain of the North Syracuse Volunteer Fire Department from 1973 to 1977, chaplain of the Binghamton Fire Department from 1982 to 1986 and chaplain to the Vivian T. Howard Nursing Home in Syracuse from 2003 to 2006.
Father Reddick said that he has also been visiting Francis House weekly since 2003.
Father Reddick feels that his faith has been greatly strengthened by the people he has met during his years as a priest. “The job of any priest is to make God approachable,” said Father Reddick. “It’s the best thing that you can do to let them know that God loves them.”
Father Robert Dwyer celebrated 50 years of priesthood on Feb. 2. His home parish is Our Lady of Lourdes in Utica. Father Dwyer graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School and earned his Master’s of Divinity at St. Bernard’s Seminary. Father Dwyer also earned a master’s degree in guidance from Syracuse University. He earned certification in special education for the deaf. He also received further training in Latin, guidance counseling, effective parish ministry and marriage tribunal.
Father Dwyer began his priesthood as an assistant at St. Paul’s Church in Norwich. He began serving as chaplain at the Rome School for the Deaf in 1966 and continued there through 1975. During that time he was an assistant at St. Peter’s Church in Rome. He also served on the faculty at Rome Catholic Central High School and then at St. Mary of Assumption Church in Rome. Father Dwyer was pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Florence from 1975 to 1978. His next pastorate was at St. Joseph’s Church in Oriskany Falls. In 1985 he was assigned to Parish where he served at St. Anne’s Church and at St. Patrick’s Church in Williamstown. Father Dwyer served at the two Oswego County churches for a for a couple of years before taking a sabbatical in Leuven, Belgium. He became director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate in the mid 1980s until 1990 when he became pastor of St. Mark’s Church in Utica. In 1997, he served briefly at St. Patrick’s Church in Binghamton before he was assigned as pastor to St. Matthew’s Church in East Syracuse. Father Dwyer served there until 2003 when he moved to St. John’s Church/St. Agnes Mission in Bainbridge and Afton. He retired from there in 2010.
Father Dwyer served as chaplain for the Rome Civil Defense, Rome Family Court, and the Legion of Mary Curia. He was part of the Diocesan Commission for Ecumenism in the 1970s and served part-time in the diaconate formation program, besides serving as the director.
Father Dwyer has made three trips to the Nakuru Diocese in Kenya serving at three parishes there. He said he has especially enjoyed his trips to Africa and currently loves his latest role, chaplain at the Transfiguration Monastery in Windsor.
Father Jim Mathews celebrated his 50th year as a priest for the diocese on Feb. 2. His home parish is St. Cecilia’s in Solvay. Father Mathews attended Christian Brothers Academy, College of the Holy Cross and graduated from St. Bernard’s Theological Seminary. He furthered his studies at Syracuse University studying counseling and child and family studies. Father Mathews began his priesthood as associate at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Galeville followed by St. Patrick’s in Syracuse, St. Ann’s in Manlius, St. Daniel in Syracuse and St. Rose of Lima in North Syracuse. Father Mathews’ first pastorate was at St. Charles Borromeo in Syracuse in 1979. He became pastor of St. Lucy’s Church on Syracuse’s west side in 1991. He added the pastorate of St. Andrew’s Church in 2002.
Father Mathews served as chaplain of the Syracuse Fire Department and the Air National Guard. He has received several accolades for his work in the Syracuse community, including the Post-Standard Achievement Award in 2007 and this year’s Dorothy Day Award. He is an advocate for the underserved and disenfranchised in the community and serves on several boards and within many civic organizations.
When he isn’t serving those in need through his pastorate at St. Lucy’s, Father Mathews can be found on the golf course.
Father Walter Florczyk celebrates 50 years as a priest on May 19. His home parish is Transfiguration in Syracuse. He attended St. Vincent de Paul High School, graduating in the class of 1954. Father Florczyk attended St. Mary’s Seminary at Orchard Lake, Mich., and received post-education training in team ministry.
Father Florczyk served temporarily at St. Mary’s Church in Cleveland after his ordination. He then served at Holy Trinity Church in Utica as an assistant followed by Transfiguration in Rome, St. Peter’s in Utica, Transfiguration in Syracuse, Sacred Heart in Syracuse and again at Holy Trinity in Utica. He served as pastor at St. Francis Church in Lacona in 1978 until leaving to serve as temporary assistant at St. Joseph’s Church in Oriskiny Falls. Today, he enjoys retirement.
Father Dennis Slater celebrates 50 years in the priesthood on May 19. Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse is his home parish. Father Slater attended Christian Brothers Academy graduating with the class of 1954. He went to St. Jerome followed by Our Lady of Angels Seminary at Niagara University. He also studied at Long Island University receiving a bachelor’s degree in guidance. He has special training in basic hypnotherapy and in clinical pastoral education.
Father Slater began his priestly ministry at St. Patrick’s Church in Truxton as a temporary associate. He then served in the same capacity at St. Joseph’s Church in Oneida and then at Our Lady of Lourdes in Utica. While serving in Utica, he met a Navy chaplain who encouraged him to try military chaplaincy.
“He told me, ‘It’s only three years, why not give it a try?’” Father Slater said.
Father Slater then spent decades as an Army chaplain completing two tours in Vietnam. He retired from active ministry in 1993 and remains retired after receiving several military awards and medals.
Father Slater said the most challenging aspect of his priesthood in the Army was the death notifications. He would visit families along with a member of the Army of the same rank as the person who had been killed. They would inform the family together. Father Slater said the most rewarding aspect of his priesthood is knowing for certain that his work impacted the lives of those he served.
“If anybody needs a chaplain, it’s people in the service,” he said.
Father Slater said he will spend his anniversary quietly. He still admires the huge collage his sister made when he celebrated his 40th anniversary. It hangs on his wall and Father Slater said he had recently spoken to his sister and they joked that she would not be making another one this year.
Father Stanley Dudkiewicz celebrates 60 years as a priest on May 7. Father Dudkiewicz was born May 4, 1924 in Kielce, Poland, and ordained there in 1952. He studied for the priesthood during World War II when seminarians were forced to pursue their studies underground. He came to the U.S. while on retreat in 1970. The political climate once again came into play and Father Dudkiewicz stayed in the U.S. eventually reconnecting with his old friend in the Syracuse Diocese, Msgr. Casimir Krzysiak.
Father Dudkiewicz served as an associate at Holy Trinity Parish in Utica beginning in 1973. He moved to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Syracuse in 1975 and retired from the Basilica in July 2011. Father Dudkiewicz is spending his retirement at the Nottingham. He said, “Thank you, Father, for these 60 years.”