By Katherine Long, Pat Shea,
and Claudia Mathis
Each year, the Diocese of Syracuse honors its clergy who are celebrating milestone anniversaries. Here, the Sun offers a look at the jubilarians and their years of dedicated priestly service.
Bishop Robert J. Cunningham will celebrate a special Mass June 5 for the 2013 jubilarians at Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville. A reception will follow the 4 p.m. Mass.
Father Thomas Kiernan, now retired, is being recognized for 65 years of priesthood. His home parish is St. Mary’s in Cortland. After attending his parish’s schools, he graduated from high school in 1941 as valedictorian of his class. Father Kiernan completed one year of college course work at Niagara University before undertaking his seminary studies at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s in Rochester.
After Father Kiernan’s ordination on May 6, 1948, he began to serve as an associate pastor at St. John the Evangelist in Pulaski. After one year, he was assigned the position of associate pastor at St. Ambrose in Endicott, serving there until 1954. Father Kiernan went on to serve as associate pastor at St. John the Baptist in Syracuse from 1954 to 1955 and then at St. Patrick’s in Binghamton until 1965. That year, he was assigned pastor at St. Joseph’s in Sanitaria Springs and at Our Lady of Lourdes Mission in Windsor. He ministered as a pastor at St. Paul’s in Norwich from 1969 to 1976 and at St. John the Evangelist in Binghamton from 1976 until 1993, when he retired.
Father Edmund Morelle is celebrating his 60th year in the priesthood. His home parish is St. John the Evangelist in Utica. He attended Miller and Kemble Street Elementary Schools and graduated from Utica Free Academy in 1942. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Fordham University in 1945.
During World War II, Father Morelle served in the U.S. Navy, and then, after Infantry Basic, served in the U.S. Army Security Agency. Following his stint with the military, he studied physics at the graduate level at Fordham and Harvard Universities.
Father Morelle completed his seminary studies at St. Bernard’s and St. Andrew’s Seminaries in Rochester and was ordained on May 23, 1953 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop Walter Foery.
Father Morelle’s first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. John’s in Utica from 1953 to 1956. While serving at St. John’s, Father Morelle was involved in a number of ministries. He taught religion at Utica Catholic Academy and worked with the Legion of Mary. Father Morelle also ministered to the residents of the County Jail and the patients at Broadacres Sanitarium.
In 1957, Father Morelle joined the U.S. Air Force. He served as chaplain at Lackland AFB in Texas, Vance AFB in Oklahoma and Kadena AFB on the Ryukyu Island of Okinawa.
In 1960, Father Morelle was assigned to St. Mary’s in Clinton as assistant pastor, where he guided the Christian Family Movement and the Newman Community at Hamilton College.
After completing graduate work in education at Utica College and Syracuse University in 1963, Father Morelle taught physics, geometry, general science and religion at Rome Catholic High School. At the same time, he ministered on weekends at St. Mary’s in Rome, St. Catherine’s in Vernon, St. Agnes in Vernon Center and St. Leo’s in Holland Patent.
Returning to full time parish work in 1971, Father Morelle was assigned as associate pastor at Immaculate Conception in Fulton and then, in 1972, as pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Verona. He served there until his retirement in 2010.
Looking back over his many years of serving as a priest, Father Morelle had these words to say: “I am eternally grateful for the priesthood which Christ gave me to share for long years, his ministry of truth and grace to the souls he so loved.”
Father Anthony Keeffe is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his priesthood this year. Father Keeffe is a native of Holy Trinity Parish in Syracuse. He attended his parish elementary school and graduated from Assumption High School in 1951. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College, Father Keeffe completed his seminary studies at Christ the King Seminary in Olean.
Father Keeffe was ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 1963 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse. Father Keeffe’s first assignment was as associate pastor at Our Lady of Solace in Syracuse. He served there from 1963 until 1970, when he became associate pastor at St. Joseph the Worker in Liverpool. Father Keeffe then served at his home parish, Holy Trinity, as an associate pastor from 1974 to 1978 when he went back to Our Lady of Solace. He also served as associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church in Utica from 1981 to 1983. Father Keeffe then assumed the role of pastor at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pulaski. While serving there, he took on the additional responsibility of ministering to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Lacona and St. Mary’s in Altmar. After taking a yearlong sabbatical in 1995, Father Keeffe began to serve as pastor at St. Anne’s in Parish and at St. Patrick’s in Williamstown. He retired in 2003.
Father Keeffe said that he enjoys helping people. He served as director of Unity Acres for a time in the 1970s.
As a champion of social justice, Father Keeffe said that one of his goals was to bring an awareness of the struggles of the disenfranchised to his parishioners. He also tried to bring the disenfranchised into the church community whenever he had the opportunity.
“I’m quite inspired by our new pope,” said Father Keeffe. “I’m impressed by his energy and his efforts to make our church aware of social justice.”
Father Matthew Brown and his parishioners at Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal will be joyfully celebrating his 50th jubilee on May 18 and again on May 19. “We’re pulling out all the stops,” remarked Father Brown. After the 5 p.m. Mass on May 18, a dinner and reception will be held in the parish center, and on the following day, a brunch will be held at the center following the Masses.
Father Brown has been priest in residence at Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal since 1994. Although he retired in 2012, Father Brown helps out in the parish, presiding at two weekend and seven daily Masses every week. In addition, he continues to serve as chaplain at nursing homes in the Southern Tier.
Father Brown’s home parish is Christ the King in Endwell. “I grew up across the river in Endwell,” Father Brown said.
After graduating from Union Endicott High School, Father Brown prepared for the priesthood at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s Seminaries in Rochester. He was ordained on May 18, 1963 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
His first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Rose of Lima in North Syracuse. After completing his assignment there, he served in the same capacity at St. Paul’s in Binghamton and Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal.
In 1981, Father Brown was assigned as pastor at St. Paul’s in Binghamton. Ten years later, he began to serve as pastor at St. Rita’s in Chenango Forks, a position he kept until 1994.
Father Brown then began to serve as chaplain to the Nursing Home Apostolate (11 nursing homes) in the Southern Tier. “I loved it,” commented Father Brown. “I enjoyed the wisdom of the people. I also liked serving Mass — it was needed.”
Father Brown is fond of the people he has served throughout his priesthood. “I’ve enjoyed the people,” he said. “The parishes that I have served, especially in Vestal, have seemed like home to me.”
Father Frederick Mannara is celebrating 50 years of priesthood this month.
A Syracuse native, Father Mannara grew up in Our Lady of Pompei Parish. After graduating from Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in 1955, he attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s Seminaries in Rochester. Father Mannara was ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 1963. He later earned a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from Syracuse University.
Father Mannara has served many parishes throughout the diocese over the last 50 years. His appointments include assistant at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Norwich and St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Binghamton; associate at of Corpus Christi Church in South Onondaga and St. Patrick’s Mission in Otisco; temporary administrator of St. Patrick’s Church in Jordan; weekend associate for St. Brigid and St. Joseph’s Church in Syracuse, St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Baldwinsville and Transfiguration of Our Lord Church in Syracuse; pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Syracuse; parochial vicar of St. John the Evangelist Church in New Hartford; and pastor of Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse, where he has served since 1998.
Father Mannara taught religion at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse from 1973 to 1976. He served as the director of the Faith Centers at Henninger and Fowler High Schools in Syracuse from 1976 to 1983.
A one-year sabbatical beginning in July 1995 took Father Mannara to Israel for two months, Italy for one month, Kenya for one month and Bolivia for six months, where he studied Spanish at the Maryknoll Language Institute in Cochabamba.
Father Mannara said he first thought about becoming a priest as a young boy. He cited the wholesome family atmosphere in which he grew up, the examples of good priests in his life and the environment at CBA as factors that influenced his vocation to the priesthood. Looking back on his years of service, Father Mannara said “the thing that stands out is that I was happy in all of those places, so there must be good people of God everywhere.”
Most Holy Rosary Parish will celebrate Father Mannara’s jubilee with a Mass, followed by a luncheon, on May 19.
Father G. David Sears celebrates 50 years of priesthood this month.
A native of Utica, Father Sears’ home parish is Our Lady of Lourdes Church. He graduated from Utica Free Academy in 1953 and went on to study for the priesthood with the Franciscan order, earning his degree in philosophy from St. Bonaventure University. He then transferred to the diocese, studying at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester. Father Sears was ordained on May 18, 1963. He later earned his master’s degree in religious studies from Syracuse University in 1970 and his master’s degree in psychiatric social work from Columbia University in 1976.
Father Sears has served as assistant at Blessed Sacrament Church in Syracuse, St. Francis de Sales Church in Utica, St. John’s Church in Rome, Corpus Christi Church in South Onondaga and St. John the Evangelist Church in Camden.
Father Sears spent 31 years as priest in residence at St. Roch’s Church on Staten Island. He taught math and chaired the religion department at Moore Catholic High School on Staten Island from 1971 to 1974. He then worked in the criminal division of Manhattan Legal Aid as an in-house consultant for 12 years. While in New York City, Father Sears also trained at the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training in Manhattan. He maintained a private psychoanalytic psychotherapy practice in New York for 25 years before returning to the diocese in 2002.
Father Sears is currently the administrator of St. Thomas’s Church in New Hartford, a position he has held since 2002.
Father Sears said that he was “quite devout” in his younger years and involved in many charitable projects that served others, leading him to explore ordained ministry. His training in psychology has helped him in that ministry in many ways.
“Any time we have a better understanding of the human person and the human psychology, it helps us to address problems a person might have,” he said. “I also think it’s important [for a priest] to have a lot of variety in the priesthood and to wear more than one hat.” Those times of varied ministry, he added, “were the times when I enjoyed my priesthood the most — when I was wearing a second and third hat.”
The parish of St. Thomas will celebrate Father Sears’ jubilee with a dinner on May 18.
Father Robert J. Sullivan celebrates his golden jubilee this month.
Father Sullivan grew up in Binghamton, where he was a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish. He graduated from St. Patrick’s High School in 1955, going on to study at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester and Theological College at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Father Sullivan was ordained on May 18, 1963. He would later earn a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Catholic University and a master’s degree in religious education from Fordham University in 1968.
Father Sullivan served as a temporary associate at St. Patrick’s Church in Truxton during the summer of 1963 before becoming temporary associate at St. John the Evangelist Church in Binghamton in September of that year.
Father Sullivan taught religion at Catholic Central High School in Binghamton from 1963 to 1967 and at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse from 1969 to 1973.
He was named chaplain to Catholic students at the Newman House at Binghamton University in 1973, where he served until his retirement in August of 2008.
Father Sullivan said his years of ministry to students on the Binghamton campus were fascinating and energizing. “That was my favorite assignment and the best part of my priesthood,” he recalled. He remains involved on the Binghamton campus as a member of the Human Subjects Research Review Committee and of the university chorus. He is also a fellow of Newing College there. Father Sullivan currently resides at the Church of Saints John and Andrew in Binghamton and ministers at the parishes of eastern Broome County.
Father Sullivan said he plans to mark his jubilee with several of his classmates during the upcoming annual Theological College reunion.
Msgr. Timothy S. Elmer celebrates his 40th year as a priest this month.
Msgr. Elmer grew up in Oneida, where he attended St. Joseph’s Church. A member of the 1965 graduating class of Oneida Senior High School, he went on to study at Wadhams Hall Seminary College in Ogdensburg and Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University. Msgr. Elmer was ordained to the priesthood on May 12, 1973. He earned his licentiate in canon law from St. Paul University in Ottawa in 1982.
Msgr. Elmer served as parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Church in Syracuse from 1973 to 1978, associate at St. Ann’s Church in Syracuse from 1978 to 1979, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Chittenango from 1991 to 2002 and pastor of St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale from 2005 to 2008. He is currently in residence at Blessed Sacrament Church in Syracuse.
Msgr. Elmer’s service in the diocese also includes decades as a member of the diocesan Tribunal, which deals with cases concerning spiritual matters and ecclesiastical law. Over the years he has served as canonical advocate, judge, defender of the bond and judicial vicar, a position he has held since 1996.
Bishop Robert J. Cunningham appointed Msgr. Elmer chancellor of the diocese in 2010. As chancellor, Msgr. Elmer serves as the secretary and treasurer of the diocesan church and is an ex officio member of numerous diocesan boards and committees. He is also a member of the Presbyteral Council and the diocesan College of Consultors.
Msgr. Elmer was named a Chaplain of His Holiness and elevated to the rank of monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI in December of 2012; the papal honor was presented on the pope’s behalf by Bishop Cunningham in February 2013. The honorary title of “monsignor” is bestowed by the pope in recognition of a priest’s service to the church.
Msgr. Elmer said his call to the priesthood began at his home parish. “The experience of growing up in the faith community of St. Joseph’s, and the inspirational examples of priests who served there, led me to the priesthood,” he said. “I had been thinking about [the priesthood], but Father Francis Walters encouraged me.”
Msgr. Elmer has fond memories of his years of pastoral ministry. “My happiest years were when I was a parochial vicar, because I could do pure ministry without the worries a pastor has,” he said. “But my most satisfying years were as a pastor, because I could shape things and make decisions and accomplish things, while still doing some of the ministry I did as a parochial vicar.” His current work in the chancery ensures “every day is different,” Msgr. Elmer said. “I’m doing work that needs to be done, and I hope I’m providing a valuable service to the priests and pastors and people who call looking for answers.”
Father Charles Vavonese celebrates 40 years of priesthood this month.
A Syracuse native, Father Vavonese’s home parish is Our Lady of Pompei. He graduated from North High School in Syracuse in 1964, going on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Loyola University and his master of divinity degree from St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester. He was ordained to the priesthood May 12, 1973. Father Vavonese later earned a master’s degree in religious education from Boston College and a Certificate of Advanced Specialization in School Administration from Fordham University.
Father Vavonese has served as a parochial vicar at St. Anthony’s Church in Utica and weekend parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s Church in Oswego, St. Paul’s Church in Oswego, Holy Family Church in Fairmount, St. Rose of Lima Church in North Syracuse, Holy Cross Church in DeWitt and St. Daniel Church in Syracuse. He currently serves as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Pompei Church in Syracuse.
Father Vavonese was a member of the faculties of Bishop Cunningham High School in Oswego, Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse and Bishop Grimes Prep in East Syracuse. He has also taught at Maria Regina College, Marist College, Syracuse University and Manhattan College and is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the Educational Leadership Program at Le Moyne College. A veteran teacher, guidance counselor and administrator, Father Vavonese served as assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in the diocese for 25 years, ending his tenure there in 2010.
Father Vavonese currently serves as the director of the diocesan Formation for Ministry Program, director of the diocesan Public Policy Office and coordinator for the diocesan Disabilities Ministry. The transition from school administrator to his new roles was very natural, he said.
“Directing the Formation for Ministry Program is like running a school for adults. I have an opportunity to teach in that program and I love teaching,” he said. His background as a social studies teacher and experience with legal and personnel affairs in the Catholic Schools Office, he added, also prepared him well to work on and educate the people of the diocese about important public policy issues.
Father Vavonese said his vocation to the priesthood was his “way of serving God,” and that he was inspired at a young age by Msgr. Charles Borgognoni, formerly the assistant pastor at Our Lady of Pompei. Looking back at 40 years of diverse ministry, Father Vavonese said he couldn’t pick just one “best moment.” “I’ve got truly great memories from all of my ministries,” he said.
Our Lady of Pompei-St. Peter’s Parish will mark Father Vavonese’s jubilee with a celebration in September.
Father Paul Machira, parochial vicar for St. Patrick Church/St. Thomas Aquinas in Binghamton is celebrating 25 years of priesthood.
Father Machira is originally from Kenya and attended Subukia Secondary School from 1977 to 1989 and then attended Le Moyne College in Syracuse where he obtained his master’s degree and certificate of advanced study in school district business leadership. He also received a degree in doctorial studies in education at Binghamton University and attended St. Augustine Seminary in Bungoma, Kenya, where he studied philosophy from 1981 to 1983 and theology at St. Thomas Aquinas in Nairobi, Kenya from 1983 to 1987.
Father Machira was ordained on September 3, 1988, and his first appointment was assistant priest in Kenya at Kipchimchim Parish, 1988 to 1989; from 1990 to 1995 he served as parish priest for St. Francis Xavier Parish, Kenya and Holy Spirit Parish in Kenya from 1996 to 1997. From 1998 to 1999, Father Machira served as assistant priest for the Holy Cross Parish in Nakuru and also became a parish priest there from 2000 to 2002. In November of 2002, he served as parochial vicar at St. Cecilia Parish in Solvay until July 2010, and in August of 2010, was appointed parochial vicar for St. Patrick’s Church/St. Thomas Aquinas in Binghamton.
His special assignments include finance committee member of the Nakuru Diocese, Kenya, from 1990 to 1997 and chaplain for the Catholic Women Association, Nakuru Diocese, Kenya, from 1998 to 2000.
“Like most teenagers, it never occurred to me that I wanted to become a priest until I finished my secondary education,” stated Father Machira. “Then the next question was, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ The idea of the priesthood came to me.” Reflecting over the past 25 years, Father Machira considered how his efforts have helped others. “There’s an incredible honor as a priest. You are invited into the middle of people’s personal relationship with God. It’s an intimate place and it’s a privilege. When I think back over my 25 years, I’m very grateful,” said Father Machira. “I have worked as a social worker, a development coordinator and a pastor to help people improve their lives.”
Father Kevin Corcoran, pastor of St. James Church in Cazenovia is celebrating 25 years of priesthood.
Father Corcoran is the son of Margaret and Thomas and is a 1975 graduate of Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School, a 1979 graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s in business administration and a major in marketing, and a 1988 graduate of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, NY.
Father Corcoran was ordained on June 4, 1988 and his first appointment was associate pastor at Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville from July 1988 to July 1995. He also served as associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament, Syracuse, from July 1995 to July 2003.
From July 2003 to June 2011, Father Corcoran served as pastor at St. Agatha’s Church in Canastota. In July 2011, he was appointed pastor of St. James Church in Cazenovia. “The past 25 years have meant learning how to be the best priest and person I can be,” stated Father Corcoran. “What this has entailed is learning from other priests who have been my mentors and guides and working each and every year at being better in my attention to my spiritual life, my preaching, my skills in working with people and balancing the responsibilities of ministry with my personal needs.”
Reflecting on his call to the priesthood, Father Corcoran stated, “The church had always been a part of my life. I saw firsthand the positive impact that priests and religious sisters had on so many and I [too] felt called to that life. In these past 25 years, I did my best to be with people on their journey of life and faith. Whether they were celebrating happy moments or walking through the dark valleys of death, difficulty and challenge, I was glad to be there.”
Deputy Community Chaplain and Military Catholic Community Chaplain, Father Gary Fukes of Fort Knox, KY, is celebrating 25 years of priesthood.
Father Fukes is the son of Nicholas and Veronica and a 1975 graduate of Cicero High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 1978, serving his country as both an enlisted soldier and as a chaplain assistant.
From 1978 to 1984, Father Fukes served as chaplain assistant to the U.S. Army Reserves. He received a BA in religious education from St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, Michigan. In 1988, Father Fukes graduated from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, in Boynton Beach, FL, with a master of divinity degree.
Ordained on June 4, 1988, Father Fukes’ first appointment was associate pastor at St. John the Evangelist, New Hartford, from July 1988 to July 1990. He served as associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Syracuse from July 1990 to August 1994.
From August 1994 to July 1998, he served as parochial vicar, and after taking a sabbatical leave from July 1998 to December 1998, he served as chaplain for Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital, in Syracuse, from January 1999 to January 2002.
Father Fukes was appointed temporary administrator for St. Joseph’s/St. Patrick’s Church in Utica, from April 2002 to September 2002. In 2001, Father Fukes was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves for the Army Chaplain Corps.
From 2001 to 2002, Father Fukes served as battalion chaplain for the 479th Engineer Battalion in Watertown. He attended the basic course for U.S. Army chaplaincy at U.S. Army Chaplain School in Fort Jackson, SC, from January 2002 to April 2002.
In September 2002, he transitioned from the U.S. Army reserves to active duty with the rank of captain, and was assigned to Fort Riley, KS, from September 2002 to June 2004, serving as battalion chaplain and chapel center chaplain.
In June 2004 to September 2007, Father Fukes served as deputy community chaplain and Catholic community chaplain for the military Catholic communities in Kitzingen, Gieblestadt and Wurzburg, Germany. From September 2007 to July 2011, he served as deputy brigade chaplain for the 417 Field Artillery Brigade (Basic Training Brigade), and for a period of nine months, served as Catholic community chaplain in Fort Sill, OK, providing spiritual care to Catholic soldiers.
Father Fukes was assigned to HHD, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Knox, KY in July 2011 as deputy community chaplain and military Catholic community chaplain and continues to serve in this capacity.
“The past 25 years have flown by so quickly,” stated Father Fukes. “These years have meant much growth spiritually and personally. My work as a chaplain in the U.S. Army has been rewarding, as there is a great need for Catholic priests to serve our men and women in the military,” explained Father Fukes. “My greatest achievement has been rebuilding the military catholic communities I have served by empowering people to develop a solid and lively spirituality for their journey in life. My theme in life and in ministry has been, ‘Take it to the Cross!’”
Father Robert Hyde, pastor of St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale is celebrating 25 years of priesthood. Father Hyde is the son of Robert and Mary Elizabeth, a 1978 graduate of Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, RI, and a 1982 graduate of St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.
Father Hyde graduated from the Theological College at Catholic University in Washington D.C. in 1988. He was ordained on June 4, 1988, and his first appointment was associate pastor at Holy Family Church in Syracuse, from July 1988 to 1993. He served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Vestal from 1993 to 1994. He studied canon law at Catholic University in Washington DC in June 1994, and was assigned as part-time associate pastor at St. Joseph’s Parish, Camillus, from July 1995 to July 1997.
From July 1997 to July 2004, Father Hyde served as pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Whitney Point. In August 2008, he was appointed pastor of St. Margaret’s in Mattydale. Father Hyde also served as marriage tribunal associate judge (part-time), from June 1995 to present, and marriage tribunal judge appelatre (part-time), from June 1995 to present.
Father Hyde felt called to the priesthood at age 13, but waited until New Year’s Eve, 1981, before beginning the process. He then went to Le Moyne Aquinas House from 1982 to 1983. “Aquinas House was the house of formation and it doesn’t exist anymore but there were great priests there and Father Kevin Corcoran was a classmate of mine,” stated Father Hyde. “A major inspiration for me there was Msgr. Robert Casey,” said Father Hyde. “He was quite a character and had a wonderful sense of humor. He was marvelous model of priesthood.”
Reflecting over the past 25 years, Father Hyde stated it was both a challenge and a privilege to be a priest. “The greatest thing about being a priest is that you are invited into the most wonderful and sacred moments of people’s lives: their births, their deaths, their tragedy and their joy. As a priest, I get to bring the light of God’s love to them at that moment,” explained Father Hyde. “If I can be as good a priest as the people I am serving, I am doing pretty good.”
Father John Hogan, pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption in Oswego is celebrating 25 years in the priesthood.
Father Hogan was born in Oswego, to Evelyn and John F. Hogan. He graduated from Oswego High School in 1974, and then went on to study theology at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. He was ordained June 4, 1988, and he spent his pastoral year at St. Anthony of Padua, Syracuse, from 1986 to 1988.
Father Hogan served as parochial vicar at St. Charles Borremeo in Syracuse from July 1988 through July 1994, and at St. Matthew’s in East Syracuse from August 1994 through 1995.
Father Hogan was appointed pastor from July 1995 to 2003 to one of the first combined parishes: St. John the Evangelist (Pulaski) and St. Frances Xavier (Lacona). “I became pastor at a unique time,” stated Father Hogan. “It was unusual to be a pastor of two parishes being reconfigured. We had to build bridges, especially during Holy Week, between the two parishes and we had to eventually develop one parish council for pastoral planning,” said Father Hogan.
The two parishes eventually came together as one, and renamed themselves Christ Our Light Parish. “It was kind of neat how it ended up,” said Father Hogan. “It worked because everyone was open, respectful and the parishes were pretty devoted to the merge.”
Father Hogan was later named as pastor to St. John the Baptist in Rome from July 2003 to July 2011. He returned to his hometown of Oswego in July 2011, as the appointed pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption and of Our Lady of the Rosary its mission church located in Hannibal.
During his 25 years, Father Hogan also served as chaplain for the Hibernians from 1988 to 1994 at St. Camillus in Syracuse, and chaplain of the Knights of Columbus in Pulaski from 1995 to 2003. He has also served five terms (20 years) on the Diocesan Presbyteral Council, including one year as chairperson.
“I can’t believe that 25 years has gone by and so quickly too,” stated Father Hogan. “I have enjoyed being a priest and pastor of a local community. I enjoy the people I serve. That is the gift of the laity, and I appreciate that gift and still believe in it 25 years later,” stated Father Hogan. “It has been a real privilege being part of these lives, a part of their faith and their prayer life. I was also lucky to have worked with three amazing pastors when I was associate pastor: Father Jim Matthews, Father Jim Carey and Msgr. John B. Hagerty,” said Father Hogan. “When you start out as a priest, the pastors you serve under are key to helping you adapt at becoming a priest. These men set great examples and provided great guidance.”