Meet the seminarians of the Diocese of Syracuse

Editor’s note: The seminarians of the Diocese of Syracuse offered the following fun facts for profiles featured at vocations-syracuse.org.

Rev. Mr. Nathan Brooks

Will be ordained to the priesthood on June 1, 2019, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Syracuse

Home parish: Divine Mercy, Central Square

Patron saint: St. Jean Vianney

Favorite Scripture verse: John 6:53. I love this verse because Jesus not only speaks to the reality of the Eucharist, he also tells us how essential it is for the Christian life.

Favorite part of the Mass: The Eucharist. Every time I receive the Eucharist I am receiving the living Jesus into my life. This gives me great strength and hope.

Hobbies: Golf, bicycling, hiking, wood working

Favorite quote: Psalm 27:4

Describe your formation so far in one word: Transformative

Favorite holy place: Rome, Italy

Favorite liturgical song: “O God Beyond All Praising”

Favorite family Christmas tradition: Mom’s cinnamon rolls!

Confirmation name: Padre Pio

In only 3 words, offer advice for someone discerning priesthood/religious life: Pray, discern, ask

Malachi Clark

Will be ordained to the transitional diaconate on April 27, 2019, at Sts. John and Andrew, Binghamton

Home parish: Sts. John and Andrew, Binghamton

Priestly mentors: Father John Mikalajunas and Msgr. Michael Meagher

Favorite Scripture verse: Revelation 12:1. I like this verse because it is one of the classic scripture verses the Church uses when speaking of Our Lady.

Favorite part of the Mass: I like the Eucharistic Prayer, because in it the Church brings the Body and Blood of Christ down on the Altar.

Favorite quote: “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”- J.R.R. Tolkien

Describe your formation so far in one word: Graced

Favorite season: Winter

Confirmation name: Thomas Polycarp, for St. Thomas More, whom I admire for his witness, courage and martyrdom in the public square, and St. Polycarp, whom I admire for his leadership and martyrdom.

Brendan Foley

Currently on pastoral year at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Baldwinsville

Home parish: St. James, Johnson City

Priestly mentor: Fr. Joe O’Connor

Patron saints: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Augustine, and St. Teresa of Calcutta

Favorite part of the Mass: Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, and taking in God’s Word in Sacred Scripture — doesn’t get much better than that!

Describe your formation so far in one word: Exciting

Favorite holy place: Where Blessed Stanley Rother (a diocesan priest from Oklahoma) was martyred. It is a simple office room at his parish in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, that has since been transformed into a chapel. Stains from his blood are visibly present on the walls, which served as bold reminder to me of the courage it takes to live a life after the heart of Christ.

Favorite movie: “The Sandlot”

Confirmation name: Matthew

Dennis Walker

Currently spending his pastoral year at Our Lady of Lourdes, Utica

Home parish: Our Lady of Hope, Syracuse

Patron saints: Maximilian Kolbe, Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Joseph

Favorite Scripture verse: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Hobbies: Golf, Soccer, Sports in general, reading, target shooting

Describe your formation so far in one word: Indescribable

Favorite holy place: Our Lady of Victory Shrine & Basilica in Lackawanna, N.Y.

Most important book you’ve read: The Bible. It is an essential part of my daily prayer life.

Favorite season: Summer

In only 3 words, offer advice for someone discerning priesthood/religious life: Take your time

What do you most look forward to doing once you are ordained a priest? Ministry and sacraments

John Leo Oduor

John Leo, originally from Kenya, is currently spending his pastoral year at Our Lady of Hope, Syracuse

Home parish: Our Lady of Hope, Syracuse

Religious mentor: St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Favorite Scripture verse: John 3:16. I find it amazing how God loves me so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be born on earth and die on a cross for my sins so that I may have eternal life!

Hobbies: Reading, playing soccer, cooking, socializing, music-playing, listening

Favorite quote: “The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall I want” (Psalm 23:1).

Describe your formation so far in one word: Excellent

Favorite holy place: The Church of Lalibela, Ethiopia

Most important book you’ve read: “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi

Favorite liturgical song: “Hail Mary: Gentle Woman”

Favorite family Christmas tradition: Goat eating

Favorite TV show: 24

Confirmation name: Francis. In my church in Kenya it was the Bishop who chose names for the candidates

Dc. Dan Caughey

Second Theology

Home parish: St. Anne, Mexico

Patron saint: St. Joseph

Favorite Scripture verse: Luke 1:76-77a. As I prepare for priesthood, I visualize these few words from Zechariah for John the Baptist to apply to me as well.

Favorite part of the Mass: The Our Father (it’s incredible — God is OUR father!)

Hobbies: playing bass guitar

Describe your formation so far in one word: WOW

Favorite holy place: My favorite holy place that I’ve visited is St. Mary’s Cemetery in Cortland.  That’s where my wife Mickey is buried and I go to visit as often as I can.

Favorite season: Summer

In only 3 words, offer advice for someone discerning priesthood/religious life: Observe, ask, pray

Favorite Christmas tradition: Passing out Christmas gifts to the foster kids and watching them open them.

Favorite movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Confirmation name: Joachim. I chose it because it sounds so cool and who wouldn’t want to be Jesus’ grandpa!

James Buttner

First Theology

Home parish: Holy Family, Syracuse

Priestly mentors: Father John Manno, Father Richard Prior, Father Joe O’Connor

Favorite part of the Mass: Communion. I’m often reminded of my friends in faraway places that have played a key role in my own faith journey as I go forward to receive communion or as I’m kneeling in my pew afterwards

Hobbies: Working on cars. I’d like to get an 80’s-era car and learn how to work on that next!

Describe your formation so far in one word: Adventure

Favorite holy place: Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, MA

In only 3 words, offer advice for someone discerning priesthood/religious life: Talk about it!

Favorite family Christmas tradition: Cutting down the Christmas tree

What do you most look forward to doing once you are ordained a priest? Hearing confessions

Confirmation name: Paul (St. Paul)


Benjamin Schrantz

Second Pre-Theology

Home parish: St. Paul’s, Whitesboro

Patron saints: St. Francis of Assisi and St. Therese of Lisieux

Favorite Scripture verse: Luke 5:1-11

Favorite quote: “Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

Favorite holy place: Assisi, Italy, as well as the Trappist Abbey of the Genesee

Favorite season: Fall

In only 3 words, offer advice for someone discerning priesthood/religious life: Open your heart

Favorite family Christmas tradition: Midnight Mass

Heath Munger

Second Pre-Theology

Home parish: Holy Trinity, Fulton

Samuel Gill

Second Year College Seminary

Home parish: St. Joseph’s, Endicott

Patron saint: St. John Bosco

Hobbies: playing soccer

Most important book you’ve read: St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life”

Favorite season: Fall

Favorite movie: The Last Samurai

John Brusa III

Second Year College Seminary

Home parish: Holy Family, Syracuse

Favorite Scripture verse: John 6:53

Favorite part of the Mass: I love the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)

Hobbies: Hiking, Reading, church hopping

Favorite quote: “The average American is physically, biologically, psychologically, and neurologically unable to do anything worthwhile before he has a cup of coffee!” -Fulton Sheen

Favorite holy place: St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan

Favorite season: Spring

In only 3 words, offer advice for someone discerning priesthood/religious life: Don’t be afraid!

What do you most look forward to doing once you are ordained a priest? Serving others

Confirmation name: Bernard, after St. Bernard of Montjoux, the patron saint of mountain hiking

Joseph Ryan

Second Year College Seminary

Home parish: St. Patrick’s, Binghamton

Patron saints: St. Patrick, St. Gregory the Great

Favorite Scripture verse: Matthew 10:39

Hobbies: Golfing, skiing, sailing, reading, and hanging out with friends

Favorite quote: “Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon you.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola

Describe your formation so far in one word: Life-changing

Favorite holy place: The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Favorite season: Summer

Favorite family Christmas tradition: Irish oyster stew on Christmas Eve