Father Mannara lives out his calling

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

Father Frederick Mannara, beloved pastor at Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse, realized he was destined for priesthood as an elementary school student in the 1940s.

“In the simplicity of life of those days, there was a lot of priestly influence in my life,” said Father Mannara. “The priests seemed happy and my good family life oriented me to what good things the priests accomplished for people.”

As the eighth of 12 children, Father Mannara was nurtured by loving, hard-working Italian parents. The family’s parish was Our Lady of Pompei in Syracuse.

The numerous priests that ministered to the parish, notably Msgr. James McCloskey, among others, profoundly influenced Father Mannara.

Father Mannara fondly reminisced about his family life as a child. He remembered how his mother, having a large family to feed, prepared homemade bread every other day.

“I peddled newspapers when I was in second grade,” said Father Mannara. “When I got paid, I gave my sisters a little bit for helping me and the rest I gave to my mother for room and board. I also worked as a post office carrier for five years, earning $2.15 an hour.”

After Father Mannara graduated from CBA in 1955, he announced his intention to enter the priesthood. His parents weren’t surprised at the news — they knew it was only a matter of time before he would.

He completed his seminary coursework at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s in Rochester, N.Y., and was ordained May 18, 1963.

Father Mannara earned a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling at Syracuse University and during a four-month sabbatical, attended Notre Dame University. He also studied abroad, in Tantur, Jerusalem; Kenya, Africa; Rome, Italy and Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Father Mannara said he has enjoyed all of his assignments as a priest. “All the parishes have been beautiful,” he said. “Most Holy Rosary has been exciting and challenging. We’ve accomplished a lot here.”

After Father Mannara was ordained, he served as parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew’s in Norwich and at St. Mary of the Assumption in Binghamton.

In between his assignments at various parishes, he served as director of the faith centers at Henninger and Fowler High Schools in Syracuse and on the faculty of Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School.

Father Mannara served as pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Syracuse from 1983 to 1995. It was at this parish that he initiated an annual week-long summer vacation for the parishioners at Pyramid Lake in the Adirondacks. “The vacation is oriented towards community building,” said Father Mannara.

Most Holy Rosary’s parishioners continue the tradition today. “It’s the highlight of the year,” said Father Mannara. “Usually, 150 parishioners participate.”

Father Mannara enjoys traveling and often does so with groups of parishioners. He also enjoys swimming and walking.

Before coming to Most Holy Rosary in 1998, he served as parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist in New Hartford from 1996 to 1998.

Father Mannara is actively involved in parish life at Most Holy Rosary.

“He’s a father to us all,” said Julie Sheridan, coordinator for Most Holy Rosary’s religious education programs. “He takes his responsibilities seriously and he wants to know the parishioners. He would like to be a part of everyone’s family — he would prefer to sit at a family dinner eating simple food rather than going out to eat at a fancy restaurant.”

Sheridan said that Father Mannara is very supportive of the parish’s religious education program. “His philosophy is that we all have the responsibility of sharing and providing faith formation for one another,” she said.

“Father is very much a part of our family and life,” said Melanie Carroll, principal at Bishop’s Academy at Most Holy Rosary. Father Mannara presided at Carroll’s wedding and also baptized the Carrolls’ two daughters.

Carroll said that Father Mannara is very involved with the school. “We work very well together as a team and he is a great resource in terms of the Bible,” she said. “He’s a ‘hands on’ priest for the kids. He provides, cooks and serves breakfast and lunch at school. We love him and the fact that he’s a part of our school.”

Reflecting on his years of service, Father Mannara said they have been happy, productive and rewarding. “It’s been exciting and delightful and I’ve faced some unusual challenges,” he said.

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