Served as deacon at Assumption Church, Syracuse

Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, archbishop of Atlanta, ordained Father Emmanuel Wenke, OFM Conv., to the priesthood on Tuesday, Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Our Lady of Victory Basilica and National Shrine in Lackawanna, N.Y., just outside of Buffalo.

On Dec. 22, 2022, Friar Emmanuel was ordained to the diaconate in Syracuse by Bishop Douglas J. Lucia. He served at the Franciscan Church of the Assumption in Syracuse for seven months before his ordination to the priesthood.

Friar Wenke blesses his parents, Mary, and Deacon Matt Wenke.

Archbishop Hartmayer, who served as the main celebrant for the Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood, opened his homily, “Pax et Bonum. Peace and all good. It is truly a great joy and privilege to be with you, my Franciscan Family, to ordain our brother, Emmanuel, together as a people of God to welcome into our Church Universal a new priest, a priest of Jesus Christ.

“Ordination changes your being into the likeness of Christ the priest, Christ the teacher, Christ the shepherd. Allow this interior change to expand your friendship with Christ. Through the daily celebration of the Mass, this bond of friendship will be strengthened.”

Born in Jamestown, N.Y., Father Wenke moved to Olean, N.Y., in 2001, where his family were members of St. John the Evangelist Parish. He was also extensively involved in youth ministry at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels Parish. He was homeschooled through high school and completed a year and a half of study at Jamestown Community College before joining Our Lady of the Angels Province Franciscan Friars Conventual in 2012.

Nearly 80 friars and diocesan priests processed into the historic basilica, which was consecrated in 1926, in tribute to Our Lady of Victory. It’s copper dome measures 80 feet in diameter and soars to 120 feet, the painting of the Assumption and Coronation of the Blessed Mother is described as a true masterwork.

“Friar Manny brings an enthusiastic spirit to his ministry and is a wonderful preacher,” said Father Michael Heine, OFM Conv., minister provincial of Our Lady of the Angels Province and principal celebrant of the Mass. “He sees his ministry as a friar-priest as one of humble service.”

Father Emmanuel is the son of Deacon Matt and Mary Wenke of Olean. Deacon Wenke served as assisting deacon for his son’s ordination. The new friar-priest’s five siblings are Sister Frances Marie (Nora) Wenke, CP, Jude, Abram, Air Force SSgt Samuel Wenke, and Mathew. His late grandparents, Robert and Kathleen Wenke were St. Mary’s parishioners.

“I am very humbled at the opportunity to share God’s merciful love with the world as a friar-priest,” Father Emmanuel said. “I have experienced so many blessings in my life through the example, prayers, teaching, and sacramental ministry of many good priests. I begin my own priestly journey full of gratitude and with a deep desire to share with others the same blessings I have received through Christ’s gift of the priesthood.”   

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Father Wenke celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Athol Springs, N.Y., with a second Mass of Thanksgiving to be celebrated Sunday, Aug. 20, 11 a.m., at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, N.Y.

Friar Emmanuel’s next assignment will be Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore, where he will teach religion and be part of the Campus Ministry team.

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