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May 17 - 30, 2015

ORDINANDI 2015 Meet the new priests

The Archdiocese of Chicago was to welcome 14 new priests on May 16. They hail from Cuba, Kenya, Mexico, Michigan, Poland, West Virginia and the archdiocese itself, and they range in age from 26 to 47. The men, who will take up their new assignments July 1, have walked varied paths toward ordination. Learn about them here, and join the Catholic New World in congratulating them.

Pawel Adamus, 30

First Assignment: St. Ferdinand, 5900 W. Barry Ave.
Born in:
Warsaw, Poland
Education:
Elementary and high school in Poland; major seminary of the Diocese of Siedlce in Siedlce, Poland and University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents: Malgorzta Panasiuk and the late Wladyslaw Adamus
First Mass: May 17 at 9 a.m. at St. Pascal, 3935 N. Melvina Ave.

Pawel Adamus was an altar server and part of a church youth group in his home parish in Siedlce, Poland, he said, and both were factors leading him to consider whether he had a vocation to the priesthood.

“I was very active in terms of participating in various youth events like World Youth Day, ‘Lednica’ youth meetings, etc.,” he said. “Observing priests in action I was amazed seeing how they lead people, especially young people, as a spiritual guides, and watching how they celebrate sacraments. Their witness motivated me to imitate them.”

Adamus entered the diocesan major seminary in Siedlce in 2006, and decided to come to the United States to continue his studies four years later. He spent one year in Bishop Abramowicz Seminary learning English before entering Mundelein.

Matthew Alexander, 26

First Assignment: St. Mary of the Annunciation, Mundelein
Born in:
Hoffman Estates
Education: St. Hubert; Schaumburg High School; Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents: Carolyn Mary Stevens and Robert Peter Alexander
First Mass:
May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Queen of the Rosary, Elk Grove Village

Matthew Alexander grew up and received his sacraments at St. Marcelline Church in Schaumburg. He now considers Queen of the Rosary his home parish.

According to the Chicago Priest website, his favorite saint is St. Thomas Aquinas, because Alexander has had a deep relationship with him ever since his conversion. He feels like St. Thomas has watched his back, he said. His favorite Scripture was often quoted by St. John Paul II: “Take courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!” (Mt 14:27) Alexander said the best advice he received while discerning his vocation was to look to his relationship with Jesus Christ.

“When you have trouble finding clarity with your vocation, seek out Jesus and everything else will fall into place in due time,” he said.

He also advised that anyone discerning a vocation should “throw yourself totally into one vocation. You cannot discern two things simultaneously; throw yourself whole-heartedly — without hesitation and fear — into one vocation!”

Adam Blatt, 33

First Assignment: Prince of Peace, Lake Villa
Born in:
Huntington, West Virginia
Education:
Loyola University Chicago, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents:
Patricia Dunnington and Bill Blatt
First Mass:
May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Prince of Peace, Lake Villa

Adam Blatt grew up and received his sacraments at St. George Parish in Newnan, Georgia. He served in the U.S. Air Force for six years before entering the seminary. According to the Chicago Priest website, his favorite saint is St. Philomena, “because she has helped to guide my vocation and has always been a guiding force during times of doubt during my discernment towards priesthood” and his favorite book is the “The Life of Christ” by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Blatt said the best advice he received while discerning was, “Keep your mouth shut and your ears open.” As a seminarian, he said he would advise anyone who is discerning to “trust in God. Learn to let go of your doubt and trust that you will always be happier doing that which God has asked you to do instead of the things you would want to do.”

Jose Careaga, 35

First Assignment: Our Lady of Charity/St. Frances of Rome, Cicero
Born in:
Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango, Mexico
Education:
Elementary and high school in Mexico, Loyola University Chicago, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents: Maria Clara Hurtado and Efren Careaga
First Mass: May 16 at 5 p.m. at Maternity BVM, 3647 W. North Ave.

No further information provided.

Nicholas Cavallari, 35

First Assignment: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Oak Lawn
Born in: Northfield
Education:
St. Philip the Apostle, New Trier High School, St. Joseph College Seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents:
Linda Krapf and the late George Cavallari
First Mass: May 17 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Peter, Volo

Nicholas Cavallari came to the seminary with some life experience. After high school, he worked as a car mechanic in Deerfield. He then joined the AmeriCorps national service program, doing different service projects throughout the country. During his second year as an AmeriCorps volunteer, he worked with at-risk youth in Montpelier, Vermont. Following his volunteer service, he returned to part-time college while working at Starbucks before entering St. Joseph College Seminary.

Michael Grzesik, 47

First Assignment: Church of St. Mary, Lake Forest
Born in:
Flint, Michigan
Education:
St. John Vianney, Flint, Michigan; Powers Catholic High School, Flint, Michigan; Columbia College Chicago; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents:
Catherine Philibin and Henry Grzesik
First Mass: May 17 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Alphonsus, 1429 W. Wellington Ave.

Owning his own business that helped people find Christ led Michael Grzesik to his vocation. Grzesik had a company that organized religious pilgrimages to Catholic shrines around the world, and it was on one of those pilgrimages to Medjugorje that he heard the call to priesthood.

“Even though the church has not yet determined the authenticity of the alleged apparitions there, my own experience of hearing God’s call to follow him was like a spiritual jumpstart to a dead battery.” Grzesik said. “My road to priesthood has taken many twists and turns over the years but it was our lady who brought me back to the faith and to a deeper relationship with her son, Jesus.”

Matthew Heinrich, 26

First Assignment: Ss. Faith, Hope and Charity, Winnetka
Born in: Chicago
Education:
Our Lady of Victory School, Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary; St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University/Catholic University of America; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents:
Lizbeth Stich and Leonard Heinrich
First Mass: May 17 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Victory, 5212 W. Agatite Ave.

Matthew Heinrich said he began thinking about the seminary when he was in fifth grade “for no particular reason that I can remember. It simply came into my head while I was at our school’s Mass,” he said.

From there, after discernment and encouragement from his pastor, he attended Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and went on to college seminary.

“After many personal ups and downs through high school college, and major seminary I find myself at the precipice of the end of 13 years in seminary. During that time I’ve traveled nearly across the world, studied under a number of inspiring teachers, earned my master’s in philosophy and am working towards one in theology, and have grown intellectually and spiritually in my faith,” Heinrich said. “I am grateful and fully recognize I would not be here without the help of God or his people. For this I give thanks to him who I hope to serve.”

Nicholas Kostyk, 30

First Assignment: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Glenview
Born in:
Chicago
Education:
St. Joseph, Summit; St. Laurence High School, Burbank; Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois; Christendom College, Alexandria, Virginia; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents: Bernadette Kocian and Myron Kostyk
First Mass:
May 17 at noon at St. Thomas More, 2825 W, 81st St.

When Nicholas Kostyk is ordained, he will have faculties to celebrate in both the Roman and Byzantine Catholic rites. That’s because Kostyk, whose father is Ukrainian Catholic, was baptized and confirmed in the Ukrainian Catholic church, making him Ukrainian Catholic as well. However, his mother is Roman Catholic, and he grew up practicing Roman Catholicism.

Like many future priests, he first thought about a vocation to the priesthood around the time of his first Communion — “It was probably the first thing I wanted to be,” he said — but went back and forth on the idea until his sophomore year of high school, when he took an engaging and demanding theology class. “I fell in love with it,” Kostyk said. “I found my life’s work.”

The issue created by his Ukrainian Catholic baptism was noted when he entered Mundelein, so the the archdiocese worked to get Kostyk dual faculties.

Julio Lam, 38

First Assignment: Most Blessed Trinity, Waukegan
Born in:
Havana, Cuba
Education:
Elementary and high school in Cuba, Instituto de Ciéncias Médicas de la Habana, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents:
Caridad and Julio Lam
First Mass:
May 17 at 12:15 p.m. at St. Alphonsus, 1429 W. Wellington Ave.

Julio Lam grew up in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and followed in his father’s footsteps by studying medicine at the University of Havana. He was initiated into the Catholic Church when he was 18 and soon got involved in parish ministries like the youth group, young adult ministry, religious education and pastoral council. He came to the United States in 2002 after finishing medical school, and lived in Miami for about three years. He came to Chicago 2006 to enroll in the emergency medicine program at Stroger Hospital. “It was here in Chicago that I paid closer attention to my call to the priesthood,” he said.

Jaroslaw (Jarek) Maciejewski, 30

First Assignment: St. William Parish, 2600 N. Sayre Ave.
Born in: Olstzyn, Poland
Education:
Elementary school, high school and undergraduate college all in Poland; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents:
Bogumila and Henryk Maciejewski
First Mass:
May 16 at 4 p.m. in English, May 17 at 1.30 p.m. in Polish, at St. Monica, 5136 N. Nottingham

Jarek Maciejewski’s vocation story began when he was 4 years old and watched his older brother serve daily Mass at their parish in Poland.

“Seeing him there I had no other dream but joining him, and we attended Mass every day at 7 a.m. for the following 12 years, no matter rain or snow, we were always there to serve God at Mass,” Maciejewski said. While that sparked the thought of priesthood, he followed another dream when he went to college, that of learning English. While he was studying, however, a friend who had been a seminarian made him reconsider the priesthood. With his English skills, he investigated the possibility of being a priest in the United States and came to Chicago. He arrived in 2009.

Michael Olson, 26

First Assignment: St. Christina, 11005 S. Homan Ave.
Born in:
Deer Park
Education:
St. Francis de Sales School, Lake Zurich; Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary; St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University Chicago; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents: Mary Boland and David Olson
First Mass:
May 17 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Francis de Sales, Lake Zurich

Michael Olsen first considered priesthood while in seventh grade at St. Francis de Sales School in Lake Zurich. It was an ongoing journaling assignment in English class that led him to consider his vocation. “I began to direct my journaling towards God and started asking him different questions,” Olson said. “After several months of this I had developed a prayer life with God and deep friendship with him. Eventually, one of the questions that I asked God was, ‘What do you want me to do with my life?’ The response that I received was, ‘I want you to be a priest.’”

That vocation has been affirmed throughout his time in seminary. One especially formative experience was the chance to travel to Kolkata, India, in 2008 to work with the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s community. “It was during this time that we worked with the poorest of the poor, the dying who had no one to care for them, and the abandoned children who were unwanted,” he said. “The sisters, brothers and priests who cared for these people, God’s children, have truly inspired me during my time in the seminary.”

Olson said he asks everyone to continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood, and also that children have “devout and loving parents who are the first teachers of the faith. I am forever grateful first to God for the love and mercy that he has shown me in all things and I am especially grateful to my parents and brother who have supported, loved and prayed for me during my time in the seminary to be a good and loving priest.”

Lukas Ouda, 37

First Assignment: Blessed Sacrament, 3745 S. Paulina St.
Born in:
Nandi Hills, Kenya
Education:
Primary school and high school seminary in Kenya, Consolata Instutite of Philosophy, Nairobi, Kenya; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents:
Elias Ouda and the late Paskalia Akinyi
First Mass: May 16 at 5 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy, 4432 N. Troy St.

No further information provided.

Robert Regan, 46

First Assignment: St. Julie Billiart, Tinley Park
Born in:
Berwyn
Education:
St. Leonard; Morton West High School; Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents: the late Rita Sluka and the late James E. Regan
First Mass:
May 17 at noon at St. Julie Billiart, Tinley Park

Bob Regan heard the calling to the priesthood as a young boy growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, the vocation wasn’t nurtured at that time. He went on to high school, and spent his summers working at Riverside Golf Club as a caddie, golf shop employee and caddie superintendent, under the watchful eyes of the head professional Bill Heald. During his college years, he fell away from the practice of his faith but never lost his belief in God or the church. He spent roughly 15 years in the newspaper business, mainly as a writer and editor but also in advertising. Life took a turn when his oldest brother died from a heart attack at the age of 42. This began a slow return to his faith. By 2004, he was back in the pews and rediscovering the faith through adult eyes. The faith was no longer about rules, guilt and oppression, but about love, forgiveness and freedom. As he immersed himself deeper, the childhood calling to the priesthood returned. He discerned this call for one year, before entering Mundelein Seminary in August 2009 to begin a six-year journey toward ordination.

Piotr Samborski, 27

First Assignment: St. John Brebeuf, Niles
Born in:
Siedlce, Poland
Education:
Elementary and high school in Poland; Wyzsze Seminarium Duchwowne Im. Jana Pawla II Diecezji Siedleckiej; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary
Parents: Ewa Pomaranska and Wojciech Samborski
First Mass:
May 17 at 10:15 a.m. at St. Ferdinand Parish, 5900 W. Barry Ave.

Piotr Samborski first considered the priesthood when he was 13 or 14 years old and serving at the altar.

“I just felt comfortable on the other side of the altar,” he said.

He kept coming back to the idea through high school, and when he was ready for college, he entered the major seminary in Siedlce. It was there that that he heard about Bishop Abramowicz Seminary in Chicago, a house for Polish seminarians who hope to study in and be ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The rector of Bishop Abramowicz visited his seminary and gave a general invitation.

“That was the crucial moment,” said Samborski of his decision to come to Chicago. “That was my dream, to speak a different language and study in a different country.”