The Archdiocese of Chicago was to welcome 12 new priests on May 17. They hail from Mexico, Poland and the archdiocese itself, and they range in age from 25 to 44, 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. Juan Luis Andrade-Limon, 32 First Assignment: St. Mary Star of the Sea, 6424 S. Kenneth Ave. Born in: Guadalajara, Mexico Education: Elementary and high school in Mexico; philosophy at diocesan seminary in Guadalajara; theology at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Carmen Limon-Zuñiga and Luis Andrade-Garcia First Mass: May 28, Nuestra Señora del Rosario. Ocotlan, Jalisco. Mexico Juan Luis Andrade-Limon first thought about becoming a priest when he was only 5 or 6 years old and would pretend to celebrate the Mass. He also volunteered to help in his parish as a catechist. But he never was an altar server. “I didn’t like them,” he said. His mother did not like the idea of him becoming a priest, at least not at first. She came around to the idea during his years in seminary, starting when he was 17, and now supports his vocation. He came to Chicago in 2009 through Casa Jesus, the house of formation for Spanish-speaking priesthood candidates. Also, he said, he loves to sing. Connor Coyle Danstrom, 29 First Assignment: St. Benedict, Blue Island, and St. Peter Claver, Robbins Born in: Wheaton, Ill. Education: Crow Island Elementary, Washburne Junior High and New Trier High School, Winnetka; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of St. Mary of the Lake/ Mundelein Seminary Parents: Colleen Coyle and Richard Danstrom First Mass: May 18, 10:30 a.m., Sacred Heart, Winnetka Connor Danstrom found his vocation to the priesthood when he moved into the Newman Center residence hall at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the time, he said, he chose the Newman Center because it had a great location and because he wanted to learn more about his faith. “In many ways Newman was like any college dorm, full of eager 18- and 19-year olds like me, itching to take advantage of their newfound freedom,” he said. “But through an experience of reading the Gospel of Luke with my father and a powerful encounter in the sacrament of penance near the end of high school, a desire had awakened in me to know more about this Jesus who I had heard so much about.” He attended the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) national conference in Denver during his freshman year. By the time he returned to Illinois, he knew that to be happy, he had to make his faith a priority. Back at the Newman Center, he came to know the young priests on staff, and began to consider whether he was being called to be a priest. “For the first time priesthood seemed attractive. Here these men were living lives full of joy and meaning and leading others closer to the God who loves them,” he said. “By the end of my sophomore year, I was fairly certain that I needed to enter the seminary after college in order to investigate this call I was hearing.” After college, Danstrom worked for a year as a wildland firefighter in northern California, and entered Mundelein Seminary in August 2008. Dan Ignatius Folwaczny, 28 First Assignment: St. Norbert, Northbrook Born in: Chicago Education: Schubert Elementary, Chicago; Devonshire Elementary, Des Plaines; Elk Grove High School, Elk Grove Village; Illinois Institute of Technology; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Jadwiga Pietrzak and Ignacy Folwaczny First Mass: May 18, 9:30 a.m., St. James Parish, 2942 S. Wabash Ave. It was a girlfriend’s question that eventually led Dan Folwaczny to the priesthood. Near the end of high school, his then-girlfriend asked him, “Are you saved?” “I didn’t really know how to answer that, but I had a sense that I should,” Folwaczny said. So as he started college, he began taking his faith more seriously, attending Mass and going to confession more often, and he began feeling an attraction to the priesthood. He struggled with it at first. “For most of my life, I had assumed that I would eventually get a job, get married, have children,” he said. “It was difficult to come to grips with the idea that God might be calling me to something completely different.” While his journey since then has also had its share of difficulties, the “abundant graces” have more than made up for it. Derek Ho, 31 First Assignment: St. Celestine, Elmwood Park Born in: Buffalo Grove Education: Joyce Kilmer Elementary, Buffalo Grove High School, both in Buffalo Grove; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Midge and Benedict Ho First Mass: May 18, 11:30 a.m., St. Edna, Arlington Heights Derek Ho studied finance and accounting in college, and after graduation, he worked for a year as a consulting analyst at Accenture. “It was a good experience and I was thrust into making a living like most people in society but I ultimately felt God calling me to follow him in a different way,” Ho said. “As a result, I left my job to become a missionary for an organization called FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. FOCUS missionaries commit two years to serving college students by leading Bible studies and mentoring them one-on-one. I benefitted greatly from the FOCUS missionaries I had met in college and I hoped I could do the same for others.” He spent two years as a FOCUS missionary at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. “This experience of giving my life to others and witnessing God do remarkable things in their lives opened me up to the possibility of serving God as a priest,” he said. Matthew Jamesson, 29 First assignment: St. Theresa, Palatine Born in: Carson City, Nev. Education: Hammerschmidt Elementary, Glenn Westlake Middle School, Glenbard East High School, all in Lombard, Ill.; Benedictine University, Lisle; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Rhett and Bernadita Jamesson First Mass: May 18, 11 a.m., Sacred Heart, Lombard Matthew Jamesson might have been born in Nevada and gone to school in Lombard, Ill., but he spent most of the years in between with his parents and his older brother, Bryce, in the Philippines. Before entering the seminary, he worked for about six years as a certified nursing assistant. His last position in that role was at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s St. Joseph Home in Palatine, right across the road from the parish where he will have his first priestly assignment. It also has the same patron — St. Therese the Little Flower — as the church where he was baptized. “I think someone’s trying to show me the Little Way,” Jamesson said. He will continue his education at Mundelein for a year after ordination to complete his licentiate in sacred theology. Isaac Lara, 28 First Assignment: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Glenview Born in: Tlaxcala, Mexico Education: Elementary and high school in Mexico, Seminario Conciliar de Tlaxcala, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Berta and Marcelino Lara First Mass: May 17, 5 p.m., St. Catherine Laboure, Glenview Isaac Lara wasn’t much of a churchgoer when he was in high school, but his way to school took him past five churches. Eventually, he started visiting them, to pray and attend Mass. He found that he enjoyed the homilies of a priest at one of the churches, and began to wonder if he was being called to the priesthood. The idea took root, and he entered the college seminary. While in seminary, he met Father Alejandro Garrido, who was rector of Casa Jesus, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s house of discernment and formation for Spanish speaking men. Father Garrido invited him to apply, and he arrived in Chicago in 2008. “My mom and dad were already in the States,” he said, “and I remembered my mom talking about their church. It was a Latino parish, but the priest was from somewhere else, another country, and she would be so happy when they would have a visiting priest from Mexico or South America. It was someone they could relate to.” At the same time, he said, priesthood in Chicago is the same as priesthood in Tlaxcala or in Africa, for that matter. “We are one universal church,” he said. “A priest is a priest anywhere.” Grzegorz Lorens, 32 First Assignment: St. John the Evangelist, Streamwood Born in: Skarzysko-Kamienna, Poland Education: Elementary and high school and undergraduate college all in Poland; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Anna Przytula and Antoni Edward Lorens First Mass: May 17, 5 p.m., St. Joseph, Wilmette Grzegorz “Greg” Lorens grew up in central Poland with his parents and younger sister. He began discerning a vocation to the priesthood right after high school, attending the seminary in his home diocese of Radom for two years. He left the seminary then to allow time to further discern his vocation, finishing his bachelor’s degree at another college. He first came to the United States nine years ago, spending the summers of 2005-2007 visiting areas mostly on the East Coast. “I believe that during these trips I rediscovered my vocation to the priesthood and that God is calling me to serve him and his people here in the U.S.,” Lorens said. After returning to Poland in 2007, a priest friend told him about the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Bishop Abramowicz Program for Polish speaking seminarians who would like to serve in the archdiocese, and he arrived in 2008, spending a year in formation and learning English before entering Mundelein in 2009. Francisco Javier Luna Silguero, 44 First Assignment: Good Shepherd, 2735 S. Kolin Ave. Born in: Monterrey, Mexico Education: Elementary and high school and undergraduate college in Mexico; Archdiocesan Seminary of Monterrey; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: the late Matilde and Jesus Luna First Mass: May 17, 5:30 p.m., St. Sylvester Francisco Luna grew up with two sisters and three brothers in Monterrey, Mexico, and studied accounting in college. He got a job and worked in that field for nine years, but there was always something missing. After three years joining in the apostolic work of his parish, and getting to know the priests there better, he felt he might have a call to the priesthood, so he began studying at the diocesan seminary there. But after three years, he still wasn’t sure, so he took some time to discern Then, in 2009, he learned about Casa Jesus, which would allow him to exercise his priestly ministry in a “land of mission.” “At Casa Jesus, I found the joy of continuing the dream to obtain from God the gift of the holy priesthood. Moreover, I made great friends, and I found there the opportunity to prepare myself for the near future. James Andrew Mueller, 28 First Assignment: Most Blessed Trinity, Waukegan Born in: Chicago Education: Patton Elementary, Arlington Heights; Northridge Prep, Niles; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Mary Anne Mueller First Mass: May 18, 1 p.m., St. James, Arlington Heights Jamie Mueller first thought of becoming a priest when, as a young boy, his mother brought him to daily Mass. A trip to Michoacan, Mexico, while he was in high school — when he didn’t speak a word of Spanish — gave him a determination to learn the language, and he studied Spanish and international relations. After college, a month spent with the Missionaries of Charity in Tijuana, Mexico, and a year working at Loyola Press helped him confirm his vocation to the priesthood. “I have not regretted going to seminary even for a day,” he said. He has continued his focus on Latin America while in seminary, spending two summers in El Salvador at an orphanage named Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos. Marek Maciej Smolka, 29 First Assignment: St. Francis Borgia, 8033 W. Addison St. Born in: Zakopane, Poland Education: Elementary school in Poland; Hubbard High School; Moraine Valley Community College. St. Joseph College Seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Anna Jaronczyk and Jozef Smolka First Mass: May 18, 1:15 p.m. p.m., St. Albert the Great, Burbank Marek Smolka felt a bit lost when his family moved to Chicago from his home in southern Poland after his first year at the Salesian Catholic high school there. He had been active in his parish in Poland, serving at the altar and then organizing events for the youth group. Overnight, that support system was gone. “I became an American high school student,” he said. “I needed desperately to learn English and to graduate and continue my education. I was very new to the life in America, I didn’t have many friends, and I missed my active life in youth ministry in Poland. I was seeking something but there was no youth group in my new parish, so I felt alone.” That feeling gradually left him as he became a catechist in a Polish Saturday school, eventually becoming a catechist certified by the archdiocese and then becoming more involved in his parish’s life. At the same time, he started wondering if he was being called to become a priest. “At first it was terrifying, I was worried if I was right, if this is what God wants me to be,” he said. But after a vocation retreat, he applied to St. Joseph College Seminary. Michael Wyrzykowski, 35 First Assignment: St. Ferdinand, 5900 W. Barry Born in: Szczecin, Poland Education: Prussing Elementary; Addison Trail High School, Addison, Ill.; DeVry University; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Wieslawa Witkowska and Marcin Wyrzykowski First Mass: May 18, 10:30 a.m., Holy Trinity Michael Wyrzykowski moved from his native Poland to the Chicago area with his family in 1989, living first in the city and then the suburbs. He has been involved in Holy Trinity Parish ever since he came to the area. He served as an altar server, lector, a coordinator of young adult ministry and a member of the music ministry, while earning a degree in technical management. Before entering the seminary, he joined the Together in God’s Service lay ministry formation program. The program prepares lay men and women for vocational and professional involvement in the life of the local church and Catholic schools. He entered the seminary in 2008. Bradley Angelo Zamora, 25 First Assignment: Holy Name Cathedral Born in: Chicago Education: St. Stephen and St. Barbara (Throop Street); Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary; St. Joseph College Seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Parents: Dawn Sierzega and Martin Zamora First Mass: May 18, 3 p.m., St. Barbara, Throop Street Bradley Zamora might be only 25, but he has a resume of work for and in the church that would rival many men twice his age. He started working as a sacristan and night receptionist at Holy Name Cathedral while still in high school, keeping that position into his college years and eventually being promoted to associate coordinator of sacristans. During high school, he also worked at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. From 2005 2007 he was director of English music ministries at Good Shepherd Parish in the Little Village neighborhood, and from 2006 to 2008 he served as the choir director and organist at St. Barbara, directing the adult and children’s choirs and leading a group of cantors. He also has been active with the K.S.K.J. St. Stephen Lodge #1 of the American Slovenian Catholic Union, serving at times as the athletic director and youth director and now serving as president and communications director. Zamora also has been the volunteer coordinator of young adult ministry at St. Barbara, seminarian associate at St. Thomas of Villanova Parish in Palatine and a master of ceremonies for Auxiliary Bishops George Rassas and Francis Kane.