Meet the new archdiocesan priests

By Chicago Catholic
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The nine priests ordained May 15, 2021, at Holy Name Cathedral give their first blessing to Cardinal Cupich. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

To read this article in Spanish, click here.

Cardinal Cupich ordained nine men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago May 15 at Holy Name Cathedral. The men range in age from 26 to 55 and hail from the Archdiocese of Chicago, other U.S. states, Colombia, Mexico and Poland. Eight are diocesan priests and one is a Canon Regular of St. John Cantius. They begin their new assignments July 1. Chicago Catholic congratulates all of them.

Father Ryan Patrick Brady, 37

First assignment: Our Lady of the Ridge and St. Linus (Chicago Ridge and Oak Lawn)

Born in: Evergreen Park

Education: Marist High School, Loyola University Chicago, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Terrence and Sharon Brady

First Mass: May 16, 12:30 p.m., Holy Name Cathedral

Father Ryan Patrick Brady first felt called to the priesthood while a student at Marist High School, and he entered St. Joseph College Seminary right after he graduated.

Two years later, he left the seminary.

“I was too young and immature to properly discern priesthood,” Brady said. “I needed to grow up some.”

He finished his philosophy degree at Loyola University Chicago and began working in sales. His relationship with Christ grew distant at times, he said, but there was always something calling him in the back of his mind. When he turned 30, he began focusing more on his faith, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and eventually taking a weekend job at Holy Name Cathedral and working on the development team at Catholic Charities.

“I loved my work at Catholic Charities and wanted to work there for the rest of my life, but I knew the Lord was calling me to something else,” Brady said. “Jesus Christ was calling me to be his priest.

“Many parishioners at my home parish of St. Christina, at Holy Name and at Catholic Charities encouraged me to be a priest. It was these ‘little yesses’ which I finally understood as affirmation from Christ that I was truly called to be a priest.”

Canon Nathan Patrick Ford, SJC, 27

First assignment: St. John Cantius, 825 N. Carpenter St.

Born in: Coldwater, Michigan

Education: Washington Elementary School and Coldwater High School, Coldwater, Michigan; Rensselaer Central High School, Rensselaer, Indiana; Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell, Connecticut; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Kelly and Jodi Ford

First Mass: May 16, 12:30 p.m., St. John Cantius

Canon Nathan Patrick Ford, who is the eldest of four children in his family, knew he wanted to be a priest from the time he was 6 or 7 years old, he said.

He joined the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in the summer of 2011, after completing high school.

“I was drawn to this new little order for a few reasons: the importance they place on living out the liturgical life and tradition, the close brotherhood that I encountered, and the joy that these men all had.”

On the bottom of his chalice is engraved “Nolite Timere” (“Do not be afraid.”).

“It’s a constant reminder for myself each day as I ascend the steps of the altar, or put on the violet stole in the confessional, or sing forth the ancient psalms of the church,” he said. “It’s a reminder for us all; a reminder for us to trust Him, despite our weaknesses, and to love with full hearts.”

Father Christopher Landfried, 55

First assignment: St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, 6020 W. Ardmore Ave.

Born in: Fairfax, Virginia

Education: Wilson Elementary and Belvidere Elementary, JEB Stuart High School, all in Virginia; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: The late Harold Landfried and the late Wilma Stoute

First Mass: May 16, 1 p.m., Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Des Plaines

Prior to entering the seminary, Father Christopher Landfried had careers in mortgage finance and income tax preparation and real estate property rehab and management. He also worked as a manufacturing account executive, production planner and scheduler and in purchasing; and as manager and corporate trainer for a restaurant chain.

His work took him from northern Virginia, where he was born, to Los Angeles; Zacatecas, Mexico; and then Chicago.

“My call was a gradual growth in the faith and discovery of the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood,” Landfried said. “I started asking God questions about discernment during time in eucharistic adoration at my parish. Dedication to discernment and prayer, seminary studies and formation and internships as a hospital chaplain and at a parish all helped to affirm and confirm that the call was real.”

Father Andrew Matijevich, 26

First assignment: Holy Name Cathedral, 730 N. Wabash Ave.

Born in: Skokie

Education: St. Thomas of Villanova and Palatine High School, Palatine; St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University Chicago; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Michael and Elizabeth Matijevich

First Mass: May 16, 5 p.m., St. Thomas of Villanova, Palatine

Father Andrew Matijevich has three brothers, one of them a fraternal twin. His whole family is service-oriented, he said.

Matijevich said he first felt called to the priesthood while preparing for his first Communion in 2003.

“On the day of my first Communion, May 10, 2003, after receiving the Eucharist for the first time, I felt Jesus say to me, ‘Andy, I want you to be a priest, come and follow me,’” Matijevich said.

He was the first suburban public high school participant in the Quigley Scholars Program, which was created after Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary closed to allow high school boys to discern priesthood in a supportive environment.

“One of the greatest blessings of my discernment journey was being in the Quigley Scholars as well as attending college seminary, knowing I was not alone in my discernment and there were other young men discerning with me.” Matijevich said. “Though I am the only member of my Quigley Scholar class that went on to Mundelein and am the first Quigley Scholar in the program to be ordained, the journey of discipleship was strengthened through this program.”

Father Ritchie Ortiz-Juárez, 28

First assignment: Santa Maria del Popolo, Mundelein

Born in: San Jose, California

Education: Twin Oaks School, San Marcos, California; Rancho Verde High School; Moreno Valley, California; St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University Chicago; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Filiberto Ortiz and Aurea Juárez

First Mass: May 16, 11 a.m. English and 2:30 p.m. Spanish, Good Shepherd

Father Ritchie Ortiz-Juárez signed up to be an altar server on the day he made his first Communion. He had his first inkling that he might be called to the priesthood on a day he was scheduled to serve Mass.

“The priest that was assigned to preside at the Mass did not show up,” Ortiz-Juárez said. “The deacon celebrated the Liturgy of the Word and after I received Communion, I knelt to pray. Something inside my heart was moved and a question popped in my head: ‘What are you going to do about this?’ I thought, ‘I cannot be a priest, I am too young.’”

Now, he said, his favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 1:6-7: “I do not know how to speak, I am too young.”

Ortiz-Juárez graduated from St. Joseph College Seminary and then took two years to teach special education and work at Starbucks before entering the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

He still enjoys meeting people over coffee, he said, and evangelizing through the Alpha program.

Father Robert Ryan, 36

First assignment: St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier Parish, Wilmette

Born in: Vincennes, Indiana

Education: Emmons School and Antioch Community High School, Antioch; Michigan State University; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Steven and Susan Ryan

First Mass: May 16, 1 p.m., St. Theresa, Palatine, and May 22, 9:30 a.m., Our Lady of the Lakes, St. Peter worship site, Antioch

Father Robert Ryan was born in Indiana and moved as a child to Antioch, where he received his sacraments of initiation at St. Peter Parish.

He earned a degree in advertising at Michigan State University and worked in sales at Dell Technologies in Austin, Texas, before returning to Antioch in 2012.

That was when he returned to the church after “a powerful experience of the Lord’s grace and mercy” in the sacrament of reconciliation. At the suggestion of several friends and parishioners, he began exploring the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood.

He felt called to the priesthood during eucharistic adoration, and he entered the seminary in 2015.

Father Leonel Sepulveda, 26

First assignment: Our Lady of Mercy, 4432 N. Troy St.

Born in: San Francisco de Asis, Jalisco, Mexico

Education: Colegio Loyola, Jalisco, Mexico; Thornton Township High School, Harvey; St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University Chicago; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Gabriel and Ana Sepulveda

First Mass: May 15, 6:30 p.m., St. John the Baptist Parish, Harvey

Father Leonel Sepulveda was born and raised in a small town in Jalisco, Mexico, a town where life revolved around the local parish. “For all intents and purposes, then, my family and everyone I knew inhabited a ‘Catholic bubble,’” Sepulveda said. “All the adults who influenced my early growth and development, therefore, inculcated in me a strong sense of Catholic sacredness, a feeling that one’s life must be directed to one person in specific, Jesus Christ.”

He began considering a vocation to the priesthood while preparing for first Communion, and the thought never left him, even though the only person he confided in was his childhood best friend.

His plans were upended when his whole family moved to the U.S. when he was 16.

“While moving to a new country appeared to be exciting to me as a teenager, I instantly wondered what would happen to my vocation in a foreign land,” Sepulveda said. “I knew absolutely nothing about the Catholic Church in the U.S. In fact, I used to think that seminaries did not exist here!”

He thought he would return to Mexico to enter seminary, but when he was a senior in high school, a teacher suggested that he look into St. Joseph College Seminary.

“From there, all is history,” he said. “I visited the [seminary] and became convinced that I could study for the priesthood in the U.S. My experience has been full of blessings. I cannot believe how fast it has gone by.”

Father Daniel Villalobos, 36

First assignment: St. Michael, Orland Park

Born in: Bogata, Colombia

Education: Escuela La Virgen, Colegio Nacional Emilio Cifuentes, UNIMINUTO, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, all in Colombia; University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Blanca Velasquez and the late Sady Villalobos

First Mass: May 16; 9:30 a.m. at St. Emily, Mount Prospect, in English; 12:30 p.m. at St. Bede the Venerable, 8200 S. Kostner Ave., in Spanish

Father Daniel Villalobos grew up in a Catholic family in a town near Bogata, Colombia, and had his first inkling of a call to priesthood in a children’s group at his parish.

He was afraid to go to seminary after high school, though, so he studied journalism. While in college, he was sent to a parish to help start a newspaper, and began discerning his vocation again. After earning his journalism degree, he entered a religious order, in which he earned a degree in philosophy and ministered and went through formation in Chile and Belize as well as Colombia. He went to Montreal to start his theology studies and then discerned that he was called to be a diocesan priest.

A priest friend suggested he look into formation in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“I am grateful with God and all the people in this great archdiocese who have been part of my formation journey,” he said.

Father Sebastian Zebrowski, 29

First assignment: Immaculate Conception and Five Holy Martyrs Parish, 2745 W. 44th St.

Born in: Lukow, Poland

Education: Elementary school in Hermanow, gimnazjum in Wojcieszkow,  21st Liceum in Lublin, Major Seminary of Diocese of Siedlce, all in Poland; the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

Parents: Malgorzata Zebrowska and the late Zbigniew Zebrowski

First Mass: May 15; 5 p.m. at St. Norbert & Our Lady of the Brook, Northbrook

Father Sebastian Zebrowski is the oldest of three children of a teacher and a farmer. His father died in 2015. He became an altar server after his first Communion, attended a Catholic high school and afterwards entered the seminary in his home Diocese of Siedlce. He joined the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Bishop Abramowicz Seminary that prepared Polish seminarians to study for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Chicago a couple of years later. After a year, he was admitted to Mundelein Seminary.



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