See slideshow of the Ordination Ceremony

Meet Our New Priests

On Saturday, May 11, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell ordained seven new priests, who will serve in the Archdiocese of Hartford. As they prepared for this joyous occasion, Director of Communications Maria Zone interviewed them. We hope that their responses will give you a glimpse into why these men were called to the priesthood. As transitional deacons, they assumed the title of Reverend Mister. Once they are ordained, they take the title of Reverend, more commonly referred to as Father.

Rev. William AgyemangREVEREND WILLIAM AGYEMANG
Why did you decide to become a priest?  Who or what inspired you?
I will answer this question by quoting what Second Vatican Council says that “the Church is by her nature missionary” (Ad Gentes, 2). The Church is commanded by Christ to go and baptize all nations. Indeed, the Church is joined to Christ, who was sent into the world by His Heavenly Father to redeem the world. The role of the Church in the world can be summed up in terms of her mission into continents, countries and nations, rural and urban cities, towns, forests and even farms, wherever people live----to bring the Good News of Jesus. I decided to become a priest in order to fulfill this mission entrusted to the Church. I was inspired by this to spread the news to the world.

As a priest, what would you like to accomplish?
I think it is not what I want to accomplish, but, what I can do with the Church. The Church has her mission and agenda so it is up to me to tailor mine with that of the Church. I am to do what the Church asks me to do and not what I want to do for the Church.

Where did you study? Was preparing for the priesthood difficult?
I began my education in Ghana, in the Sub-Sahara Region and continued it in the United States. Priesthood is a unique call to serve the Lord. With this, there are many preparations that go into them. These preparations are to form me to be another Christ when I am ordained. Thus, it is not the difficulty that the Church looks at, but the richness of the formation which is dear to the Church’s heart.

Talk about how your family may have impacted your decision to pursue the priesthood.
I believe my first contact with the Church, and for that matter the decision to become a priest, goes to my mother; a woman, who taught me the Church’s simple prayer, explained in basic terms the creed, the honor given to Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostolic Church, the role of the saints, and a lot. A woman with an unflinched faith, catering for six children in the throes of difficulties, yet, she did perfectly well to raise us all Catholics and now the last of all is becoming a priest. I thank God for this wonderful call and I see my priesthood as a reward from God to my mother.


Rev. Peter BuczekREVEREND PETER BUCZEK
Why did you become a priest?
My name is Piotr (Peter) Buczek and I am a seminarian from SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Michigan. I was born in Poland, and spent most of my life in Krakow, one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. I grew up in Catholic and devout family. As one of four children I received from my parents a solid faith-rooted Catholic education. Now from the perspective of life I can say that it was and still it is for me a great blessing.

Who or what inspired you?
I discovered my vocation to priesthood during my last year of high school. After graduation, I joined to the Archdiocesan Seminary in Krakow- where John Paul II studied. After two years of discerning and constant prayer where God wants me to be, I decided to go to the United States of America and work here as a missionary priest.

As a priest, what would you like to accomplish?
When I look on my life, I’m astonished at how patient God is and was with me. I hope that He will guide me to be a good priest and good servant of His Gospel.

 

Rev. Michael CaseyREVEREND MICHAEL CASEY
Why did you decide to become a priest?  Who or what inspired you?
First and foremost, I decided to become a priest because of the totally unmerited call of Jesus Christ.  Jesus knew me before I was even born and out of his total love he called me to follow him in this particular way. 
When I was in high school, Pope John Paul II died and his amazing life was front and center in the mass media for a number of weeks.  The example of his life showed that even one good priest, responding to God’s call in faithful trust, can radically change the world. 
I was further inspired by my home pastor, Father Paul Pace, who was for me a daily model of priestly service and dedication.  His daily labor in service of those entrusted to his care was, for me, a very local example of priestly charity. 

As a priest, what would you like to accomplish?
As a priest it will be my life work to bring people to God and God to people.  In my time in the seminary, I have fallen deeply in love with Jesus Christ.  His love is the center of my life and this great love is communicated to us primarily though the Sacraments: Baptism, The Eucharist, Confession, and anointing.  The priest celebrates these sacraments bringing Jesus into every aspect of the Catholic’s life.  Further the priest preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of his birth, death, and resurrection.  This is the good news which has power to change the whole world and every human heart.  As a priest, I hope to daily be faithful to these two major tasks, celebrating the sacraments and proclaiming the Gospel. 

Where did you study? Was preparing for the priesthood difficult?
I studied for four years at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia and then for four years at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  Preparing for the priesthood was at times difficult, but overall, it was a great joy.  Just like in learning a skill or beginning a new exercise routine, it takes real work at first, but over time it gets easier and more joyful. When you are in love, difficulties don’t necessarily disappear, but they become ways to grow in love, milestones to pass, and in the end purify our love so that our gift of self can be total and authentic.  My eight years of preparation have been filled with many joys and blessings, and these make any and all of the difficulties worth it.

Talk about how your family may have impacted your decision to pursue the priesthood.
My family was from day one incredibly supportive of my decision to enter the seminary.  Pope John Paul II called the family, “the first seminary,” so in many ways my time in seminary has been a continuation of the value and love that I learned at home.  Further in the last four years, while I have been away in Rome, my family has been always willing to endure my being half a world away for such a long time.  In this, I am particularly grateful to my sister, Caitlin, who has been so generous in her service to the rest of our family on my behalf.

 

Rev. Timothy HickeyREVEREND TIMOTHY HICKEY

Why did you decide to become a priest?  Who or what inspired you?
I decided to become a priest because in my heart of hearts, even after a successful career in Catholic journalism, I knew God was calling me to serve Him more fully as a priest.

I have been inspired by many priests, both known and unknown. Among the known, and chiefly: Hartford's own, the Venerable Servant of God, Father Michael J. McGivney, but also: Father Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who was martyred for the faith in Guatemala in 1981; Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the former archbishop of Saigon who spent nearly 18 years under house arrest and in solitary confinement after the Communists took control of Vietnam, but wrote beautifully on the virtue of hope during his imprisonment. 

As a priest, what would you like to accomplish?
I'd like to accomplish being a good priest for the people in whatever assignments I am given.

Where did you study?
I will receive my Master's of Divinity from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., but have also taken classes at St. Joseph Seminary/Dunwoodie in Yonkers, N.Y.

Was preparing for the priesthood difficult? At times, yes. 

Talk about how your family may have impacted your decision to pursue the priesthood.
I am the youngest of five. We grew up in a family that valued the faith, but we weren't a "hyper-Catholic" family by any stretch of the imagination. Our parents made sure we had the opportunity to attend Catholic school (from grade school through high school and college if we so desired). Our lives really revolved around the neighborhood/parish, the school, the family (extended and immediate) and our father's involvement in the Knights of Columbus. They are all very proud of me and will be coming to my ordination. My father passed away in November 1992, and my first Mass of thanksgiving will be offered for his intention.

 

Rev. John MarianoREVEREND JOHN MARIANO

Why did you decide to become a priest?  Who or what inspired you?
I decided to pursue the pathway to the priesthood about fifteen years ago.  I was not being spiritually fulfilled as a teacher, although I enjoyed my role as a middle school science teacher.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the lives of saints and missionary priests.  After retiring from teaching, I went on a pilgrimage to Rome and this jelled my decision to begin my road to the priesthood.  Listening to God’s inner voice was also very important for me.  In 2000, I played the role of St. Damien of Molokai in a play at my parish church.  This had a profound effect on my life.  A number of priests in Ct and friends here also encouraged me in my discernment toward serving God and his people.  

As a priest, what would you like to accomplish?
As a priest, I would like to draw all people to the Heart of Christ and into communion with the Most Holy Trinity.  I am very excited about celebrating the Mass, bringing the sacraments to God's people, and especially proclaiming the Gospel.  I enjoy visiting the sick and elderly.  I feel it is a great honor and blessing to serve God and His people as a priest.  If I have an opportunity, I would love to serve in a teaching apostolate in a parish and to utilize my own experience gained years ago in public education.  

Where did you study? Was preparing for the priesthood difficult?
I did my undergraduate work at UCONN in psychology and also received my MS in environmental education at Southern Conn. State University while I was teaching.  I studied philosophy at Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Ct and received my STB (Bachelors in Sacred Theology) at the Angelicum (St Thomas University) in Rome, Italy.  I also did graduate work in Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit before coming back to Ct in 2012.  Studying for the priesthood involves a lot of study, prayer, perseverance, and time.  The studies can be difficult especially in the areas of Greek, Hebrew, and canon law.  If God is calling a man to the priesthood, He will provide that man with the graces necessary to complete the studies which are required.  A seminarian needs to pray hard, work hard and cooperate with God' graces.  

Talk about how your family may have impacted your decision to pursue the priesthood.
I feel that the seeds of my vocation were planted early in my life by my parents and teachers at St. Francis Parish in Naugatuck, Ct.  My family always attended Mass as a family on Sundays.  My parents were very supportive of my decisions in life.  My parents were so instrumental in forming me well as a youngster.  After graduating from UCONN, I joined the US Peace Corps in Micronesia and served almost three years in the far Pacific.  Working with the Jesuit missionary priests and Mercedarian sisters in the mission school there had a profound effect on my budding vocation.

 

Rev. Carlos PiedrahitaREVEREND CARLOS PIEDRAHITA

Why did you decide to become a priest?
I decided to become priest because for me it is a personal call from God that will continue on until the day I’m called into His presence. It is an invitation to serve Him and to serve His people. In this call to service, I offer my life to God and serve as an instrument to bring others closer to Him, especially through the sacraments.

Who or what inspired you?
The life of Blessed John Paul II, as priest and Pope, inspired me a great deal, but also a lot of priests from my home diocese in Colombia, whom I consider great witnesses of the Gospel. Attending a Catholic school, run by the Brothers of La Salle, was a very important part of my life where I was inspired to give my life to the service of God and His people.

The life of St Theresa of Avila and St Ignatius of Loyola are very important for my vocation too, as well as the experience of youth retreats.

As a priest, what would you like to accomplish?
I would like to serve the people of God as the good shepherd always does. I’m away from my country and family, but the only desire that I have in my heart is to serve God wherever He may need me. If He needs my hands to work with the Latino community, I’ll be happy.  If he needs my help with the Anglo community, or the African-American community, or any other community, I’ll be more than happy doing so.

Where did you study?
I attended the Brothers of the Christians Schools of La Salle for 12 years at St. Charles School.
Some of the academic degrees I have attained within a period of nine years are: Bachelor in Business Administration (EAFIT University, Colombia), Master in Strategic Management of Cost and Finances (EAFIT University, Colombia) and two Diplomas in Human Resources and International Business (UNAM, Mexico).
I pursued philosophical studies at the University of St Thomas - St. Mary’s Seminary, Houston, TX. After that, I continued my theological formation in St Vincent de Paul Seminary, Boynton Beach, FL, and at St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, MA where I completed a Master in Divinity. At the same time I am working on getting my Sacred Theology License (STL) in Spirituality at Boston College.

Was preparing for the priesthood difficult?
Before I entered into the priestly formation program, I had the opportunity to work at various bank institutions and also as a professor at two universities in Colombia, which was a rewarding experience. Moving from the corporate world to a life in the seminary was not easy due to many challenges, like learning a new language and a new culture, but with the grace of God I have been able to move forward and never looked back. Changes usually come with trials, however, when we look forward to serving God, things become much more manageable and the obstacles we encounter on our way become opportunities for growth.

Talk about how your family may have impacted your decision to pursue the priesthood.
My family, which consists of my mother, Carmen, and my younger sister, Catalina, has been very supportive in my decision of becoming a priest. Before my father Oscar passed away from cancer, nine years ago, I knew that he was someone I could always count on, and I am sure that he is very happy for me now that he is in the presence of God. 

Both my father and mother have had great confidence in me from the very beginning. Their love and encouragement have been instrumental in my life, because this has empowered me to make important decisions in my life knowing that I have their full support in whatever judgments I make. However, their own faith has been an example in my life, and has shaped in many ways, the person I am today.

 

Rev. Michael SantiagoREVEREND MICHAEL SANTIAGO

Why did you decide to become a priest?  Who or what inspired you? 
I was 12 years old when I told my parents that I wanted to become a priest. I always felt God in my heart. They said that I was very young to make such an important decision, but that they would support me if that is what I wanted to do. My parish priest in Portugal had a great influence on me.

As a priest, what would you like to accomplish?
My mission will be to spread the Gospel of the Lord and teach people how to live by the Sacraments in their daily lives.

Where did you study?
I was born in Hartford, but my family returned to Portugal when I was two, so I completed most of my theological studies in Portugal, and did several months at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland.

Talk about how your family may have impacted your decision to pursue the priesthood.
I have a very supportive and loving family. My older brother and I always had them to turn to for support and they were always there for me. They have traveled from Portugal to attend my Ordination, and I know that they are very proud of me.


 

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