USCCB News Release
April 20, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Newark, Chicago, Washington, Portland Archdioceses have large ordination classes
Lawyers, finance experts attracted to priesthood
Converts from different Christian denominations among new priests
COMPUTER EXPERTS, REFUGEES, MARATHON RUNNERS, WIDOWERS –NEW U.S. PRIESTS MIRROR AMERICA
WASHINGTON—The ordination Class of 2009, with computer experts, refugees, marathon runners and second-career men, mirrors the United States today. The men from dioceses nationwide show that the call to serve God is heard at all ages. Respondents include attorneys, financiers, teachers and farmers.
Justin Minh Nguyen, of the Diocese of Austin, Texas, a skilled tailor, was a refugee from Vietnam. He was a parishioner of the only Vietnamese parish in Austin and is one of five men to be ordained for the diocese. He decided to be a priest when he was 10. Pablo Migone, one of four men to be ordained for the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, is a native of Lima, Peru, and came to the U.S. when he was nine. He started to think about priesthood in tenth grade.
Others from outside the United States include Fernando Jimenez, the first Hispanic to be ordained for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, and Pawel Sass, a native of Poland to be ordained for the Archdiocese of Washington. Budi Wardhana, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, will be the third native Indonesian-born priest ordained to serve in the United States.
Pre-seminary education and careers vary. Will Straten, of Austin, graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in agronomy and specialized training in turf management. Barry Stechschulte, of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, was a teacher and administrator at a Catholic elementary school. Carl Melchior of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, was equipment manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Edward Hegnauer of Washington is a geologist.
Matt Lee, one of seven men to be ordained for the Cincinnati Archdiocese, had a 12-year career in computer programming in the U.S. Air Force. Ken Halbur Jr. of the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, also worked in information technology. David Cupps, of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, worked for 18 years at Capital One and was one of the first people in its information technology division. Stephen Schultz, one of the men to be ordained for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, was director of operations at a computer server manufacturer.
Many had careers in law. Brian J. O'Donnell, one of four men to be ordained for the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, is a lawyer who was first in his law school class at the University of Maine. Matthew Larsen, of Spokane, Washington, was a public defender. Charles Cortinovis, of Washington, practiced environmental law.
Others come from finance. Burlington's Sean Dowling holds an accounting degree from Montclair State University in New Jersey. He also was a professional baseball umpire. Russell Kovash, of the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, started and operated an insurance/financial services business for 16 years. Robert Mucci, of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, spent 25 years as an actuary on Wall Street. Michael Quinn, of San Francisco, spent 20 years in financial management, including several years with a national certified public account (CPA) firm. James Boccabella, of the Washington Archdiocese, worked as a CPA for 20 years.
Law enforcement initially drew some men. Andrew Smith, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, was a Chicago cop for 10 years. John Pachaco, of the Diocese of Forth Worth, Texas, was a certified Texas peace officer at Texas Christian University. Dominic Colangelo, a member of the U.S. Southern Province of the Dominican order, was a probation officer.
Christopher Ankley of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a veterinarian. Jose–Angel Anaya-Estrada of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is a doctor. John Assalone, to be ordained for the Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada, was executive director of entertainment for the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Patrick O'Hogan, of the Archdiocese of Seattle, was a locomotive engineer. Douglas Ebert, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, retired early from the airline industry in 2003.
Some have political experience. Joel Bugas, 43, of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was a three-term mayor in his home town in the Philippines. Some know media. Benjamin Hasse, of the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, was part of a PBS special, The Calling, a documentary for prime time 2009 that examines the training of religious leaders and the role of religion in society.
Some became Catholic well after childhood. Benjamin Roberts, 32, of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, had considered ordination in the Lutheran Church but converted to Catholicism in 1999. Daniel Maxwell, of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, comes from a family that except for cousins who married Catholics, hasn't claimed a Catholic for 200 years. He entered the church when he was 17. Robert Rottgers, of Covington, Kentucky, age 52 at ordination, is a convert, widower and grandfather. Windel Scott DuVall, of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, is the only Catholic in his family. Scott Winchel of Savannah, and Charles White, of the Archdiocese of Detroit, were Baptists. Daniel Gallaugher, of the Washington Archdiocese, was raised as an Evangelical Protestant.
Some come from large families. Matthew Mason, 27, of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, is the oldest of seven. Christopher Martel, also to be ordained for Manchester, was an Eagle Scout and is the oldest of four. Jacob Runyon, from Fort Wayne-South Bend, is oldest of 11. Giopre Pardo, of the Diocese of Oakland, California, was born in the Philippines and has a brother who is a priest, is one of seven sons. One of his brothers is a priest and seminary spiritual director in the Philippines.
Some of the Class of 2009 have been married. Steve Garner, of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, is a widower, as is Hector Basanez, of the Diocese of San Jose, California, who is the father of three adult children. He will be 55 at ordination. Alain Colliou, of the Washington Archdiocese, is a widower, father and grandfather. He worked for 35 years with the World Bank eventually becoming director in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.
With a median age of 33, classes are growing younger. Allen Hoffa, one of three men to be ordained for the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, is 25. Of the five men to be ordained for the Detroit Archdiocese, two are 26 and the oldest is 36.
Diocesan class sizes vary. The Archdiocese of Newark will ordain 13 men. The Chicago Archdiocese will ordain 10 men; the Washington Archdiocese, eight. The Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, will ordain six men, two of whom did seminary studies in Mexico. Cincinnati will ordain seven; from 2000-2009 it has averaged five ordinations a year. The Archdiocese, of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, will ordain seven men – its largest class since the early seventies. Two are second-career vocations: Fred Anthony, 56, who served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, and Tom Layton, 65, who worked in the Federal Aviation Administration. Two men are from the Philippines, Mariano Escano, 35, and Cary Reniva, 27,
Some have overcome challenges growing up. Shawn Carey, of the Archdiocese of Boston, is deaf and will be the first deaf priest in the archdiocese. Patrick Nelson, of the U.S. Province of the Society of the Divine Savior, is dyslexic. He holds a master's degree in economics and speaks Spanish. He has a twin brother who is also a priest and works in Spanish ministry. He plans to work in Spanish ministry too.
Dedicated sportsmen also will be ordained. Michael Bartholomew, of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, is a competitive walker who competed nationally while in the seminary. He was a member of the U.S. National Team – 50K Walk in 2005 and 2006. Allen Hoffa, of Allentown, played college football at Albright College, and Dan Janasik, of Milwaukee, was a marathon runner.
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