Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will ordain six men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Brooklyn at a Mass at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, 250 Cathedral Place, Downtown Brooklyn, on Saturday, June 23, at 11 a.m.
The six men are Father Sergiy Emanuel, Father Giancarlo Pattugalan, Father Larry Ryan, Father Stephen Saffron, Father Sean Suckiel and Father Joseph Zwosta.
“These young men truly are representative of the diversity of the people of the Diocese of Brooklyn,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “Their ordination will be a deeply moving experience and is among the most important days in the life of the diocese. These men have demonstrated their courage by being so counter-cultural and are a sign of hope for the future. Their lives exude the zeal to be truly apostolic priests for the New Evangelization.”
Father Sergiy Emanuel, 36, was born into a Polish-Ukrainian family in Prague, Czech Republic. His father was a professional musician, and his family cultivated both cultural traditions, speaking Polish and Ukrainian languages at home. Later at school in the Ukraine, during the Communist era, he had to study in Russian.
After graduating from technical high school, he worked for a construction company. He became a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Zhitomir, which, at that time, was the only active church in the province. His decision to become a priest was greatly influenced by the priestly life of the pastor, marked by selfless service to others and fervent prayer.
Father Sergiy entered the Catholic Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Ukraine, completing four years of philosophical and theological studies. He was assigned to pastoral service at the Cathedral Church in Zhitomir. At that time, he met a Polish missionary priest, who encouraged him to consider priestly service in America. He entered the preparatory program at SS. Cyril and Methodius seminary in Krakow. Coming to the United States, he continued seminary studies at Orchard Lake, Mich., becoming affiliated with the Diocese of Brooklyn.
His final theological preparation for priestly ordination was completed at the Metropolitan Seminary, run in cooperation with the John Paul II University in Lublin, Poland. He holds a Masters in Theology from John Paul II University.
Father Emanuel will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Czestochowa-St. Casimir, Bush Terminal, on Sunday, June 24, at 11 a.m.
Father Giancarlo Pattugalan, 25, is from St. Mary Star of the Sea parish, Far Rockaway.
He is a 2004 graduate of Cathedral Prep, Elmhurst; a 2008 graduate of St. John’s University with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy; and a 2011 graduate from the Pontifical Gregorian College in Rome with a Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology.
“I can’t recall the moment when I ‘heard’ the call from the Lord,” said Father Pattugalan. “It’s something that just happened. Like many things in life, it was a certain hunch, an urge, a feeling that this was exactly what I was meant to do. And I could not ignore this feeling inside me. It all started when I was eight years old. I met a priest who influenced me through his great love for God and other people. I never knew a person could be so fulfilled in life. This priest played a big role in the discovery of my vocation.”
Father Pattugalan will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at the Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston, on Sunday, June 24, at 12:30 p.m.
Father Lawrence Ryan, 63, was born and raised in St. Ephrem’s parish, Dyker Heights. He attended St. Ephrem’s School; Cathedral Prep, Brooklyn; Columbia University; New York University School of Law; and Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn. During summers while at Holy Apostles, he attended the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Neb., and studied Spanish in Mexico.
“Shortly after college, I began what turned out to be a long and happy career as a special agent with the U.S. Customs Service,” said Father Ryan. “During my early years, I investigated different types of Customs crimes. Later I was an agent-instructor at the Customs Academy and worked as an agent supervisor and manager in several cities, including New York and Washington, D.C.”
He also served as a member of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve and later as an officer in the Coast Guard Reserve. Following September 2001, he participated in the merger of the Customs and Immigration functions into the new Department of Homeland Security.
“Although I always attended Sunday Mass, I was like many Catholics in that I was not that active in my faith during my young adult and early middle-age years,” he said. “However, as time went by, I began to attend daily Mass more regularly, to receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist more frequently, and to think and pray about becoming a priest. After much prayer and thought, I entered Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut in January of 2007.”
Father Ryan will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Ephrem, Dyker Heights, on Sunday, June 24, at 12 p.m.
Father Stephen Saffron, 34, was born in Perth Amboy, N.J. Raised in a Polish ethnic parish, St. Stephen’s, he attended the parish grammar school and later Perth Amboy Public H.S. He then studied at Middlesex County College and Seton Hall University, and Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall.
“As a child and young adult, I was always around the parish. I served at the altar for many years, belonged to various parish organizations and the Knights of Columbus,” said Father Saffron. “During my college years, I played the organ in church. I took private lessons as a child and did some organ studies in college.
“During my college years, my father passed away, and my mother took ill. I took time off from school to take care of my mother since I am an only child. My mother died before my ordination as a deacon. Through all of these experiences I have always had the love and support of family and friends.”
He came to the Diocese of Brooklyn last year and has been ministering as a deacon at St. Matthias, Ridgewood, where he will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, June 24, at 11:30 a.m.
Father Sean Suckiel, 26, a member of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal parish, Ridgewood, is a graduate of Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst, and holds a Bachelor’s from St. John’s University and a Master’s of Divinity and Masters in Theology from Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, L.I.
“Ever since the second grade, I have felt that God had been calling me to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ,” said Father Suckiel. “I first felt the call to the Priesthood during Sunday Mass. As I watched the priest, I thought to myself ‘Why not me?’ Over time, I became open to the idea of Priesthood and said ‘Yes’ to God.
“One thing that helped me to discern my vocation was service. In serving others, I have come to find great joy and fulfillment; it is serving others that we come to meet Jesus Christ in a unique and personal way,” he said.
Father Suckiel will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, Ridgewood, on Sunday, June 24, at 3 p.m.
Father Joseph Zwosta, 26, was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Resurrection parish, Gerritsen Beach.
He attended public grammar school; Mark Twain Junior High School for the Gifted and Talented, Coney Island; Stuyvesant H.S., Manhattan; and Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., where he holds a Bachelor of Arts.
“The day I arrived at college, I made a pledge to myself and to God that I would attend Mass every Sunday,” said Father Zwosta. “I found the Catholic community on campus to be refreshingly vibrant. I soon got involved in the campus council of the Knights of Columbus, a group that helped nourish my prayer life and my vocation throughout my college years. Through the Knights, I began to attend adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a devotion with which I had not been familiar. I started to attend daily Mass frequently. I also came to know and to admire several faithful and holy Jesuit priests. All of these experiences helped me to hear God’s call to the priesthood.”
He became involved with the Diocese of Brooklyn by attending Project Andrew and the Bishop’s vocation retreat. He did pre-theology studies at Cathedral Seminary Residence, Douglaston, and was then sent to the North American College, Rome, where he holds a Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology. He will complete his licentiate degree in ecumenism and interreligious dialogue next year in Rome.
Father Zwosta will celebrate his First Mass of Thanksgiving at Resurrection, Gerritsen Beach, on Sunday, June 24, at 9 a.m.