On Saturday, June 27, 2015, at 11 a.m., the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, will ordain ten men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Brooklyn at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, 856 Pacific Street, Prospect Heights.
“These devoted men are truly a blessing to our Diocese. Their deep faith and different backgrounds will help grow and enrich our multi-cultural Church in Brooklyn and Queens,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “It is my privilege to welcome these young men to the Presbyterate of Brooklyn.”
Ordained as transitional deacons last year, the ten men successfully completed their seminarian formation. They are: Mr. Chris Bethge, Mr. Nicholas Colalella, Mr. John Gribowich, Mr. Christopher Heanue, Mr. Jose Henriquez, Mr. Daniel Kingsley, Mr. Lukasz Lech, Mr. Mark Matthias, Mr. Rafael Perez, and Mr. Alexander Piñacue.
Immediately after being ordained, the new priests will receive their parochial assignments to serve the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn, also known as the Diocese of Immigrants.
The Diocese of Brooklyn, the eighth largest diocese in the United States and the only entirely urban diocese in the Nation, serves the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The combined population of the boroughs stands at 4.8 million residents, of which more than 1.5 million identify themselves as Catholics.
The ten men are part of the nearly 600 Catholic men to be ordained priests for the United States in 2015. The nationwide numbers reflect an increase of 25 percent from 2014, with 100 more ordinands from last year, for a total of 595 new priests, according to a report from the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.
The diocesan network New Evangelization Television (NET TV) will provide live coverage of the Priest Ordination, which will also be live streamed on www.netny.tv. NET TV is a cable network featuring news and information with a Catholic point of view, and is available in the New York area on Time Warner Cable, Channel 97, Cablevision, Channel 30, and nationally on Verizon FiOS On Demand.
Rev. Christopher Jeffrey Bethge, 25, was born and raised in Sacred Heart parish, East Glendale, where he attended the parish school; Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst; Cathedral Seminary Residence, Douglaston; and St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, New York.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John’s University, Jamaica, and earned his master’s degree in theology and master of divinity degree from St. Joseph Seminary. He received his bachelor of sacred theology degree from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome.
As a seminarian, he spent summers at St. Kevin, Flushing, and St. Sebastian, Woodside, where he was inspired by the faith and love of both the clergy and parishioners, and enjoyed ministering with the altar servers.
He served his diaconate year at St. Paul-St. Agnes, Cobble Hill, where he practiced his Spanish-language skills and preached in Spanish almost every weekend. Three Spanish-language immersion trips to Costa Rica with other seminarians rounded out his pastoral preparations.
When asked about discerning his vocation, he said: “It’s really a call from Jesus, who is your best friend, someone whom you love. You want to do what He wants you to do with your life.”
Father Bethge will offer his First Mass of thanksgiving at his home parish of Sacred Heart on Sunday, June 28 at 12:30 p.m. There will be six altar servers from Sacred Heart, St. Kevin and St. Sebastian parishes.
Rev. Nicholas Colalella, 25, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, to Marco and Lisa. He moved to Queens as a toddler, and grew up in St. Margaret parish, Middle Village.
He attended Xavier H.S., a Jesuit military school in Manhattan, where he graduated as a cadet-captain with honors in 2008.
He enrolled at Cathedral Seminary Residence, Douglaston, and St. John’s University, Jamaica. He graduated from St. John’s with a degree in philosophy and ancient studies in 2011. He was sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome and completed his Degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology summa cum laude at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He is pursuing a Licentiate in Biblical Sciences at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, with a focus on biblical languages, including Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.
“Ultimately you hear the Lord in your hear calling you to work on the vineyard, to imitate Christ” he said. “What is the best way to do that for me? Dropping everything and following Him.”
Father Colalella will celebrate his first Mass of thanksgiving at St. Margaret, on Sunday, June 28, at 10:15 a.m.
Rev. John Gribowich, 36, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and grew up in Pennsylvania as a member of St. John the Evangelist Church in Morrisville. He was the only son of the late John and Louise Gribowich. After attending schools in Pennsylvania, he graduated from DeSales University, Center Valley, with a bachelor’s in history and theology.
In 2002, he entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He left in 2003 and became a teacher and campus minister at Allentown Central Catholic High School, where he ran an inner city service program. He earned a master’s in theology from St. Charles Borromeo in 2005.
He moved to New York in 2007, where he worked at St. John’s University, Jamaica. Meanwhile, he earned his M.S. in Art History and Library Science from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. He also has taught at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania.
In 2013, he returned to the seminary, this time for the Brooklyn Diocese. He graduated from St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, with a Master of Divinity and a Degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology.
When asked about discerning his vocation, he said “I wanted to be a priest my whole life, but I did a lot of other things … as a way to test if I really had a call.”
Father Gribowich will offer his first Mass of thanksgiving at Our Lady of Refuge on June 28 at 11:30 a.m. He will have another first Mass for Our Lady of Light parish on July 5 at St. Catherine of Sienna at 11 a.m.
Rev. Christopher Ryan Heanue, 27, was raised in Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians parish, Woodside, also known as St. Mary’s, Winfield, and graduated from P.S. 229 and I.S. 73, before attending Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst.
He spent one year at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and then completed his studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook, Pennsylvania.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a minor in business from St. John’s University, Jamaica, and his master of divinity degree from St. Charles Seminary.
As part of his pastoral preparation, he spent summers and weekends in residence at St. Michael Church, Sunset Park, where he practiced his Spanish-speaking skills with Father Kevin Sweeney, pastor, and the parishioners.
Father Heanue’s First Masses of thanksgiving will be on June 28, at 10 a.m. in his home parish of St. Mary, Winfield, and at 5 p.m. in Holy Child Jesus Church. Later this summer, he will offer Masses of thanksgiving with relatives in Ireland.
Rev. Jose Andres Henriquez Castano, 28, was born in the Moca region of the Dominican Republic, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1994 at age seven. He settled in Brownsville, where he attended Our Lady of Loreto Church and later, Our Lady of the Presentation-Our Lady of Mercy parish.
He graduated from P.S. 332, Erasmus Hall H.S. and Queensborough Community College, Bayside, and also studied at City College, Manhattan, before entering seminary formation. He attended Cathedral Seminary Residence, Douglaston; Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, L.I.; and St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers.
He earned his associate’s degree in arts from Queensborough Comunity College, Bayside, and a bachelor’s in philosophy from St. John’s University, Jamaica.
He earned his master’s in theology and a master of divinity from St. Joseph Seminary, and a bachelor of sacred theology degree through the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome.
He spent two summers at St. Anselm, Bay Ridge, and his diaconate year at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights, where he started a youth group and young adult men’s group.
In his priestly ministry, he said, “I want to be all things to all people. Hopefully, they’ll see Jesus in me, and I can transmit the love of Jesus to them.”
Father Henriquez will offer his First Mass of thanksgiving at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral on Sunday, June 28 at 3:30 p.m.
Rev. Daniel O. Kingsley, 26, was born to Daniella and the late Idowu Kingsley, Haitian and Nigerian immigrants, respectively, and was raised in St. Vincent Ferrer parish, East Flatbush, where he attended the parish school.
He then attended Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst, to continue onto Cathedral Seminary Residence, Douglaston. He continued his formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, L.I., and St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from St. John’s University, Jamaica; a master’s in theology and a master of divinity degree from St. Joseph Seminary; and a bachelor of sacred theology degree from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome.
His pastoral preparation included experiences serving at Our Lady of the Snows parish, N. Floral Park, for two summers; attending World Youth Days in Australia and Madrid; and completing his diaconate year at St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant.
When discerning his vocation, he said to himself: “If God’s calling me, He’ll sustain me. If not, He’ll lead me elsewhere.” Now, he wants to be “the best typical parish priest I can be.”
Father Kingsley will offer his First Mass of thanksgiving at his home parish of St. Vincent Ferrer on Sunday, June 28 at 11 a.m.
Rev. Lukasz Lech, 30, was born in Czestochowa, Poland, born to Bozena and Kazimierz Lech, longtime parishioners of St. Zygmunt Church.
After completing his primary education at his local Public School n. 35, he attended St. Joseph Archdiocesan Minor Seminary, Czestochowa. He began studying at the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Rome, Italy, and had a three-month overseas training program in Japan as part of his formation.
He earned a philosophy degree from the Pontifical Urban University, Rome, and aware of the need for priests in the U.S., he enrolled in SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Mich., where he earned his master of divinity degree.
After becoming affiliated with the Brooklyn Diocese in 2011, he spent summers and vacations at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Williamsburg, and most recently, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal parish, Ridgewood.
“To be a priest in Brooklyn, you have to have a missionary spirit because there are so many people who have never heard about Jesus or who just forgot about Him,” he said. “I want to bring them home.”
Father Lech will offer his First Mass of thanksgiving at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church on Sunday, June 28 at 10 a.m. A First Mass will be celebrated in Poland at a later date.
Rev. Mark Matthias, 51, was born in in Camden, New Jersey, to John and Jacqueline Myslinski. After graduating from high school, he went to Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. He then worked as a reporter at a radio station and a weather forecaster for a local cable station in Southern Jersey. Eventually, he became a news director but switched careers to work in graphic design.
In the 1990s, he moved to New York to go back to broadcasting and entertainment while pursuing an acting career. He studied acting, did theater and student films. Five years later, he moved to California. He worked in Hollywood for more than eight years before returning to the East Coast to settle down and be near his family in 2003. While working as a creative service manager at a major bank, he became a parishioner of Immaculate Conception Church, Astoria. He became a catechist and lector at the parish.
He found the joy of the priesthood while seeing others mature in their faith. “Helping people who don’t quite understand the Gospel to realize ‘Oh, that is what Jesus is talking about,’ and become more committed in their relationship with Christ … I just can’t think of anything else that provides more joy,” he said.
He studied philosophy at the Cathedral House of Formation, Douglaston, before going to Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., a seminary for men between 30 and 60 years of age. He graduated with a Master’s in Divinity. He served as a deacon at St. Stephen Church in Framingham, Mass., and is currently serving at St. Patrick Church, Bay Ridge.
Father Matthias will offer his First Mass of thanksgiving at St. Patrick Church, on Saturday, June 27, at 5 p.m.
Rev. Rafael Jason Perez, 29, was born in Brooklyn to Joanne Scibilia and Rafael A. Perez. He was raised in St. Rosalis-Regina Pacis parish, Bensonhurst, and attended public schools P.S. 176 and I.S. 187, before going to Edward Murrow H.S., Midwood.
After high school, he earned his bachelor’s in Secondary Education at Brooklyn College and taught social studies at a Brooklyn high school for a year.
He spent half a year at the Pope John Paul II House of Discernment, Cypress Hills, before entering the seminary in 2009. He studied at Cathedral Seminary Residence, Douglaston and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, L.I. He then enrolled at St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, where he received a Degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology and a Master’s of Divinity.
When asked about his ministry, he says he looks forward to “being able to encounter, serve and love Christ in God’s people.”
Father Perez will offer his First Mass of thanksgiving at Regina Pacis Basilica on Sunday, June 28, at 12 p.m.
Rev. Alexander Piñacue, 49, was born in Cali, Colombia to Aura Piñacue. He was baptized at Santísima Trinidad church in Palmira and received his First Communion and Confirmation at San Nicolas Church.
After graduating from high school, he wanted to join the seminary but could not do so because of lack of proper sacramental documentation needed at the time. He worked various jobs for 15 years, including being a manager at a lithography company.
In 1999, he began his pre-philosophy studies at the Seminario Mayor Arquidiocesano Bucaramanga before going to Seminario de Cristo Sacerdote, Ceja Antoquia.
In 2008, the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., which had sponsored him in Colombia, asked him to come to the U.S. to finish his studies. He studied theology at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.
He spent a year at the John Paul II House of Discernment, Cypress Hills, and studied English at St. John’s University, Jamaica. This year, he graduated from Holy Apostles Seminary with a Master’s of Divinity.
“I have always believed that helping others is a good thing, even when you don’t have much to give,” he said. “Helping those who are vulnerable – the sick, the poor, children – that is why I wanted to be a priest.”
Father Piñacue will offer his first Mass of thanksgiving at Immaculate Conception Church, Astoria, on June 28 at 12 p.m.