Three transitional deacons will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, June 6, by Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo. The Mass will take place at St. Joseph Cathedral, 50 Franklin St. in downtown Buffalo, at 10 a.m.
Bishop Malone will confer holy orders on Rev. Mr. Lukasz Kopala, Rev. Mr. Thomas Michael Mahoney and Rev. Mr. Daniel Ehijiator Ogbeifun through the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the imposition of hands.
Deacon Kopala, 35, a native of Poland, is the second of three sons born into a very religious family. After seriously considering the priesthood in college, he applied to the seminary without telling his family. Although they were apprehensive at first, they saw how much happier he was a few months later and accepted his decision. He came to the United States and began his studies at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich. His route to the priesthood led him to Buffalo where he studied the English language at the State University of New York at Buffalo in addition to his classes at Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora.
Deacon Kopala was assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Niagara Falls, for his pastoral year and previously served at Our Lady of Pompeii, Lancaster; St. Michael, Warsaw; St. Mary's Hospital, Lewiston; and the Response to Love Center, Buffalo.
Deacon Mahoney, a Depew native and 1988 graduate of Niagara University, was a certified public accountant and controller before entering Christ the King Seminary. He sold his home, gave up his career of nearly 20 years and adapted to a school schedule and an irregular routine, but said he received so much more than he gave up and is excited about what the future holds.
During his studies, Deacon Mahoney was assigned to St. John Neumann Parish, Strykersville and Sheldon; St. Mary of Lourdes, Bemus Point and Mayville; and St. Vincent de Paul, Niagara Falls and the Town of Niagara. For his pastoral year, he was assigned to Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish in West Seneca.
In 2014, Deacon Mahoney was part of a group of seminarians who visited Israel and Turkey. He said walking in the footsteps of Jesus made it the most amazing trip he ever took.
The third candidate for ordination, Deacon Ogbeifun, was born and raised in Nigeria where he began a secular career before entering the seminary. He was a teacher, worked in the logistics and documentation department at Lagos International Airport, and worked in a marketing firm. After studying in Belgium and earning his diploma in pastoral theology and catechesis, Deacon Ogbeifun moved to the United States. He finished his studies at Christ the King Seminary and has served at St. Mary, Lancaster, and Mary Immaculate, East Bethany, before spending his pastoral year at St. Benedict Parish, Eggertsville.
Deacon Ogbeifun, who will be the first African-born priest ordained in the Diocese of Buffalo, plans to travel to Nigeria later in the month to say Mass in his home town. His bishop from Nigeria, as well as some family, will be attending the ordination in Buffalo.
Following their ordinations, the three new diocesan priests will receive their first pastoral assignments at a parish in the eight-county Diocese of Buffalo.