Bishop Richard J. Malone welcomed a crowd of nearly one thousand at St. Joseph Cathedral Saturday morning by noting that he rarely sees so many smiles in church as on the day of an ordination. On this day, he placed his hands upon the heads for men as he said the ordination prayer making them priests of Jesus Christ forever.
"You, as priests, will come to know both joy and suffering," said Bishop Malone, who went on tell the story of the Venerable Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who became the bishop of Saigon, Vietnam in 1975, but soon after was arrested by the Communist regime. During his 13 years of imprisonment, he managed to send out more than a thousand messages of hope on cigarette papers. "He found every way he could, in his own suffering, to get the joy and the hope of the gospel to his people and that's our charge as well."
All four of the newly ordained priests graduated on May 12 from Christ the King Seminary with master's degrees in divinity. Father Robert Agbo was born and raised in Nigeria where he attended college and the seminary before settling in Buffalo in 2013. "To be a priest is to give up everything. I've said yes to God and I'm ready for whatever that 'yes' means," said Father Agbo, who has been assigned to Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville.
Father Martin Gallagher has been assigned to St. Stephen's on Grand Island. "By giving over to God my life, my freedom, my choices, I will live a life of simplicity and a life of prayer," said Father Gallagher, who grew up in South Buffalo and holds undergraduate degrees in sociology and anthropology. "I am offering over everything that I have to God and I hope that it will be enough. The only one who can answer that is God, and I hope that he will make it enough."
Father Luke Uebler will make Queen of Heaven in West Seneca his first parish as a priest. "It entails being present at all the important moments of people's lives, from the moment of their birth to the moment of their death and everything in between," said Father Uebler, a native of the Town of Elma who also holds degrees in theology and philosophy. "I might not be the most important person in their lives, but I will be an important second. "
Father Cole Webster grew up in Amherst, and holds a degree in hospitality administration. He has been assigned to Saints Peter and Paul Church in Hamburg. "God has a unique call for each one of us and all we can do is wake up every day and say you are in control of my life and I give myself completely to you."
Bishop Malone reminded them that they will help people to bear their own crosses. "Christ becomes present through us. We embrace the cross as a saving reality in ourselves and in our people. We live deeply in the paschal mystery. The bishop instructed the newly ordained priests to always put God and God's people first and put themselves last. "You should always be joyful. The road of hope does not allow traveling in sadness. It is the road of joy."