Fathers Samuel Bellafiore, Michael Melanson and Kyle Eads talk with The Evangelist about their first six months in the priesthood. (Mike Matvey photos)
Fathers Samuel Bellafiore, Michael Melanson and Kyle Eads talk with The Evangelist about their first six months in the priesthood. (Mike Matvey photos)

The Diocese of Albany ordained three priests — Fathers Michael Melanson, Samuel Bellafiore and Kyle Eads — on June 15, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. Father Melanson serves at Our Lady of the Annunciation, Queensbury, and Sacred Heart, Lake George, Father Bellafiore is at Our Lady of Victory in Troy, and Father Eads is at the Parish of Mater Christi in Albany. So what has the past six-plus months been like for the trio? Mike Matvey of The Evangelist talked with Fathers Melanson, Bellafiore and Eads about how the time has flown by and what they have learned.

TE: describe your first six months on the job.

FM: The first six months went absolutely phenomenal. I am living at the rectory in Lake George; the surroundings and the beauty of Lake George, the mountains are just breathtaking. The people here are absolutely wonderful and all the churches that I support, Our Lady of Annunciation and Sacred Heart in Lake George and St. Cecilia’s, they have welcomed me, it’s like a dream come true. It’s really been wonderful. And my pastor, Joe Busch, has been great in helping me learn the ropes and where things are. It’s really been good. 

FB: Beautiful … it’s very hard to sum up. I think I am used to putting things into succinct summaries and I have found over the last couple of months that it’s pretty difficult. I think … I have realized probably two main things in the past six months. Which is one, how much God loves me and two, how much I need him.

FE: It has gone really fast. It has been really rewarding and fulfilling; just a fantastic experience.

TE: talk about your most memorable event.

FM: This last Christmas Eve, I did the 4 and 7 o’clock Masses and there are thousands of people that just fill up the church, thank God. And I did something new for the people. I invited all the children to come down and sit in the front row. And I gave a homily directly to them. And it was very well received. I rewrote “The Night Before Christmas” about the baby Jesus in the crib and that went over very well. That was a very memorable thing. 

FB: I think the experiences that stay with me, the experiences that have moved me the most have been celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation for people. That was something that I have looked forward to for a long time preparing for priesthood and that has been really rewarding for me to get to see the amount of healing people experience.

FE: It was great helping out with the Catholic summer camps in Florida and down in the Catskills; hearing hundreds of confessions for 12-18-year-olds. This fall we have been introducing each grade of our (Mater Christi) school kids to Adoration, so that has been really cool; teaching them about the Eucharist and the Mass.

TE: Would you change anything?

FM: I live in a very, big rectory house by myself, so if I had (someone) to live with me that would help. Sometimes, it gets a little lonely. (Father Melanson was ordained at 74 and was married to his wife, Peggy, for 50 years before she died of cancer in 2017).

FB: I am sure I will have a lot of those thoughts in a year or five years. I think I would just do everything more slowly.

FE: (I am) just learning it as I go on. I am here to observe and figure out how things work and how to run a parish.

TE: If you could do it again, is there something in your training you would want to put more emphasis on?

FM: I think they need more training in administrative duties and not as much theology. You do get a lot of that. You have to know how to deal with people, know how to fill out paperwork, which I didn’t have an opportunity to learn. 

FB: Maybe I was just not paying attention that day, but I just think being very honest and maybe there isn’t a lot that can prepare you for the emotional and spiritual burden of walking with people who are really struggling with different aspects of their lives. I think that is a big adjustment. I think it’s both (psychological and spiritual) and a lot of that is incorporated into seminary formation already but it’s one thing to know what the skills are and another thing to need to use the skills every day.

FE: It would have been nice to learn how to cook (he said with a laugh). Each year of seminary we had different pastoral assignments we would go out to, whether it was teaching or going out to a nursing home. I guess I have a ways to go in learning the business end of things; how to work with personnel and administrative (issues). We have a big staff and a big campus and there is always a lot of things going on at the same time.

TE: How has your family been supporting you in your vocation?

FM: It’s been difficult because of the distance between where my family lives in Glenville, and I live in Lake George. Not a great distance; 45 miles or so. It does take a little over an hour to get up here. I spent Christmas Eve with my grandchildren and my sons.

FB: They have been very supportive and open as they always have been with me and I have a very close relationship with my brother, who is a couple years younger, and I got to spend some vacation time with him. And he’s just always very helpful.

FE: I was able to see them over Christmas, after the Christmas Masses. It’s just great being with all the little kids, they are all growing up fast and I will see them again in the next few months. (Father Eads’ large family lives in Florida.)

TE: What do you look forward to in the new year?

FM: Lake George is such fun to be at. I was fortunate to get here in time for the car show, for the super, Fourth of July fireworks, Oktoberfest. I look forward to all the activities and the people. There are tons and tons of people, literally thousands in the summertime; I look forward to that. I guess I am a little different, I like the chaos.

FB: The two things that I am looking forward to are one, just getting to know people better here and spending intentional time with people in their lives. And the other thing I am looking forward to is just settling in more into the priesthood because it’s a lot of doing everything for the first time. Everything you do is the first time you have ever done it. And people have told me before that it takes a lot of energy out of you. It gives you a lot of energy in one sense, but it takes a lot and I am experiencing that. So it’s really cool to experience everything for the first time, but I don’t think I am going to mind when I experience it a second time.

FE: I think Holy Week is my favorite time of the year so I am excited to go through that with the parish. Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday will be great to see; and to just see what happens at the parish during the whole Liturgical year. (And getting) a better idea of how many people are in the parish and who is related to who. And hopefully get to the point where I know a good number of the people.