June 5, 2024 at 2:12 p.m.

A TIME TO CELEBRATE

10 diocesan priests, marking jubilees, talk about their lives and their calling
Priest collar
Priest collar (Courtesy photo of iweta0077)

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Father Paul C. Cox and Father Ronald G. Matulewicz

70th

FATHER PAUL C. COX was born in Wynantskill and went to School 4 and Sacred Heart, both in Troy, and graduated from Catholic Central High School. He went to St. Andrew’s Minor Seminary and St. Bernard’s Seminary, both in Rochester, and was ordained on June 12, 1954. He served at St. Vincent de Paul in Albany (1954-69), St. John the Baptist in Walton (1969-70), Holy Spirit in East Greenbush (1970-77), St. Mary’s in Glens Falls (1977-91) and has been sacramental minister at St. Cecilia’s in Warrensburg since 1991. 

Two of my most meaningful experiences in my priestly ministry would be the Marriage Encounter Program and the Residents Encounter Christ Program. My advice to potential priest candidates is: You will always be busy and your life will be full of meaning.

Father Cox has no plans on celebrating his jubilee at this time.

65th

FATHER RONALD G. MATULEWICZ, who was born in Schenectady, was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1959, and served at St. Joseph’s Church in Albany from 1959-62. He also taught at St. Joseph’s in Albany; Bishop Burke High School in Glovers­ville; Fulton-Montgomery Community College; and served at St. Alphon­sus Church in Glens Falls and St. Anthony’s Church in Herkimer. From 1985-2008, Father Matulewicz served at St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman and St. Mary’s in Galway. He also served as chaplain at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany.

Father Matulewicz had no special plans to celebrate his jubilee.

Father Leo F. Potvin and Father Ronald A. Menty

60th

FATHER LEO F. POTVIN was born in Albany and attended Cathedral Academy from grades 3-12. He attended Mater Christi Seminary and Niagara University and was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1964, by Bishop William A. Scully. He was associate pastor at St. Mary’s in South Glens Falls (1964-68), St. Mary’s in Troy (four months in 1968) and St. Mary’s in Gloversville (1968-75). He was pastor at St. Marie's in Cohoes (1975-84) and St. John the Baptist in Newport (1984-2009). He has been sacramental minister in multiple parishes in Herkimer and moved to Utica in 2023. 

My most memorable moment was in my senior year in high school when Sister Margaret Patricia handed me a note that said, “Think of becoming a priest.” The Holy Spirit moved me to do just that. This moment changed my life and continues to do so today.

When I stand before the altar, taking bread and wine into my hands, praying the words of consecration, the bread and wine, through the power of the Holy Spirit, become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Savior Jesus Christ. This is the most intimate moment that I can experience in life. 

“He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal and I will raise them up on the last day.” — John 6:54.

As a pastor, I have been blessed to walk with the faithful in their spiritual and temporal lives. 

Father Potvin celebrated his jubilee by concelebrating Mass with Father Paul Catena on May 19.

55th

FATHER RONALD A. MENTY was born in Waterford and attended St. Mary’s in Waterford and Catholic Central High School in Troy. He attended seminary at Mater Christi and Our Lady of Angels Seminary. After he was ordained on May 17, 1969, he  served as associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany (1969-74), and as pastor at St. Patrick’s in Troy (1974-79), Our Lady of Grace in Ballston Lake (1979-86), St. Patrick’s in Ravena (1986-91), St. Joseph’s in Scotia (1991-2002), St. Clare’s in Colonie (2002-05) and at All Saints in Albany (2011-14). He was also Chair of the Priest Personnel (2005-11). He retired in January 2014.

I was ordained shortly after the Second Vatican Council and shared in a very positive and exciting time in our history. It was a privilege and joy to serve parish communities with so many talented and generous deacons, religious women, and laymen and women. Celebrating the Eucharist and breaking open God’s Word have been life-giving to me and I am most grateful that I am able to continue to assist in parishes and at the Teresian House in Albany.

Father Menty has no special plans for celebrating his jubilee.

Father Richard S. Vosko and Father Lawrence J. Decker

FATHER RICHARD S. VOSKO, who was born in Amsterdam, attended St. Mary’s Institute in Amsterdam, St. Bonaventure University, the University of Notre Dame and Syracuse University. He attended Mater Christi Seminary in Albany and Christ the King Seminary in Olean and was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1969.

Father Vosko celebrated his ordination to the presbyterate with Bishop Edwin B. Broderick in the Church of St. Stanislaus, BM, in Amsterdam, his hometown. After teaching at Cardinal McCloskey High School, he was appointed resident Catholic chaplain at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he was also associate pastor at Christ Sun of Justice Parish. Bishop Broderick then sent him to the University of Notre Dame where he earned a master’s degree in liturgical studies.

In the early 1970s, Father Vosko served as the director of the first Diocesan Office of Prayer and Worship at a time when many significant changes were occurring in the liturgy. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard placed Father Vosko on special assignment in 1978 when he began practicing as an architectural consultant and liturgical designer for churches and synagogues throughout North America.

An honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, Father Vosko earned his master of fine arts and doctor’s degrees from Syracuse University. In 2017, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Bonaventure University. A frequent contributor to liturgical and architectural journals, Father Vosko has traveled extensively to different countries to lecture on sacred art and architecture. His award-winning projects are widely recognized.

As a member of the Architecture and Building Commission, he guided the renovation and construction of most churches in this Diocese since the Vatican Two Council. Recently, he redecorated and furnished St. Mary of the Angels Chapel in the friary at Siena College and is now consulting on the restoration of Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine in Chicago. His most recent book is “Art and Architecture for Congregational Worship: A Search for Common Ground.”

Currently, Father Vosko serves as a sacramental minister at Coxsackie Correctional Facility, St. Gregory’s School in Loudonville and occasionally at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Albany.

Father Vosko has no plans to mark this anniversary and is most grateful for the lessons he has learned from people of all ages, in diverse faith traditions, over the past 55 years.

40th

FATHER LAWRENCE J. DECKER was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and attended St. Stanislaus Kostka in Greenpoint, Far Rockaway High School in Far Rockaway, N.Y., Queen of Apostles Seminary in Derby, N.Y., and Immaculate Conception Seminary in Mahwah, N.J. After his ordination on May 19, 1984, he was associate pastor at St. Mary’s in Oneonta (1984-85), and St. Joseph, St. Michael and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Amsterdam (1985-87), before being named pastor at all three parishes and serving there from 1987-2019.

My priesthood experience has sometimes been very challenging but rewarding in many different ways. It has taught me a great deal about myself and what it means to be a priest. I have many moments that are memorable and strongly support vocations. Now in retirement and in retrospect, with a deep sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, I am most grateful to God for His Call. He doesn’t always call the qualified, but He qualifies the called!

Father Decker plans on observing his jubilee with a regular Sunday Mass and quiet time.

Father David W. Mickiewicz and Father John J. Yanas Jr.

FATHER DAVID W. MICKIEWICZ was born in Waterford and received a bachelor of science degree in music education from The College of Saint Rose in Albany in 1977. In 1980, he received a master’s in liturgical music from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., attended the Seminary School of Theology and Pastoral Ministry in Newark, N.J., and in 1984, he received a master of divinity degree in pastoral ministry from Seton Hall University/

Immaculate Conception. In 1993, he received a master of arts in theology from Saint Bernard’s Institute in Albany. He attended seminary at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, Immaculate Conception Seminary in Paramus, N.J., and was ordained to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Dio­cese of Albany on May 19, 1984.

He was associate pastor at St. Gabriel in Rotterdam (1984-86), St. Pius X in Loudonville (1986-88), and St. Jude the Apostle in Wynantskill (1988-94). From 1994-2000, he was hospital chaplain at Albany Medical Center in Albany. He was administrator at St. Ann Maronite Catholic Church in Troy (1998-2001), Our Lady of Fatima in Delanson (2001-04), St. Stanislaus in Amsterdam (2004-10), St. John the Baptist in Amsterdam (2007-09) and St. Casimir in Amsterdam (2007-09). He was pastor at St. Peter the Apostle in Stillwater and Assumption-St. Paul in Mechanicville (2010-11), St. Mary’s in Oneonta (2012-22) and sacramental minister at Holy Cross in Morris. He is currently the rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany and pastor at Historic St. Mary’s on Capitol Hill and St. Francis of Assisi, both in Albany. He is also chaplain to the Albany Police Department.

My priesthood is summoned up in two quotes:

Psalm 16: “You are my inheritance, O God, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize!”

Karl Rahner, SJ: “The priest is not an angel sent from heaven. He is a man chosen from among the people, a member of the Church, a Christian. Remaining human and Christian, he begins to speak to you the Word of God. The word is not his own.

No, he comes to you because God has told him to proclaim God’s Word. Perhaps he has not entirely understood it himself. Perhaps he adulterates it. But he believes, and despite his fear he knows he must communicate God’s Word to you. For must not one of us say something about God, about eternal life; about the majesty of grace in our sanctified being? Must not some one of us speak of sin, the judgment and the mercy of God?”

I vividly remember my experiences with three patients across my chaplaincy at the Albany Medical Center: Christopher, James and John.

Chris was a teen who died too young. Bishop Hubbard confirmed him in the ICU. A hospital room became a cathedral, a bed an altar and a young life the sacrifice. A Eucharist beyond all others.

James was in his 40s with leukemia. Through conversation, prayer and silences we descended to a depth of relationship I have never had with another person before or since. James died moments after I last left him. Though I’d seen this with other people, I’ve never had anyone wait for my arrival to die. How humbling.

And John, in his 20s; a car accident. John died on Christmas morning. I had no homily when I arrived at the Cathedral. I closed the Gospel Book and began: “John died a couple of hours ago.” John’s death coupled with the Christmas Gospel text: “The word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” opened up a conversation about the bittersweet stories of Christmas. Stories that we avoid particularly at the holidays but which resonate within so many of our lives.

There is a richness of life in sickness, suffering and death. Priests are privy to that holy place of walking with people carrying the cross, which is at the center of our faith.

For his anniversary, Father Mickiewicz will be walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela along the Portuguese Route.

FATHER JOHN J. YANAS JR. was born in Albany and ordained to the priesthood on May 19, 1984. He was associate pastor at St. Anthony’s in Schenectady (1983-85), Sacred Heart in Troy (1985-92) and St. Luke’s in Schenectady (1992-95). He was temporary administrator at Our Lady of Victory in Troy (1995), chaplain at St. Peter’s Hospital (1995-97) and was pastor at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church in Frankfort from 1997-2008. He is currently pastor at Sacred Heart in Troy. 

Something that Edith Stein said before she was martyred at Auschwitz resonates with me as I gratefully celebrate 40 years of priestly ministry: “I believe that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God. I believe that my whole life has been marked out for me in the plan of divine Providence and has a completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eye.

Recognizing the hand of God during one’s life is a singular blessing, an extraordinary grace. Just to know that I have made the right vocational choice has given me a sense of peace and tranquility.

If only because the call to Holy Orders is a supernatural mystery, the priest is, and will remain, mysterious, even though he may consider himself, as I do, an underachieving average guy.

Having survived cancer, not once but twice, I am reminded of the words of Saint Paul that God’s ways are unsearchable.

Two memorable moments of my priesthood come to mind: acting as the main celebrant of a Mass offered in the Grotto of the Marian Shrine in Lourdes, France, a few years ago and officiating a wedding at the Soldiers’ Chapel in West Point.

“Recommending” the priesthood, in my judgment, is unnecessary. All that is needed for the one called is to listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit, who persistently goads him to enhance the will of Christ. 

Father Yanas celebrated his jubilee on June 2 — also his 70th birthday — with a Mass of Thanksgiving at Sacred Heart in Troy followed by a reception.

Father James Davis and Father Brian Slezak

10th

FATHER JAMES DAVIS was born in Upper Saddle River, N.J., and attended Notre Dame, Fairleigh Dickinson and Pope St. John XXII Seminary. He was ordained on June 14, 2014. He was associate at Holy Trinity in Johnstown and Holy Spirit in Gloversville and pastor at Our Lady of Hope in Fort Plain and Our Lady of the Valley in Middleburgh and administrator of Our Lady of Fatima in Delanson. He is also chaplain at Hale Creek Correctional Facility.

“One Day at a Time” from Proverbs. The best thing about the priesthood is serving the people.

Father Davis plans to observe his jubilee with dinner out.

FATHER BRIAN SLEZAK was born in Rotterdam Junction and attended St. Helen’s (St. Kateri’s), Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons School and The College of St. Rose. He attended seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary and was ordained on June 14, 2014. He was named parochial vicar at Blessed Sacrament in Albany (2014-16) and then pastor at Holy Trinity in Cohoes (2016-20). He is the current pastor at Holy Family Parish in Little Falls and St. Joseph Church in Dolgeville.

I am grateful to God for the graces given to me over the last 10 years. I also want to thank the faithful people for their prayers and ask forgiveness for my many mistakes.

Father Slezak currently has no plans for observing his jubilee.


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