Springfield Diocese celebrates two new priests
Story and photos by Peggy Weber
SPRINGFIELD – Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell ordained two, new priests for the Diocese of Springfield, today, June 7, at an 11 a.m. Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral, here. Father Christopher Andrew Fedoryshyn, 29, of Pittsfield and Father Francis (Frank) Jeffrey Lawlor, 57, a native of New Haven, became the two newest priests for the diocese. In a moving liturgy, the two men promised obedience and “expressed resolve to consecrate their lives to God and for the salvation of his people and to unite themselves more closely every day to Christ the High Priest.”
Following the ordination Mass, which was attended by about 500 people, the priests expressed their thoughts on this eventful day. “I feel incredibly uplifted and joyful and eager to serve the people of God,” said Father Fedoryshyn.
Father Lawlor said, “It’s a pretty special day. It’s a miraculous kind of day. I’m very thankful. It’s taken a long time and a circuitous route but it’s been fun. And I’m very happy to be here.”
Bishop McDonnell said that he had not expected to be the ordaining prelate this year. He noted that 17 months ago he turned 75, but so far his resignation has not been accepted.
“I am delighted to have this opportunity to welcome you into the priesthood of Jesus Christ,” he said.
“It’s a priesthood that has changed and developed. It calls us to be true priests of our people, in our people and among our people. We can be sign and symbols of Jesus Christ,” he said.
He added, “Each of you will do it in a different way with all your uniqueness.”
Father Fedoryshyn was assigned to St. Mary Parish in Westfield. Father Lawlor will be the parochial vicar at St. Anne Parish in Chicopee.
Father Fedoryshyn is a 2003 graduate of Taconic High School and a 2007 graduate of Siena College. He is the son of Marie and the late Peter Fedoryshyn. After college he began doctoral studies in economics at American University in Washington, D.C. Following his father’s sudden death in 2008, he returned to Pittsfield. He credits his pastor, Father Peter Gregory of St. Charles Parish, with encouraging his vocation.
He entered the Oblates of the Virgin Mary but later determined he wanted to be a diocesan priest. He then entered St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.
Father Lawlor is the son of the late Eugene and Mary Jane Lawlor. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Conn., in 1974. He then attended Providence College in Providence, R.I. and Southern Connecticut State College. He earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore in 1978.
He was married and has three grown children: Colleen, Matthew and Timothy and a grandchild.
Before entering the seminary, he worked for more than 20 years in the financial investment field, employed as a first vice president at Connecticut Complex Manager for Gruntal & Co, LLC in New Haven,., and also was a first vice president – New England Complex manager for Ryan Beck & Co., Inc.
Just prior to entering the seminary, Deacon Lawlor was the development director for the Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was a seminarian at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.
Each man took his own, unique path to the priesthood.
Father Fedoryshyn said, “When you’re 20 your whole life is still ahead of you and you have all these different possibilities, but looking back I can see God and though his Holy Spirit, kind of lead me in the direction that he wanted for my life and eventually I came to the understanding that this is what will make me happy and fulfilled. So that was when I decided to go to the seminary and become a priest.”
Father Lawlor heard the call to priesthood a little later in life.
“I spent 25 years as a stock broker, a very good life and did very well. Circumstances came to pass and I found myself divorced, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I had good friends who were priests. I started talking with them and it became possible to see what was possible. So I talked to Father (Gary) Dailey, the marriage was eventually annulled. Luckily the bishop and the vocations director (Father Dailey) were open to the possibility,” he said.
Father Gary M. Dailey, director of vocations for the Diocese of Springfield, said the ordination day is special.
“Today is a great day for the church of Springfield. I always say it is great when we gather for a priestly ordination because we have ordained two more men for service in the diocese. We have two more men who can celebrate the Eucharist, who can absolve sins. We have two men who can anoint the sick and heal them. So this is a great day for the church. And I know that both Father Frank and Father Chris will bring to the Diocese of Springfield tremendous gifts and the people that they serve will find in them great priests,” said Father Dailey.
He said that one ordination is scheduled for next year and none for 2016. Following the ordination there are six men studying to be priests. However, Father Gary said there are 12 men in the application process for the fall.
Still with these newest priests, it brings to a total of 26 newly ordained in the 10 years since Bishop McDonnell arrived in the Diocese of Springfield and appointed Father Dailey as vocations director. A total which based on diocesan population puts it among the leaders among all United States Catholic dioceses.
“Still, we need to continue prayers for an increase in vocations,” Father Dailey said.
On the evening prior to the ordination, a Holy Hour for Priestly Vocations was held at St. Michael’s Cathedral. And a Corpus Christi Procession for Vocations is scheduled for Sunday, June 22 from 12:30 to 3 p.m. in Ludlow. The Corpus Christi Procession will begin at Christ the King Paris. A Mass will be celebrated 11:15 a.m. Following Mass the prayers and procession are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Participants will walk to St. Elizabeth for a service there and then to Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Church for a brief service. The procession will conclude at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, where a reception will be held. A bus will return people back to Christ the King Parish.