Celebrating the Care of Souls, in the Spirit of St. John Vianney
The Curé of Ars Award honors those whose lives reflect the qualities of Christian dedication and service that marked the life of St. John Vianney. The award is presented annually to individuals and organizations who are committed to healing those in need of God's reconciling love, a willingness to contribute their gifts towards pastoral care — especially for the needy and poor — and a commitment to our Church as a primary instrument for the divine-human encounter.
We are very pleased to announce this year's honorees: Rev. Leon Biernat, Richard Heist and Michael & Maureen Pratt.
Our formation programs for seminarian, diaconate and lay ecclesial candidates remain robust, alive and vibrant. Currently, we have four seminarians who finished a final year at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, seven in studies at St. Mary Seminary, Baltimore and one in pastoral year. There are 21 aspirants for the diaconate as well as six lay students at St. Bernard's School of Theology and whom will assume key roles as ministers and leaders in our Church.
The Future of Our Faith. Men and women continue to courageously answer "yes" to God's call. These individuals in discernment are committed to delivering the Word of God and to be Christ's presence in our parishes, ministries and faith communities. Your support will help those studying for the priesthood, permanent diaconate and lay ecclesial ministries.
Meet our honorees:
Father Leon, pastor at St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church since 2014, has selflessly served the Diocese of Buffalo in a variety of capacities since his ordination in 1992. The main focus of his ministry has been working with youth. His joyful enthusiasm and success with Catholics was recognized by Bishop Mansell who appointed him as the Director of Vocations in 1999. In his capacity as Director, he established the St. Joseph Club for high school men to discern a call to the priesthood and to bring about awareness of priestly vocations. Father Leon remains a passionate advocate for the priesthood to this day. In addition to currently serving as the pastor of St. Gregory the Great, Fr. Leon has served on the golf committee and as the event chair of the Curé of Ars Awards Dinner. His many contributions to the community and leadership throughout the Diocese never go unnoticed.
Rick Heist is being recognized for his endless support of vocations within our Diocese. One of the many examples of his leadership is through his role as Treasurer of the Catholic Seminary Alumni Association- formed to support educational programs and advancement of religious objectives of our Formation programs and to foster fellowship and mutual support among the Association's members. Rick has also served as tournament chair of the golf tournament for many years and has advocated for our lay, seminarian and diaconate programs since the closure of Christ the King Seminary. With his continued leadership and support, Rick's priority is for all to know that the Diocese is still in the business of formation.
Michael and Maureen Pratt are long time supporters of the Foundation as well as the former Christ the King Seminary. Mike was instrumental in his role as Seminary board member, in planning the next steps for vocations after the closure of Christ the King Seminary. Together Mike and Maureen serve as Bishop's Council of the Laity members and have been generous supporters of our golf tournament benefiting formation and the Curé of Ars Awards Dinner.
Thank you to our major sponsors!