2022 Formation Spring Appeal

Meet our newly ordained priest, Fr. Joseph Franz   
One question a seminarian, deacon or lay ecclesial person is often asked is what their formation experience was like.  Of even more interest is the notion of the calling - is the calling a feeling, is it a gentle whisper or is it a lightning and thunder experience unable to be ignored?  These are not easy questions to answer and the calling and  formation are unique just like each person.

Joseph Franz, a Buffalo native, grew up in a typical working class family in Eden, 
NY, a dairy community.  One of six children raised in a faith-based family, he states that "Growing up, Church was the center of my family's life, both spiritually and socially!"  After completing his education, he began his professional career doing mechanical drawing for contractors for nearly 20 years. 
His drive to and from work was a lengthy one, an hour each way, and to pass the time he began listening to Catholic CD's or Catholic radio.  At the same time, he started attending men's Catholic conferences. On his 40th birthday, he experienced what he deemed was a first calling.   He began meeting with a spiritual director to begin to discern.  Right around this time,  Joseph was laid off from work and found himself   out of a job.  Though this was a complete shock, he took this as a sign that perhaps God had something else planned for him and came to a feeling of peace about the situation.  As he began to consider the seminary more seriously, things quickly started to fall into place. Joseph knew that a requirement for acceptance to the seminary was a bachelor's degree which was something he did not yet have. He applied to D'Youville College and, even more fortunately, he found himself a job that allowed him to work while earning his bachelor's degree.  During his final year of undergraduate schooling, he was invited to begin the seven year journey of formal training in seminary to become a Catholic priest. Joseph explained, "Discernment is a guided process of trying to figure out "Is this where God wants me?"  He knew he could not do this by himself but needed the support from his fellow seminarians and instructors to help him go through this process, a process he viewed as a fundamental character change. Joseph stated, "Self-knowledge is key and this is a process of learning about oneself - what one's strengths, weaknesses and triggers are, how one relates to people and views oneself, how one interacts with God and understands their prayer life and how one lives in community- these are all part of the formation and discernment process."
 As formation went on for Joseph and the initial first exciting year concluded, reality set in and he began to feel the heavy weight of obedience as certain freedoms were no longer available to him.  These were new challenges for him that he took very seriously and prayed often about.  As time went on, he had another powerful moment of discernment with the realization that left with him the feeling that this calling was a great grace and gift from God and that this new life was exactly where he was supposed to be.  This realization was transformational for Joseph and he no longer felt the gravity of obedience. This life changing moment left him with a feeling of great freedom, joy and happiness!
 Joseph answered God's calling on June 4th, 2022, his ordination date, and he asks all for their prayers for his vocation and life of service to the Church.  Just as his fellow seminarians and formation instructors supported him during his discernment years, he asks for your ongoing prayers of support now as he enters his vocation to the priesthood.  Joseph's promise to you in return is that he will pray daily for you and all your intentions as well!  

Kevin Barron 

Kevin Barron, in Diaconate formation- 
Like so many seminarians, Kevin Barron chose to give up a very lucrative twenty-year career with a large Fortune 100 Company as Director of Sales.  This personal decision was not easy and evolved over four years with much deliberation before he made what he called "This beautiful decision!"  With his spouse, Kathy, by his side along with much prayer, discussion and reflection, he decided to begin the journey of the Diaconate with continued discernment. Shortly after leaving his successful career, his employer called him back offering him what Kevin refers to as a "Baseball contract"- a 45% increase over where he left a few short months ago!  Kevin and his wife slept on it and the next morning, Kathy, woke up and asked  her husband to decline the very generous offer holding the course of the Diaconate  calling. "If making the most money in life were my goal, I would have taken  
the offer, but that's just not my goal. I have so many other goals now,"  Kevin stated. 
Like most things in life, Kevin was introduced to the Diaconate program through a personal invitation. The invitation along with someone telling him "I think you would make a great Deacon really makes someone stop, look and listen," Kevin stated.  After attending an informational Diaconate meeting, the seed was planted but it grew slowly.  Doubt, unworthiness and a general uneasiness all were part of his ongoing discernment.  After deciding to start the program, Kevin stated "I feel like I've been on this  four year tsunami of change.  It was not like lightening striking- but it just changes your DNA.    My whole life has been transformed!" 
Kevin started his formation at Christ the King Seminary and said "My experience there was amazing!" Formation now continues at St. Bernard's in Rochester. Through the grace of God, he looks forward to  his ordination in 2023. Kevin noted, "If I'm going to use myself up on something, this is the something I want to use myself up on!" 

Maria Chomicka

Maria Chomicka, completing her second Masters in Academic Theological studies- 

Maria was born in Kansas City to her first generation Polish Catholic parents. Her family moved to Buffalo where she was home-schooled with her four siblings until she was enrolled in the fifth grade at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in  Williamsville.  

 As a shy child it was a difficult transition especially entering into such a large school, however, as her time there went on, she became more and more comfortable and grateful for her experience at St. Greg's. She attributes her growth to her wonderful school, youth group and church experience where she learned how   to love and accept herself and grow in self-confidence.  St. Greg's also was the catalyst for allowing her to spend time with her extended family in Poland developing her Polish language skills while gaining real world experience at a very young age.

Maria is currently attending St. Bernard's in Rochester to earn her second Master's Degree in Academic Theological Studies where she recently defended her thesis, "Reimagining Humility, a Pastoral Approach for Contemporary Young Women."  As she enjoys mentoring many young women, she discusses humility with them and teaches grounding one's identity in love, both God's love and love for oneself.  This she feels helps many young people with their own self-confidence, body issues, anxiety and depression. 


Because of your dedication and generosity, we can continue to serve those being called to the priesthood, diaconate life, and lay leaders of the Church.  We deeply appreciate the sacrifice of your gift and Your commitment to these vocations!

Prayer for Vocations

Almighty Father, You have created for us some definite purpose.  Grant us the grace to know the path You have planned for us in this life and to respond with a generous "Yes."  Make our diocese, parishes, homes and hearts fruitful ground for Your gift of vocations.